Few if any white performers have captured the soul, heart, and emotion of the blues better than Jack Teagarden and Mose Allison. Allison has the added distinction of singing songs with words that sometimes remind the listener of situations where those words would have come in real handy if thought of at the time. Volume One -- hopefully the first of many -- was recorded over a three-day period at a gig at the Pizza Express in London, England. The play list is made up of songs Allison likes to sing, whether he composed them or they were written by others. "You Call It Jogging" and "What's Your Movie" have shown up on other Allison recordings for Blue Note, and "Middle Class White Boy" was the title of one of his most popular albums. All of these compositions, with their often sardonic lyrics, tell stories real people can relate to. There's no pie in the sky, wide-eyed romanticism in Allison's material. Some songs have a hopeful outlook -- some would call it wishful thinking -- such as "Ever Since the World Ended" (when "there was no more difference between black and white"). He acknowledges the influence of Nat "King" Cole with a song Cole used to sing with his trio, "Meet Me at No Special Place." Even after all these years, Allison still has that imitable style, a mixture of blues and country delivered in a soft understated manner, and always swinging. Still another feature of an Allison performance is that one must be ready and willing to be surprised. For example, "You Are My Sunshine" is done in an unusually slow tempo and possesses a somber, regretful spirit replete with arpeggios and Allison dramatically pounding the keys. He indulges in some pianistic flights of fancy on "Entruption." The members of the trio are in total sync with Allison's way of doing things. Roy Babbington's bass and especially Mark Taylor's drums chip in with accents at just the right places, italicizing the impressions Allison is creating. A Mose Allison album requires close listening to catch the meaning of the message and to appreciate the good humor of Allison's playing and singing. This is not background music, and is strongly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan