Acrobat Music & Media has a series related to individual artists and some year-by-year multi-artist compilations called Jukebox Hits, my initial experience with which was the Lucky Millinder 1942-1951 volume. That led to the purchase of those dealing with The Clovers (1949-1955), Erskine Hawkins (1940-1950), Ivory Joe Hunter (1945-1950), Buddy Johnson Orch featuring Ella Johnson (1940-1951), Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (1942-1947), Andy Kirk & His Clouds Of Joy (1936-1949), Joe Liggins & His "Honeydrippers" (1945-1951), T-Bone Walker (1943-1952), Jimmie Lunceford (1935-1947) and Lionel Hampton (1943-1950)
The sound quality is excellent and the generous background notes include track-by-track comments and a discography. I have also found these in the series: Roy Milton, Amos Milburn, Wynonie Harris, Cab Calloway, The Dominoes, Ella Fitzgerald, Ruth Brown, Count Basie, Muddy Waters, Billy Eckstine, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Nat "King" Cole, and multi-artist year compilations for 1942 to 1944, 1947, 1953 and 1955. I'm sure there are probably others.
Born John Veliotes in Vallejo, California on December 28, 1921, this multi-talented man (singer, songwriter, drummer, band leader) ranks among the most influential ever in the R&B field, having backed so many of the genres' most renowned artists such as Johnny Ace, whose 1954 hit Please Forgive Me (track 20) was a # 6 R&B with the Otis orchestra backing on Duke 128, and Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, whose immortal original rendition of Hound Dog (track 19) was a # 1 R&B for seven weeks in early 1953 on Peacock 5-1612 with the backing of "Kansas City Bill." In reality that was Johnny and his band under an assumed name since it was cut for a rival label.
The first track here, Drifting Blues, involved Johnny playing drums on the spring 1946 # 2 R&B hit by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers on Philo 112. In 1948, now fronting his own band, he had a # 10 R&B hit with That's Your Last Boogie, billed to Joe Swift with Johnny Otis & His Orchestra on Exclusive 51x, and from there to 1952 he would add another 15 hit singles in collaboration with such stars as The Robins (later The Coasters), Little Esther (Phillips), Mel Walker, and Lee Graves, mostly for Savoy Records. And they are all here in excellent sound quality augmented by a 10-page insert containing background notes by Bob Fisher, written in 2005, a complete discography of the contents, and a photo of each of Little Ester and Mel Walker.
The only thing I question is the comment for track 3, If It's So Baby (a # 10 R&B in early 1950 for The Robins and one not involving Johnny), where Fisher says "This was their only chart record, several years later the nucleus of the group became The Coasters." Well, aside from the fact they got equal billing on Double Crossing Blues (# 1 R&B for NINE weeks in early 1950 billed to "The Johnny Otis Quintette, The Robins And Little Esther," they also had a # 10 R&B in late 1955 with Smokey Joe's Café on Spark 122/Atco 6059, which also crossed over to the Billboard Pop Top 100 at # 79.
But that's a minor quibble. This is a solid 5-star compilation of the first 16 R&B hits of the man elected to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994 and the Blues Hall Of Fame in 2000. The only missing hits are his 1958 Willie And The Hand Jive (# 3 R&B/# 9 Top 100) and Country Girl (# 29 R&B in April 1969) - both billed to The Johnny Otis Show, with the first on Capitol and the last for Kent Records.