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The Godfather of Rhythm & Blues, Vol. 1

Johnny Otis & Various Artists

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Album Review

Johnny Otis wore a lot of hats. As promoter, bandleader, songwriter, drummer, and vibes player, he tirelessly brought his love of R&B to audiences. His sporadic R&B Caravan tours introduced countless vocalists and musicians to the public, and his Johnny Otis Orchestra proved amazingly adaptable when early rock & roll broke out in the mid-'50s. This collection covers the early years of his barnstorming caravan, 1945 to 1950, and features several vocalists, including Jimmy Rushing on the opening two tracks here, "My Baby's Business" and "Jimmy's Round-the-Clock Blues." Other highlights include Mel Walker's smooth singing on "Cry Baby," Little Esther's near rock & roll take on "Cupid's Boogie," and a couple fine outings by the Robins, "You're Fine but Not My Kind" and "If It's So, Baby." The different vocalists featured on these songs give this compilation a varied feel, even as most tracks stick fairly close to a jump blues center, with touches of jazz at times sweetening things. You can feel rock & roll just around the corner.

Biography

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 Godfather of Rhythm & Blues, Vol. 1, Johnny Otis
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