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Complete Vanguard Recordings Box set, Original recording remastered

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Amazon's Big Mama Thornton Store


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Product details

  • Audio CD (17 May 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Import
  • ASIN: B00004S81Y
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,975 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

3 CDs of Big Mama for the price of two! Includes her albums Jail, Sassy Mama , and Big Mama Swings , which has never been on CD. Jail includes the classic Ball and Chain , which Janis Joplin turned into a vocal showcase!

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Complete Vanguard recordings except one alternate take. Covers the following original LP's:
"Sassy Mama" VSD79354, "Big Mama swings" VSD79572 both with Buddy Lucas-ts and Cornell Dupree-g, and "Jail" VSD79351 (live at Monroe Prison, Eugene, Or.) The bass that was rolled off the original vinyl releases has been restored. The track "Mixed up feeling" (more than 9') is terrific.
A very good buy.
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Format: Audio CD
Elvis made "Hound Dog" famous in 1956 (a US No. 1) and Janis Joplin blew the audience away at California's 'Monterey Pop Festival' in June 1967 singing a gut-wrenching version of "Ball And Chain". The originator of both of these loaded tunes was Blues Shouter (and occasional drummer) BIG MAMA THORNTON - born Willie Mae Thornton in Montgormery, Alabama in 1926 – one of seven children. She was the first to record Leiber & Stoller's wonderful "Hound Dog" in 1952 and penned "Ball And Chain" which Janis would put on the 1968 "Cheap Thrills" album by Big Brother and The Holding Company in all its near 10-minute Bluesy glory.

So by the time she made this trio of albums (one live - two studio sets – the third a stunning unreleased LP) – she was already a 49-year old veteran riding the wave of yet another Blues Revival. But that’s not to say that the goods aren’t here – they are. If anything – her age and experience exude out of these recordings sounding not like Etta James on good form with a band that compliments her Blues (the studio sessions featured Texan guitar wizard Cornell Dupree). Here are the 'snooping-round-the-door' details...

UK released April 2000 (reissued in 2013) – "The Complete Vanguard Recordings" by BIG MAMA THORNTON on Ace/Vanguard Masters 3VCD 175 (Barcode 015707017527) is a 3CD set and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 - "Jail" (36:34 minutes):
1. Little Red Rooster
2. Ball And Chain
3. Jail
4. Hound Dog [Side 2]
5. Rock Me Baby
6. Sheriff O.E. & Me
7. Oh Happy Man
Tracks 1 to 7 are the album "Jail" – released 1975 in the USA on Vanguard VSD 79351 (No UK release).
Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9a826aec) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xaadbef24) out of 5 stars Turbocharged, hard drivin, lip smaking, foot stompin BLUES!! 26 July 2001
By David Cantu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am a "born again" blues listener. This colletion of three CD's could probably be called the rollercoaster of Texas-based blues. Ms Thornton is the connection to past female blues greats, such as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie. This is the performer that inspired Janis Joplin. The first CD, (a live performance recorded in a jail) includes "Ball and Chain", which she dedicates to Janis. The second CD entitled "Sassy Mama" includes "Rolling Stone", "Mr Cool and "Sassy Mama", the title track rocks as if it were a live recording. The final CD is a previously unreleased collection that, to me is the best of the three. All are good!
The collection includes a booklet written by Ed Ward, the rock historian for National Public Radio's "Fresh Air". In this booklet one will discover that Ms Thornton was a far more flamboyant personality than Janis, preferring Gin and Milk to Janis' Southern Comfort. Another fact that will surprise you will be her connection to Elvis Presley's fame. Every track rocks, she lifts you by the collar and screams you into the blues. This collection is a must for anyone that enjoys hard drivin female blues vocalists
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a2bc18c) out of 5 stars A Powerhouse 11 April 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This three disc set is one that I keep finding myself returning to time and time again. It's raw power and energy, like being assualted with rythm. Each track refuses to be ignored. Big Mama Thornton rips into song with a power reminiscent of Koko Taylor and Janice Joplin. Every time I've listened to this I find it incredible that Big Mama Thornton hasn't received more recognition than just "Hound Dog". If you like music as an experiance (versus just background noise) do not miss this!
HASH(0x9a747120) out of 5 stars "...Rock Me Baby..." – The Complete Vanguard Recordings by BIG MAMA THORNTON (2000 Ace/Vanguard Masters 3CD Set) 25 Oct. 2015
By Mark Barry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Elvis made "Hound Dog" famous in 1956 (a US No. 1) and Janis Joplin blew the audience away at California's 'Monterey Pop Festival' in June 1967 singing a gut-wrenching version of "Ball And Chain". The originator of both of these loaded tunes was Blues Shouter (and occasional drummer) BIG MAMA THORNTON - born Willie Mae Thornton in Montgormery, Alabama in 1926 – one of seven children. She was the first to record Leiber & Stoller's wonderful "Hound Dog" in 1952 and penned "Ball And Chain" which Janis would put on the 1968 "Cheap Thrills" album by Big Brother and The Holding Company in all its near 10-minute Bluesy glory.

