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Shout Sister Shout - Hit that Jive

MC Records MC-0063

Shout Sister Shout is an excitingly different quintet hailing from Lansing, Mich., capital of the Wolverine State, right next door to my old 1960s college stomping ground of Michigan State University, in next-door East Lansing. This quintet -- Rachel Davis, vocals; Joe Wilson, trombone, steel guitar and background vocals; Andy Wilson, harmonicas, trumpet and flugelhorn; Dominic John Suchyta, standup bass and background vocals; and Joshua Davis, guitars and vocals -- loves the music of the 1930s and 40s, and lovingly re-does these songs in a uniquely different way.

For example, there is no horn section or drums. Instead, the melodies are carried by the combination of guitar, steel guitar and upright bass, with Joe Wilson's steel guitar giving the sound a Western swing feel, particularly on several of the up-tempo tracks -- the opening track, "Slow Down;" track 6, "It's A Sin To Tell A Lie;" and track 11, "It's Only A Paper Moon." There are solidly-done solos throughout, on guitar, steel guitar, harmonica, trombone and trumpet, and Rachel Davis's excellent, melodious vocals are sultry, sophisticated, and when the song calls for it, even sexually suggestive.

The MC Records' rendition of Hit that Jive is a 14-track CD that's complied of the 12 tracks that appeared on Shout Sister Shout's original self-produced CD, with the addition of two bonus tracks and a video of the group performing that will run on most computers. A listen to the songs on Hit that Jive will convince one just how good was much of that 1930s and 1940s music, which did indeed possess a sophisticated sexuality that did not need to be graphic or raunchy.

But then, that was an era when sex was integrally tied to romance, and sexual infidelity was a serious taboo. Yet there's no doubt that Shout Sister Shout shows convincingly that these are songs of now, and not just of a past that came before most of us were born.

There are standards on Hit that Jive, such as "Moonlight In Vermont," "Carolina Moon," "It's A Sin To Tell A Lie" and "It's Only A Paper Moon," elegant songs that truly justify their longevity. Bluesy jazz tracks here comprise "Slow Down," "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Cryin' (substantially different songs than the rock/pop songs of the same titles from Larry Williams and Gerry and the Pacemakers respectively), Louis Jordan's "No Sale," "Never Missed My Baby," and the two bonus tracks, "You Rascal You" and "Hit That Jive Jack"

Other songs notably featured are Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" and Davis's a cappella version of Cole Porter's poignant "Miss Otis Regrets." Also featured is the group's namesake song, Sister Rosetta Tharpe's swinging "Shout Sister Shout!" And last, that romantic caution, "Don't Let Your Eyes Go Shopping For Your Heart."

Notable indeed is the lyricism and even ironic poetry of the words from these songs. Consider this verse from "It's A Sin To Tell A Lie":

"If she leads me to the altar, I'm sunk
'Cause I can't tell the preacher I was drunk"

Or the realism in what is still one of the classic songs on poverty and riches, "God Bless The Child":

"Rich relations give
Crusts of bread and such
You can help yourself
But don't take too much"

And for directness, nothing tops Sam Theard's "You Rascal You":

"I'll be glad when you're dead
You rascal you"

Hit that Jive is in store now and can be ordered directly from MC Records online at ....

EDITORS NOTE: This review is courtesy of the Bloomington Alternative at

Reviewer George Fish lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr, and writes a regular music column, “Blues and More” for the online Bloomington (IN) Alternative. He’s also published in the regional Indiana blues and alternative presses as well as Living Blues and Blues Access, and wrote the notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has also published on blues and pop music for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy, as well as the online Political Affairs and MRZine.

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