Hep Cat Records, the roots label of the Collectors Choice Music family, has launched a reissue initiative for Black Top Records, an influential 80s and 90s blues label with New Orleans roots. The project began this past summer with re-releases by Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets (Talk To You By Hand
), James Harman Band (Two Sides to Every Story
), Rick L.A. Holmes Holmstrom (Lookout!
), Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers (Blues in the Dark
) and Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters (Surrounded by Love
Coming on October 28 are five more: James Harman Band (Do Not Disturb), Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers (Alphabet Blues), Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets (She Knocks Me Out), Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters (Soul Searching) and Sam Myers & Anson Funderburgh (My Love Is Here To Stay).
Black Top Records was a New Orleans-based independent blues and R&B label founded in 1981 by brothers Nauman S. Scott III and Hammond Scott. The labels flagship release was Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets Talk To You By Hand. Artists on the label (many of whom will be featured in subsequent Hep Cat releases) included Earl King, Snooks Eaglin, Lee Rocker, Guitar Shorty, Maria Muldaur, Robert Ward, Carol Fran & Clarence Hollimon, Mike Morgan & the Crawl and W.C. Clark. The label often utilized backing musicians from New Orleans or from the house band of the Austin club Antones. The label released 100 albums before folding in 1999. Nauman Scott died in 2002 and Hammond Scott has leased the catalog for reissue.
Among the albums slated for the next cycle:
James Harman Band Do Not Disturb: Originally released in 1991, this is at heart a Chicago blues album. But it also travels through time and territory to touch on swing, jump and Texas roadhouse blues, with Harmans harp as its gritty guide. This is Harmans debut for Black Top and generally considered one of the best Black Top releases of all time.
Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets She Knocks Me Out: Having released Ansons debut album earlier this summer, it made sense for Hep Cat to go back and knock out album number two. The album was recorded in 1983 with Darrell Nulisch on vocals and showcases Funderburghs ripping guitar.
Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters Soul Searching: Ronnie Earls third effort for Black Top heralded the official formation of the Broadcasters band, so named after the first solid body electric guitar built by Leo Fender in 1950. The band included one-time Rocket Darrell Nulisch and ex-Muddy Waters sideman and harpist extraordinaire Jerry Portnoy among other luminaries, plus a special guest appearance by Ronnies Roomful of Blues mate Duke Robillard. In short, this is one smoking ensemble and album, garnished with bonus tracks.
Sam Myers & Anson Funderburgh My Love Is Here To Stay: This 1984 platter marked the first recorded meeting between Texas guitar slinger Anson Funderburgh and veteran harpist Sam Myers, a musical bond that lasted up until Myers 2006 death. As such, it is a landmark in the careers of both artists, as Myers booming voice and rockin harp provide the perfect foil for Funderburghs guitar.