Todd Rhodes & His Toddlers made one dozen fine recordings in Detroit during the first half of 1950. Originally issued on two sides of a 78-rpm platter and now edited into one seamless performance, their stunning realization of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," arranged by one Johnny Allen, serves as a dramatic opener for this intriguing reissue of historical rarities. The catchy "I'm Just a Fool in Love" and the cruising boppish "Comin' Home" are exceptionally tight and rock-solid. Snappy vocalist Kitty Stevenson developed a reputation as a formidable entertainer and was known as "the Blues Bombshell." Even Dinah Washington is said to have been cowed by this vibrant woman's presence. Interestingly, her marvelous delivery on "It Couldn't Be True" and "Make It Good" bears more than passing resemblance to Washington's mature style. Sadly, Stevenson's health deteriorated and she would pass away in 1952, whereas Washington only outlived her by little more than a decade. The Toddlers rock the "Belle Isle Boogie" with precision and chill out wonderfully on Rhodes' dreamy opus "Brenda." The rocking "Looky Ploot" and "Beulah" have vocals by electric guitarist Emmit Slay. For eight sides recorded under the auspices of the King label in Cincinnati during the spring and summer of 1951, Rhodes brought in Charles "Lefty" Edwards to replace Cranford Wright on tenor sax, and turned vocalist Connie Allen loose on two sexually charged jump tunes with vocal interjections by members of the band. As a sort of discographical dessert, Classics amended two tracks from 1947 which were apparently unavailable to them when they brought out Classics 5019, Rhodes' 1947-1949 volume in the Chronological series.
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