Back at the Chicken Shack
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2002
First things first: ignore the low average rating for this album -- this is one of Jimmy Smith's best (maybe THE best) albums and a major jewel in the crown of Blue Note records. It's not funky in the James Brown sense, it's funky in the heaps-and-heaps-of-soul, a-groove-six-feet-deep, "What the hell is happening back at that chicken shack?" sense.
As far as groovin', bluesy B3 jazz, you really can't do better than this album. Donald Bailey has a heavy, booting swing and Jimmy Smith's chunky basslines propel the music along. Kenny Burrell's playing is beautiful here -- very subtle and tasteful, the yin to Jimmy Smith's powerful organ yang. And as far as I'm concerned, tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine is lifted to deity status by his playing on this session. Saxophone playing doesn't get any more soulful and meaty than this.
The title track is just a blues, but what a blues it is. Jimmy digs in with the riff, Kenny plays one of his marvelous, low-key solos, and then Turrentine makes history with an absolutely mind-boggling huffin' and puffin' solo. Even the standards on this CD (classic interpretations of "When I Grow too Old to Dream" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street") sound bluesy. And despite the fact that the title track is the most famous piece here, I think "Messy Bessie" is the best here. Judging by the song, she must be a fun girl to hang around.
If you like this album, get its twin (recorded the same day), Midnight Special. Other great Jimmy Smith albums are Crazy! Baby, the Sermon, and Cool Blues. But I don't think any of them are as awesome as whatever the hell is going on Back at the Chicken Shack.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2005
I agree 100% with Guy from New Haven. And even though I don't possess all of Jimmy's albums, this has to be his best... Maybe the the best jazz album ever!!! Never heard anything so groovy; it's B3 organ, Tenor Sax and good rhythm galore!!!

I don't know which track is best because they're all stunning but to name a few, maybe "Minor Chant" by Stanley Turrentine (who brilliantly plays the sax throughout the album), stands out a little... not by much though. "When I grow too old to dream": what a sweet melody!... Messy Bessie (by Jimmy) is so good, I would have appreciated a finale instead of the fade-out we got (but that's okay). And technically, the 1960's Blue Note pure, clear, and no-fuss analog recording sounds flawless.

If you're jaded with the traditional organ-drums-guitar formation, check this out because tenor saxophone truly adds a uniquely elegant and amazingly powerful dimension to Jimmy's already great sound! This will put a smile on your face and make your head bounce!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2004
What's there to say about Jimmy Smith that has not already been written? He's a true jazz pioneer, the "Miles Davis" of the Hammond (electric) organ, one might say. Like Davis, Smith has changed his sound drastically over the years, from Hard-Bop of early "Sermon" years, to Soul and eventually even Big Band style. But unlike Miles Davis or John Coltrane, Jimmy Smith is virtually unknown outside of jazz circles. This is truly unfortunate (and surprising), given the fact that so many rock and roll bands have used the Hammond B-3 organ in their songs over the past three decades. If it wasn't for Smith, the instrument would arguably not have as widespread appeal among musicians. On this album, widely regarded as his strongest, Smith's playing is groovy and laid back, but not in a lazy way. Continuing with the Miles Davis analogy (because everyone, even non jazz-enthusiasts, are familiar with Davis' work), consider this Smith's version of "Kind of Blue." It's cool, calm, and collected. But at the same time, Smith accents the entire thing with a heavy dose of straight-up soul. Smith, who has had one of the most prolific careers of anyone, deserves more recognition and credit for his work in the genre. But until that happens, there will be plenty of jazz fans grooving to this album, waiting to say, "See, we told you so" to the rest of the music world.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2011
I was born in Jimmy's hometown, and influenced by the "Philly" sound. I have listened to him for more years than I care to remember. I was fortunate enough to have an aunt who was in to jazz, and was introduced to Duke, Clifford Brown,Count Basie and on, before I was 10. What I do remember was records were still 78's and can remember the new 45RPM, my aunt bought a 56 Crown Vic that had a slide out 45 record player,(great on smooth roads)so I was influenced by the blues and jazz all my life.
I probably have most of Smith's recorded works, I have a top 200 album collection,no vinyl, just CD, and Chicken Shack and Midnight Special,the RVG remasters, both reside there.I have high end and custom CD players and at my age I long ago gave my vinyl to a relative, that has a ton of it. I also have the original 1987? CD's but prefer the RVG reissues.
Most all of the artists Rudy Van Gelder recorded, wanted Rudy to record them. I lived in the East Village in the 60's and early 70's.And spent alot of time at the "Vangard" and all the other West Village Venues and would get to "Slug's on the East Side",which was a great venue. I know what the music sounded like live, and the RVG series overall captures the sound the best. I have most of the RVG series and a few of Dual Disc SACD issues. At this point I am going to purchase one more SACD,probably "Chicken Shack", and decide If I will buy anymore. So far my feeling is the people that do the SACD transfers on some of this are not the best.
I have lived my life with the blues and jazz, have shared a drink with Missisippi John Hurt and used to have a photo of Horace Silver? holding my son. Spent a New Years Eve in Slug's with Pharoh Sanders and Leon Thomas doing an almost 2 hour version of Pharoh's "The Creator Has a Master Plan", a highlight of my life.Jazz and Blues are what keeps me going, If I am down I play Brown,(Clarence "Gatemouth"),if I need to mellow Bill Evans. To me it is the creators of music, which give the United States it's soul. If one person reads this and digs into the rich fabric of our music and finds their own weave, my sharing again has some meaning.Peace and Happiness to all
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 1999
I've NEVER been able to stand the sound of an organ before (any genre). I've seen Mr. Smith's albums in the stores on numerous occasions, but have always shied away 'cause of the organ. Recently though, I heard a jazz tune featuring an organ and decided to give Mr. Smith a try-the swinging/bluesy feel of this music has put this recent purchase into heavy rotation.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2008
This is the remaster by RVG, 24 bit transfer reissue produced by Michael Cuscuna I have been comparing to my friend's 1987 transfer by Ron McMaster also produced by Michael Cuscuna.

