Let's Jump Tonight: Best of 1951-56
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(Sony) 26 tracks (70:46) including 7 previously unissued or alternate tracks. With 12 page booklet.
Rare US pressing - sealed stock copy (Bear Family Records)
Be Good Or Be Gone
Let's Jump Tonight
Can't You See
It's Too Late Baby
I Rule My House
My Baby's On My Mind
Loud Mouth Lucy
Wrong Lake To Catch A Fish
Don't Deceive Me (Please Don't Go)
My Baby's Coming Home
Going To The River
I Feel So Bad
You're Still My Baby
What's Your Name
Keep A Knockin'
If I Had A Million
My Heart's Been Broke Again
I Don't Mind If I Do
Blow Freddy Jackson
If I Were You
Lawdy Miss Mary
Search My Heart
One More Break
Bless Her Heart
Charged With Cheating
Before he donned his jeweled turban as "The King of the Stroll" and topped the charts with rock & roll hits like "C.C. Rider" and "It's Too Late," Chuck Willis was a bona fide R&B star and one heck of a songwriter to boot. Let's Jump Tonight contains Willis's essential R&B tracks from that period (1951-56), along with some exciting previously unissued tracks. Willis was a master vocalist who could swing effortlessly from heartrending ballads to rollicking jump blues. His plaintive singing and intuitive phrasing on songs like "My Story," "I Feel So Bad," and "You're Still My Baby" showcase a soulful jukebox balladeer in his prime. Willis delivers a stirring interpretation of Fats Domino's style on "Going to the River," and on wild tunes like "Rule My House" and "Blow Freddy Jackson" his full-throated shouting is every bit as powerful as the roof-raising sax solos he sets up. Thrilling music from a very influential R&B stylist. --Ken Hohman
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Top customer reviews
It's easy to trace the roots of rock & roll when you listen to these classic tracks by Mr. Willis.
Although he was to later gain fame as "King Of The Stroll" on Atlantic records and die a tragic death at a young age, these early recordings show the genius of the man.
All the tunes are the original versions and the recording quality is excellent.
A must-have for rock and R&B fans!
Chuck Willis would earn the tag "The King Of The Stroll" after joining Atlantic Records in 1956 (those hits beautifully packaged in the Collectables CD "Chuck Willis - I Remember Chuck Willis/King Of The Stroll)". But in this fantastic 26-track compilation from Sony you get his first five charted R&B hits for Columbia's Okeh subsidiary registered from 1952 to 1954 where, on several of the cuts, you will hear the roots of The Stroll craze to follow. The tracks actually cover from 1951 to 1956 but of course not all were hits (some were never previously released).
The first came in 1952 when My Story went all the way to # 2 R&B in Nov-Dec b/w Caldonia (not here) as Okeh 4-6905, and kept from the top spot only by three R&B classics: Eddie Boyd's Five Long Years (7 weeks at # 1), B.B. King's You Know I Love You (2 weeks), and Willie Mabon's I Don't Know (8 weeks). Not a bad debut. The follow-up Going To The River didn't fare too badly either, rising to # 4 R&B in May 1953 b/w Baby Have Left Me Again (not here) as Okeh 4-6952, with the backing of Leroy Kirkland & His Orchestra. In the hit, you can clearly hear the formation of The Stroll, and I'd be willing to bet it was hauled out and played later in the 50s.
That summer Don't Deceive Me (Please Don't Go) reached # 6 R&B b/w I've Been Treated Wrong Too Long (also omitted here) as Okeh 4- 6985, and in 1960 Ruth Brown would cover it and take it to # 10 R&B/# 62 Hot 100. That was followed in March 1954 by the # 4 R&B You're Still My Baby b/w What's Your Name? (the only B-side included in this volume) as Okeh 4-7015. That summer I Feel So Bad made it to # 3 R&B b/w Need One More Chance as Okeh 4-7029, the last four sides also backed by the Kirkland orchestra.
With the disc you get a beautifully-rendered insert with the cover showing a vintage Willis poster and inside a full six pages of liner notes written by Bill Dahl and a discography of the contents with all details but chart performances. Just a wonderful entry in the Legacy Series covering Rhythm And Soul.
For the most part early 50's R&B despite being among the most influencial music of the 20th Century (spawning something called "rock 'n' roll" which you may have heard of) gets shafted when it comes to recognition, and because of that it generally has few CD's available to document it, with those that do exist being increasingly hard to find. Willis typifies this snubbing. His equally impressive Atlantic years retrospective, "Stroll On" seems to have disappeared from print and his OKeh material is only sporadically available, and never has had all those songs in one place. Any fan of the vital precursor to rock 'n' roll should grab this if they have the chance before it too vanishes.
These 26 songs show Willis as a masterful writer, from storming rockers ("Wrong Lake To Catch A Fish", "Loud Mouth Lucy") to sweet ballads ("My Story" and the oft-covered "Don't Deceive Me") and swinging rhythms ("You're Still My Baby" and the famed "I Feel So Bad", which Elvis Presley worshipfully covered right down to the glitches in the early 60's). Each song is filled with sly lyrics telling a clever story, rhythms that were instantly in a groove, and delivered in a voice capable of nailing any mood.
Getting a complete discography of Willis is difficult, even if all his previous CD collections were still widely available. "Stroll On" gathers all the Atlantic sides, but to get each song he cut for OKeh from '51-'56 requires some detective work. This disc however is the best place to begin that worthwhile quest. It has excellent, informative liner notes, a great 50's style-poster cover and pristine sound (you can hear the echo of movement during the brief intimate discussion between the producer, band and Chuck preceeding "Lawdy Miss Mary"). Each song is absolutely magical. One listen to this disc for the unfamiliar and Chuck Willis will be in your heart forever.