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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Blues Heaven...Must Be Mighty Sweet...", 4 Feb 2010
By 
Mark Barry (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: What It Takes: The Chess Years [Expanded Edition] (Audio CD)
*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE "EXPANDED EDITION" ***

Hip-O Select B0013186-02 is a reissue of a deleted 18-track 1991 CD compilation - now with 6 bonus tracks added on. It has the same front artwork, but a live photo spreads itself across the 3 flaps of the tri-gatefold on the inside, while the booklet is expanded to 16-pages. It's embossed on the rear of the card sleeve in gold "limited edition". More importantly, it has truly stunning 2009 remastering by ace tape expert ERICK LABSON (has over 850 credits to his name - including most of the entire Chess catalogue).

Released November 2009 in the USA, February 2010 in the UK, "What It Takes - The Chess Years [Expanded Edition]" breaks down as follows (73:06 minutes):

1. I Got What It Takes (1964 USA 7" single on Checker 1092, A - see also 19)
2. Don't Mess With The Messer (1969 USA LP "Koko Taylor" on Chess LP 1532)
3. Whatever I Am, You Made Me (as per 2)
4. I'm A Little Mixed Up (as per 2)
5. Wang Dang Doodle (1966 USA 7" single on Checker 1135, A)
6. (I Got) All You Need (1966 USA 7" single on Checker 1174, A)
7. (Just) Love Me (1967 USA 7" single on Checker 1166, A)
8. What Came First The Egg Or The Hen [B-side of 7, duet vocals with Willie Dixon)
9. Insane Asylum (as per 2 - duet vocals with Willie Dixon)
10. Fire (as per 2 - duet vocals with Willie Dixon)
11. I Don't Care Who Knows (1968 USA 7" single on Checker 1210, A)
12. Twenty Nine Ways (To My Baby's Door) (as per 2)
13. Blue Prelude [Previously Unreleased, Recorded November 1971]
14. I Need More And More (1972 USA LP "Basic Soul" on Chess LP 50018)
15. Um Huh My Baby (as per 14)
16. Bills, Bills & More Bills (as per 14)
17. Let Me Love You Baby (as per 14)
18. I Got What It Takes [Live Duet With MUDDY WATERS] (1972 USA LP "Blues Rock Avalanche - The Montreaux Festival" on Chess LP 60015)

BONUS TRACKS:
19. What Kind Of A Man Is That? (B-side of 1 - a Koko Taylor original)
20. Blues Heaven (1966 USA 7" single on Checker 1135, A - Willie Dixon co-write with Dick LaPalm)
21. Tell Me The Truth (1966 USA 7" single on Checker 1148, A - a Johnnie May Dunson song)
22. Good Advice (B-side of 21 - a J.B. Lenoir cover)
23. Separate Or Integrate (1967 USA 7" single on Checker 1210, A)
24. Tease Your Man (1972 USA 7" single on Chess 2132, A)

Tracks 1 to 3, 5 to 12, 14 to 18 and 23 to 24 are all written by WILLIE DIXON
Track 20 is co-written by WILLIE DIXON and DICK LaPALM
Other track credits listed above

With a powerhouse voice that could level tall buildings from ten paces, Koko Taylor truly met her soul mate in Chess' principal songwriter - the mighty Willie Dixon. He wrote 18 of the tracks on here and co-wrote one other - his presence is everywhere. With the house-band containing the cream of the Blues crop (Lafayette Leake on Piano, Buddy Guy and Johnny "Twist" Williams on Guitars and a host of others - including Willie Dixon on Bass), it's no wonder that these slices of Sixties Blues and R'n'B boogie along so brilliantly.

But the real revelation is the SOUND - I've raved about Erick Labson's work before, but the lad's excelled himself here - beautiful clarity and depth - in your face for all the right reasons. Fans will thrill to the care given - infused no doubt with the same affection that exudes from ANDY McKAIE's typically excellent liner notes. It's a shame though that they didn't picture either of her albums "Koko Taylor" (a ragbag of tracks from '65, '67 and '69 finally issued in 1969) and the "Basic Soul" LP from 1972 - but that's offset against a colour photo of her debut Checker 45 "I Got What It Takes" on 1092 - what a lovely sight. Its fab B-side "Blues Heaven" is also here (lyrics above). The previously unreleased and exclusive-to-this-set "Blue Prelude" is a slow blues Joe Bishop/Gordon Jenkins song and it's excellent.

