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The Chess Box

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Bruce Eder
This was the most unusual, and probably the most difficult to assemble of MCA's Chess Box series, mostly because of the unusual nature of Willie Dixon's contribution to Chess Records. To be sure, Dixon rates a place in the history of the label right alongside that of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Little Walter, but his role was more subtle than that of a performer indeed, two of the half-dozen recordings here that feature Dixon as a singer were previously unreleased. So he is all over this two-CD set, as a songwriter, producer, and bassist, and occasionally as a singer as well, but the unifying element are the Dixon songs, and he is the only blues songwriter to be honored ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Bruce Eder
This was the most unusual, and probably the most difficult to assemble of MCA's Chess Box series, mostly because of the unusual nature of Willie Dixon's contribution to Chess Records. To be sure, Dixon rates a place in the history of the label right alongside that of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Little Walter, but his role was more subtle than that of a performer indeed, two of the half-dozen recordings here that feature Dixon as a singer were previously unreleased. So he is all over this two-CD set, as a songwriter, producer, and bassist, and occasionally as a singer as well, but the unifying element are the Dixon songs, and he is the only blues songwriter to be honored by a major label with a retrospective of this type. Since he was not the performer on most of this material, but, rather, was working to mesh his material with the styles and sensibilities of a vast range of players, the sounds contained on these two CDs are a lot more varied than on any of the other Chess Box releases -- amplified Delta blues, big band, Mills Brothers-style harmony blues, jazz-influenced jump blues, and near-pop style R&B are all here; guitar pyrotechnics by Muddy Waters or Hubert Sumlin on the Wolf's records, vocal acrobatics by Little Walter, and rippling performances by Koko Taylor illuminate this set throughout. While some of it, such as Muddy Waters' single of "Hoochie Coochie Man"; Little Walter's "My Babe"; Howlin' Wolf's performances of "Evil," "Spoonful," "Little Red Rooster," and "Back Door Man"; and Lowell Fulson's version of "Do Me Right" are easily available elsewhere, a lot else of what's here is genuinely rare and most enticing -- Dixon's own renditions of "Violent Love," "Crazy For My Baby," and "Pain In My Heart," in particular, are great records, lacking perhaps only a slight measure of the energy that a Muddy Waters brought to recording. Most of the set is concentrated on his blues work -- a pair of hot Bo Diddley sides "Pretty Thing," "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover" that Dixon wrote are represented, but since he didn't write anything for Chuck Berry, that side of Dixon's history is left out, despite his having played bass on most of Berry's early recordings. Still, it's difficult to imagine anyone complaining over an "excuse" to bring some of the best sides of Muddy, Walter, the Wolf, Diddley, Taylor, Lowell Fulson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Rush, and even Dixon's own '40s outfit, the Big Three together in one release. The sound is impeccable, holding up to standards even a dozen years later, and the set includes a well-illustrated and annotated booklet.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/25/1990
  • Label: Chess
  • UPC: 076731650029
  • Catalog Number: 16500
  • Sales rank: 3,778

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 My Babe - Little Walter (2:40)
  2. 2 Violent Love - The Big Three Trio (2:20)
