Archive for the Otis SPANN Category

Otis SPANN, Fleetwood Mac – The Biggest Thing Since Colossus 1969

Posted in BLUES, Fleetwood Mc, Otis SPANN on December 2, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Otis SPANN, Fleetwood Mac – The Biggest Thing Since Colossus 1969
1995 Issue.


The Biggest Thing Since Colossus is an album by American blues musician Otis Spann, released in 1969 (see 1969 in music). The album is also notable for the fact that Spann’s backing band on this occasion were members of Fleetwood Mac, who were touring in America at the time. Spann had been involved in the recording of the Blues Jam at Chess album, and a rapport had been struck between Spann and the British band, which led to their participation on Spann’s new album.

It was agreed beforehand that Spann’s friend and longtime associate S.P. Leary would play drums on the album, and Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood did not take part in the recording. Guitarists Peter Green and Danny Kirwan, and bassist John McVie all contributed to each track, and it is often claimed that Green produced some of his best playing on this album.

“Walkin'” was released as a single in some countries, with “Temperature Is Rising (98.8°F)” (a different version to that found on the album) on the B-side. Another track was recorded at the sessions, “Blues For Hippies”, which was not included on the album.
In January of 1969, British power blues quintet Fleetwood Mac came to Chess Records studios to jam with the likes of Willie Dixon, S.P. Leary, Honeyboy Edwards, and longtime Muddy Waters’ pianist Otis Spann. The sessions were so rich and fruitful that three-fifths of the Mac (specifically bassist John McVie and guitarists Peter Green and Danny Kirwin) impressed Spann enough to cut a record with them at the same sessions. While the classic “Country Girl” and a seven-minute “Someday Soon Baby” (which features a lengthy intro from Green on which Spann can be heard barely off mic telling the rest of the band to “let him play on”) ended up on the Mac’s Blues Jam at Chess double set: remaining cuts included “Dig You” and “Walkin'” and are a near perfect match of Spann’s exciting, emotive singing and the Mac’s youthful muscle. The Biggest Thing Since Colossus was released on Mac manager/producer/strongman Mike Vernon’s London-based Blue Horizon label.
By John Duffy, All Music Guide.
This CD, recorded in 1969, captures two great blues instrumentalists, pianist Otis Spann of Muddy Waters’ Chicago blues band and guitarist Peter Green of the original Fleetwood Mac, at the hight of their considerable powers. Otis Spann, perhaps THE premier blues pianist of all time, handles the vocals on all tracks, but the beauty of this record is the instrumental interplay between Spann and British blues guitarist Peter Green, a founding member of the original Fleetwood Mac band. While the tracks have a relaxed, jam session feel to them, the playing is anything but sloppy. Green’s tone and phrasing are just wonderful.
By  David Tepper.
This 10-track, 1969 reissue features Chicago blues pianist Otis Spann and includes “My Love Depends On You,” “It Was A Big Thing,” and “Dig You,” and includes Peter Green and John McVie from Fleetwood Mac.

1969 album for Columbia featuing Spann backed with S.P.Leary on drums and three early Fleetwood Mac members:guitarists Peter Green & Danny Kirwan and bassist JohnMcVie. 10 tracks, including ‘My Love Depends On You’,’Walkin” and ‘Someday Baby’.
From CD Universe.
Danny Kirwan- (Guitar),
John McVie- (Bass),
Peter Green- (Guitar),
S.P. Leary- (Drums),
Otis Spann- (Piano),Vocals.
01. My Love Depends on You (5:22)
02. Walkin’ (2:54)
03. It Was a Big Thing (3:26)
04. Temperature Is Rising (100. 2 F) (6:13)
05. Dig You (3:04)
06. No More Doggin’ (3:00)
07. Ain’t Nobody’s Business (5:15)
08. She Needs Some Loving (3:08)
09. I Need Some Air (4:40)
10. Someday Baby (3:02)

Continue reading


Otis SPANN – Cryin' Time 1969

Posted in BLUES, Otis SPANN on November 30, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Otis SPANN – Cryin’ Time 1969
VSD 6514


While the Muddy Waters sideman is best known for piano, his soulful organ steals the show on this late-’60s release. His singing is serviceable, helped by wife Lucille Spann on two cuts. Country Joe & the Fish co-founder Barry Melton plays lead guitar, with Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson taking the second chair.
By Mark Allan. AMG.
Otis Spann (1930–1970)
An integral member of the non-pareil Muddy Waters band of the 1950s and 1960s, pianist Otis Spann took his sweet time in launching a full-fledged solo career. But his own discography is a satisfying one nonetheless, offering ample proof as to why so many aficionados considered him then and now as Chicago’s leading postwar blues pianist.

