The essential early 60s recordings of two New Orleans R&B artists.
Consensus among fans of New Orleans R&B is that Joe Ruffino’s Ric and Ron labels were two of the best to operate in the city. Ace was delighted, last year, to be offered the opportunity to anthologise Ruffino’s great masters on CD. Advancements in mastering enable us to present them in superior sound from new transfers of the original tapes – the way vibrant music like this should always be heard.
Having already released Eddie Bo and Johnny Adams collections, it’s only fair we do the same for the company’s other big-time male vocalist. Unfortunately Tommy Ridgley did not record enough tracks to fill a CD, but the Ron and Sho-Biz sides of his peer Bobby Mitchell – a fellow graduate of the Dave Bartholomew academy of musical excellence – perfectly complement Ridgley’s Ric 45s.
Tommy Ridgley was a mainstay of the New Orleans scene for six decades, staying ahead of the changes black American music went through in the 60s. The quality of his Ric sides is uniformly high, resulting in several local hits. Blues icon Freddy King covered ‘Double Eye Whammy’ and ‘The Girl From Kooka Monga’ later in the 60s, while gems such as ‘Heavenly’ and ‘Honest I Do’ are great examples of the big city soul sound.
Bobby Mitchell was nearing the end of a 10-year recording career when he cut the sides here, which show he too could have held his own in the soul era. This CD marks the first occasion on which all six of his Sho-Biz and Ron recordings have been reissued in the same place.
Not everyone who emerged from New Orleans in this era was guaranteed the success of Fats Domino, but the sides here prove that, like their labelmates Eddie Bo and Johnny Adams, Tommy Ridgley and Bobby Mitchell were in contention every time they put out a new 45.