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Album Review

According to the original liner notes, this 1959 Willie Dixon session was cut during a two hour span in between flights. This certainly explains the relaxed, jam session feel of the recordings. Unfortunately, the songs come out sounding sluggish and stilted at times; this is partly due, no doubt, to the makeshift nature of the date, but also, more surprisingly, because of drummer Gus Johnson's overly slick and formalized playing. On top of this, one has to contend with Dixon's less-then-inspired vocals — it's Dixon's writing talents and A&R savvy in the blues world that warrant him a place in the pantheon, not his skills at the microphone. That all said, this still is an enjoyable disc to listen to, not least of all because of the quality of Dixon's many originals and the freshness of pianist Memphis Slim's playing. And while the vaudevillian comedy of a song like "Built for Comfort" can be traced to Dixon's earlier pop R&B work with the Big Three Trio, rougher blues standouts like "Go Easy" and "Move Me" lead back to the Chicago blues world Dixon shared with Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. Not a first disc for curious listeners, but certainly a pleasant enough addition to the blues lover's collection.

Biography

Born: July 1, 1915 in Vicksburg, MS

Genre: Blues

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

Willie Dixon's life and work was virtually an embodiment of the progress of the blues, from an accidental creation of the descendants of freed slaves to a recognized and vital part of America's musical heritage. That Dixon was one of the first professional blues songwriters to benefit in a serious, material way — and that he had to fight to do it — from his work also made him an important symbol of the injustice that still informs the music industry, even at the end of the 20th century....
Full Bio