Willie Dixon, Memphis Slim – Willies Blues (1960) [APO Remaster 2019]
SACD Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 39:44 minutes | Front/Rear Covers | 1,61 GB
or FLAC 2.0 (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/96 kHz | Front/Rear Covers | 854 MB
Since the early 1950s, Willie Dixon has been the studio kingpin of Chicago blues, having written, produced, and played bass on countless classics by Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Otis Rush, Koko Taylor, and many others. Dixon has always managed to find time away from the studio to work as a performer, slapping his upright bass and singing his own tunes in a highly compelling, conversational baritone. He was working the coffeehouse circuit with pianist Memphis Slim when he cut this, his first album as a leader, in 1959. Besides his unique interpretations of Nervous and Built for Comfort, it includes eight lesser known compositions from Dixons prolific pen. It is unlike all other albums by Dixon, as he and Slim are accompanied, not by the usual crew of Chicago blues players, but by a group of New York mainstream jazzmen, including tenor saxophonist Hal Ashby, guitarist Wally Richardson and drummer Gus Johnson.
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.
02. Good Understanding
03. That’s My Baby
04. Slim’s Thing
05. That’s All I Want Baby
06. Don’t You Tell Nobody
07. Youth To You
08. Sittin’ And Cryin’ The Blues
09. Built For Comfort
10. I Got A Razor
11. Go Easy
12. Move Me
Recorded on December 3, 1959 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio From Original Analog Master Tapes.
Willie Dixon – vocals, bass
Memphis Slim – piano
Wally RIchardson – guitar
Hal Ashby – tenor sax
Gus Johnson – drums