Spann played on most of Waters’ classic Chess waxings between 1953 and 1969, his rippling 88s providing the drive on Waters’s seminal 1960 live version of “Got My Mojo Working” (cut at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival, where Spann dazzled the assembled throng with some sensational storming boogies).

The Mississippi native began playing piano by age eight, influenced by local ivories stalwart Friday Ford. At 14, he was playing in bands around Jackson, finding more inspiration in the 78s of Big Maceo, who took the young pianist under his wing once Spann migrated to Chicago in 1946 or 1947.

Spann gigged on his own and with guitarist Morris Pejoe before hooking up with Waters in 1952. His first Chess date behind the Chicago icon the next year produced “Blow Wind Blow.” Subsequent Waters classics sporting Spann’s ivories include “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “I’m Ready,” and “Just Make Love to Me.”

Strangely, Chess somehow failed to recognize Spann’s vocal abilities. His own Chess output was limited to a 1954 single, “It Must Have Been the Devil,” that featured B.B. King on guitar, and sessions in 1956 and 1963 that remained in the can for decades. So Spann looked elsewhere, waxing a stunning album for Candid with guitarist Robert Jr. Lockwood in 1960, a largely solo outing for Storyville in 1963 that was cut in Copenhagen, a set for British Decca the following year that found him in the company of Waters and Eric Clapton, and a 1964 LP for Prestige where Spann shared vocal duties with bandmate James Cotton. Testament and Vanguard both recorded Spann as a leader in 1965.

The Blues Is Where It’s At, Spann’s enduring 1966 album for ABC-Bluesway, sounded like a live recording but was actually a studio date enlivened by a gaggle of enthusiastic onlookers that applauded every song (Waters, guitarist Sammy Lawhorn, and George “Harmonica” Smith were among the support crew on the date). A Bluesway encore, The Bottom of the Blues followed in 1967 and featured Otis’s wife, Lucille Spann, helping out on vocals.

Spann’s last few years with Muddy Waters were memorable for their collaboration on the Chess set Fathers and Sons, but the pianist was clearly ready to launch a solo career, recording a set for Blue Horizon with British blues-rockers Fleetwood Mac that produced Spann’s laidback “Hungry Country Girl.” He finally turned the piano chair in the Waters band over to Pinetop Perkins in 1969, but fate didn’t grant Spann long to achieve solo stardom. He was stricken with cancer and died in April of 1970.
By Bill Dahl, All Music Guide.
Otis Spann- (Vocals, Piano, Organ);
Barry Melton, Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson- (Guitar);
Jos Davidson- (Bass);
Lonnie Taylor- (Drums);
Lucille Spann- (Background Vocals).
A1. Home to Mississippi   3:23
A2. Blues Is a Botheration   3:58
A3. You Said You’d Be on Time   4:43
A4. Cryin’ Time   3:07
A5. Blind Man   3:21
B1. Some Day   4:32
B2. Twisted Snake   2:59
B3. Green Flowers   4:41
B4. The New Boogaloo   2:07
B5. Mule Kicking in My Stall   3:31

Continue reading

Otis SPANN – The Blues Never Die! 1964

Posted in BLUES, Otis SPANN on November 26, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Otis SPANN – The Blues Never Die! 1964
Recorded in Chicago, November 21, 1964
1965 ReIssue.PR 7719


Boasting fellow Chicago blues dynamo James Cotton on both harmonica and lead vocals, The Blues Never Die! is one of Otis Spann’s most inspired albums. When this session was recorded for Prestige’s Bluesville subsidiary in 1964, Spann was still best known for playing acoustic piano in Muddy Waters’ band. But The Blues Never Die! (which Fantasy reissued on CD in 1990 on its Original Blues Classics imprint) shows that he was as great a leader as he was a sideman. From Willie Dixon’s “I’m Ready” (a Chess gem Spann had played numerous times with Waters) and Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom” to Cotton’s spirited “Feelin’ Good” and Spann’s dark-humored “Must Have Been the Devil,” Spann and Cotton enjoy a very strong rapport on this consistently rewarding date.
By Alex Henderson. AMG.
This album brings together slow, smoky numbers like “One More Mile To Go” and “After Awhile” with a nice rendition of Elmore James’ muscular boogie “Dust My Broom”, a funky “Come On”, and a pretty tough version of Willie Dixon’s “I’m Ready”. Spann’s darkly humorous “Must Have Been The Devil” is another highlight, as is the swaggering mid-tempo grind of “Straighten Up, Baby”.
Otis Spann shares lead vocals with harpist (and occational bandmate) James Cotton, and they are backed by a tight band which includes drummer S.P. Leary, bassist Milton Rector, and guitarists James “Pee Wee” Madison and “Dirty Rivers” – an obvious pseudonym for Spann’s, Madison’s and Cotton’s everyday employer Muddy Waters, who couldn’t officially appear on a Prestige/Bluesville album. (Remember how Buddy Guy was once credited as “Friendly Chap” because he was under contract with Chess and couldn’t legally record for Junior Wells’ record company Delmark?)
This album is perhaps not quite as remarkable as prime cut Muddy Waters or Elmore James, but “The Blues Never Die” is nevertheless a highly professional, very enjoyable, and consistently rewarding blues record.
Definitely recommended.
By  Docendo Discimus.
The sometimes forgotten blues legend, the late Otis Spann not only participated in numerous Muddy Waters recording sessions but was also in great demand by Chess as house pianist, accompanying artists like Bo Diddley (including Diddley¹s first session of 1955, which produced the classic ‘I’m A Man’), Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Rogers and Little Walter. This album  is HR by A.O.O.F.C to all lovers of the blues, and especially Chicago blues. See if you can find the 1969 album, “Fleetwood Mac in Chicago/Blues Jam in Chicago, Vols. 1-2, ” in which he features, and listen to Otis’ superb “The Blues Is Where It’s At” and “Walking the Blues” albums.
Otis Spann– Piano, Vocals (tracks: 1, 2, 5, 8, 9)
Muddy Waters, James Madison– Guitar
Milton Rector– Bass
S.P. Leary– Drums
James Cotton– Harmonica, Vocals (tracks: 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11)
A1. The Blues Never Die 3:40
A2. I Got a Feeling 2:560
A3. One More Mile to Go 3:45
A4. Feelin’ Good 3:30
A5. After a While 2:36
B1. Dust My Broom 2:35
B2. Straighten up, Baby 2:30
B3. Come On 2:40
B4. Must Have Been the Devil 2:40
B5. Lightnin’ 2:50
B6. I’m Ready 3:05

Continue reading

Otis SPANN & Muddy WATERS And His Band – Live The Life 1964-1968

Posted in BLUES, Muddy WATERS, Otis SPANN on November 23, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Otis SPANN & Muddy WATERS And His Band – Live The Life  1964-1968
1997 Issue.


This release includes 16 rare and previously unissued Otis Spann tracks recorded between 1964 and 1969. Featuring the blues piano genius in both a solo context and supporting a bevy of Chicago artists in a variety of settings, this plows through Pete Welding’s old Testament tape vaults to uncover new treasures by the carload. Muddy Waters is listed on the front cover and, indeed, 12 of the 16 songs here are played in his company, most of it in the unusual role of backup musician to Spann. The compilation begins with five songs from a Martin Luther King tribute concert in 1968 featuring Spann and Waters on acoustic guitar performing as an “unplugged” duo, including a heartfelt “Tribute to Martin Luther King” standing next to his own tribute to Big Maceo Merriweather, “Worried Life Blues.” Next up are seven tracks from a late-’60s Muddy Waters concert, kicking off with Spann doing a rip-roaring “Kansas City” and a somber take of “Tin Pan Alley,” and dueting later with Waters on a gospel-tinged “I Wanna Go Home.” Spann’s piano work in both of these live settings is nothing short of elegant and extraordinary, whether he’s soloing, comping perfectly behind Waters’ vocals, or directing the band with an all-knowing lick. Two solo tracks from 1965 (“Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” and “What’s on Your Worried Mind”) are followed by two songs showcasing Spann as a session player behind Johnny Young and harmonica man Slim Willis. Perhaps not the most essential Otis Spann collection you’ll ever hear, but one that nonetheless showcases his wide range of talents.
By Cub Coda.
01.Been A Long, Long Time  4.23
02.Look Under My Bed   4.26
03.Tribute To Matin Luther King  4.40
04.Sarah Street  624
05.Worried Life Blues  4.00
06.Kansas City  4.11
07.Tin Pan Alley  7.29
08.5 Long Years  7.32
09.Live The Life I Love  3.21
10.I Wanna Go Home  5.59
11.Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had  3.37
12.High Rising  4.36
13.Everything’s Gonna Be Alright  2.09
14.What’s On Your Worried Mind  2.27
15.Mean Old Train  3.03
16.My Baby Left Me  2.55

Continue reading