Archive for the Willie DIXON Category

Willie DIXON and Memphis SLIM – Willie´s Blues 1959

Posted in BLUES, Willie DIXON on December 26, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Willie DIXON and Memphis SLIM – Willie´s Blues 1959
1992 Issue.


These tunes were recorded in a New Jersey studio, when Willie and Memphis Slim were on a brief “lay-over” in New York between gigs. It only took a few hours to finish, the entire set was completely unrehearsed, they called in three session musicians, tuned-up, and the result was this wonderful 12 song recording of Chicago Blues done with an “After Hours” feel. Nervous is an enjoyable slow romp and Willie stammers and stutters like an anxious suitor would. Good Understanding in bit more up-tempo and features some excellent New Orleans style “walkin’ piano” by Memphis Slim. That’s My Baby is a straight ahead, easy going, number which features some good guitar work, but it’s Willie’s vocals which stand out. Slim’s Thing is the first of the two songs which were not penned by Dixon, and it is REALLY Slim’s Thing. It’s an up-tempo instrumental featuring Slim’s deft piano playing, all of the musicians get a chance to show their stuff, but Willie’s thumping and finger slapping bass is especially rewarding. That’s All I Want Baby is another slow tempo, no nonsense blues tune done well. Don’t You Tell Nobody has a quick tempo and Willie’s “Blues Shouting” style is the highlight on this song. Youth To You is the “stand out” cut on the first side of this recording, and although most people probably wouldn’t recognize this song by this title, well, that’s because it has been done so many times as I Just Want To Make Love To You by such artists as Foghat, etc. Hey, this is just one of WILLIE’S classic tunes, and he KNOWS how to do HIS OWN material!
Sittin’ And Cryin’ The Blues is a slow and soulful ballad with Willie lamenting, while the session sax player plays off of his vocals with some haunting jazzy-bluesy riffs. Built For Comfort is Willie’s “signiture tune,” it’s played without any excess, and then it’s over. Oh, it’ll leave a smile on your face! I Got A Razor is a slow and reflective narrative, and Willie just talks his way through the entire song. Before RAP, this is how talented Black Musicians(as well as talented musicians of other races) “expressed themselves,” and personally I find it much more effective! Go Easy is the second Memphis Slim tune. It’s another instrumental which has a nice, easy flow and features more of Slim’s accomplished “walkin’ piano,” along with some of Willie’s great “gut bucket” bass playing. Move Me is a variation of the Broonzy classic “Rock Me Baby,” and Willie turns this into a throbbing and raunchy affair, which has almost a “smokey strip club” type of aura about it. This is one of those records that they don’t make any longer, and it’s truly a shame that people don’t!

I’d like to say a few things about Willie Dixon. Of anybody, and I mean ANYBODY, in ANY field, I’ve never run across a person who was more real than Willie was! I went to see him in a small club around 1983, and although I virtually never ask for somebody’s autograph, well, I figured that I’d get a chance to speak with him briefly, so I took this LP with me to the show. It was about 100 degrees, his band’s bus was delayed, so he limped up to the stage with a cane in a very slow manner. Then he started talking to the audience about a foundation for all of the Blues artists who were shamelessly ripped off, and not only was his talk both insightful and informative, but that petition of his was signed by VIRTUALLY EVERY seminal musician. After he was done speaking I walked out into the hallway and said, “Mr. Dixon, would you please sign this for me?” It was funny, because he saw that I had an “official” LP of his, but he just kept on staring at me for a minute or two, then he shook his head, signed the LP, and walked away to get ready for the show. When the show started he limped up to the stage again, but when the music started, he tossed the cane down, and delivered the most INSPIRATIONAL live performance that I’ve ever seen, however, throughout the entire show he’d look over at me now and then to see how I was reacting to the performance? I’d say he knew that I KNEW music, and that I also UNDERSTOOD what he was about? As the show went along, virtually everybody in the audience had moved up to the stage, and they were TOTALLY transfixed by Willie’s persona and performance, however, I kept sitting in a small alcove nearby, but he kept looking at me and by now whenever he did, then he seemed to smile and nod as if he knew that he had gotten his message through to me? Yeah, Willie, I’ve always tried to give credit when credit was due, and I will ALWAYS have this record with: From Willie Dixon on the back of it; it might of said a bit more, but Willie was SO REAL, that I FORGOT to tell him WHAT MY NAME was? Actually, I’m glad that I forgot, because it means so much more to ONLY have “From Willie Dixon” without my name getting in the way! Nobody got in Willie’s way; and even Led Zeppelin ended up paying Willie for some tunes of his that they BORROWED, which they hadn’t given him credit for. Hey, Peter Grant got a taste of just how REAL and POWERFUL Willie Dixon was in person, and I think it’s the ONLY time that he and Zeppelin didn’t speak, and quietly PAID somebody what they were owed! Oh, Willie also hooked Chuck Berry up with Chess, and did a few other “things,” too! Yeah, Willie was THAT REAL, THAT AUTHENTIC, and had THAT kind of PRESENCE, and those qualities are very hard to fake! No, you have to EARN and DESERVE things like that, and anybody who met Willie, Knew that he surely had…and THEN SOME!!!
By M.S.Ulbricht.
Willie Dixon- Bass Guitar, Vocals
Memphis Slim- Piano
Wally Richardson- Guitar
Al Ashby- Tenor Sax
Harold Ashby- Tenor Sax
Gus Johnson- Drums
01. Nervous 3:15
02. Good Understanding 2:15
03. That’s My Baby 3:23
04. Slim’s Thing 3:24
05. That’s All I Want Baby 2:16
06. Don’t You Tell Nobody 2:05
07. Youth To You 3:16
08. Sittin’ And Cryin’ The Blues 3:18
09. Built For Comfort 2:31
10. I Got A Razor 4:11
11. Go Easy 5:51
12. Move Me 3:20
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Willie DIXON and Johnnny WINTER & The Chicago All Stars, Houston 1971- Crying The Blues,Live 1971

