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Jasmine (JASMCD3042)

Beggin’ My Baby, Somebody Told Me, Alone And Blue, Lookin’ For My Baby, Love At First Sight, Let My Baby Be, I’m A Lonely Man, That Will Never Do, Strange Dreams, Hold Me Tight, Same Old Blues, Cross My Heart, Lonely No More, So Mean To Me, Losing Hand, I Wonder Why and more…

The legend of Little Milton, as far as it exists, is largely built on a reputation as a sophisticated and durable soul singer with a long recording career - most notably with Chess in the 1960s, Stax in the 1970s and Malaco in the 1980s and beyond. His status as a highly talented blues singer and guitarist is less assured and his earlier blues recordings have been largely ignored and pretty hard to find over recent years.

Thankfully, Jasmine has now rectified the situation by issuing this excellent 29 track selection from his early recordings for Sun, Meteor and Bobbin.

Like many aspiring blues musician in the early 1950s, ‘Little’ Milton Campbell fell under the spell of the recordings of T-Bone Walker and B.B. King. On the earliest of these sides, B.B. King’s influence is most evident but, thankfully for us, Milton had enough sense to stay clear of re-treading the material recorded by Blues Boy himself. While therefore some of his first recordings lack a little in originality they remain thoroughly enjoyable and exist now as excellent examples of big city soul blues of the period.

While a fine guitarist from the earliest of these recordings, Little Milton was not enslaved to his axe and was never afraid to set it aside or play sparingly as and where the material benefitted from this. And, as his own style evolved, the soulful vocal influence of Bobby ’Blue’ Bland emerged taking him towards becoming the soul singer he would ultimately become best known as.

These sides therefore are an important record in the stage of his development as an artist, as well as being great fun in their own right. I have been a fan of Little Milton as a soul singer for a long time but, until now, I have clearly under-appreciated and under-valued his early blues years.

If you are a fan of the early recordings of B. B. King and/or a fan of Bobby ’Blue’ Bland (any period), then this CD should be next on your list of must-haves. It’s that good.

Review Date: March 2015

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