Released by Chess subsidiary Checker in 1969, Koko Taylor's eponymous LP debut compiles twelve singles recorded and released between 1965 and 1969 (plus two newly added bonus tracks).
Cora Walton, as her real name is, was "discovered" by Chess recording artist and resident songsmith Willie Dixon, and Dixon is everywhere in this album: Bassist, songwriter, composer, arranger, backing vocalist, and Taylor's duet partner on the athmospheric "Insane Asylum".
This album is a terrific place to start for those just getting acquainted with the reigning Queen of Chicago blues. It opens with the gritty, soul-flavoured "Love You Like A Woman", and from there it goes from highlight to highlight, rounding up a slew of classic blues and R&B singles, "Wang Dang Doodle", "Don't Mess With The Messer", and "Twenty-Nine Ways" among them. And lesser known songs like the swaggering "I Love A Lover Like You" and the slinky "Whatever I Am You Made Me" are no less magnificent.
There is not a single clunker here, in fact, and Koko Taylor is expertly backed by men like Sunnyland Slim and Lafayette Leake (both keyboards), Buddy Guy, Johnny Shines and Matt "Guitar" Murphy (guitars - duh), and harpist Walter Horton, whose smouldering playing on "Twenty-Nine Ways" and "I Love A Lover Like You" is pure gold.
This is one of the finest LPs in the Chess catalogue, and a terrific overview of Taylor's early Chess sides. Especially now that "What it Takes - the Chess Sides" is no longer in print. Fans of classic Chicago blues in general, and of Koko Taylor in particular, should get themselves a copy right away!