Archive for the Little Willie JOHN Category

James BROWN – Thinking About LITTLE WILLIE JOHN and Few Nice Things 1968

Posted in BLUES, James BROWN, Little Willie JOHN on December 11, 2010 by whoisthemonk

James BROWN – Thinking About LITTLE WILLIE JOHN and Few Nice Things 1968
King S 1030


Nice rather than great and not a funk album by any means but if you want to hear James rediscover his roots and sing this is for you.
By M. Hoffman.
This is one of James Brown’s finest moments among many fine moments, in a tribute to the great Little Willie John, who died mysteriously in a Walla Walla prison in 1968. The first six songs feature James as a pure torch singer, and the man could sing. A unique performance, it’s a shame that this recording is not currently in release. The second six songs (side B of the LP) are instrumentals featuring James on organ. Would love to know the lineup of this band.
A1. Talk to Me Talk to Me
A2. Suffering With the Blues
A3. Cottage for Sale
A4. Bill Bailey
A5. Home at Last
A6. Heartbreak (It’s Hurting Me)
B1. What Kind of Man
B2. A Note or Two (Part 1)
B3. I’ll Lose My Mind
B4. Fat Eddie
B5. You Gave My Heart a Song to Sing
B6. A Note or Two (Part 2)

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Little Willie JOHN – The early King Sessions (1955-1957) 2002

Posted in BLUES, Little Willie JOHN on December 4, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Little Willie JOHN – The early King Sessions (1955-1957) 2002


I thought I must write a review for this CD, how could I not when the quality is this good.
These tracks are more than fifty years old but still sound great.
I purchased this CD after listening to a few tracks on vinyl and was mesmerised by the great vocals.
Little Willie John was definetly talented, of course everyone must know the single ‘Fever’, perhaps one of Little Willie John’s most famous tracks, but believe me listen to his other songs, they are even better, especially ‘All Around The World’, its a great R’n’B jiver, along with many other tracks on here which are great to dance to, or even sit and relax to.
I won’t bore you with the details of how great this CD was, if I had a complaint I would have said so already, honestly, go buy this album, its great!
James Brown is a great fan of Litttle Willie John and he used to be his friend until he died at age 30 in 1968. When Little Willie John became famous James Brown was his opening act.
He is not very well known nowadays but you only have to listen to his voice to realize that he is of the same level as Sam Cooke,Jackie Wilson and Otis Redding.
This CD has a good sound quality and contains his early hits, which are more ‘rough’ than his later work. For me this is pure soul! It is unbelievable that he is just 17 to 19 years old at these recordings.
By L.Gischler.
This collection is actually drawn from Two (2) of Little Willie John’s albums, and includes several Billboard Charted Hits such as: “All Around The World” a #5 Hit!, “Need Your Love So Bad” another #5 Hit, it’s B-Side “Home At Last” which recieved a lot of Air-Play, and The All-Time #1 Classic Hit: “Fever” (His Biggest Hit from this period), It’s B-Side “Letter From My Darling” which recieved a lot of Air-Play. This Compact Disc includes several Album Favorites, as well as several Non-Charted Hits. The sound quality is excellent! For those who still have the ‘Original’ Vinyl 78’s, 45’s and Albums now is a good time to put them out of their misery…As I said earlier Little Willie John was selling Albums, and those who do own the ‘Original’ Vinyl pressings….It’s a pretty good chance they have been played a lot, and your chances of finding Mint copies are VERY SLIM!!! So make yourself happy and go out and buy this Compact Disc (As well as Second Installment) right away!
By Mr. Nightshift.
01. All Around The World
02. Don’t Leave Me Dear
03. Home At Last
04. Need Your Love So Bad
05. I’m Sticking With You
06. Are You Ever Coming Back
07. Fever
08. Letter From My Darling
09. My Nerves
10. Do Something For Me
11. I’ve Been Around
12. Suffering With Blues
13. Little Bit Of Loving
14. Will The Sun Shine Tomorrow
15. You Got To Get Up Early In The Morning
16. Love Life & Money
17. Look What You’ve Done To Me
18. I’ve Got To Go Cry
19. Young Girl
20. If I Thought You Needed Me
21. Uh Uh Baby
22. Dinner Date
23. Person To Person
24. Until I Do

