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The Complete Chess Masters (1950-1967)
Little Walter
The Complete Chess Masters (1950-1967)
Genres: Blues, Pop


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CD Details

All Artists: Little Walter
Title: The Complete Chess Masters (1950-1967)
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Hip-O Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/2009
Re-Release Date: 3/17/2009
Album Type: Box set
Genres: Blues, Pop
Styles: Chicago Blues, Electric Blues, Harmonica Blues
Number of Discs: 5
SwapaCD Credits: 5
UPC: 602517978416

CD Reviews

bigpull | So Cal | 03/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Charlie Christian and Jimmy Smith might be decent comparisons of what Walter Jacobs' impact on popular music was, but I think a better one would be; 'he was to Blues harmonica what Jimi Hendrix was to Rock guitar'. He was incredibly innovative in the use of amplification, so far ahead of his contemporaries in technique and phrasing and like Jimi,never equaled.
Maybe it took a large dose of the Little Walter legend (much of it fabricated) in the recent film, CADILLAC RECORDS to now give us the full measure of his recordings for Chess; much of which has been out of print or only available on various imports until now. Whatever the reason, BRAVO! Now all you young, aspiring Blues harmonica players start listening and learning.
Not only will you get all of Walter's fabulous riffs to try and master but these recordings also feature some of the hardest, swingin' Blues to ever be waxed. Legendary Chicago drummer, Fred Below leads the way.
Review from Blues & Rhythm magazine (June, 2009 issue)
Byron Foulger | United Kingdom | 05/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Little Walter's remarkable reputation isn't totally unassailable and he completely lost his way in his final years. But then, apart from his own fantastic records, there were performances on other artists' sessions that lifted their achievements closer to the stratosphere. Bo Diddley's `Diddley Daddy' was a churning minor masterpiece even before Walter's solo begins. Notice how everyone shifts up a gear in response to a sequence of harp riffs that come from somewhere beyond technique. That's the Little Walter we need to remember.
It was a shrewd move to begin this set with `Evans Shuffle', for it shows the acoustic Little Walter making a jumping country dance tune out of Joe Liggins' `Honeydripper'. Eighteen months later came `Juke', a riff-laden exhibition of assured technique that placed Walter beyond the competence of his accompanists, even if one of them was Muddy Waters. The excellent `Can't Hold Out Much Longer' was a barely disguised remake of Sonny Boy Williamson's 1937 `Black Gal', exhibiting a vocal technique with more charm than style.
The Aces, Louis and David Myers and Fred Below, joined him for his second session; their obvious affinity and their jazz sensibility helped to focus and intensify Walter's eclectic approach. `Mean Old World' and `Sad Hours' made a good single but neither had the stature of `Blue Midnight' and the title-less `Boogie'. The latter was a staggering piece of work, harnessing the outer edges of a talent that even Walter couldn't have gauged. The search was on for another single, although the four takes of `Fast Boogie', precursor of `Off The Wall', are frustratingly second-rate, with neither Walter nor the band able to pool their resources effectively. Two takes of Charles Brown's `Drifting Blues' all but collapse due to a poorly executed stop-time break, doubled in the second take.
Neither of the tunes selected for Checker 767, the instrumental `Don't Have To Hunt No More' and `Tonight With A Fool', were hit material, which is why it was either withdrawn or never issued. Luckily, `Off The Wall' resolved the problems from `Fast Boogie' and `Tell Me Mama' was sufficiently intriguing to pass muster. A marathon session cut in July 1953 brought forth two singles, one combining an excellent `Blues With A Feeling' and `Quarter To Twelve', the other `You're So Fine' and `Lights Out'.
The rest of the session added three more instrumentals to the surfeit already in the can, and three vocal items; one, `Too Late', written by Willie Dixon, would be issued some years later. `Rocker' featured deliciously over-amped harp, and a capering Fred Below made for a good entertaining workout. `Oh Baby' is the same song as `I Love You So' but someone thought it sufficiently different to warrant a fresh master number.
The drought ended with the splendid `You Better Watch Yourself', Walter's harp tone a wonder, and `Blue Light', the engineer sending Walter's chromatic harp into howling feedback. That set the stage for two successive winners, `Last Night'/`Mellow Down Easy' and `My Babe'/Thunderbird', Willie Dixon making profitable use of `This Train' for `My Babe', which topped the R&B charts for four weeks in April/May 1955, elevating Walter to the peak of his relatively short career.
That was it as far as Top Ten hits were concerned, apart from `Key To The Highway', which took fourteen weeks to peak at No. 6 and recede. `Who' and `Everything Gonna Be Alright' managed just two weeks apiece. That doesn't denigrate the music but novelties like `Boom, Boom, Out Go The Lights' did him no favours. Nor were his instrumentals consistent; `Flying Saucer' soared while `Teenage Beat' plodded. Those that stick out at this stage of his career include the driving `It Ain't Right', `Just A Feeling' and `Everybody Needs Somebody'.
1958 saw an artistic revival with a sequence of songs that showed Walter still had the stuff when he could find it. `The Toddle' is a bit of a shambles but `Confessin' The Blues is better, with Jimmie Lee Robinson's loping bass riffs and Luther Tucker's fleet-fingered lead. Then came `Key To The Highway' and `You Gonna Be Sorry'; the previously unissued take 5 of this latter has Walter contributing an intimate vocal and blowing acoustic harp. `One Of These Mornings' is termed `instrumental' but is in fact a backing track with a good 24-bar harp solo.
Quite a lot of recording was done in 1959 and on the plus side there's `My Baby Is Sweeter', `Worried Life', `Everything Is Gonna Be Alright' (some excellent Otis Spann in here), `Mean Old Frisco', `One Of These Mornings', `Blue And Lonesome' and the instrumental `Back Track', which does indeed call up times past. Although they're perfectly serviceable, the paint is beginning to come off `Me And Piney Brown' and `Break It Up'. `Going Down Slow' was a gem and should have been issued, and `You're Sweet' wasn't far behind.
Chess delved into a capacious back catalogue to release a number of singles in the hiatus that then ensued. Walter seems like an uninvited guest at the 1963 `Up The Line' session, a clutch of poor songs and poor performances marred by indifferent sound. His solos on `Line' and `I'm A Business Man' are faded. `Dead Presidents' is Dixon at his worst and there's more riffing than playing during `Southern Feeling'. The February 1966 session with a fruitily persistent J.T Brown is best forgotten; there's no irony in `I Feel So Bad'. Disc Five ends on a higher note (how could it not?) with `Juke' from the `Super Blues' sessions and `Feel So Bad' and `Make It Alright', collaborations with Bo Diddley probably cut at the same time.
Let's be plain: the tailing-off of Walter's sessions in no way casts a blemish on what went before. No one could have sustained the level of performance he did in his good years, so a discreet veil should be drawn over the last half of Disc 5. So to the packaging. The front cover consists of contact sheets from a Don Bronstein session and there are two further colour shots in the 36-page booklet. The comprehensive notes carry a joint credit for Tony Glover, Scott Dirks and Ward Gaines, co-authors of Blues With A Feeling. Despite some mistakes and inconsistencies in the discography, this is an absolutely indispensable release that Little Walter fans cannot be without.
(this review, by Neil Slaven, first appeared in Blues & Rhythm magazine, June 2009; used by permission)"
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. | Chicago, IL USA | 11/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The greatest blues harp player ever. One of the great blues singers,(John Lee Hooker's favorite!). (Walter was also a wonderful guitarist,as revealed on some Muddy Waters tracks). In all honesty, there's more here than a casual listener will ever need, but if you love blues harp, you need every one of the 101 tracks here."