  3. 3 Third Degree - Eddie Boyd (3:13)
  4. 4 Seventh Son - Willie Mabon (2:52)
  5. 5 Crazy for My Baby (2:49)
  6. 6 Pain in My Heart (3:18)
  7. 7 (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man (2:45)
  8. 8 Evil - Howlin' Wolf (2:52)
  9. 9 Mellow Down Easy - Little Walter (2:40)
  10. 10 When the Lights Go Out - Jimmy Witherspoon (2:50)
  11. 11 Young Fashioned Ways - Muddy Waters (2:59)
  12. 12 Pretty Thing - Bo Diddley (2:49)
  13. 13 I'm Ready - Muddy Waters (3:02)
  14. 14 Do Me Right - Lowell Fulson (2:52)
  15. 15 I Just Want to Make Love to You - Muddy Waters (2:50)
  16. 16 Tollin' Bells - Lowell Fulson (3:04)
  17. 17 29 Ways (2:08)
  18. 18 Walking the Blues (3:01)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Spoonful - Howlin' Wolf (2:45)
  2. 2 You Know My Love - Otis Rush (2:40)
  3. 3 You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover - Bo Diddley (3:08)
  4. 4 I Ain't Superstitious - Howlin' Wolf (2:52)
  5. 5 You Need Love - Muddy Waters (2:39)
  6. 6 Little Red Rooster - Howlin' Wolf (2:25)
  7. 7 Back Door Man - Howlin' Wolf (2:48)
  8. 8 Dead Presidents - Little Walter (2:45)
  9. 9 Hidden Charms - Howlin' Wolf (2:21)
  10. 10 You Shook Me - Muddy Waters (2:40)
  11. 11 Bring It on Home - Sonny Boy Williamson [II] (2:33)
  12. 12 Three Hundred Pounds of Joy - Howlin' Wolf (3:02)
  13. 13 Weak Brain, Narrow Mind (4:24)
  14. 14 Wang Dang Doodle - Koko Taylor (2:59)
  15. 15 The Same Thing - Muddy Waters (5:54)
  16. 16 Built for Comfort - Howlin' Wolf (2:33)
  17. 17 I Can't Quit You Baby - Little Milton (6:38)
  18. 18 Insane Asylum - Koko Taylor (4:19)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Willie Dixon Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Background Vocals, Track Performer
Billy Boy Arnold Harmonica
Michael Bloomfield Guitar
Eddie Boyd Piano, Vocals, Track Performer
Paul Butterfield Harmonica
Lowell Fulson Guitar, Vocals, Track Performer
Lloyd Glenn Piano
Henry Gray Piano
Buddy Guy Guitar, Bass Guitar
Earl Hooker Guitar
Casey Jones Drums
Little Walter Harmonica, Vocals, Track Performer
Willie Mabon Piano, Vocals, Track Performer
Matt "Guitar" Murphy Guitar, Bass Guitar
Hubert Sumlin Guitar
Koko Taylor Vocals, Track Performer
Harold Ashby Tenor Saxophone
Eddie Chamblee Tenor Saxophone
Gene Barge Conductor, Tenor Saxophone
Sam Lay Drums
Jody Williams Guitar
Robert Lockwood Jr. Guitar
The Big Three Trio Track Performer
Fred Below Drums
Bo Diddley Guitar, Vocals, Track Performer
J.T. Brown Tenor Saxophone
Howlin' Wolf Harmonica, Vocals, Track Performer
Little Milton Guitar, Vocals, Track Performer
Leonard Caston Guitar, Piano, Vocals
Francis Clay Drums
Lee Cooper Guitar
Ernest Cotton Tenor Saxophone
Al Duncan Drums
Donald "Duck" Dunn Bass
Jarrett Gibson Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Jerome Green Maracas, Background Vocals
William K. "Billy" Hadnott Bass
Donald Hankins Baritone Saxophone
Clifton James Drums
Frank Kirkland Drums
Lafayette Leake Organ, Piano
Jack Meyers Electric Bass, Bass Guitar
Muddy Waters Guitar, Vocals, Track Performer
Bob Neely Tenor Saxophone
Odie Payne Jr. Drums
Earl Phillips Drums
Milton Rector Electric Bass
Jimmy Rogers Guitar
Otis Rush Guitar, Vocals, Track Performer
Otis Spann Piano
Johnny "Big Moose" Walker Organ, Piano
Percy Walker Drums
Sonny Boy Williamson I Track Performer
Sonny Boy Williamson [II] Track Performer
Jimmy Witherspoon Vocals, Track Performer
Ollie Crawford Guitar, Background Vocals
Little Sax Crowder Tenor Saxophone
Johnny Williams Rhythm Guitar
Johnny Williams Guitar
Earl Brown Alto Saxophone
Dave Myers Guitar
Technical Credits
Willie Dixon Producer
Gene Barge Arranger
Calvin Carter Producer
Greg Fulginiti Mastering
Andy McKaie Reissue Producer
Don Snowden Liner Notes
Chester Burnett Composer
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