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Little Willie JOHN – Nineteen Sixty Six (The David Axelrod & HB Barnum Sessions) 1966

Posted in BLUES, Little Willie JOHN on December 1, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Little Willie JOHN – Nineteen Sixty Six (The David Axelrod & HB Barnum Sessions) 1966
2008 Reissue.


One of the great lost albums of the 60s finally gets a worldwide CD premiere! Some of the classiest and best mid 60s soul-blues ever committed to tape has remained unheard until now.
Recorded for Capitol in early 1966 while Little Willie John was awaiting final sentencing for manslaughter, the album was mired in a raft of contractual arguments and was put on ice once it became clear that Willie was going to have to serve a prison term and wouldnt be able to promote it.
This CD contains everything that Willie cut for Capitol and is enhanced by a selection of stereo mixes and alternate versions from the sessions.
Arranged and produced by two music legends, HB Barnum and David Axelrod, it features the cream of the mid-60s L.A. session musician scene and is topped off by one of the greatest soul voices. This is a listening experience that no true soul fan will want to miss. And if you dont believe us, ask Richard Hawley who was enthusing about it during its mastering processas he mastered his own new album in the studio next door!
Though no Little Willie John discs of material recorded after his imprisonment for murder in October 1964 were issued between that time and his death (in jail) in May 1968, he did actually record quite a few tracks for Capitol in February 1966. These recordings (supervised by David Axelrod and H.B. Barnum) were unreleased both at the time and for decades afterward, in part because King Records (John’s previous label) contested Capitol’s right to issue the cuts. This 2008 CD of 20 tracks from the sessions, recorded at a time when he was out on appeal, can thus be considered as a genuine lost Little Willie John album. (And despite the number of songs, there would have only been enough for one LP, since there are two versions of eight of the numbers.) For someone with a murder sentence hanging over him, John sounds remarkably unaffected and at ease, and indeed pretty much the same as he did in his classic King period, albeit a little more mature. Much the same can be said for the arrangements, which update his sound a little into the mid-’60s, but draw considerably from lightly swinging jazz and even a bit of easy listening pop in addition to soul. There are a few remakes of songs he’d cut at King, as well as some standards and R&B-oriented tunes (and, disappointingly, just one original John composition). Would this have reestablished John as a star had he won his appeal and Capitol been allowed to put the material out? Probably not; there aren’t any songs that scream “hit,” and that was still the name of the game in the R&B market. But if it had been somehow marketed as a comeback album, without expectations that it would be a huge seller — in the manner that respectable efforts by R&B and rock veterans were, many times over, in subsequent decades — it would have been well received, as John sings well and the material is sympathetic, if not quite outstanding. For all these reasons, this doesn’t rank among his best work; his best King sides remain the place to start. But for the same reasons, it will be enthusiastically and justifiably welcomed by Little Willie John fans as a significant discovery, at a time when few such substantial unreleased bodies of work from soul’s golden age seemed to remain at large.
By Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide.
While appealing his murder conviction, Willie John recorded 12 different titles in three February 1966 sessions for Capitol Records. Blocked from release by King’s Syd Nathan on a contract technicality, these tracks have sat in the vaults for over 40 years. The material is strong, the band, which included saxist Clifford Scott (of ‘Honky Tonk’ fame, Carol Kaye, Gerald Wiggins, and Earl Palmer, is crisp and fluid throughout, and the charts written by H. B. Barnum are stellar. At age 29, John is a powerful master of his craft- raw, emotive, soulful, moving. A spot-on rendition of Lil Green’s “In The Dark”, a blazing remake of his own “Suffering With the Blues” and a pleading take of Johnny Ace’s “Never Let Me Go” are as strong as the singer’s vintage King material. A couple of tracks include a superfluous vocal chorus, but the extra voices don’t detract from the impact Willie John makes on these, his final recordings. Tony Rounce’s detailed notes and eight alternate takes round out a splendid Ace UK package. Produced by L. A. stalwart David Axelrod, this is, quite simply, one of the best R&B-soul releases of 2008. If you’re an R&B and/or soul fan, you won’t be disappointed!
By Todd Babtista.
William Edgar John, better known as Little Willie John due to his short stature, was born in Arkansas in 1937 and spent his formative years in Detroit with his sister, Dr. Mable John, a former member of Ray Charles’ Raelettes and the first female artist signed by Berry Gordy.  Something of a prodigy, Willie began touring with Paul Williams & His Orchestra when he was just 16.  Two years later he landed a recording contract with King Records in Cincinnati where he produced a long string of hit records including “Fever,” which climbed to #1 on the R&B charts in 1956 and was later covered by Peggy Lee and Elvis Presley. His 1955 recording of “I Need Your Love So Bad” has been cited as one of the first soul songs, along with Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman,” recorded by Atlantic the previous year.

In 1964, at a time when Willie’s career was beginning to lag, he stabbed a man during a bar brawl and was sent to prison. Two years later, while out on appeal, Capitol Records organized a recording session for him, produced by the legendary team of H.B. Barnum and David Axelrod and backed by their regular session musicians, including bassist Carole Kaye, drummer Earl Palmer, saxophonist Clifford Scott, and guitarist Les Buie (who occasionally worked with James Brown).  The result was this previously unreleased “lost album,” which has been sitting in Capitol’s vaults for years due to contractual issues (Willie was still under contract to King at the time of the session).

Nineteen Sixty Six: The David Axelrod & HB Barnum Sessions kicks off with three tracks drawn from the first recording session held on the evening of February 19, 1966, two of which feature songs previously recorded by Willie. An updated version of “Country Girl” (a.k.a. “Home at Last”), originally released in 1955 by King, opens the set. Following are two  blues songs subjected to Willie’s special soul-infused treatment-”Suffering With The Blues,” which he originally recorded for King in 1956, and  “I Had A Dream” (a.k.a. “Just a Dream”).

The session scheduled five days later took a ninety degree turn. Instead of the R&B/ jump blues combo, the horns were replaced with a ten piece string section, and back-up vocalists were added, including Barnum’s sister Billie.  The producers’ imprint is all over this jazz and pop-oriented session, which bears a closer resemblance to Barnum’s 1960s productions with Frank Sinatra and Axelrod’s early work with Lou Rawls, not to mention some of Willie’s early ‘60s tracks for King, such as “Loving Care.”   The session begins with a great soul cover of Johnny Ace’s 1954 classic “Never Let Me Go.”  Following is perhaps the most incongruous track from this session, a truly inspired soulful rendition of Rogers and Hammerstein’s “If I Loved You” from the musical Carousel, which I didn’t immediately recognize, but now have played multiple times for family and friends (as in “see if you recognize this!”). No doubt the producers hoped to piggyback on the success of Nat King Cole Sings My Fair Lady, released by Capitol two years earlier. Other tracks from this session include the ballad “(I Need) Someone” and a bluesy version of “Welcome to the Club,” which was also popularized by Nat King Cole in a jazz arrangement recorded in 1958. Though this string session sounds oddly retro for a 1966 era R&B/soul singer, it is still very enjoyable and showcases a distinctly different side of Willie as a pop-oriented balladeer.

Later that afternoon the strings were sent home and the band gets its groove back with the smoking blues standard “Early in the Morning,” followed by one of the best tracks on the CD, “In The Dark,” which aptly demonstrates Willies vocal range and flexibility. Willie’s only original song on the album, “Crying in the Dark,” returns again to the blues idiom, and features some great solos by the band.  The session concludes with “You Are My Sunshine,” which once again shows Willie’s ability to completely transform a standard into a powerful demonstration of gospel-tinged soul. The remaining nine bonus tracks include alternate takes and stereo mixes.

