01. I Don't Know
02. Beggar Or Bandit *
03. You're A Fool
04. Monday Woman
05. Willie's Blues *
06. Someday You Gotta Pay *
07. Poison Ivy
01. I'm Mad At You *
02. Lonely Blues *
03. I'm Tired *
04. He Lied *
05. Knock On Wood
06. Why Did It Happen To Me *
07. Seventh Son
08. I'm Mad (Boogiewoody Bonus Track!)
* = previously unissued
Download from here:
This was one of the first LPs I digitized in the early days of the blog nearly 10 years ago. This upload contains improved versions of the original mp3s plus new cover and label scans. The back cover scan looks as though it was made while I was drunk, but I can assure you that the actual LP cover really is that squint! I've run the mp3s through Magix Audio Cleaning Lab again in order to get rid of the numerous clicks from what was a pretty scratched LP, although a few pops remain. The sound quality on the LP wasn't all that good but I have managed to remove the electronic hum that was present throughout "I Don't Know."
The download package includes a folder of label scans from Willie's Chess singles, courtesy of Joan K.
This LP was issued in the UK in 1984 as part of the PRT "Chess Masters" series. but it had already appeared in Italy and Germany with the title "I'm A Heart Regulator" as part of the Chess "Blues Roots" series and it was under the "I'm A Heart Regulator" title that this collection was issued in the USA (Chess CH 9189) in 1984. Of the 14 tracks on the collection, no less than 8 were previously unissued. A few hits were included, such as "I Don't Know," "Poison Ivy," "Knock On Wood" and "Seventh Son."
I've added one of Willie Mabon's best sides, "I'm Mad" partly because I fell in love with it when I came across it on late night TV many years ago in the strange Marv Newland cartoon "Sing Beast Sing."
Willie Mabon was born in Memphis Tennessee in 1925 and moved to Chicago in 1942. His first recording was for Apollo in 1949 but his career didn't really take off until his recording of "I Don't Know" for Parrot in late 1952. The record was quickly picked up by Chess (see below for further details) and it became the fourth best selling R&B single of 1953 and along with the follow up "I'm Mad" which was another number 1 hit, helped to make Willie (billed as "The I Don't Know Man") the third top selling R&B artist of that year.
Although Willie Mabon took the writer credit for "I Don't Know," it was in fact an "adaptation" of a song of the same name recorded by Cripple Clarence Lofton in the 1930s. Willie had one more national R&B hit with "Poison Ivy" in late 1954 although "The Seventh Son" and "Knock On Wood" were local hits in 1955/56. Willie's career gradually lost momentum and he went through an extended period of label hopping throughout the 1960s without ever looking like having another hit.
In the early 1970s he moved to Europe where he recorded for labels like Big Bear and Black & Blue and led the busy life of the American bluesman in exile, including an appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. He passed away in Paris in 1985 at the age of 59.
The story behind the tracks on "Willie Mabon - Chess Masters":
"I Don't Know" was recorded in Chicago, circa mid 1952. Personnel: Willie Mabon (piano, vocal); Ernest Cotton (tenor sax); Bill Evans (bass); Bill Stepney (drums)
"I Don't Know" / "Worry Blues" was released on Parrot in November 1952 (the first release on that label) then later in the same month on Checker 1050 and shortly afterwards on Chess 1531. Parrot label owner Al Benson had a previously existing agreement with the Chess brothers for dual release of his masters, hence the almost simultaneous Parrot / Checker releases. As "I Don't Know" became a phenomenal R&B hit, it was shifted to the parent Chess label, becoming a number one seller and spending 15 weeks in the charts.
"I'm Mad" and "Beggar Or Bandit" were recorded in Chicago on February 5th, 1953. Personnel: Willie Mabon (piano, vocal); Fred Clark (tenor sax); Joseph "Cool Breeze" Bell (bass); Steve Boswell (drums)
"I'm Mad" / "Night Latch" was released on Chess 1538 in April 1953. "Beggar Or Bandit" was unissued until this collection.
"You're A Fool" and "Monday Woman" were recorded in New York City in June 1953. Personnel:
Willie Mabon (piano, vocal) with: Milt Larkin (trombone); unknown (alto sax); Charles Ferguson (tenor sax); unknown (baritone sax); Ted Sturgis (bass); unknown (drums)
"You're A Fool" / "Monday Woman" released on Chess 1548 in August 1953.
"I'm Tired" was recorded in Chicago probably in February 1954. Personnel: Willie Mabon (piano, vocal) with: Bill Martin or Paul King (trumpet) Harold Ashby, Herbert Robinson (tenor sax,poss alto sax); Bill Anderson (bass); Oliver Coleman (drums)
"I'm Tired" was not issued until this collection.
"Poison Ivy" was recorded in Chicago in October 1954. Personnel: Willie Mabon (piano, vocal) with: Paul King (trumpet); Coon Gardner (alto and baritone sax); Herbert Robinson (tenor sax); Bill Anderson (bass); Oliver Coleman or Odie Payne (drums)
"Poison Ivy" / "Say Man" released on Chess 1580 in October 1954.
"Someday You Gotta Pay," "He Lied" and "Seventh Son" were recorded in Chicago in July 1955.Personnel as above except Willie Dixon replaces Bill Anderson on bass.
"The Seventh Son" / "Lucinda" released on Chess 1608 in October 1955.
"Someday You Gotta Pay" and "He Lied" were not issued until this collection.
"Knock On Wood" was recorded in Chicago on May 24th, 1956. Personnel: Willie Mabon (piano, vocals) with: Hubert Robinson (tenor sax); Bill Anderson (bass); Oliver Coleman (drums)
"Knock On Wood" / "Got To Let You Go" released on Chess 1627 in July 1956.
"I'm Mad At You" and "Why Did It Happen To Me" were recorded in Chicago in September 1960. Personnel: Willie Mabon (piano, vocal) with unknown saxes, guitar, bass, drums. Both tracks unissued until this collection.
Thanks to Joan for providing the Chess singles label scans.
Be Bop Wino will be taking a break for the next week or so as I shall be attending a family wedding in the deep south of England. I'll be back rockin' in Scotland sometime soon!