Thursday, 4 February 2010

“What It Takes – The Chess Years [Expanded Edition]” by KOKO TAYLOR. A Review of the 2009 “Hip-O Select” CD Compilation.



This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:

                       http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00LQKMC6I


“…Blues Heaven…Must Be Mighty Sweet…”

Hip-O Select B0013186-02 is a reissue of a deleted 18-track 1991 CD compilation – now with 6 bonus tracks added on. It has the same front artwork, but a live photo spreads itself across the 3 flaps of the card tri-gatefold on the inside, while the booklet is expanded to 16-pages. More importantly, it has truly stunning 2009 remastering by ace tape expert ERICK LABSON (has over 850 credits to his name - including most of the entire Chess catalogue).

Released November 2009 in the USA, February 2010 in the UK, “What It Takes – The Chess Years [Expanded Edition]” breaks down as follows (73:06 minutes):

1. I Got What It Takes (1964 USA 7” single on Checker 1092, A – see also 19)
2. Don’t Mess With The Messer (1969 USA LP “Koko Taylor” on Chess LP 1532)
3. Whatever I Am, You Made Me (as per 2)
4. I’m A Little Mixed Up (as per 2)
5. Wang Dang Doodle (1966 USA 7” single on Checker 1135, A)
6. (I Got) All You Need (1966 USA 7” single on Checker 1174, A)
7. (Just) Love Me (1967 USA 7” single on Checker 1166, A)
8. What Came First The Egg Or The Hen [B-side of 7, duet vocals with Willie Dixon)
9. Insane Asylum (as per 2 – duet vocals with Willie Dixon)
10. Fire (as per 2 – duet vocals with Willie Dixon)
11. I Don’t Care Who Knows (1968 USA 7” single on Checker 1210, A)
12. Twenty Nine Ways (To My Baby’s Door) (as per 2)
13. Blue Prelude [Previously Unreleased, Recorded November 1971]
14. I Need More And More (1972 USA LP “Basic Soul” on Chess CH-50018)
15. Um Huh My Baby (as per 14)
16. Bills, Bills & More Bills (as per 14)
17. Let Me Love You Baby (as per 14)
18. I Got What It Takes [Live Duet With MUDDY WATERS] (1972 USA 2LP set “Blues/Rock Avalanche – The Montreaux Festival” on Chess 2CH-60015)

BONUS TRACKS:
19. What Kind Of A Man Is That? (B-side of 1 – a Koko Taylor original)
20. Blues Heaven (1966 USA 7” single on Checker 1135, A – Willie Dixon co-write with Dick LaPalm)
21. Tell Me The Truth (1966 USA 7” single on Checker 1148, A – a Johnnie May Dunson song)
22. Good Advice (B-side of 21 – a J.B. Lenoir cover)
23. Separate Or Integrate (1967 USA 7” single on Checker 1210, A)
24. Tease Your Man (1972 USA 7” single on Chess 2132, A)

Tracks 1 to 3, 5 to 12, 14 to 18 and 23 to 24 are all written by WILLIE DIXON
Track 20 is co-written by WILLIE DIXON and DICK LaPALM
Other track credits listed above

With a powerhouse voice that could level tall buildings from ten paces, Koko Taylor truly met her soul mate in Chess’ principal songwriter – the mighty Willie Dixon. He wrote 18 of the tracks on here and co-wrote one other – his presence is everywhere. With the house-band containing the cream of the Blues crop (Lafayette Leake on Piano, Buddy Guy and Johnny “Twist” Williams on Guitars and a host of others – including Willie Dixon on Bass), it’s no wonder that these slices of Sixties Blues and R’n’B boogie along so brilliantly.

But the real revelation is the SOUND – I’ve raved about Erick Labson’s work before, but the lad’s excelled himself here – beautiful clarity and depth – in your face for all the right reasons. Fans will thrill to the care given – infused no doubt with the same affection that exudes from ANDY McKAIE’s typically excellent liner notes. It’s a shame though that they didn’t picture either of her albums “Koko Taylor” (a ragbag of tracks from ’65, ’67 and ’69 finally issued in 1969) and the “Basic Soul” LP from 1972 – but that’s offset against a colour photo of her debut Checker 45 “I Got What It Takes” on 1092 – what a lovely sight. Its fab B-side “Blues Heaven” is also here (lyrics above). The previously unreleased and exclusive-to-this-set “Blue Prelude” is a slow blues Joe Bishop/Gordon Jenkins song and it’s excellent.

Koko has been poorly served by Chess reissues across the last two decades – until now. With her passing in June 2009 at the age of 80, Memphis’ Cora Taylor is finally done proud by this lovely and wonderful reissue. Top marks to all involved – and another goodie from Hip-O Select.

Recommended.

For info purposes - a Checker Records (Chess) Discography
USA 7" singles:

1. I Got What It Takes b/w What Kind Of A Man Is This (1964, Checker 1092)
2. Don't Mess With The Messer b/w Whatever I Am, You Made Me (1965, Checker 1106)
3. Good Advice b/w When I Think Of My Baby (1965, Checker 1140)
4. Good Advice b/w Tell The Truth (1965, Checker 1148)
5. What Came First The Egg Or The Hen b/w (Just) Love Me (1967, Checker 1166)
6. (I Got) All You Need b/w All Money Spent (1967, Checker 1174)
7. Fire b/w Insane Asylum (1968, Checker 1191)
8. Separate Or Integrate b/w I Don't Care Who Knows (1968, Checker 1210)
9. Tease Your Man b/w That's The Way Love Is (1972, Chess 2132)

LPs:
“Koko Taylor”, October 1969 USA LP on Chess LPS-1532 [Produced by Willie Dixon]

Side 1:
1. Love You Like A Woman
2. I Love A Lover Like You
3. Don’t Mess With The Messer
4. I Don’t Care Who Knows
5. Wang Dang Doodle
6. I’m A Little Mixed Up

Side 2:
1. Nitty Gritty
2. Fire
3. Whatever I Am, You Made Me
4. Twenty-Nine Ways
5. Insane Asylum
6. Yes, It’s Good For You

“Basic Soul”, 1972 USA LP on Chess CH-50018 [Produced by Willie Dixon]

Side 1:

1. It’s A Poor Dog
2. Let Me Love You Baby
3. Bills, Bills And More Bills
4. I Need More And More
5. Love Me To Death

Side 2:
1. That’s The Way Love Is
2. Um Huh My Baby
3. Please Your Man
4. Pollution
5. Violent Love

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