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What It Takes, Koko Taylor - Blues Heaven!,
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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.