4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2012
This man is highly rated by blues experts but has been somewhat overshadowed by better known Memphis-associated blues acts like B B King and Bobby Blue Bland. Elvis's version of Herman's Mystery Train is, of course, one of the greatest records of all time. For me Junior's is just as good and along with his Feelin' Good and Pretty Baby and has got to be up their with the finest blues cuts ever made. This is a wonderful compilation with the packaging to match. I couldn't believe how reasonably priced it was. What are you waiting for?!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2012
It's a mystery why Little Junior Parker has been so overlooked. However, this 2 CD retrospective goes a long way to rectifying that. Some great blues tracks venturing into Memphis rock n roll. Quite a few were covered by other artists, particularly Mystery Train, which of course was covered by Elvis. This is all great stuff for collectors and novices alike.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
When (Little) Junior Parker does get mentioned it's often with Bobby Bland in the same sentence. Both worked for Duke in Memphis and then made the move to Houston when Duke relocated there. And Parker made the switch to a more soul based approach roughly when Bland did. Both also toured together. But there the similarities end. Junior had a light tenor voice with which he could caress lyrics in contrast to the sometimes melodramatic crying often deployed by Bland. In general the Parker records were more intimate than those from the extrovert Bobby Bland. And while Bland had spent time at Memphis in his earliest recording days he didn't have anything like the intriguing body of work that Parker left at the iconic Sun Record label.
I am very pleased to see that Fantastic Voyage have organised the tracks on this 55 track 2 CD Set largely synchronously with their original order of release. As a consequence we have, without doubt, the most important part of Parker's career laid out before us; from the early amplified delta blues based tracks right through to the soul music of the sixties.
The set starts with both sides of Parker's Modern label single, "You're my angel". It then gives us his Sun releases plus those tracks that were not issued at the time. The latter grouping provides some interesting alternates. Much has been made of the fact that Junior wrote and recorded the (excellent) original version of "Mystery Train" which of course was covered by Elvis. I say wrote, in fact this is a number whose lyrics go back many years in American roots music, not unlike some of the early Chess tracks from the likes of Muddy Waters and the Wolf. Another one of Junior's tracks that should be celebrated is "Love my baby", (flip of "Mystery Train"), an inspiration to a host of Sun's rockabilly performers, and Scotty Moore himself took note of Pat Hare's guitar work on the record.
Junior's Duke tracks show him in a range of blues styles. The juxtaposition of "Next time you see me" and "That's alright" is an excellent example. The former has the horns blasting away with a stinging guitar lead. It's not a million miles from Bobby Bland circa "Further on up the road". It's also a number which has achieved the status of being recognised as a standard in the blues community. In contrast, "That's alright" with Junior's mouth harp well to the fore, has distinct resemblance to the sort of blues being laid down by Little Walter at Chess. Two great but differing performances.
The last dozen or so tracks are more in the soul vein although traces of the blues certainly don't disappear. A good example to check out would be "Driving Wheel", which finds the middle ground between blues and soul; dramatic horns, a little preachifying from Junior and a tough Texan guitar. This the kind of music which earned the name soul blues.
Rarely do we see such an example of an artist moving from electric country blues, though the more uptown variety of the genre, to soul music, with great performances from all these categories. And I've not even mentioned his near definitive version of "Sweet Home Chicago"