Personnel includes: Gene Phillips, Maxwell Davis, Jake Porter, Jack McVea.
Composer: Ray Topping.
Photographer: Ray Topping.
Arranger: Ma Rainey.
This 25-song compilation doesn't contain exact recording dates, but it can be safely assumed that most or all of this was cut between 1947-1951; about half appeared on singles from that period, while some showed up on a 1963 Crown album (although they were obviously done much earlier), and others weren't released until Ace LP collections in the 1980s. (There's also a previously unissued "Happy Birthday," cut for Modern's Jules Bihari's birthday.) Regardless of the specifics, it's early jump blues from the stage at which it was in transition from jazz to R&B, leaning in some cases closer to jazz than R&B. That may be why Phillips was pretty much a forgotten case by the mid-'50s. In any event, this remains decent, historically important early jump blues by an unheralded early pioneer of the electric guitar, as you can hear when he gets the chance to stretch out on numbers like "Slippin' & Slidin'" and "Gene Jumps the Blues." It's also notable for being some of the first material to bear the stamp of the Modern house sound, although musically it's a little more restrained and less bluesy than some of the Modern acts who would follow. Lyrically, though, Phillips was often quite ribald, as song titles like "Big Fat Mama," "Snuff Dripping Mama," "Fatso," and "Short Haired Ugly Woman" let you know before you even tear off the shrink-wrap. That kind of politically incorrect view of women hasn't aged wonderfully. You do wonder how Phillips and Modern thought they were going to get away with "Punkin' Head Woman," with lines sung to sound very much like "f*ckin' head mama." The collection has surprisingly clear and vibrant sound quality, considering the age of the sources. ~ Richie Unterberger