Friday, February 07, 2014

Big Jay McNeely and His Band - Swingin'

Big Jay is a legendary rhythm'n'blues honkin' sax man who was known for his outrageous stage
performances as well as his fantastic, wild playing. He would routinely romp through the audiences and often out the door - with the patrons streaming out behind him!

This collection has no booklet and as I am no Big Jay historian, I don't know much about the tracks here - other than that I dig 'em! Opening with a wild bopper, "Flying Home", this shows what McNeely is known for - uptempo, jumpin' jive with some terrific horn playing. A lot of the music here, though, is cool, early rock'n'roll, such as "There is Something on Your Mind" - a nice, strollin', semi-ballad. "Back...Shack...Track" is a rockin' shouter in the vein of Little Richard (who also used sax to great r'n'r effect) while "I Got the Message" is a slower, almost doo-wop influenced number - including a false start. Sounding like he had been listening to Screamin' Jay Hawkins' (and maybe "Stranded in the Jungle"), Big Jay does an appropriately titled "Psycho Serenade", a wild rocker with lots of screamin', whistlin', and maniacal laughter added to the track!

Continuing with the cool 50's r'n'r is "Minnie", followed by another doo-wop inspired (without the group vocals) ballad in "My Darling, Dear". A kinda "Boney Maroney" take-off, "Oh No, Daddy-O" (one of the previously unreleased tracks here) obviously has someone other than McNeely singing, though no idea who - regardless, Big Jay does a great solo here. Another previously unissued instrumental follows, the groovy "Blue Couch Boogie", and then some more bitchin' 50's r'n'r, including the instros "Before Midnight" and "After Midnight", with their "Walkin' to New Orleans" feel. "Havana Hop" goes a little overboard with its percussion that attempts to create a Cuban feel, but Jay does some fine honkin' here. Also previously unreleased, "Annie Lou" has some rockin' lead guitar, seemingly trying to show up Jay (in a good way) and the whole she-bang ends with one more unreleased number, "Sungi Mungi", a poppier doo-wopper with a different singer, again kinda like a more pop "Stranded in the Jungle".

I don't own any other McNeely releases - and I'm sure there are plenty of good ones - but this is a nice, solid starting place - cool honkers and fine 50's r'n'r.