Big Maybelle: The Okeh Sessions
Near the end of her life she even covered hits by the Beatles, andDonovan. Big Maybelle’s career was hampered throughout and cut short by a severe drug addiction, but she packed a lot of living into her shortened lifespan. It’s worth mentioning how, almost half a century later, the power in her Okeh sessions is still palpable.
With her bold, gritty sound, she comes off like nothing so much as a female Howlin’ Wolf, and one can’t imagine her not being an influence on the full-throttle blues of Etta James, Aretha, Janis Joplin and countless others. ‘So Good to My Baby’ features typically microphone-distorting belting from the singer, and an appropriately blazing horn section. ‘Gabbin’ Blues,’ her 1952 Okeh debut smash, is a humorous dialogue between Maybelle and gossiping rival Rose Marie McCoy, the tune’s co-writer.
One of the most stirring cuts here is ‘Ocean of Tears,’ a percolating, minor-key tune in which Maybelle bemoans her sorrowful state with an unforgettably cathartic angst. Also impressive, though, are ballads such as ‘You’ll Never Know,’ ‘Ain’t No Use,’ and ‘You’ll Be Sorry,’ which show a pleasant, softer side to Maybelle’s craft. ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,’ -a song that she took to the top of the R&B charts before Jerry Lee Lewis turned it into a rock & roll anthem-, her 1955 single ‘One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show’ and 1954’s ‘I’m Getting ‘Long Alright’, are also standouts. New York session wizards such as tenor saxophonist Sam “The Man” Taylor and guitarist Mickey Baker provide great support throughout. The tracks contained on this album showcase one of the greatest blues singers of all time, at her prime. De Mayo De
Personnel: Bass – Al Hall (B1 to B5), Grachan Moncur* (A1 to A6), Lloyd Trotmann* (C1 to C6, D5), Norman Keenan (D1 to D4) / Drums – Charlie Smith (2) (A1 to A4), Panama Francis* (D1 to D4), Herbie Lovelle (D5), Jimmy Crawford (C1 to C6), Marty Wilson (2) (A5 to B5) ? Guitar – Brownie McGhee (B1 to B5), James Cannady (A1 to A6), Mickey Baker (C1 to D5)
Piano – Al Williams (4) (traC1 to C6), Ernie Hayes (D1 to D5), Fletcher Smith (A1 to A6), Lee Anderson (4) (B1 to B5) / Saxophone [Alto] – Jerome Richardson (D5), Paul Ricci (C1 to C6) / Saxophone [Baritone] – Dave McRae (2) (A1 to B5, C1 to C6), Heywood Henry* (D5), Leslie Johnakins (D1 to D4) / Saxophone [Tenor] – Budd Johnson (: D5), Maurice Simon* (D1 to D4), Sam “The Man” Taylor* (A1 to B5, C1 to D4) / Trombone – Alfred Cobbs* (A1 to A6), Billy Byers (D5), Eli Robinson (B1 to B5)
Trumpet – Joe Wilder (C1, C2), Taft Jordan (C3 to C6)
Arranged By, Conductor – Danny Mendelsohn (B4, B5, C1, C2), Leroy Kirkland (A1 to B3, C3 to to D4), Quincy Jones (D5)
1. Just Want Your Love 2. So Good To My Baby 3. Gabbin’ Blues
4. My Country Man 5. Rain Down Rain 6. Way Back Home
1. Stay Away From My Sam 2. Jinny Mule 3. Maybelle’s Blues
4. I’ve Got A Feeling 5. You’ll Never Know
1. No More Trouble Out Of Me 2. My Big Mistake 3. Ain’t No Use
4. I’m Gettin’ ‘Long Alright 5. You’ll Be Sorry 6. Hair Dressin’ Women
1. One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show 2. Don’t Leave Poor Me
3. Ain’t To Be Played With 4. New Kind Of Mambo 5. Whola Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On