Sunday, 15 May 2016

"The Complete Okeh Sessions 1952-55" by BIG MAYBELLE (1994 USA Epic/Legacy/Okeh CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"…Don't Run My Business…" 

One of the original big-framed shouters and reared on Sunday services where singing for the Lord meant reaching the people in the back seats as well as in the Heavens - Tennessee's Mabel Louise Smith (Big Maybelle) could probably floor a male suitor by just opening her mouth from a mile away. Yet beneath that huge brassy voice and sassy stage persona (backed by saxophones and a blistering rhythm section) beat the heart of a big softie and a habitual substance abuser. Perhaps it was a combination of all these things that imbibed her driving R'n'B with such pathos, fun and pain - all at the same time. Here are the 'just want your love' details...

USA released August 1994 on CD - "The Complete Okeh Sessions 1952-55" by BIG MAYBELLE on Epic/Legacy/Okeh EK 53417 (Barcode 886972504322) CD breaks down as follows (73:48 minutes):

1. Just Want Your Love (1953 USA 7" single Okeh 6955, B-side to "Way Back Home")
2. So Good To My Baby (first appeared 1983 USA 2LP set "The Okeh Sessions" on Epic EG 38456)
3. Gabbin' Blues (Don't Run My Business) (1953 USA 7" single Okeh 6931, A - reissued on Okeh 7069 - see 22 for B-side)
4. My Country Man (1953 USA 7"single on Okeh 7009, A)
5. Rain Down Rain (1953 USA 7" single Okeh 6931, B-side of "Gabbin' Blues (Don't Run My Business)")
6. Way Back Home (1953 USA 7" single Okeh 6955, A)
7. Please Stay Away From My Sam (first appeared 1983 USA 2LP set "The Okeh Sessions" on Epic EG 38456)
8. Jinny Mule (1953 USA 7"single on Okeh 6998, B-side to "Send For Me")
9. Send For Me (1953 USA 7"single on Okeh 6998, A)
10. Maybelle's Blues (1953 USA 7"single on Okeh 7009, B-side of "My Country Man")
11. I've Got A Feelin' (1954 USA 7"single on Okeh 7026, A)
12. You'll Never Know (1954 USA 7"single on Okeh 7026, B-side of "I've Got A Feelin'")
13. No More Trouble Out Of Me (first appeared 1983 USA 2LP set "The Okeh Sessions" on Epic EG 38456)
14. My Big Mistake (1954 USA 7"single on Okeh 7042, A)
15. Ain't No Use (1955 USA 7"single on Okeh 7053, A)
16. I'm Getting `Long Alright (1954 USA 7"single on Okeh 7042, B-side of "My Big Mistake")
17. You'll Be Sorry (first appeared 1983 USA 2LP set "The Okeh Sessions" on Epic EG 38456)
18. Hair Dressin' Women (first appeared 1983 USA 2LP set "The Okeh Sessions" on Epic EG 38456)
19. One Monkey Don't Stop No Show (1955 USA 7"single on Okeh 7060, B-side of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On")
20. Don't Leave Poor Me (1955 USA 7"single on Okeh 7053, B-side of "Ain't No Use")
21. Ain't To Be Played With (first appeared 1983 USA 2LP set "The Okeh Sessions" on Epic EG 38456)
22. New Kind Of Mambo (1956 USA 7" single on Okeh 7069, B-side of "Gabbin' Blues" reissue)
23. Ocean Of Tears (first appeared on the July 1993 Various Artists 3CD Box Set "The Okeh Rhythm And Blues Story 1949-1957" on Epic/Legacy/Okeh E3K 48912)
24. Whole Lot Of Shakin' Goin' On (1955 USA 7"single on Okeh 7060, A)
25. The Other Night (1956 USA 7"single on Okeh 7066, B-side of "Such A Cutie")
26. Such A Cutie (1956 USA 7"single on Okeh 7066, A)

The 12-page booklet has excellent liner notes from PETER GRENDYSA (who did both of The Chess Blues and Rhythm and Roll 4CD Box Sets) with the text peppered by Columbia/Okeh trade adverts ("Gabbin' Blues b/w Rain Down Man") and a photo of her live on a Detroit stage in 1956 mid rapture (a great snap). But the big news is stunning VIC ANESINI/WARREN BEBERG remasters and transfers - clean, clear and full of amazing Fifties echo and presence. This CD is gorgeous audio-wise (the same goes for the whole series really) and that's hammered home as you go from track-to-track.

Love - the lack of it, the throws of it, the sex of it - is not far from the surface of every song. "When it comes to lovin'...he really knows how..." Maybelle enthuses on "Country Man" - while a few minutes later she weeps and wails on "Maybelle's Blues" that "My baby up and left me around about midnight...have mercy...I'm in so much misery..." The bopping R'n'B dancer "So Good To My Baby" first turned up on the 1983 American double-album "The Okeh Sessions" - but better are the flurry of mid-tempo and slow bluesy workouts that came off that double-platter - "Please Stay Away From My Sam", "No More Trouble Out Of Me" and "You'll Be Sorry". There's cautionary advice in "Hair Dressin' Women" who apparently "love to run their mouth all day..." and she does a storming lead rasp on the moaning "Ain't To Be Played With" (quite possibly the best vocal on here).

There's incredibly rare studio chatter at the beginning of "Whole Lot Of Shakin' Goin On" (essentially a False Start with Take 2 being the master) while her formula of a slow A-side backed with a bopping flip is probably best sampled on the fab duo of "Ain't No Use" and "Don't Leave Poor Me" (Okeh 7053). The audio quality is amazing on these cuts - live and in your living room. As it is on the lively "just can't miss..." dancer "New Kind Of Mambo" with Sam "The Man" Taylor blowing up a fabulous Saxophone solo. A special mention should also go the great quality of "Ocean Of Tears" - the lone entry from "The Okeh Story" 3CD Box Set from 1993 (then previously unreleased) which features Mickey Baker putting in tasty licks on Guitar.

A lack of real world love, the needle fix and subsequent diabetes from a lifetime of substance abuse finally did for her in 1972 when she passed away aged only 48. At least this cool little American CD does her Legacy proud - a bit of a cutie frankly...

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