Apart from the fact that the remaster is much louder and compressed, I was staggered at the difference. Stanley Turrentine's sax is so important to many tracks and drives the rhythm as much as the rhythm section itself but it has lost much of its exquisite contrasting soft/hard expressive qualities, almost like it's been added on top in the new version. Everyone seems to be playing in isolation and the drums are so much louder in the mix I can't believe this was all done with only a 2 track master, that is quite an achievement. Even the organ has lost much of it's "watery" quality. There's just no space left, most of the exquisite pauses are missing, dynamics and much of the texture are all gone. To make everything worse the noise floor even sounds way higher.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2007
Heres the fabulous Jimmy Smith playing Hammond B3 and driving a top notch band along. The title track is drenched in the blues, and after the theme statement Smith plays a superb two and half minutes solo. Then of course there is Kenny Burrell on Guitar and Stanley Turrentine on Tenor Sax who are no slouches themselves.

On "When I grow too old to dream" Jimmy Smith lets Turrentine take the first solo and after a subtle start to his Sax solo he builds up quite a head of steam. After a short Smith solo Turrentine is back for more with another solo. Its that sort of album. I'm guessing that they were having great fun in the studio when they recorded this. The rest of the album maintains the same high standard of the first two tracks.

The album was recorded in 1960 and of course has another of those classic Blue Note album covers. The original sleeve notes by Ira Gitler give plenty of background information on the album including how the album cover came about. A great recording.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
BACK AT THE CHICKEN SHACK is one of those anthems that if you play organ you're expected to know...
Prior to that it was Bill Dogget's Honky Tonk... but once CHICKEN SHACK hit in 1960, that was the new anthem, and people haven't grown tired of it yet... (One thing that's recently caught me after all these year's is Donald Bailey's oh so cool backbeat behind Kenny's solo... and Stanley's come-in for his solo.)

The album features Jimmy Smith's classic BLUE NOTE era ensemble of Stanley Turrentine, Kenny Burrell and Donald Bailey, the opening number is a great vehicle for him to show of his trademark licks which combine classic blues riffs with numerous slick runs under a ridiculously steady bass line (especially considering the tempo.)

Of the four tunes on the album, I'd have to rank MINOR CHANT as my favorite though... written by STANLEY TURRENTINE, its not quite a minor blues, but has that type of feel and really cooks.

The two other tunes on this album include a bouncin' but in the pocket version of WHEN I GROW TOO OLD TOO DREAM, a great TURRENTINE vehicle, though JOS definitely gets his word in too, unlike most the other tunes on the album playing in a more boppish context, yet still with that classic JOS blues feel. - - MESSY BESSY (a JOS original) also has a nice happy bouncy feel... and is at a tempo well worth studying for guitarists and organists... both Jimmy and Kenny definitely play some classic lines on it.

All and all, this album is a lot less HOT than the alternatives of the era (WILD BILL and JACK McDUFF especially) - - it stands out for just that... Jimmy Smith's ability to play in a style that's both laid back, swinging and boppin' at the same time... now, listen to any organists and you'll hear a bit of the roots that started in the album... for this reason, if you consider yourself a Jazz organ fan, this album is definitely worth listening to, and if you're a play, HECK... you better study it. Donald Bailey's playing, incidentally is deceptively simple yet imaginative, for example subtle ways he displaces the high hat and fills that are in the pocket, provide space, yet say a lot more than you'd expect !

Conclusion: Get it ! ! !
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
don't get me wrong, I love this album. What I don't care for is the fact that many reviewers see this album as the greatest bit of B-3 jamming ever, when in reality, Jimmy Smith is usually in the "Back" of this here shack. Saxaphonist Stanely Turrentine has more solo time (which is time well spent) on the album than Smith does, which is a fact that so many seem to overlook. If you want a fairly laid back, slightly funky jam album, buy this. If you want a smokin' funk-out on the B-3, I recommend Smith's "Root Down Live!" or Reuben Wilson's "Blue Breakbeats."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2011
Back in the Chicken Shack is definitely on my top 5 Jimmy Smith albums of all time, it's up there with the Sermon, the Cat, and Bashin'. It is organ jazz at its best, Smith's style is brought to its best through these grooves with the legendary jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell backing him up on guitar like usual. Jimmy runs many funky grooves and licks on the organ that showcase the B3 for the true masterpiece of jazz that it is. Although Back at the Chicken Shack is a mile ahead of all the other songs on this album, they still are great nonetheless. Overall, this is one of the best albums put forth by the greatest jazz organist in the history of jazz, and is a must own for any smith or even jazz fan. Plus this version is new and remastered, making the organ sound twice as clean.
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