Koko has been poorly served by Chess reissues across the last two decades - until now. With her passing in June 2009 at the age of 80, Memphis' Cora Taylor is finally done proud by this lovely and wonderful reissue. Top marks to all involved - and another goodie from Hip-O Select.

Recommended.

For info purposes - a Checker/Chess Records KOKO TAYLOR Discography
USA 7" singles:

1. I Got What It Takes b/w What Kind Of A Man Is This (1964, Checker 1092)
2. Don't Mess With The Messer b/w Whatever I Am, You Made Me (1965, Checker 1106)
3. Good Advice b/w When I Think Of My Baby (1965, Checker 1140)
4. Good Advice b/w Tell The Truth (1965, Checker 1148)
5. What Came First The Egg Or The Hen b/w (Just) Love Me (1967, Checker 1166)
6. (I Got) All You Need b/w All Money Spent (1967, Checker 1174)
7. Fire b/w Insane Asylum (1968, Checker 1191)
8. Separate Or Integrate b/w I Don't Care Who Knows (1968, Checker 1210)
9. Tease Your Man b/w That's The Way Love Is (1972, Chess 2132)

USA LPs:

"Koko Taylor", October 1969 USA LP on Chess LPS-1532 [Produced by Willie Dixon]

Side 1:
1. Love You Like A Woman
2. I Love A Lover Like You
3. Don't Mess With The Messer
4. I Don't Care Who Knows
5. Wang Dang Doodle
6. I'm A Little Mixed Up

Side 2:
1. Nitty Gritty
2. Fire
3. Whatever I Am, You Made Me
4. Twenty-Nine Ways
5. Insane Asylum
6. Yes, It's Good For You

"Basic Soul", 1972 USA LP on Chess CH-50018 [Produced by Willie Dixon]

Side 1:
1. It's A Poor Dog
2. Let Me Love You Baby
3. Bills, Bills And More Bills
4. I Need More And More
5. Love Me To Death

Side 2:
1. That's The Way Love Is
2. Um Huh My Baby
3. Please Your Man
4. Pollution
5. Violent Love
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What It Takes, Koko Taylor - Blues Heaven!, 12 Jan 2011
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: What It Takes: The Chess Years [Expanded Edition] (Audio CD)
This, for me, is the cream of the Chess label's output. And that is high praise - Chicago blues was one of the greatest musical forms of the last century, and the Chess label produced some of its finest offerings.

Koko Taylor had a real Rolls Royce of a blues voice. Naturally extremely powerful with a rough edge, she was definitely what might have been described in an earlier age as a Blues Shouter. It was an almost perfect example of what a blues voice should sound like. She was even better than Howlin' Wolf (and I do not say that lightly!)

When she signed for Chess, the other component that makes these recordings special was introduced. The great Willie Dixon, an absolute giant in blues history, wrote most of the tracks here, he also played bass and produced many.

What is presented here is track after track of classic Chicago blues. Koko's voice dominates, a roar that brooks no competition. She is ably backed by Chess's best session musicians, including Buddy Guy. She takes Dixon's songs and makes them sound fantastic. The standout is the incomparable `Insane Asylum', long one of my all time favourite tracks. Koko packs in so much emotional intensity whilst at the same time effortlessly blasting your speaker cones. Second is her recording of `Wang Dang Doodle', it's a classic song and been covered many times, but Koko owns it and beats all pretenders. Even Howlin' Wolf's superb rendition comes in second to this in my opinion.

This best of is a decent attempt to give an overview of her chess years. It boasts an excellent sound quality that really allows the power of Koko's voice to shine through clearly. There is an interesting and informative booklet.

If you like this then checkout Deluxe Edition which gives an overview of her later career with Alligator.
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