Cool Daddy: The Central Avenue Scene 1951-1957, Vol. 3

Veteran horn man Jake "Vernon" Porter grew tired of the road as the 1950s opened, and after acquiring a Magnechord tape machine, set up a little studio in the back of his L.A. home, giving birth to Combo Records. Initially, Porter recorded the kind of horn-driven R&B he was most familiar with, along with the blues, but as the doo wop era got under way, he turned increasingly to vocal groups, and by the time he closed up Combo Records in 1965 after some 170 singles and several LPs, vocal groups were his main focus. But he never abandoned the 1940s-styled R&B he loved, and this set features two-dozen sides of R&B Porter recorded between 1951 and 1957, and it's all pretty impressive. Porter himself is featured on two tracks here, the opening "TJ" (short for Tijuana) and the delightfully goofy "Corn Pone Boogie." Other highlights include the intriguing girl group cha cha number "Gotta Have You Baby" by the Combonettes; the Frankie Lymon-like "Hey Little Girl" by the young sounding and high-voiced Bill Watkins; "Sadie Lee" by Texas guitarist Tal Carter; and the gritty, rolling instrumental honker "Shuckin'" by tenor saxophonist Joe Houston, with able support from Boogie Daniels on baritone sax. One of the best tracks here is the eerie and atmospheric blues "Worries and Troubles," which is attributed to the Young Wolf, but was probably the guitarist and singer Frank Patt (the piano player is most definitely Gus Jenkins). In all, Cool Daddy is a solid set of lively R&B, and if the sound is a bit ragged and loose at times, that only adds to the rough-edged appeal of these rare sides. ~ Steve Leggett

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