Compared to the sides King Oliver
or Louis Armstrong
-- or even the New Orleans Rhythm Kings
-- were cutting between 1925 and 1927 (the years covered in this compilation), the music of the California Ramblers
pales in comparison, as most white jazz records did back then. But as an artifact of the roaring '20s, few records evoke an era as well as this 12-song collection does. With romping versions of "Charleston," "Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie," "Crazy Words, Crazy Tune," "Collegiate," "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue," and the title song to recommend it, this scant but scintillating collection has raccoon coats, flappers, and bathtub gin written all over it. Unfortunately, the Ramblers recorded these little gems for the Edison label. Edison 78s used a hill-and-dale groove pattern, as opposed to the more popular lateral groove format. This makes these sides the Beta format of phonograph records and most were damaged beyond repair being played on lateral machines in the intervening years. Kudos to the engineers on this project who managed to exhume a great deal of music from these badly cared for platters.