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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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BIG JOE TURNER

Live at the Music Machine 1983

Floating World FLOATM 6212

 

 

1. Hide and Seek

2. Corrina, Corrina

3. Chains of Love

4. Honey Hush

5. Shake, Rattle and Roll

6. Early One Morning

7. Roll 'em Pete

8. Around the Clock Blues

9. Cherry Red

10. Somebody’s Got to Go

11. Lee's Blues

12. Walkin' With Mr. Lee

Big Joe Turner – Vocals

Lee Allen – Bandleader, sax

Steve Berlin – Baritone sax

Johnny Taylor – Guitar

Dennis Riggs – Drums

Gene Taylor – Piano

Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson – Vocals, sax

 

“Rock and Roll would never have happened without him”. Doc Pomus was referring to Big Joe Turner, whose 1954 hit Shake, Rattle and Roll was covered by Bill Haley and his Comets in the same year. It was Bill Haley’s first hit record and might be said to have launched the phenomenon known as rock and roll.

The song is performed by Big Joe Turner (the man for whom it was written) on this album of a concert in October 1983 at the Music Machine in Santa Monica. Joe is often categorized as a “blues shouter”, and he has been dubbed “The boss of the blues” but his blues singing had the freedom and informality of jazz.

Big Joe certainly paid his dues, working with bands led by such people as Count Basie and Andy Kirk in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Most notably, he sang at the famous “Spirituals to Swing” concert at Carnegie Hall in 1938. He was already 72 when he performed at this 1983 concert. Joe had to sit down to sing, as he had diabetes (he died in 1985), but you wouldn’t guess it from the vigour with which he performs.

One problem is that Turner had been singing these songs for so long that he tended to slur the words, which are not always easy to hear. And the recording quality is not always 100%, with an enthusiastically noisy audience in a hall which was not acoustically perfect. Nevertheless these problems fade into the background because of Joe’s fervent delivery of blues standards. And he is accompanied by some fine musicians, including baritone saxist Steve Berlin and jazz-blues legend Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson. It’s primitive but it’s fun – and it swings like mad.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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