So by the time she made this trio of albums (one live - two studio sets – the third a stunning unreleased LP) – she was already a 49-year old veteran riding the wave of yet another Blues Revival. But that’s not to say that the goods aren’t here – they are. If anything – her age and experience exude out of these recordings sounding not like Etta James on good form with a band that compliments her Blues (the studio sessions featured Texan guitar wizard Cornell Dupree). Here are the 'snooping-round-the-door' details...

UK released April 2000 (reissued in 2013) – "The Complete Vanguard Recordings" by BIG MAMA THORNTON on Ace/Vanguard Masters 3VCD 175 (Barcode 015707017527) is a 3CD set and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 - "Jail" (36:34 minutes):
1. Little Red Rooster
2. Ball And Chain
3. Jail
4. Hound Dog [Side 2]
5. Rock Me Baby
6. Sheriff O.E. & Me
7. Oh Happy Man
Tracks 1 to 7 are the album "Jail" – released 1975 in the USA on Vanguard VSD 79351 (No UK release). Recorded live at two venues - The Monroe State Prison in Washington and Oregon State Reformatory, Eugene in Oregon.

BIG MAMA THORNTON – Vocals
J.D. NICHOLS – Piano
GEORGE "Harmonica" SMITH – Harmonica
BEE HOUSTON and STEVE WACHSMAN – Guitars
BILL PORTER – Tenor Saxophone
BRUCE SIEVERSON – Bass
TODD NELSON - Drums

Disc 2 - "Sassy Mama!" (35:35 minutes):
1. Rolling Stone
2. Lost City
3. Mr. Cool
4. Big Mama's New Love
5. Private Number
6. Sassy Mama
7. Everybody's Happy (But Me)
Tracks 1 to 7 are the album "Sassy Mama!" – released 1975 in the USA on Vanguard VSD 79354 (no UK release). Studio album.

BIG MAMA THORNTON – Vocals
CORNELL DUPREE – Guitar
RONNIE MILLER - Guitar on "Big Mama's New Love" only
PAUL GRIFFIN – Keyboards
BUDDY LUCAS – Tenor Sax
WILBUR BASCOMB – Bass
JIMMY JOHNSON – Drums

Disc 3 - "Big Mama Swings" - (46:08 minutes):
1. Good-Bye Baby
2. Gonna Leave You
3. Mixed Up Feeling
4. Special
5. Going Fishing
6. Big Mama Swings
7. Happy Me
Tracks 1 to 7 are a PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED studio album with the following line-up

BIG MAMA THORNTON – Vocals
CORNELL DUPREE – Guitar
PAUL GRIFFIN – Keyboards
ERNIE HAYES – Piano
BUDDY LUCAS – Tenor Sax
WILBUR BASCOMB – Bass
JIMMY JOHNSON – Drums

The booklet is a fairly basic 12-page affair (for a 3CD set) with album credits and new liner notes on her career and the recordings by noted writer ED WARD. JEFF ZARAYA has carried out the 20-bit remasters from original tapes using the DCS 900 –and the audio is great – both on the live set and on the polished studio sets. There are three black and white photos of Thornton live and smiling – and even a snap of Janis Joplin in full concert flow (Thornton mentions her in the intro to "Ball And Chain" – Joplin’s loss only recent in the memory).

