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Album Review

Ivory Joe Hunter was known as "the Baron of Boogie" for his regal appearance and sprightly piano style, and throughout a career that lasted five decades he incorporated blues, gospel, country and a proto-rock & roll style into his smooth brand of R&B. A skilled songwriter, and possessing an emotive, velvet voice that prefigured such crooners as Nat King Cole, Hunter was instrumental in bringing R&B to an uptown audience in the late 1940s. This collection gathers 14 of the 16 sides he cut for King Records between 1947 and 1949, along with ten tracks he recorded for MGM Records shortly before leaving for the Atlantic label, where he enjoyed his greatest success with "Since I Met You Baby" in 1954. Highlights here include two of the King tracks, "Waiting in Vain" and "Guess Who," both of which feature runaway violin lines from Ray Nance, and the beautiful blues ballad "I Almost Lost My Mind," a middling hit in 1950 on MGM. Casual listeners should probably pick up one of the more historically comprehensive greatest-hits packages, but the already converted will be happy to have these early classics by one of the sweetest voices in R&B history.


Born: 10 October 1914 in Kirbyville, TX

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Bespectacled and velvet-smooth in the vocal department, pianist Ivory Joe Hunter appeared too much mild-mannered to be a rock & roller. But when the rebellious music first crashed the American consciousness in the mid-'50s, there was Ivory Joe, deftly delivering his blues ballad "Since I Met You Baby" right alongside the wildest pioneers of the era. Hunter was already a grizzled R&B vet by that time who had first heard his voice on a 1933 Library of Congress cylinder recording made in Texas (where...
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1947-1950, Ivory Joe Hunter
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