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Grits Ain't Groceries (Live)

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Album Review

After his career-defining tenure at Chess Records in the 1960s, Little Milton moved to Stax in the '70s. Interestingly, one of the first recordings Milton made for Stax was part of the 1972 Watts Summer Festival in Los Angeles. While top names on the Stax roster (Isaac Hayes, etc.) played at the L.A. Coliseum, the label set several of their stars up at the nearby Summit Club. Grits Ain't Groceries is taken from Milton's performance at the Summit, and finds the artist's searing guitar and impassioned, bluesy singing in top form. Milton is backed here by horns and a hard-driving rhythm section that add brassy punctuation in classic Stax style. Milton's signature sound, established at Chess, was a fusion of blues and soul that owed a debt to B.B. King and Bobby "Blue" Bland, though Milton plays with more edge than either of those artists. That edge is on perfect display on this date. Milton's gutsy vocal performances are highlighted on the burning title track and on "Blind Man," while his guitar is as raw and in-your-face as on his early Sun singles. The energy — from both the band and the audience — is palpable on this great live session.

Customer Reviews

Little Milton at his best

This is one of the most soulful blues albums out there, with Milton himself and a hot backing guitarist trading duties. "Blind Man" is an outstanding cut, along with with "I Can't Quit You Baby". It's not a lengthy album and the horns were not top notch, but Milton himself was outstanding. Should be part of any blues lovers collection.

Height of His Powers

This is Milton Campbell at the height of his powers. This was his second album on the Stax label after he had just left Chess. "That's What Love Will Make You Do" and "Walking the Back Streets and Crying" would both go on to be a part of his seminal studio catalog at Stax. The 4 remaining cuts on the disc were the essential tracks from his days at Chess. All seethe with Campbell's emotional intensity along with (at the time) rare hard work on the guitar. Using his scorching Chitlin Circuit band from his latter days at Chess, this live piece is his first live album and it's also his best. As stated in the previous review, this is a must have for any soul-blues collector out there.


Born: September 7, 1934 in Inverness, MS

Genre: Blues

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

He may not be a household name, but die-hard blues fans know Little Milton as a superb all-around electric bluesman -- a soulful singer, an evocative guitarist, an accomplished songwriter, and a skillful bandleader. He's often compared to the legendary B.B. King -- as well as Bobby "Blue" Bland -- for the way his signature style combines soul, blues, and R&B, a mixture that helped make him one of the biggest-selling bluesmen of the '60s (even if he's not as well-remembered as King). As time progressed,...
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