Posted in BLUES, Johnnny WINTER, Willie DIXON on December 24, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Willie DIXON and Johnnny WINTER & The Chicago All Stars, Houston 1971- Crying The Blues,Live 1971
Recorded at the Liberty Hall,
Houston, Texas on May 9th, 1971
1996 Issue.


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. A producer, songwriter, bassist, and singer, he helped Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, and others find their most commercially successful voices.

By the time he was a teenager, Dixon was writing songs and selling copies to the local bands. He also studied music with a local carpenter, Theo Phelps, who taught him about harmony singing. With his bass voice, Dixon later joined a group organized by Phelps, the Union Jubilee Singers, who appeared on local radio. Dixon eventually made his way to Chicago, where he won the Illinois State Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship. He might’ve been a successful boxer, but he turned to music instead, thanks to Leonard “Baby Doo” Caston, a guitarist who had seen Dixon at the gym where he worked out and occasionally sang with him. The two formed a duo playing on street corners, and later Dixon took up the bass as an instrument. They later formed a group, the Five Breezes, who recorded for the Bluebird label. The group’s success was halted, however, when Dixon refused induction into the armed forces as a conscientious objector. Dixon was eventually freed after a year, and formed another group, the Four Jumps of Jive. In 1945, however, Dixon was back working with Caston in a group called the Big Three Trio, with guitarist Bernardo Dennis (later replaced by Ollie Crawford).

During this period, Dixon would occasionally appear as a bassist at latenight jam sessions featuring members of the growing blues community, including Muddy Waters. Later on when the Chess brothers who owned a club where Dixon occasionally played began a new record label, Aristocrat (later Chess), they hired him, initially as a bassist on a 1948 session for Robert Nighthawk. The Chess brothers liked Dixon’s playing, and his skills as a songwriter and arranger, and during the next two years he was working regularly for the Chess brothers. He got to record some of his own material, but generally Dixon was seldom featured as an artist at any of these sessions.

Dixon’s real recognition as a songwriter began with Muddy Waters’ recording of “Hoochie Coochie Man.” The success of that single, “Evil” by Howlin’ Wolf, and “My Babe” by Little Walter saw Dixon established as Chess’ most reliable tunesmith, and the Chess brothers continually pushed Dixon’s songs on their artists. In addition to writing songs, Dixon continued as bassist and recording manager of many of the Chess label’s recording sessions, including those by Lowell Fulson, Bo Diddley, and Otis Rush. Dixon’s remuneration for all of this work, including the songwriting, was minimal he was barely able to support his rapidly growing family on the 100 dollars a week that the Chess brothers were giving him, and a short stint with the rival Cobra label at the end of the ’50s didn’t help him much.

During the mid’60s, Chess gradually phased out Dixon’s bass work, in favor of electric bass, thus reducing his presence at many of the sessions. At the same time, a European concert promoter named Horst Lippmann had begun a series of shows called the American FolkBlues Festival, for which he would bring some of the top blues players in America over to tour the continent. Dixon ended up organizing the musical side of these shows for the first decade or more, recording on his own as well and earning a good deal more money than he was seeing from his work for Chess. At the same time, he began to see a growing interest in his songwriting from the British rock bands that he saw while in London his music was getting covered regularly by artists like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds, and when he visited England, he even found himself cajoled into presenting his newest songs to their managements. Back at Chess, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters continued to perform Dixon’s songs, as did newer artists such as Koko Taylor, who had her own hit with “Wang Dang Doodle.” Gradually, however, after the mid’60s, Dixon saw his relationship with Chess Records come to a halt. Partly this was a result of time the passing of artists such as Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson was part of the problem, and the death of Leonard Chess and the sale of the company called a halt to Dixon’s involvement.

