Saturday, 25 October 2008

Chuck Willis - Be Good Or Be Gone

This 1985 Chuck Willis compilation LP on Edsel is another album that has lain neglected and unplayed in my cupboard for a decade or two. I remember feeling not too impressed by Chuck Willis when I bought the album, but thanks to the fact that I’m converting vinyl to CD and mp3 and then blogging most of the results, I have had the chance to listen to these tracks again, and I’ve concluded that this is a gem of an album.

Singer and songwriter Chuck Willis (1928 – 1958) was a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He was born and raised a stone’s throw from Decatur Street, the city’s main entertainment drag and home of the 81 Theater. After the Second World War the city’s black entertainment scene centred on Auburn Avenue and it was in the hotels and clubs around this area that the young Chuck Willis could be found fronting bands led by Roy Mays and Red McAllister.

He also took part in talent shows hosted by local radio jock Zenas “Daddy” Sears, who took the young singer under his wing and introduced him to Columbia Records honcho Danny Kessler. Willis’ first record “It Ain’t Right To Treat Me Wrong” was released on Columbia, but in early 1951 Kessler was made A&R man for the revived OKeh label which was the vehicle for Columbia’s attempts to break into the R&B market which was becoming increasingly dominated by independent labels.

Willis’ first release on OKeh was “Be Good Or Be Gone” (recorded in January 1951). He went on to have five R&B chart hits on the label between October 1952, and June 1954. Although none of those hits feature on this collection, this is still an excellent album featuring pounding jump blues, early rock ‘n’ roll, and heartfelt bluesy ballads. Many of the numbers are enlivened by the searing tenor sax of bandleader Freddie Jackson.

Clive Anderson’s excellent liner notes provide an in-depth account of this stage of Willis’ career. In early 1956 Willis signed for Atlantic Records and a subsequent post will look at his tragically brief time there.

Many thanks to Joan for a great selection of label shots, plus a scan of the cover of the 1958 Epic (another Columbia subsidiary) LP “Chuck Willis Wails The Blues”. Apologies for the variation in picture size tonight, but the Blogger picture sizing facility ain't working. They're probably too busy closing down blogs to notice. Stop Press: I sorted it by producing resized copies myself.

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps. Password = greaseyspoon

Download from here:

http://rapidshare.com/files/157331487/Be_Good_Or_Be_Gone.rar

1. Keep A Knockin'
2. Be Good Or Be Gone
3. I Tried
4. It's Too Late Baby
5. Let's Jump Tonight
6. Change My Mind
7. Loud Mouth Lucy
8. Wrong Lake To Catch A Fish
9. Lawdy Miss Mary
10. Baby's On My Mind *
11. You Know You Don't Love Me
12. Search My Heart
13. I Can Tell
14. I Need One More Chance
15. I Don't Mind If I Do *
16. Break My Rule

* = previously unreleased

2 comments:

oshaman3 said...

Great one,Many,Many Thanks.

Cacu said...

Thank you very very very very much!!