Saturday, January 23, 2010
Jimmy WITHERSPOON - Spoon So Easy 1997
By the mid-'50s, it seemed that Jimmy Witherspoon's brand of Kansas City blues was going permanently out of style; Big Joe Turner was starting to turn toward rock & roll, and many of the older singers were no longer recording. Witherspoon, who was only in his early 30s, was flexible enough to fit into different situations, so the Chess label (best known for its intense Chicago blues) took a chance on him. This CD contains most of Witherspoon's records for the Chess and Checker labels: five that were issued and nine that remained in the vaults until the release of this CD in 1990. Unfortunately, Witherspoon did not have any hits during this era (his comeback would not really get going until his appearance at the 1959 Monterey Jazz Festival) but fortunately, these records did survive. Spoon is actually heard in good form, and even if the personnel is mostly unidentified, he received suitable backup. Since all but three of Witherspoon's Chess recordings are on this CD (which clocks in around 39 minutes), one does wonder why it was not decided to make this a "complete" set.
By Scott Yanow, All Music Guide.
Transferred from the original analogue mono tapes by DOUG SCHWARTZ, "Spoon So Easy" was released in 1990 in the USA on CHD-93003. It was a 12-track LP and 14-track CD (with the two CD bonus tracks being "Mack & Jay" and "Just To Prove My Love To You"). This early Chess compilation is a mix of 7" singles, an LP track and several previously unreleased outtakes. The period is 1954 and 1955 on Chess' subsidiary label CHECKER.
"It Ain't No Secret" is Checker 826, "When The Lights Go Out" and "I Can Make It With You" are the A & B of Checker 798 and "I Don't Know Why (Why Do I Love You Like I Do)" is Checker 826. "Goin Down Slow" is off the Anthology LP "Blues: Shoutin' Swingin' And Makin' Love" (Chess LP 412) while the other 8 tracks are all previously unreleased. Willie Dixon composed the excellent "Live So Easy" (previously unreleased), "I Can Make It With You" and the sexed-up single that should have charted "When The Lights Go Out".
Soundwise - it's good - rather than great - but in 2009, the transfer quality of 1990 is really showing its age - especially in the light of Erick Labson's stunning remasters of almost all the Chess catalogue in 1998 and onwards in the 2000s. The short but affectionate liner notes are by MARY KATHERINE ALDIN of the LIVING BLUES Magazine.
Slow blues - a couple of shouters - it's a good set, and cheap too - but like so many of the Chess compilations of the period, it's in real need of an upgrade.
By Mark Barry.
Jimmy Witherspoon- (Vocals),
Willie Dixon- (Bass),
Eddie Chamblee- (TenorSax),
Jay McShann- (Piano),
Harold Ashby- (TenorSax).
01. It Ain't No Secret 2:56
02. Ain't Nobody's Business 2:40
03. Live So Easy 2:45
04. Congratulations 2:10
05. I Can Make It Without You 2:10
06. Goin' Down Slow 2:14
07. When The Lights Go Out 2:50
08. Crying 3:07
09. T.W.A. 2:33
10. Danger 3:10
11. I Don't Know Why (Why Do I Love You Like I Do?) 2:40
12. Garfield Avenue 3:11
13. Mack & Jack 3:39
14. Just To Prove My Love To You 2:36