The Complete Vanguard Recordings

The Complete Vanguard Recordings

by Big Mama Thornton


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The Complete Vanguard Recordings

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.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/18/2000
Label: Vanguard Records
UPC: 0015707017527
catalogNumber: 70175
Rank: 41649

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   Drums
B. Huston   Guitar
Wilbur Bascomb   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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