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I've Got a Feelin' - Okeh & Savoy Recordings 1952-1956

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Album Review

This CD is just what its subtitle says it is, gathering 27 tracks Big Maybelle released on the OKeh and Savoy labels between 1952 and 1956, as well as a live version of "Ring Dang Dilly/Candy" (though it's not specified whether that's previously unreleased). Big Maybelle recorded for other companies before and after 1952-1956, but this period was her artistic and commercial prime, and included the R&B hits "Gabbin' Blues," "Way Back Home," "My Country Man," and "Candy." All of those cuts are included on this well-annotated anthology, along with a non-charting 45 that nonetheless remains her most famous recording, the original version of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" (later covered for a monster smash by Jerry Lee Lewis). Not every song on this disc is as good as the aforementioned titles, but Big Maybelle's raunchy, powerfully throaty vocals are consistently impressive on material that runs from jump blues shouters and earthy ballads to near- rock & roll. While "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" is an inevitable standout considering it's by far the most famous tune, it's quite different from Jerry Lee Lewis' rockabilly treatment; it's a much more measured mid-tempo R&B/blues hybrid in this incarnation, and it really took Lewis to kick it into much higher gear. Far less celebrated, yet far more impressive, is "I've Got a Feelin'," a great, devious minor-key number that's the set's unheralded highlight, though the playful "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" is almost as good. Much like her version of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," Big Maybelle's somewhat forgotten today, but on the basis of these sides, she certainly deserves more recognition. For she's as good as quite a few other similar figures from the dawn of rock & roll who have, whether because they had a few more hits or for other reasons, attained higher profiles as innovators among rock and R&B historians. While much of this material also appeared on the 1994 compilation The Complete OKeh Sessions 1952-55, this CD might get the slight nod as the preferable choice, as the seven Savoy tracks include a hit ("Candy") postdating the OKeh era.

Biography

Born: 01 May 1924 in Jackson, TN

Genre: Blues

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

Her mountainous stature matching the sheer soulful power of her massive vocal talent, Big Maybelle was one of the premier R&B chanteuses of the 1950s. Her deep, gravelly voice was as singular as her recorded output for Okeh and Savoy, which ranged from down-in-the-alley blues to pop-slanted ballads. In 1967, she even covered ? & the Mysterians' "96 Tears" (it was her final chart appearance). Alleged...
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I've Got a Feelin' - Okeh & Savoy Recordings 1952-1956, Big Maybelle
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