Nineteen Sixty Six: The David Axelrod and H.B. Barnum Recordings

Nineteen Sixty Six: The David Axelrod and H.B. Barnum Recordings

by Little Willie JohnLittle Willie John


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Though no Little Willie John discs of material recorded after his imprisonment for murder in October 1964 were issued between that time and his death (in jail) in May 1968, he did actually record quite a few tracks for Capitol in February 1966. These recordings (supervised by David Axelrod and H.B. Barnum) were unreleased both at the time and for decades afterward, in part because King Records (John's previous label) contested Capitol's right to issue the cuts. This 2008 CD of 20 tracks from the sessions, recorded at a time when he was out on appeal, can thus be considered as a genuine lost Little Willie John album. (And despite the number of songs, there would have only been enough for one LP, since there are two versions of eight of the numbers.) For someone with a murder sentence hanging over him, John sounds remarkably unaffected and at ease, and indeed pretty much the same as he did in his classic King period, albeit a little more mature. Much the same can be said for the arrangements, which update his sound a little into the mid-'60s, but draw considerably from lightly swinging jazz and even a bit of easy listening pop in addition to soul. There are a few remakes of songs he'd cut at King, as well as some standards and R&B-oriented tunes (and, disappointingly, just one original John composition). Would this have reestablished John as a star had he won his appeal and Capitol been allowed to put the material out? Probably not; there aren't any songs that scream "hit," and that was still the name of the game in the R&B market. But if it had been somehow marketed as a comeback album, without expectations that it would be a huge seller -- in the manner that respectable efforts by R&B and rock veterans were, many times over, in subsequent decades -- it would have been well received, as John sings well and the material is sympathetic, if not quite outstanding. For all these reasons, this doesn't rank among his best work; his best King sides remain the place to start. But for the same reasons, it will be enthusiastically and justifiably welcomed by Little Willie John fans as a significant discovery, at a time when few such substantial unreleased bodies of work from soul's golden age seemed to remain at large.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/11/2008
Label: Kent Records Uk
UPC: 0029667230520
catalogNumber: 305
Rank: 87858

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Little Willie John   Primary Artist
Gerald Wiggins   Organ,Piano,Electric Piano
Clifford Scott   Tenor Saxophone
Billie Barnum   Choir, Chorus
Dennis Budimir   Guitar
Buie   Guitar
Gary Coleman   Percussion,Vibes
Freddie Hill   Trumpet
Jim Horn   Baritone Saxophone
Jeff Kaplan   Guitar
Carol Kaye   Electric Bass
Earl Palmer   Drums
Tony Terran   Trumpet
Arthur Wright   Guitar
Jimmy Bond   Bass
Tommy Strode   Organ,Piano,Electric Piano
William Edgar John   Vocals

Technical Credits

Jimmie Davis   Composer
Richard Rodgers   Composer
David Axelrod   Producer,Author
Billie Barnum   Vocal Arrangements
Hidle Brown Barnum   Arranger,Director
Dallas Bartley   Composer
Oscar Hammerstein   Composer
Charles Mitchell   Composer
Jody Reynolds   Composer
Rudy Toombs   Composer
Tony Rounce   Sleeve Notes
Lillian "Lil" Green   Composer
William Lee Conley Broonzy   Composer
Teddy "Cherokee" Conyers   Composer
Joseph Scott   Composer
Noel Sherman   Composer
Dolores Nance   Composer
Leo Hickman   Composer
Lloyd Pemberton   Composer

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