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July 2002

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Wardell Quezerque
Sixty Smokin' Soul Senders
Tuff City Records

Wardell QuezerqueThe name Wardell Quezerque is legendary among the legions of New Orleans music fans, second only to Allen Toussaint in popularity, but certainly his equal as a producer as attested to by this indispensable new release.

Sixty Smokin' Soul Senders (Tuff City Records) consists of two CDs for the price of one, two and a half hours of music with artists such as Eddie Bo, Warren Lee, Curly Moore and Earl King showing what the early '60s music scene was all about. It is a tribute to the sounds of New Orleans at the time, a sound that would slowly die due to the lack of experienced business people running the companies. Most releases never grew beyond the local market, but collectively managed to build an historical and regional music base of its own, which is now just beginning to be explored and appreciated by adoring fans worldwide. 

We owe a debt of gratitude to Night Train Records for making not only this release, but others by Robert Parker of ''Barefootin" fame, Willie Tee with "Teasin' You," and a great release by George Perkins, whose "Crying In The Streets" became a classic example of this musical culture and an everlasting place in music history. 

There are many new artists to be discovered, such as Charles "Soul" Brown. I guess the "Soul" moniker is to distinguish him from the "other" Charles Brown. His contribution alone, "Standing on The Outside," is worth the price of this release. It is a deep soul treasure with its not unfamiliar theme --- ("...Friend, I took you into my home, I trusted you while I was gone, that was my sin when I called you my friend, now I'm standing on the outside looking in...") and the heart wrenching spoken part --- "...You know, some say blame my woman not you...You don't trust a woman, not the way you trust a friend, but put the two together and the beginning is the end...) --- an incredible track to say the least. 

There's a great ballad by Sammy Ridgley, the younger brother of the late Tommy Ridgley, called "I've Heard That Story Before." Eddie Bo adds some of his funky stuff to the mix and the Earl King tracks just shine. Formerly unknown singers like Marie Boubarere, who contributes a killer version of Barbara George's "I Know," again shows what a valuable release this is. 

The 20 page booklet has a little bio about each artist, which is both informative and well written, and lists each release with its original record label and number. Please note that a number of these tracks were taken from old 45s when the original tapes were not available, and the surface noise is quite apparent on these tracks. Annoying, yes, but a small price to pay for having these previously 'impossible to get' records available for you to treasure forever at a cost less than you would pay for just one of these rare 45's. 

Visit Tuff City's website at www.tuffcity.com, where you can view and order this and their other releases as well.

--- Alan Shutro

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