Tag Archive: Willie Dixon

I didn’t really know anything about Etta James until I listened to this album for the first time.  I picked it up on Amazon for the paltry sum of $4.99, and after giving it a spin, I realized that man, this lady had some pipes!  It’s a big, soulful voice that she pushes to the brink, sort of like a female Otis Redding.  I don’t know how I totally missed the boat on her, but she’s pretty great.  My only complaint is the vehicle for her voice…these dinky pop tracks just don’t do her justice.  I want to hear her singing over a blues or a jazz combo, but instead we get Disney-style strings with an occasional saxophone.  But bad production aside, she still manages to shine.  And I can definitely hear her influence in some of the retro-style female artists like Fiona Apple and Amy Winehouse (although neither of those two girls have Etta’s chops).  And I never realized that the Violent Femmes borrowed some of the lyrics for “Gone Daddy Gone” from “I Just Want To Make Love To You” (which is actually a Willie Dixon song, but Etta sings it here).  Good stuff.

Other lists: Etta James is ranked #22 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Singers.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped 3 spots from its original spot at #116 (Kid A, Kanye, and the Mamas and the Papas bumped it down).

My favorite track: “Stormy Weather” (actually my favorite track is probably “Spoonful”, but its a bonus track that wasn’t on the original album)

Honorable mention: “I Just Want To Make Love To You”

Quote: “Tough Mary is tough!”


Fresh Cream

Wow.  Other than playing lead on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on the White Album, this is Clapton’s first true appearance on the List.  As prolific as he’s been for the last 50 years, I’m kinda surprised it took this long to run into a Clapton album.  Of course, living here in the Capitol City, there are always rumors of Eric Clapton sightings.  Supposedly his most recent girlfriend-turned-wife is from around here, and it seems like everybody but me has seen him doing laundry in the German Village or taking in a local rock show at the former Thirsty Ear.  The more recent stories say he has a large house out in Dublin where he stays when they visit family, and apparently he fancies some sushi restaurant up on that side of town.  I don’t know if any of these stories are true or not, but it is a cool urban legend to have one of the most influential guitarists of all time hanging out in your city.  Although, I wonder when he visits he feels weird being only the second greatest guitarist in Central Ohio, after the great great Willie Phoenix, of course…

I kid.  I don’t mean to take anything away from Clapton.  He is one of the all time greats.  His playing is lyric and bluesy, and he doesn’t rely on any gimmicks or effects…he just plays.  This is Cream’s first album, and I went into it expecting some phat riff rock along the lines of “Sunshine of Your Love”, but instead its a mashup of psychedelic originals and blues covers.  And honestly, I don’t really dig the psychedelic stuff (it pales in comparison to the Beatles and the Doors and other masters of the genre), but the blues stuff is really great…covers of Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters, some of the best that ever was.  Cream was one of the first supergroups, but I’m not sure they had really gelled musically yet at this point.  Ginger Baker’s drumming is powerful, Jack Bruce’s bass playing is tight and his harmonica solos are bluesy, and of course Slowhand’s leads are nearly flawless, but somehow it feels as if they are all competing against each other rather than playing together as an ensemble.  I guess I’m just being critical…it’s definitely a good listen.   I picked this up for $6.99 at the Half Price Books out on Brice Road one day after work this last school year, and it was worth the price of admission.

Other lists: Eric Clapton is ranked #2 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists and #55 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.  Ginger Baker is #3 on the recent list of the 100 Greatest Drummers, and the band Cream is #67 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists (to my knowledge, Rolling Stone has not done a list of bass players yet…nobody loves the bass player).

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped one spot from its original position at #101.

My favourite track: “Spoonful” (which was not actually on the original U.S. album release)

Honourable mention: “Rollin’ and Tumblin'”

Quote: “Sweet wine, hay making, sunshine day breaking.  We can wait till tomorrow.  Car speed, road calling, bird freed, leaf falling.  We can bide time.”