The live set opens with an enthusiastic crowd losing their interned marbles to "Little Red Rooster" – a tune where the band gets to stretch out and find their feet – solos from Bill Porter on Saxophone and George Smith on Harmonica. The 7:14 minutes of "Ball And Chain" slows everything down but ups the intensity while "Hound Dog" proves to be a crowd-pleaser. But better is the solo-filled Slow Blues of "Rock Me Baby" where all three lead musicians get their spots and slaughter it (her voice is great on this one – salacious and Bluesy in a way that only a big woman shouter can be). The law-breaking story in "Sheriff O.E. & Me" allows her to tell a tale of wrongful arrest that naturally tickles the audience. She ends the gig on a hand-clapping version of "Oh Happy Day" – sounding like a hoarse Mavis Staples backed up by a Harmonica.

She opens the very cool studio set with a cover of the Muddy Waters 'I wish I was a catfish' song "Rolling Stone" where she pines for men in a way that's real and not preening for the sake of it. Paul Griffin gives it some wonderful Booker T type organ on the slinky and sexy "Mr. Cool" – jabbing away at his keyboard as she draws out the 7:45 minutes – only to be joined for the second half by Cornell Dupree doing his best B.B. King/Albert King fretboard impressions. Ronnie Miller makes his Guitar known on the Piano Funky Blues of "Big Mama's New Love" (sounds fab too). Things gets Bluesy Mellow with "Private Number" where the operator won't give Big Mama her man's phone number so that she can get monogamous peace of mind (fab Sax solo from Buddy Lucas). Back to Funk-Blues with the hugely likeable "Sassy Mama" - the kind of tune that's going to turn up on a Kent-Soul CD compilation real soon. Proceedings end with the 'blue as I can be' Jeannie Evan’s cover "Everybody's Happy (But Me)" – the Piano and Sax doing battle in left and right speaker coolsville.

I had expected the unreleased "Big Mama Swings" studio album to be filler – but if anything – it’s probably the strongest set of the three! Superbly produced by ED BLAND and mostly featuring the same band as "Sassy Mama!" (with slight alterations) – its that album Part 2 – only better. It opens strongly with the shuffling barroom boogie of "Good-Bye Baby" but then lurches into some fireworks - a nine-minute slow Blues called "Gonna Leave You". Both Ernie Hayes (Piano) and Buddy Lucas (Saxophone) add so much to her whining vocals – later joined by the fluid fretwork of Cornell Dupree on Guitar (stunning track). More emotional Funk Blues with "Mixed Up Feeling" because her baby won’t love her 'that way' and she can't find his door in the alleyway (nice Sax work and guitar licks) - while "Special" could be Etta James on Chess circa 1974 – updated and Funky but still anchored in that 60ts R&B sound. We go full-on Catfish Bluesy with the superb "Going Fishing" – 7:21 minutes of slow rolling piano and 'since I've been left behind' lyrics (she wants to know who's tugging on his line now). Hearing both the stepper-boogie "Big Mama Swings" and the killer Blues of "Happy Me" – it's a real wonder as to why this excellent album wasn’t released? At least it's available through this Ace/Vanguard Masters Reissue...

Willie Mae Thornton would have made the History books with "Hound Dog" and "Ball and Chain" alone – but how good is it to know that she had more Blues/Soul/Funk in her in the mid Seventies. Almost last of the big shouters – she passed away in July 1984 aged 58 – and this 3CD set does her legacy proud...
HASH(0xaadc34f8) out of 5 stars Big Mama's Vanguard Recording 5 May 2003
By Glenn Nelson - Highway 49 - Published on Amazon.com
This is a stunning place to start you Big Mama library - 3 sessions (one previously unreleased) all well recorded and sounding great in one 3 disc set. The 2 previous released albums were / are popular. My only recommendations would be to also get the Arhoolie release "Ball and Chain" as well.
HASH(0xaadc33c0) out of 5 stars It Doesn't Get Much Better than Big Mama Thornton! 20 Mar. 2014
By DeeSara - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This woman was really something else as were most of the first truly great female blues singer. If you read her life story, it is becomes obvious that she released and expressed a lot of her pain in her singing/artistry!
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