Thursday, December 17, 2009
Little Willie JOHN - Fever,The Best of Little Willie John 1993
Standing slightly more than five feet tall, Little Willie John scored his first hit at age 17. That 1955 R&B smash--"All Around the World" (also known as "Grits Ain't Groceries")--reflected his status as a seasoned veteran of several leading jazz/R&B big bands. John went on to record such noble rockers as "I'm Shakin'" (covered by the Blasters) and "Leave My Kitten Alone" (covered by the Beatles). However, his greatest success came when he set his torchy, gospel-drenched tenor to slow blues ("Need Your Love So Bad"), standards ("Sleep"), heartbreak ballads ("Talk to Me" and "Let Them All Talk"), and his flame-broiled original version of the oft-covered (Peggy Lee, Madonna, the Cramps, among others) incendiary title track. John was only 30 when he died--reportedly of either pneumonia or a heart attack--while imprisoned for manslaughter in 1968. That same year, James Brown recorded an album called Thinking of Little Willie John and a Few Nice Things. One listen to this 20-song Little Willie John compilation will tell you why.
By Don Waller.
Little Willie John was a tremendous talent. Much more so than can be measured in a single release on 45, or even many albums. So it was a treat to get this Rhino CD, because they always have the BEST sound, and remaster from original sources.
The one thing, soundwise, that cannot be removed, is distortion. Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for his studio recordings, Willie possessed such a HUGE voice, that it often overloaded his solo microphone, and while that is disguised wonderfully on this release, it cannot be eliminated.
On "Fever", "All Around the World" and "Sleep" is it overcome almost entirely, and these are the best sounding versions you will find of these. However, "Spasms" and "Talk to Me" are not as wonderous in the audio category.
If you have to purchase ONE disc of this legendary writer/singer......grab this one. However you will also need "Little Mister Willie John", "Sure Things" and "Home at Last" to get all of his great songs!! The CD "28 Big Ones" is a great buy considering all the music, but has the worst sound quality of any. It's rather strange how a singer who influenced every R&B singer of his day, and well beyond, not to mention Peggy Lee and Sinatra, does not have a boxed set of all his recordings...............together, and possibly with a few radio appearances and live tracks. At LEAST his CDs are still in print, and I'd grab them ALL while they are. King records is still handling the releases, which might be why it would be wiser to turn the master session tapes over to, say, Bear Family, to make a thorough, complete release of this immortal artist, lost too soon.
By F. Barton.
01. All Around the World
02. Need Your Love So Bad
03. Home At Last
05. My Nerves
06. Suffering With The Blues
07. Person To Person
08. Talk To Me, Talk To Me
10. Let's Rock While The Rockin's Good
11. Leave My Kitten Alone
12. Let Them Talk
13. I'm Shakin'
14. Haertbreak (It's Hurtin' Me)
16. You Hurt Me
17. I Like To See My Baby (with Hank Ballard)
18. Take My Love (I Want To Give It To You)
19. Big Blue Diamonds
20. My Baby's In Love With Another Guy