The Johnny Otis Story, Vol. 1: Midnight at the Barrelhouse (1945-1957)

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
Although universally recognized as an important figure in mid-20th century rhythm & blues, Johnny Otis did not make the most consistent records, whether he was the featured artist/singer or involved in more of a production capacity. This first volume of a two-part career overview compiles some of the more significant entries in his discography (a massive one if you count his productions), yet doesn't leave the impression that he was one of the greatest R&B artists of the just-post-World War II era, at least as far as his recorded output was concerned. Some of these 25 tracks are in fact exciting bridges between R&B and rock & roll, mixing in some jazz...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
Although universally recognized as an important figure in mid-20th century rhythm & blues, Johnny Otis did not make the most consistent records, whether he was the featured artist/singer or involved in more of a production capacity. This first volume of a two-part career overview compiles some of the more significant entries in his discography (a massive one if you count his productions), yet doesn't leave the impression that he was one of the greatest R&B artists of the just-post-World War II era, at least as far as his recorded output was concerned. Some of these 25 tracks are in fact exciting bridges between R&B and rock & roll, mixing in some jazz and jump blues, even if the material doesn't settle on much of an identifiable style. Others are rather routine period R&B, and the most memorable cuts tend to be ones by artists other than Otis, such as Big Mama Thornton's landmark original version of "Hound Dog" (from 1953); the Sheiks' 1955 version of "So Fine," which became a doo wop smash for the Fiestas at the end of the '50s; and the Royals' "Every Beat of My Heart," which became Gladys Knight & the Pips' first hit in the early '60s. Other original versions of note are Otis' own 1956 single "Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!" (covered by Little Richard and then, yet more famously, the Beatles as part of a "Kansas City"/"Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!" medley) and his 1957 single "Tough Enough" (featuring vocals by the group the Jayos, and later covered by both Cliff Richard and the Guess Who). In all honesty, however, none of these originals are as good as the most famous covers, and "Tough Enough" -- a peppy doo wop number in this incarnation -- is almost unrecognizable compared to the heavily rocked-up renditions by Richard and the Guess Who. Considering he was a veteran with almost 15 years of recording experience by the time Otis went rock & roll with the Bo Diddley-like Top Ten hit "Willie and the Hand Jive" (which closes this compilation) in 1958, it seems foolish to suggest that it took that long for him to hit his stride as a recording artist. The fact remains, though, that it's the best thing (other than perhaps Thornton's "Hound Dog") by far on this anthology, which doesn't quite satisfy as a convincing document of a major innovator, though it does offer a wide sampling of the range of styles he helped along on disc in his early years.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/6/2011
  • Label: Ace Records Uk
  • UPC: 029667046527
  • Catalog Number: 6704652
  • Sales rank: 65,524

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Johnny Otis Signature - Johnny Otis & His Orchestra (1:16)
  2. 2 Good Old Blues - Johnny Otis Orchestra (2:17)
  3. 3 Harlem Nocturne - Johnny Otis & His Orchestra (3:08)
  4. 4 Double Crossing Blues - Johnny Otis Quintette (2:48)
  5. 5 Midnight In the Barrelhouse - Johnny Otis Orchestra (3:06)
  6. 6 The Turkey Hop, Pt. 2 - Johnny Otis Orchestra (2:43)
  7. 7 Boogie Guitar - Johnny Otis Orchestra (2:36)
  8. 8 Wedding Boogie - Johnny Otis Congregation (2:56)
  9. 9 Oopy-Doo - Johnny Otis & His Orchestra (2:41)
  10. 10 Miss Mitchell - Johnny Otis & His Orchestra (2:38)
  11. 11 Rock Me Baby - Johnny Otis & His Orchestra (2:31)
  12. 12 Hound Dog - Kansas City Bill & Orchestra (2:50)
  13. 13 Robey's Bounce - Johnny Otis & His Orchestra (2:16)
  14. 14 Every Beat of My Heart - The Royals (2:56)
  15. 15 Cattle Train - Johnny Otis & His Orchestra (2:44)
  16. 16 So Fine - The Sheiks (3:13)
  17. 17 Like Shortnin' Bread - Johnny Otis & His Orchestra (2:59)
  18. 18 Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! - Johnny Otis Orchestra (2:56)
  19. 19 The Midnite Creeper, Pt. 1 - Johnny Otis Orchestra (2:54)
  20. 20 The Midnite Creeper, Pt. 2 - Johnny Otis Orchestra (2:35)
  21. 21 Tough Enough - Johnny Otis Orchestra (2:30)
  22. 22 Shake It Lucy Baby - The Johnny Otis Show (4:49)
  23. 23 Bye Bye Baby - The Johnny Otis Show (2:18)
  24. 24 Ma (He's Making Eyes At Me) - Three Tons of Joy (2:27)
  25. 25 Willie and the Hand Jive - The Johnny Otis Show (2:36)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Johnny Otis Primary Artist, Vocals
The Robins Vocals
Jimmy Beasley Piano
Marie Adams Vocals
Little Esther Vocals
Mel Walker Vocals
Preacher Lee Graves Vocals
Jayos Vocals
Technical Credits
Johnny Otis Arranger, Composer
Jerry Leiber Composer
Ralph Bass Composer
Con Conrad Composer
Maxwell Davis Composer
Pete "Guitar" Lewis Composer
Mike Stoller Composer
Tony Rounce Liner Notes
Duncan Cowell Mastering
Sidney Clare Composer
Jessie Mae Robinson Composer
Traditional Composer
Kenneth Pope Composer
Phyllis Otis Composer
Earle Hagen Composer
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