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ACE (CDCHD 1182)

Love My Baby, I'm Going Round In Circles, Baby Baby, Slow Your Speed, Geneva Blues, Daddy Pinocchio, Don't Ever Move A Woman Into Your House, I'm Just A Country Boy, Practise What You Preach, Moaning For You, Jump Children, There Ain't Nothing Better, Who's Been Jiving You, Drinkin' Beer, You Can't Kiss A Dream Goodnight, Operation Blues, I'll Be Right On Down, Oh Mother, I've Only Myself To Blame, Rain Rain Rain, Let Jesus Fix It For You, Each Step Of The Way, It's Raining Outside, Blowing The Blues.

There are three other Witherspoon CDs on Ace. "JIMMY WITHERSPOON" (CDCHM1062) is his original 1958 Crown album crammed with classic late 1940s material plus eight of his Modern singles. "BLOWIN' IN FROM KANSAS CITY" (CDCHD279) is another stack of great blues from Modern and "SINGS THE BLUES SESSIONS" (CDCHD896) is a wonderful remastered version of his Crown LP plus thirteen bonus cuts.

"I'll Be Right On Down" features all the remaining nine un-reissued Modern masters and two ultra-rare gospel masters as well as thirteen best of the yet-to-be-issued alternate takes and the early takes of material already issued on Ace. As far as I can make out, that's 24 unissued Modern recordings that have never been on CD before!

Everything is taken from the original acetates and master tapes where available or pristine 78s and 45s, then re-mastered to produce the optimum sound for which Ace Records is famous. Witherspoon fans know that he was at the top of his game on his Modern recordings between 1945 and 1955 and just one play of this CD you'll understand why. It doesn't matter if he's hollering the blues against a big band led by a honkin' sax or croon those note perfect lush ballads, it's obvious that Jimmy Witherspoon was one of the most vibrant and important blues singers ever.

There are quite a number of up-tempo rockers here too. Compiler Tony Rounce says "it shows how quickly R&B was evolving in those exciting pre-rock'n'roll years, and how easily Witherspoon embraced the many changes of style as they arrived". For proof, listen to him go on the stompin' opening track "Love My Baby" or the alternate take of "Jump Children" where Buddy Floyd slides in with his restrained but rocking sax solo.

On the slower stuff he's magnificent - especially when he gets together with Mickey Champion on the cool groove of "There Ain't Nothing Better" and I really like the way he gets to grips with the old Crudup number "Who's Been Jiving You?" which includes a nice funky intro by guitarist Chuck Norris.

If you want some of the best West Coast R&B recordings of the late 1940s and early 50s, try this and then you'll want the others!

Ask for CDCHD1182. Nice price at Red Lick-only £10.95 plus p&p

Review Date: January 2009

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