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Let's Have a Party!

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Album Review

Few artists in the history of recorded music have made alcoholism seem quite as appealing as Amos Milburn did on his run of hits for Aladdin Records in the '40s and '50s. Milburn was one of the biggest rhythm & blues stars of the pre-rock era, and his celebrations of wild, booze-fueled nights — "Let Me Go Home, Whiskey," "Bad, Bad Whiskey," "Juice, Juice," "Vicious, Vicious Vodka," and "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer" among them — were potent enough to give even the most zealous reader of The Big Blue Book second thoughts about turning down a cocktail. It helped that Milburn was a top-shelf boogie pianist with a sly, witty vocal style, and he was fortunate enough to get just the right help in the recording studio. Let's Have a Party (The Aladdin Recordings) collects 29 numbers Milburn recorded between 1950 and 1957, which means a few of his biggest early hits don't make the cut (the frantic version of "Chicken Shack Boogie" which appears here is a recut recorded in New Orleans in 1956, with Lee Allen and Red Tyler on sax), but what's here is uniformly fine, and even the silly closing number, "We Teenagers Know What We Want" (recorded when Milburn was pushing 30), cooks with gas. While roadhouse jump blues was Milburn's specialty, that's not all this set has to offer; Milburn delivers a great version of Lionel Hampton's "Flying Home," shows his gift for slow blues on "Tears, Tears, Tears," and even leaves the bottle alone for a while on the midtempo groove "Milk and Water." Among single-disc collections of Milburn's work, The Best of Amos Milburn: Down the Road Apiece has the edge since it includes his material from the '40s, and Mosaic's exhaustive The Complete Aladdin Recordings of Amos Milburn is heartily recommended to the wealthy and obsessed, but Let's Have a Party is still an excellent collection of Milburn in his prime, and it'll have you and your friends cracking open your liquor cabinet in no time flat.


Born: 01 April 1927 in Houston, TX

Genre: Blues

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

Boogie piano master Amos Milburn was born in Houston, and he died there a short 52 years later. In between, he pounded out some of the most hellacious boogies of the postwar era, usually recording in Los Angeles for Aladdin Records and specializing in good-natured upbeat romps about booze and its effects (both positive and negative) that proved massive hits during the immediate pre-rock era. The self-taught 88s ace made a name for himself as "the He-Man Martha Raye" around Houston before joining...
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