In late 2009, Hip-O Select finally put out a decent Koko Taylor compilation in the USA called "What It Takes - The Chess Years" which gave fans 19 tracks in superlative remastered form (see separate review). But it featured only 6 songs from this - "Koko Taylor" - her debut album. They were "Don't Mess With The Messer", "Wang Dang Doodle" (lyrics above), "Whatever I Am, You Made Me", "I'm A Little Mixed Up", "Insane Asylum" and "Twenty Nine Ways" (To My Baby's Door)". Which means that the other 6 are only available in remastered form on this disc - still making it a worthwhile purchase.
Released in the USA in April 2001, MCA/Chess 088 112 519-2 breaks down as follows (39:53 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 12 are the Stereo LP "Koko Taylor" issued October 1969 in the USA on Chess LPS-1532
Tracks 13 and 14 are "Love Sick Tears" and "He Always Knocks Me Out" - two previously unreleased outtakes from the LP sessions
ERICK LABSON - who has over 850 audio credits to his name including the vast majority of the huge Chess, Checker, Cadet catalogue - has remastered this set to typically superlative standards. The sound quality is wonderful - clear, full and a genuine blast to listen to. The 8-page foldout inlay has affectionate and informative liner notes by noted writer and soul enthusiast BILL DAHL and pictures Koko's mentor, producer and friend - the Chess Giant WILLIE DIXON.
"Koko Taylor" was in fact a ragbag of an album - singles from 1965 and 1967 fleshed out with newly recorded 1969 tracks - yet it all worked so well. The two previously unreleased tracks are good rather than great and it's easy to see why they were canned at the time. Still, it's nice to have anything new from the period.
The sessions also featured the cream of Chicago bluesmen - Buddy Guy, Matt Murphy and Johnny Shines on Guitar, Walter "Shakey" Horton on Harmonica, Lafayette Leake and Albert "Sunnyland Slim" Luandrew on Piano and Organ, Jack Myers on Bass, Clifton James and Fred Bellow on Drums - with of course Willie Dixon on Upright Bass and helming the overall Production.
Although you can't see it from the picture provided, this release is also part of Universal's "Blues Classics - Remastered & Revisited" Series. It's a generic title displayed upright on the spine of the back inlay on each release, which is visible through the see-through tray to the left. I mention this because it differentiates this release and other titles in the series from older versions that weren't mastered as well. If you click the tag provided below, you will be able to see all 12 titles in this fantastic 2001 series.
A superb version then of a forgotten classic - get this in your life, you'll not regret it...
PS: for more of Bill Dahl's incredible work in liner notes, see also the Bear Family "Sweet Soul Music" CDs from 1961 to 1970 - 70 to 95 page booklets - 10 titles - all reviewed. Unbelievably good stuff...