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The Greatest Johnny Otis Show

Johnny Otis

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Album Review

The import anthology The Greatest Johnny Otis Show overlaps considerably with Collectables' domestic disc, The Capitol Years, but is has a little more material, and a slightly different track listing. The Johnny Otis Show was a touring ensemble headed up by Otis, so many of the cuts feature the artists from his troupe: Marie Adams & the Three Tons of Joy, Mel Williams, Jeannie Sterling, and the lovely Marci Lee. The various incarnations run through big band rock & roll, and a variety of R&B styles on a tall stack of Capitol recordings drawn from various albums, singles, and EPs made between 1957 and 1959. Few of the performances have the extraordinary presence of "Willie and the Hand Jive," "Crazy Country Hop," or "Castin' My Spell" (the three hits in the bunch), but none are less than good. "Ma (He's Making Eyes at Me)" is a fascinating time capsule that was recorded live and crackles with energy, and the MC's introduction to "Shake It Lucy Baby" announces Otis as the king of rock & roll in 1958! The CD bests its Collectables' counterpart with a 16-page booklet filled with notes and photos, and is a thorough and well-done anthology of the late '50s Capitol recordings by Otis and Company.


Born: 28 December 1921 in Vallejo, CA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Johnny Otis modeled an amazing number of contrasting musical hats over a career spanning more than half a century. Bandleader, record producer, talent scout, label owner, nightclub impresario, disc jockey, TV variety show host, author, R&B pioneer, rock & roll star — Otis answered to all those descriptions and quite a few more. Not bad...
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The Greatest Johnny Otis Show, Johnny Otis
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