I Wanna Go Home
Hightone (2003) 8155
12 tracks, 46 minutes.
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: September 2003
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
HighTone's Heritage of the Blues series has now offered discs by R.L. Burnside, Fred McDowell, Johnny Shines, and this superlative set titled I Wanna Go Home, and while the 46-minute playing time is a bit short (this is pretty much a budget-line for HighTone), what is included are drilling performances by the most potent post-war blues pianist ever. Otis Spann was a major presence as a Muddy Waters sideman from 1953 until his departure in 1970, but while part of Muddy's band, his prowess was noticed by a number of producers who recorded him in a number of
settings. This CD pulls together a dozen sides recorded between 1965 and either 1968 or 1969. Three numbers feature Spann alone; the thundering Spann's Boogie Woogie, a slow and deliberate Nobody Knows My Troubles, and an equally slow One Room Country Shack. Another three cuts find him accompanied by Johnny Young's highly rhythmic guitar and James Cotton's storming harmonica, while Jimmy Lee Morris and S.P. Leary anchor the proceedings on bass and drums. Get Your Hand Out Of My Pocket bristles along as does Who's Out There? then
Otis settles in behind the organ for a lowdown Lovin' You. Muddy makes a few appearances taking the lead vocal on You Can't Miss What You Ain't Never Had as well as joining Spann for I Wanna Go Home and Live The Life I Love, all with Muddy's band of the day including the twin guitar work of Sammy Lawhorn and Pee Wee Madison, Calvin Jones on bass, and Francis Clay hammering out the backbeats (there is harmonica present, possibly from Paul Oscher although uncredited). Muddy and his guitar also team up with Willie Dixon's bass for a pair on Been A Long,
Long Time and a favorite of Spann's from his biggest influence, Big Maceo's Worried Life Blues. While Otis Spann's solo career was cut short by cancer (he died in April of 1970 shortly after vacating the piano seat he held with Muddy for 17 years), his wizardry was captured a number of times both in the studio and during 'live' performances. A singer with an incredibly expressive voice and an ability to play notes and figures that seemed to lie somewhere between the piano keys, Otis Spann was a major figure who surely would have done far more had his life not been cut short at
age forty. www.hightone.com for more news on this and many other fine releases including new titles in the series from Phillip Walker and Pinetop Perkins.
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