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Saturday, September 16, 2017


(originally posted 5/ 2008)

The great Little Willie John (big brother to Stax artist Mable John) lived a tragic life; while many of his records were big hits on the R&B charts (and several were covered later by other artists), he battled alcoholism. He died at age 30 while in prison.

This man's voice is one of the most powerful and haunting in all of R&B, and he could deliver a ballad in a way that can break your heart, and blaze a rocker in a way that can kick start everything immediately into 5th gear.

"I'm Shakin'" stands among his greatest records; the vocal delivers the lyrics in a way that cuts straight to the bloodstream, and the stop-start arrangement is brilliant, and is known to drive dancers wild out on the floor. This track was reissued in 1963 with drums overdubbed during the verses; in my opinion, the extra percussion only makes the record lose a little bit of its magic and I prefer the original. Either way, though, you're gonna groove.

from 1960...


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