The Complete Vanguard Recordings

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Roberta Penn
A primary influence on Janis Joplin and countless female singers since, Big Mama Thornton was one of the most versatile vocalists to come out of the Southland in the '50s. Her work with Johnny Otis (found on HOUND DOG: THE PEACOCK RECORDINGS) is lyrical -- some of it even sweet -- and generally jumps with early R&B fervor. Thornton's Arhoolie material on BALL N' CHAIN is deep in the blues with the singer/harpist/drummer performing in the presence of Lightnin' Hopkins, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, and other primo players of the '60s. In the 1970s, Thornton began recording for Vanguard and three of those sessions are gathered on the box set THE COMPLETE VANGUARD ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Roberta Penn
A primary influence on Janis Joplin and countless female singers since, Big Mama Thornton was one of the most versatile vocalists to come out of the Southland in the '50s. Her work with Johnny Otis (found on HOUND DOG: THE PEACOCK RECORDINGS) is lyrical -- some of it even sweet -- and generally jumps with early R&B fervor. Thornton's Arhoolie material on BALL N' CHAIN is deep in the blues with the singer/harpist/drummer performing in the presence of Lightnin' Hopkins, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, and other primo players of the '60s. In the 1970s, Thornton began recording for Vanguard and three of those sessions are gathered on the box set THE COMPLETE VANGUARD RECORDINGS. By this time, Thornton was pretty much drowning in the sea of alcoholism that eventually killed her in 1984, but there are still some gutbucket cuts in the set. Disc one, JAIL, recorded at various prison concerts, finds Big Mama still the boss on her classic "Ball and Chain" and the venue-appropriate "Jail." CD two, SASSY MAMA, finds Thornton's voice in even better shape and the legendary session guitarist Cornell Dupree in fine form. Big Mamma shouts and growls through "Rolling Stone," then slyly warble like a dove in mating season on "Mr. Coo." The previously unreleased BIG MAMA SWINGS is highlighted by Thornton's straight from the gut delivery on "Gonna Leave You," the heartbreaking tale of a woman caught in a bad relationship. On "Mixed Up Feeling," she howls and talks her way through the entire gamut of deep emotions, then gets downright raunchy for "Going Fishing." While THE COMPLETE VANGUARD SESSIONS is not Thornton in her prime, it is a telling reflection of the final stages of her career. Rather than be chiefly remembered as Joplin's inspiration, Thornton deserves acclaim for her own abundant talent. A recording like this, warts and all, can only help set things straight.
All Music Guide - Cub Koda
This wonderful three-disc set brings together everything Willie Mae Thornton recorded for the folk music label in the mid-'70s. It's comprised of her two released albums from 1975, Jail and Sassy Mama, and a complete unreleased album, Big Mama Swings. Thornton was still in good voice on these sessions and while not as powerful as her Peacock sides, the production is solid and these recordings make an excellent addition to her scant discography.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/18/2000
  • Label: Vanguard Records
  • UPC: 015707017527
  • Catalog Number: 70175
  • Sales rank: 67,022

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Little Red Rooster (6:25)
  2. 2 Ball and Chain (7:14)
  3. 3 Jail (5:47)
  4. 4 Hound Dog (2:58)
  5. 5 Rock Me Baby (6:42)
  6. 6 Sheriff O. E. & Me (3:35)
  7. 7 Oh Happy Day (3:51)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Rolling Stone (4:42)
  2. 2 Lost City (4:52)
  3. 3 Mr. Cool (7:45)
  4. 4 Big Mama's New Love (3:38)
  5. 5 Private Number (6:20)
  6. 6 Sassy Mama (4:56)
  7. 7 Everybody's Happy (But Me) (3:20)
Disc 3
  1. 1 Goodbye Baby (3:31)
  2. 2 Gonna Leave You (8:56)
  3. 3 Mixed up Feeling (9:28)
  4. 4 Special (5:28)
  5. 5 Going Fishing (7:21)
  6. 6 Big Mama Swings (5:14)
  7. 7 Happy Me (6:08)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Big Mama Thornton Primary Artist, Vocals
Cornell Dupree Guitar
Paul Griffin Keyboards
Jimmy Johnson Drums
Buddy Lucas Tenor Saxophone
Todd Nelson Drums
Bill Potter Tenor Saxophone
George "Harmonica" Smith Harmonica
Steve Wachman Guitar
Ron Miller Guitar
Jimmy Johnson Jr. Drums
B. Huston Guitar
Wilbur Bascomb Jr. Bass
Ernie Heyes Piano
Technical Credits
Willie Dixon Composer
Big Mama Thornton Composer
Jerry Leiber Composer
Ed Bland Producer, Liner Notes
Edwin Hawkins Composer
B.B. King Composer
Mike Stoller Composer
Captain Jeff Zaraya Engineer
Tom Vickers Re-Release Producer
David Gahr Cover Photo
Georgette Cartwright Creative Services Coordinator
General Hog Wyler Producer
Allen Wayne Composer
Link Wyler Composer
Chester Burnett Composer
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