Bookmark: Randy Fox, Shake Your Hips: The Excello Records Story (BMG Books)

Although Excello Records was located in the “Record Center of the South”—Nashville—its success was largely dependent on the “Sound of the Swamp,” a sound incubated and perfected in “The Rice Capital of Louisiana”—Crowley. It was in J.D. Miller’s tiny Crowley studio that Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester, Lightnin’ Slim and Lonesome Sundown recorded that unique Louisiana sound. For over a decade Miller supplied a steady flow of masters to Excello which then comprised the majority of the Excello catalog. Not surprisingly, the book’s title was borrowed from a Slim Harpo hit. But one can’t tell the Excello story without detailing the history of Ernie’s Record Mart and Nashville radio station WLAC, which it does. Excello was founded by Ernie Young, who like many indie record men got into the wholesale/retail business via the jukebox business. Without detailing all of Excello’s fascinating history here, the book captures the rise and demise of what was one of the most important and hippest post-war blues labels. The author has fastidiously gathered source material from other historians and interviewed several musicians, producers, DJs’ and individuals with direct or indirect ties to the label. Most interestingly, Shake Your Hips will introduce the music fan to the labor pains of the music business along the way. The book certainly would have benefitted from a more expanded photo session, but it’s certainly going to be a valuable research tool for many years. At 170 pages, it’s the perfect weekend read while you’re listening to a Slim Harpo or Lazy Lester CD, or even better, a stack of those great orange and blue 45s.

  • Bob Laughlin

    Mr. Hannusch, I read your interview with James “Sugar Boy” Crawford. Well done. Damn well done.