Johnny Otis wore a lot of hats. As promoter, bandleader, songwriter, drummer, and vibes player, he tirelessly brought his love of R&B to audiences. His sporadic R&B Caravan tours introduced countless vocalists and musicians to the public, and his Johnny Otis Orchestra proved amazingly adaptable when early rock & roll broke out in the mid-'50s. This collection covers the early years of his barnstorming caravan, 1945 to 1950, and features several vocalists, including Jimmy Rushing on the opening two tracks here, "My Baby's Business" and "Jimmy's Round-the-Clock Blues." Other highlights include Mel Walker's smooth singing on "Cry Baby," Little Esther's near rock & roll take on "Cupid's Boogie," and a couple fine outings by the Robins, "You're Fine but Not My Kind" and "If It's So, Baby." The different vocalists featured on these songs give this compilation a varied feel, even as most tracks stick fairly close to a jump blues center, with touches of jazz at times sweetening things. You can feel rock & roll just around the corner.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett