Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Stroll On: Chuck Willis Collection
Genres: Pop, R&B, Rock
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(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the 90's Razor & Tie became the primary rival to Rhino for issuing career retrospective collections and with "Stroll On" they reached their pinnicle. Other fine output from them over the years typically contained 20 tracks and were the best "Best Of's" for those artists available, but with Willis they topped themselves. By focusing solely on his work with Atlantic Records upon his arrival in 1956 to his ulcer induced death in 1958, they present all twenty-five sides he cut for them in chronological order and pristine sound.As always with Razor & Tie the packaging is excellent, with a five page biography by Colin Escott, a full sessionography and a few good pictures, including one on the disc itself. As for the music, if you know only "C.C. Rider", "Hang Up My Rock 'n' Roll shoes' and perhaps "What Am I Living For?" and "It's Too Late", be prepared to become slowly but surely enamored with the genius of Chuck Willis, both as his generation's premiere songwriter and as a remarkably appealing and versatile singer. His voice, his phrasing, his lyrics and above all his sincerity were matchless in the fifties, and it came across in every conceivable style of song. The pure blues delivery of "Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You" is in marked contrast to the sweetly sung "You'll Be My Love" or the bouncy shuffle of "From The Bottom Of My Heart" but he could pull each mood off brilliantly. In between he could rock, roll, moan and stroll with equal aplomb. The session players, typically for Atlantic were the best in the business with the rough and tumble sax players, either "Daddy" Gene Barge, Sam "The Man" Taylor or King Curtis, particularly standout. The Atlantic staff's production with Willis was often adventurish, utilizing everything from mirambas to steel guitars, and he was often backed by the Cookies who Ray Charles later copped from him and redubbed the Raelettes. All told, Willis cut a heckuva lot of gems in just six officially logged sessions over these two years.Without question the single most talented artist not in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame, the soft-spoken Willis gets a collection worthy of his talents here. For his full story though hunt down at any cost his earlier work on OKeh, particularly the comprehensive "Let's Jump Tonight" (though other songs can be found elsewhere from the smaller 1980 collection "My Story" to the "Okeh Rhythm & Blues" boxed set; not to mention hit songs he wrote for Ruth Brown, The Five Keys, Clovers and Cardinals which are vital as well), and see how for the seven short years he was recording there was no classier singer or songwriter alive than Chuck Willis."
CC Rider and What Am I Living For
Manuel Longoria | 08/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chuck Willis is one of the most underrated singers of his time. In the fifties, he kept the radios so alive and happy. Memorable tunes that will live forever, in our hearts anyway. His songs take me back all the way to 1957, riding down Main Street with our radio wide open. This was okay in a little town of 4000. Manuel"
V. A. Peek | Summerville, SC | 05/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I searched and searched for years for one song on this album. "It's Too Late". So I find it right here on Amazon and after I see who it's by, I went through all of my (well, some of my) "various performers" albums and lo and behold I already have one with my song on it. But I'm buying this one anyhow. Ya'll are right Chuck Willis is a great singer.
This song has a special place in my heart. Not that 'she's gone' or anything, but because way back in the 60's (I know it was then, because we'd just moved to Charleston because my husband was in the Navy. We have 4 children and they were very small then. That would've been '61 or '62. They are all going to be 50 soon. The first one next June 9. The other 3 follow right behind him. Did I mention I was married to a sailor? They did park "them ships" at homeport sometimes. And when they did, BAM.
Anyhow, back to the song. It is hauntingly beautiful, and Chuck Willis does it justice, just perfect, but that still is not why I will remember it.
On Sundays, when he was home, we'd pile the kids in the car and ride up to the airport to watch the planes coming and going. You could do that back then. Looked like we were right on the runway, and the planes were landing right in front of us. Commercial and Air Force. The base was sharing the runway with Charleston's Airport. Still do. The kids loved it, plus they could run around and act crazy. "Dad" and I would take the car wash and wax and a bucket and rags, and we'd do the car in the shade of a big old Charleston Oak Tree while listening to the local radio R&B station. The airport or somebody conveniently put a water line in there for us to use. It was such a wonderful time to be young. I think. I guess because my kids were practically babies still. And "dad" and I were younguns as well. We sort of grew up with our kids.
One Sunday the DJ said "I have a new record here to play" or something to that effect. And it was "It's Too Late". He must have had a lot of calls about it or else it affected him as it did us, because, the next song he'd announce as "up now is Joe Blow to sing his new song" (or whatever = you get the picture.) But it would be "It's Too Late". And then he'd do it again. And again. He played that song over and over for about 4 hours while announcing a different one altogether. I didn't get tired of it, but my poor old sailor did. However, we both laughed about it, and have never forgotten it. And I've halfway looked for it for years, and had it right here on my shelf. I don't know when I got it, but it's a CD "Atlantic Rhythm And Blues 1947 1974". The date on the back of the CD is 1985, so I assume that's when it was compiled. It's got lots of great songs on it. 5 by Chuck. 28 in all. Thanks again Amazon. I don't know what I'd do without Amazon. (I do believe I'm keeping them in business all by myself. Because the music I like is old. None of this new stuff (except Allison Krauss and Dan Tyminski) and of course all of my music had been on LP and cassettes. And so I look for them all the time on CDs. I find most anything I want right here. And believe me, I have a lot to get yet. I like all kinds of music. I like Blues, Bluegrass, Gospel, Country (Old, True Country), Light Classical, Christmas, Inspirational, Easy Listening, Mood, those pop guys from the 50's and 60's (Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, and Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, but not so much of Frank Sinatra nor Bing Crosby) just name a genre and I can bet you that I like some of it.
My kids still are amazed at some of the music I listen to, especially the R&B and all out Blues. We're white southerners. Does that matter?? I've always liked it, since I was a child. Use to slip off from school and go to a Black Cafe up town and listen to Rugh Brown, Etta James, The Clovers (my favorite song by them was "One Mint Julep", which I have on LP. I'm going to search for a CD of it as soon as I finish here and I'll bet I find it right here on Amazon.) and all of them who were there in the mid 50's. ps. I have a chuckle every time I have to check the box down below that says I am over 13.
I hope I live long enough to hear all of this music I'm buying from Amazon."