Sadly, Little Willie John’s court appeal was overturned shortly after these recording sessions concluded, and he returned to prison. Two years later he died in the Washington state penitentiary in Walla Walla, just five months after a fatal plane crash claimed the life of soul superstar Otis Redding.  Though during his lifetime Willie achieved wide acclaim, he is seldom mentioned in the same breath as his contemporaries—Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and James Brown, among others—who were also instrumental in transforming gospel and rhythm and blues music into soul.  However, recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in Willie’s career, leading to several good retrospective CD compilations as well as an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. At least one biography is also in progress, and Kent may have another project in the works. Perhaps Little Willie John will finally take his rightful place as one of the first soul singers.
By Brenda Nelson-Strauss.
This has been described recently by its producer, David Axelrod, as “one of the best albums that I ever did”. And in spite of its sub-zero fidelity reproduction, a previous (and dubious) issue of some of its contents has had fans of mid 60s soul going into apoplexies about its brilliance – apoplexies tempered with regret that the audio sounded like it had been cut in a bucket with a 20 tog duvet glued to the top..

Well, Little Willie John fans can discard those forthwith as Kent is very proud to add “Nineteen Sixty Six”, featuring Willie’s complete Capitol sessions, to its catalogue. Those who love Willie’s great King sides and have wondered about how he would have coped with the arrival of soul music need wonder no more – these 12 selections (plus a generous helping of stereo mixes and alternate takes) show that he would have done just fine as a premier league soul man. Produced by Axelrod, arranged by H B Barnum and featuring many of the usual West Coast sessioneers such as Arthur Wright, Earl Palmer, Jim Horn and Carol Kaye (not to mention Barnum’s sister Billie, of the Apollas, leading the backing vocalists), this set would have been all that Willie would have needed to get his career back on track if the US judicial system had not decreed that he should be returned to prison, to serve the sentence that had been imposed upon him for stabbing a man in 1964.

There are at least three cuts on this set – ‘Country Girl’, ‘Someone’ and ‘Early In The Morning’, which are already firing up the nation’s Northern Soul collectors and dancers. Other true delights include Willie’s sublime version of the similarly-tragic Johnny Ace’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ and a thrill-a-second version of Lil Green’s sensual 40s blues ‘In The Dark’.

In beautiful sound, and mastered from recent transfers of the original Capitol master tapes, “Nineteen Sixty Six” represents the creative apex of a man who never got the chance to try to better it. Little more than two years after these sides were cut, William Edgar John died in Wall Walla Prison in Washington State, a victim of pneumonia.

Willie may have gone, but his legacy will be with us always. Buried in a vault for long-forgotten ‘legal reasons’ more than 40 years ago, it’s great to give some of the best-ever recordings by someone who – for my money – is the greatest singer of all time, the kind of ‘homecoming’ that they have long deserved.
By Tony Rounce.
William Edgar John- Vocals
Tony Terran- Trumpet
Freddie Hill- Trumpet
Clifford Scott- Tenor Sax
Billie Barnum- Choir, Chorus, Vocal Arrangement
Arthur Wright- Guitar
Dennis Budimir- Guitar
Les Buie- Guitar
Jeff Kaplan- Guitar
Gary Coleman- Percussion, Vibraphone
Jim Horn- Baritone Sax
Tommy Strode- Organ, Piano, Electric Piano
Gerald Wiggins- Organ, Piano, Electric Piano
Carol Kaye- Electric Bass
Jimmy Bond- Bass
Earl Palmer- Drums
01. Country Girl aka Home At Last (Take 8) 4:99
02. Suffering With The Blues (Take 4) 5:33
03. I Had A Dream aka Just A Dream (Take 7) 5:20
04. Never Let Me Go (Take 4) 4:31
05. If I Loved You (Take 2) 5:21
06. (I Need) Someone (Take 12) 3:88
07. Welcome To The Club (Take 8) 6:29
08. Early In The Morning (Take 8) 3:77
09. In The Dark (Take 1) 5:43
10. Crying Over You (Take 2) 5:63
11. You Are My Sunshine (Take 3) 5:08
12. Country Girl aka Home At Last (Alt. Take) 5:16
13. Suffering With The Blues (Alt. Take) 5:34
14. I Had A Dream aka Just A Dream (Alt. Take) 5:20
15. Endless Sleep 4:68
16. Never Let Me Go (Alt. Take)    4:42
17. Welcome To The Club (Alt. Take) 6:31
18. Early In The Morning (Alt. Take) 3:91
19. In The Dark (Alt. Take) 5:44
20. Crying Over You (Alt Take)    5:63

