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1956-1966: The Session Years
     

1956-1966: The Session Years

by Johnny Jones
 
A talented Tennessee blues/R&B guitarist who played with giants like Junior Wells, Freddie King, and Bobby "Blue" Bland, Johnny Jones never made a high-profile name for himself, in part because he wasn't a singer. He did record with some bands, however, and this 24-track

Overview

A talented Tennessee blues/R&B guitarist who played with giants like Junior Wells, Freddie King, and Bobby "Blue" Bland, Johnny Jones never made a high-profile name for himself, in part because he wasn't a singer. He did record with some bands, however, and this 24-track compilation is almost equally divided between work he did as part of the Jimmy Beck Orchestra (in the 1950s) and the Imperial Seven (in the '60s). The lack of original release information (including dates) on this anthology makes it kind of hard to assess how good a job this CD does of functioning as an overview of Jones' work during the period, however. The liner notes aren't at all clear as to who the credited artist was on all of these cuts, and it's important to note that at least some of these were actually billed to entirely different acts upon their initial release, especially as the Jimmy Beck Orchestra was a studio group for the Calvert, Champion, and Cherokee labels. As for what's here, the Jimmy Beck Orchestra sides are just adequate '50s R&B with some flashes of rock & roll, with vocals variously taken by Gene Allison, Earl Gaines, Larry Birdsong, Charles Walker, and Christine Kittrell. Jones asserts himself more on the generally more impressive Imperial Seven sides, playing in a blues-rock style somewhat similar to Freddie King (especially on "Crazy About You Baby") on more modern-style tunes with a considerably more soulful grit. Again various singers -- including Earl Gaines (again), Rudy Greene, Levert Allison, Sam Baker, and even (as spoken narrator) famed Nashville DJ "John R" Richbourg" -- take vocals. There's a Jimi Hendrix connection to the Imperial Seven tracks in that Billy Cox, who played in Hendrix's bands in 1969 and 1970, is on bass, while Larry Lee, who briefly played in Hendrix's band with Cox in 1969, is on rhythm guitar. Indeed Jones sounds a bit like Hendrix does on the latter's pre-fame recordings -- bluesy and a little raw, and not as into a pure blues bag as some of his peers, though Jones of course wouldn't evolve like Hendrix did. The two final cuts are live instrumental recordings from the mid-'60s syndicated television show THE !!!! BEAT [sic].

Product Details

Release Date:
04/20/2010
Label:
Superbird
UPC:
5013929881327
catalogNumber:
13

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Johnny Jones   Primary Artist,Guitar
Gene Allison   Vocals,Background Vocals
Pete Drake   Pedal Steel Guitar
Earl Gaines   Percussion,Drums,Vocals
Larry Lee   Rhythm Guitar
Jimmy Beck   Saxophone
Larry Birdsong   Vocals,Background Vocals
Skippy Brooks   Piano
Freeman Brown   Drums
Harrison Calloway   Trumpet
Billy Cox   Bass
Rudy Greene   Vocals
Aaron Varnell   Saxophone
John Richbourg   Vocals
Christine Kittrell   Vocals
William Jenkins   Piano
Levert Allison   Vocals
Shakey Wilson   Saxophone
"Big Mac" McRadle   Bass
Willy Mitchell   Drums
Sony Tyler   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Fred James   Liner Notes,Reissue Producer
Richbourg   Composer
Jarrett   Composer
Gaines   Composer

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