Willie Cobbs is best known as the guy who wrote the insidious 1961 riff tune "You Don't Love Me," a staple covered by Junior Wells, The Allman Brothers, John Hammond et al. An Arkansas native, Cobbs spent time on Chicago's Maxwell Street in the 40's and later relocated back down south, playing regional gigs, recording sporadically, and running juke joints.
Here's he's teamed up with the Memphis soul sound of producer Willie Mitchell (Al Green, Otis Clay, O V Wright)--and the backup stable includes the Hodges brothers on guitar, bass, drum and organ--not to mention a Memphis Horn section with James Mitchell on baritone. The result is a nice mix of that sweet, dry soul sound with the raw-boned delta edge of Cobb's vocals and journeyman harp playing.
The program doesn't include any killer riff tunes to rival his former hit, instead it reprises a lot of familiar numbers. Lowell Fulson's "Black Night" and "Reconsider Baby," Eddie Boyd's "Five Long Years," Wille Mabon's "I Don't Know," Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone To Love" and a
couple by Little Walter--"Mean Old World" and "You're So Fine" -- all get pleasant readings. When Cobb auditioned for Vee-Jay Records in Chicago he was told then he sounded too much like one of their mainstay artists--Jimmy Reed. That influence shows up on Cobb's high-end harp work sprinkled throughout the set, alternated with some lower register fat tones. Cobbs is a solid player, not particularly flashy, but effective. His vocals run the gamut from growly yelps ala Bobby Blue Bland to raspy falsetto leaps, and again, he's convincing if not a particularly notable stylist.
Altogether a mellow and enjoyable set of blues standards played by a veteran with some solid backup work--the occasional female chorus fill-ins add to the effect, and make for a successful mixing of two genres that weren't that far apart to begin with.
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