By the end of the 1960s, Dixon was eager to try his hand as a performer again, a career that had been interrupted when he’d gone to work for Chess as a producer. He recorded an album of his bestknown songs, I Am the Blues, for Columbia Records, and organized a touring band, the Chicago Blues All Stars, to play concerts in Europe. Suddenly, in his fifties, he began making a major name for himself onstage for the first time in his career. Around this time, Dixon began to have grave doubts about the nature of the songwriting contract that he had with Chess’ publishing arm, Arc Music. He was seeing precious little money from songwriting, despite the recording of hit versions of such Dixon songs as “Spoonful” by Cream. He had never seen as much money as he was entitled to as a songwriter, but during the 1970s he began to understand just how much money he’d been deprived of, by design or just plain negligence on the part of the publisher doing its job on his behalf.

Arc Music had sued Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement over “Bring It on Home” on Led Zeppelin II, saying that it was Dixon’s song, and won a settlement that Dixon never saw any part of until his manager did an audit of Arc’s accounts. Dixon and Muddy Waters would later file suit against Arc Music to recover royalties and the ownership of their copyrights. Additionally, many years later Dixon brought suit against Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement over “Whole Lotta Love” and its resemblance to Dixon’s “You Need Love.” Both cases resulted in outofcourt settlements that were generous to the songwriter.

The 1980s saw Dixon as the last survivor of the Chess blues stable and he began working with various organizations to help secure song copyrights on behalf of blues songwriters who, like himself, had been deprived of revenue during previous decades. In 1988, Dixon became the first producer/songwriter to be honored with a boxed set collection, when MCA Records released Willie Dixon: The Chess Box, which included several rare Dixon sides as well as the most famous recordings of his songs by Chess’ stars. The following year, Dixon published I Am the Blues (Da Capo Press), his autobiography, written in association with Don Snowden.

Dixon continued performing, and was also called in as a producer on movie soundtracks such as Gingerale Afternoon and La Bamba, producing the work of his old stablemate Bo Diddley. By that time, Dixon was regarded as something of an elder statesman, composer, and spokesperson of American blues. Dixon eventually began suffering from increasingly poor health, and lost a leg to diabetes. He died peacefully in his sleep early in 1992.
By Bruce Eder.
Willie Dixon- (Bass, Vocals),
Johnny Winter (Guitar),
Lee Jackson (Guitar),
Lafayette Leake (Piano),
Big Walter Horton- (Harmonica),
Clifton James (Drums).
01. Sittin’ And Cryin’ The Blues   04:43
02. Spoonful   04:54
03. I Just Wanna Make Love To You   05:57
04. Chicago Here I Come   02:34
05. Tore Down   04:39
06. You Know It Ain’t Right   04:22
07. Mean Mistreater & Baby What Do You Want Me To Do   09:17
08. Roach Stew   05:42
09. Killing Floor   03:52
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Willie DIXON – Poet of the Blues 1998

Posted in BLUES, Willie DIXON on December 14, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Willie DIXON – Poet of the Blues 1998


This CD is a compilation of Willie Dixon songs. It is not coherent, but it has a certain comprehensiveness. Containing seven of the nine songs originally issued as “I Am the Blues” in 1970 it more than representative of what Willie Dixon is about. The 1970 recording featured an all-star band of Chicago bluesmen-Shaky Jake on harmonica, Sunnyland Slim on piano, Johhny Shines playing guitar and Clifton James on drums. Dixon played base, of course, on a recording designed to showcase him playing and singing his songs. The first seven songs on this CD not only represent the best of what we call Chicago blues-they are also songs that define the genre in modern times. These are among the songs that Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Little Walter, Bo Diddley, Otis Rush, and (dare I say) Mick Jagger and a bunch of Brits made famous. The songs that in turn made those performers famous. Here Dixon plays with his peers to define his own songs. The balance of the CD (and it is a sort of Frankenstein monster collage) comprises tracks by the Big Three Trio. These were recorded between 1947 and 1951, and they are evidence of Dixon’s lyrical ability. (Hence, the title “Poet of the Blues”) These trio tracks are clearly jazz-Dixon on string base with Leonard Caston on piano, Ollie Crawford on guitar, and Hillard Brown playing drums. The nine tracks on this compilation are among the 21 tracks on Columbia Blues/Roots CD called “Willie Dixon: The Big Three.” Regardless of the packaging, this is a fine recording. The 1970 renditions prove Dixon’s inventiveness and genius in the context of the people that really matter. Buy this collection. Or find the two CDs that are its source. If you really love Willie Dixon, look for the Chess collections, too.
By  George H. Soule.
One of blues music’s greatest composers, Willie Dixon was also a strong performer. This Columbia Legacy reissue is a profile of the artist in his post-Chess Records years and is chock full of classics, many of which have been covered by rock bands as well as blues musicians: “Back Door Man,” “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” “Spoonful,” “I Ain’t Superstitious,” “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” … the list goes on. For all of his achievements as a composer and performer, relatively little of Dixon’s recorded work is available, particularly from his later years. Poet of the Blues is an excellent introduction as well as a chance to hear many of these classic songs in their original incarnations.
By Genevieve Williams. AMG.
Columbia/Legacy’s Poet of the Blues is a fine 16-track collection that spotlights Willie Dixon’s own recordings of such blues standards as “Back Door Man,” “I Can’t Quit You Babe,” “Spoonful,” “The Little Red Rooster” and “I Ain’t Sperstitious,” plus some lesser-known originals like “If the Sea Was Whiskey,” “O.C. Bounce,” “Money Tree Blues,” “Juice-Head Bartender” and “Signifying Monkey.” Many of these songs were recorded with his early trio, the Big Three, and while they’re of historical interest, they’re not quite as good as his Chess recordings. Nevertheless, this is a good, concise sampler of his Columbia recordings for anyone curious about this period of Dixon’s career.
By Thom Owens, All Music Guide.
Johnny Shines- Guitar
Sunnyland Slim- Piano
Ollie Crawford- Guitar
Hillard Brown- Drums
Charles Sanders- Drums
The Big Three Trio- Vocals
Clifton James- Drums
Willie Dixon- Arranger, Composer, Vocals, Bass (Upright), String Bass
01. Back Door Man 6:08
02. I Can’t Quit You Baby 6:41
03. The Seventh Son 4:16
04. Spoonful 4:56
05. I Ain’t Superstitious 4:04
06. I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man 4:49
07. Little Red Rooster 3:37
08. Big 3 Stomp 3:05
09. I Ain’t Gonna Be Your Monkey Man 2:58
10. It’s All Over Now 2:38
11. If The Sea Was Whiskey 3:04
12. O.C. Bounce 2:18
13. Money Tree Blues 2:44
14. Cool Kind Woman Blues 2:20
15. Juice-Head Bartender 2:46
16. Signifying Monkey 2:54

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Willie DIXON – I Am The Blues 1970

Posted in BLUES, Willie DIXON on November 24, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Willie DIXON – I Am The Blues 1970
CS 9987


I Am the Blues is easily Willie Dixon’s greatest album and is one of the most important albums in blues music. No other Dixon album showcases his songwriting brilliance. All of the tracks have on this album have been covered by various artists and groups, most noticeably Led Zeppelin’s versions of “I Can’t Quit You Baby” and “You Shook Me.” Artists such as Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, and the Allman Brothers have cited Dixon as one of their key influences. He is also one of the kings of ‘Chicago Blues.’

With all this being said, I Am the Blues is not one of my favorite blues albums. In fact, I only enjoy portions of the album. I do not doubt Dixon’s wonderful songwriting abilities. I love his lyrics, I love the instrumentation, and I love how much emotion comes through in his singing. However, I am not a giant fan of his voice and that is why I do not fully embrace this blues masterpiece. I can’t say I have heard a voice identical Willie Dixon’s in one of the many blues shows I have been to, but I have heard many that are similar. He has a gritty, unpolished voice that fits blues music well, but it does not overly impress me.

I find Led Zeppelin’s versions of the two previously mentioned songs to be better and more interesting than Dixon’s originals (although both songs are good on this album). “The Seventh Son” is the only track on I Am the Blues I have never really got into. Perhaps this is because the melody is so often used in blues musicians today, especially by less talented ones. My favorite track is easily “Spoonful.” This is one of the few tracks on this album that I am convinced Dixon’s voice is the suitable voice. It is energy packed, gravely, slightly sly, and with the other instruments, carries a great groove.

Perhaps I am being a bit harsh. This album IS a blues masterpiece, this I cannot dispute. For me, I Am the Blues has always been a slightly above average album from a listening standpoint. I just find Dixon to be an amazing blues songwriter and a good, but not legendary performer. Anyone who claims to enjoy blues music must listen to this album. What you get are nine of the best classic blues tracks ever written.
By Rocky Sullivan.
A1. Back Door Man  6:12
A2. I Can’t Quit You Baby  6:43
A3. The Seventh Son  4:18
A4. Spoonful  4:57
B1. I Ain’t Superstitious  4:06
B2. You Shook Me  4:17
B3. (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man  4:51
B4. The Little Red Rooster  3:39
B5. The Same Thing  4:40

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