Little Willie John

Home at Last

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Little Willie John was the first of the great soul singers, although he emerged and was active nearly a decade before the genre was even given a name. A diminutive, emotional dynamo, John could wrest the very heart and soul from the most mundane set of lyrics, making every word seem as if the fate of the world rested on it. When united with fine material like his signature song, "Fever," which he co-wrote (and is included here), John invariably delivered definitive versions. This rather schizophrenic collection covers recordings made between 1956 and 1966, and the first nine tracks are from his prime years with King Records. Unfortunately the rest of the tracks are poorly recorded and presented, and although it is obvious that Willie John is rocking and singing up a storm on tracks like "Home at Last," the sound is strangely muted, as if it were issuing from the other end of a long hallway. Rhino's Fever: The Best of Little Willie John remains the place to start.

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