Various Artists – JSP, Midnight At The Barrelhouse: Rockin’ California Rhythm & Blues

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The biggest hits from the Greek-American pianist vibraphonist, bandleader, record exec, talent scout — and R&B legend

If any single figure of LA R&B has a story worthy of a legend, it's Johnny Otis, the Greek-American pianist-vibraphonist, bandleader, record executive and talent scout who scored a pair of No. 1 R&B hits. "Double Crossing Blues" is blues with a noir-like playlet lyric whose atmospheric slow-drag arrangement both roots it to its time and transcends it. "Mistrustin 'Blues," the follow-up, picked right up from where its predecessor left off. Those songs are showcased here amidst a five-CD panorama of post-war LA R&B by Otis, his vocalists Little Esther, Mel Walker and the Robins (later the Coasters), as well as numerous tracks by pioneers like Bill Doggett and Jimmy Rushing.