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Little Willie JOHN – Home At Last 2008

Posted in BLUES, Little Willie JOHN on November 18, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Little Willie JOHN – Home At Last 2008


Little Willie John was the first of the great soul singers, although he emerged and was active nearly a decade before the genre was even given a name. A diminutive, emotional dynamo, John could wrest the very heart and soul from the most mundane set of lyrics, making every word seem as if the fate of the world rested on it. When united with fine material like his signature song, “Fever,” which he co-wrote (and is included here), John invariably delivered definitive versions. This collection covers recordings made between 1956 and 1966, and the first nine tracks are from his prime years with King Records, while the rest of the tracks sound like live recordings.
By Steve Leggett, Rovi.
First, let me say that Little Willie John is, in my opinion, one of the greatest singers ever to have his voice recorded. Easily in my Top 10 list of greatest singers ever.
That being said, the quality of this recording is ASTONISHINGLY bad!! This is a bootleg recording through and through! It is so bad I defy the listener to tell whether (on tracks 9-19) this is a live or studio recording. Was it recorded with a hand held mic? Was the microphone located at the bottom of trash can? Was there a lid on the trash can? The listener is left to wonder.

I was really looking forward to hearing Little Willie John’s version of “If I Loved You” – which may still be in a vault somewhere in a listenable condition – and couldn’t believe how muffled and barely discernible this track was!! Ember records has GOT to be a fly-by-night outfit! No legitimate label could release something so ridiculously poor and 4th rate.

There must not be a Little Willie John estate, because clearly no one who looks out for his interests, and the amazing recordings he made, could be associated with this scam of a recording!
By James K. Power
Be your own Judge…..
Little Willie John- Vocals
George Barnes- Guitar
Bill Jennings- Guitar
Mickey Baker- Guitar
Everett Barksdale- Guitar
Kenny Burrell- Guitar
Hal Singer- Tenor Sax
Rufus Gore- Tenor Sax
David Van Dyke-Tenor Sax
Ray Relder- Tenor Sax
Willis “Gator” Jackson- Tenor Sax
Reuben Phillips- Baritone Sax
Bill Graham- Baritone Sax
Lowell Hastings- Trumpet
Ernie Hayes- Piano
Kelly Owens- Piano
Robert “Bubber” Johnson- Piano
Jon Thomas- Piano
Bill Pemberton (Bass
Al McKibbon- Bass
Edwyn Conley- Bass
Milt Hinton- Bass
Calvin Shields- Drums
Edison Gore- Drums
Panama Francis- Drums
01. Fever 2:38
02. Letter From My Darling 2:26
03. Talk To Me, Talk To Me 2:39
04. Spasms 2:42
05. Let’s Rock Whilst The Rocking’s Good 2:16
06. You’re A Sweetheart 2:40
07. Big Blue Diamonds 2:46
08. Doll Face 2:15
09. You Are My Sunshine 2:29
10. Home At Last 2:33
11. Suffering With The Blues 2:44
12. I Had A Dream 2:39
13. Never Let Me Go 2:11
14. If I Loved You 2:37
15. I Need Someone 1:59
16. Welcome To The Club 3:07
17. Early In The Morning 1:54
18. In The Dark 2:35
19. Crying Over You 2:47

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