Friday, January 09, 2009
Get on Down With Little Willie John!
Little Willie John - I Had a Dream (Take 7)
Today's post features a track from the outstanding Kent CD Nineteen Sixty Six: The David Axelrod and HB Barnum Sessions, a set of recordings the '50s R&B legend made for Capitol in the title year while out on (a losing) appeal from his 1964 murder conviction. The recordings were made, King Records (his previous label) blocked their release, John lost his appeal and then died in prison in 1968. The material never received a proper release (a low-fi and possibly bootlegged release of some of the stuff made it out, but that was it) until Kent put it out, alternate takes and all, in 2008. It's a serious treat for soul fans, because John's in fine voice and the dynamic duo of David Axelrod (producer) and H.B. Barnum (arranger), who were crafting a hit sound for Lou Rawls around that time, really put together some solid sounds behind him that capture a bit of jazz, a bit of blues, and the soul sound.
The funky blues "I Had a Dream," not to be confused with the Hayes-Porter composition of the same name that was Johnnie Taylor's Stax debut, opens with some sinister-sounding electric piano before opening up into a nice strutting groove with good horn charts, over which John's cool vocals really cook.