Little Milton

Grits Ain't Groceries [Stax]

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After his career-defining tenure at Chess Records in the 1960s, Little Milton moved to Stax in the '70s. Interestingly, one of the first recordings Milton made for Stax was part of the 1972 Watts Summer Festival in Los Angeles. While top names on the Stax roster (Isaac Hayes, etc.) played at the L.A. Coliseum, the label set several of their stars up at the nearby Summit Club. Grits Ain't Groceries is taken from Milton's performance at the Summit, and finds the artist's searing guitar and impassioned, bluesy singing in top form. Milton is backed here by horns and a hard-driving rhythm section that add brassy punctuation in classic Stax style. Milton's signature sound, established at Chess, was a fusion of blues and soul that owed a debt to B.B. King and Bobby "Blue" Bland, though Milton plays with more edge than either of those artists. That edge is on perfect display on this date. Milton's gutsy vocal performances are highlighted on the burning title track and on "Blind Man," while his guitar is as raw and in-your-face as on his early Sun singles. The energy -- from both the band and the audience -- is palpable on this great live session.

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