Ivory Joe Hunter was known as "the Baron of Boogie" for his regal appearance and sprightly piano style, and throughout a career that lasted five decades he incorporated blues, gospel, country and a proto-rock & roll style into his smooth brand of R&B. A skilled songwriter, and possessing an emotive, velvet voice that prefigured such crooners as Nat King Cole, Hunter was instrumental in bringing R&B to an uptown audience in the late 1940s. This collection gathers 14 of the 16 sides he cut for King Records between 1947 and 1949, along with ten tracks he recorded for MGM Records shortly before leaving for the Atlantic label, where he enjoyed his greatest success with "Since I Met You Baby" in 1954. Highlights here include two of the King tracks, "Waiting in Vain" and "Guess Who," both of which feature runaway violin lines from Ray Nance, and the beautiful blues ballad "I Almost Lost My Mind," a middling hit in 1950 on MGM. Casual listeners should probably pick up one of the more historically comprehensive greatest-hits packages, but the already converted will be happy to have these early classics by one of the sweetest voices in R&B history.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett