Little Milton

Anthology 1953-1961

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Little Milton's 1953-1954 Sun sessions, and his 1958-1961 stay at Bobbin Records, comprised virtually everything he recorded in his early career prior to joining Chess. This collection doesn't gather every last bit he did for Sun and Bobbin, and doesn't have anything from his two mid-'50s singles for Meteor. But it's still the best compilation of his pre-Chess material ever done, the 27 songs split almost in half between his Sun and Bobbin output. The dozen Sun sides include both sides of his three singles for the label, along with half a dozen outtakes. These are good, sturdy early blues-R&B crossover cuts, the only substantial criticism being that the singer's still in the process of finding his own voice, at times sounding derivative of B.B. King, Fats Domino, Guitar Slim, and even (on "If You Love Me") Elmore James. These do often showcase Little Milton's rawest and most exciting guitar work. The Bobbin sides (mostly from singles, though there's an outtake and an alternate take) are expectedly more refined and mature, with a B.B. King-like brassy shuffle on his very first outing for the label, "That Will Never Do." There's a little identity-shuffling too, even if Milton's getting closer to his brand of blues-soul, with "I'm a Lonely Man" sounding a little like a cross between Howlin' Wolf and Bobby "Blue" Bland and "Hey Girl!" indebted to Ray Charles. At times he seems to be groping for something a little more mainstream, whether it's a jazzy ballad like "Strange Dreams," the near-jazz of "My Baby Pleases Me," the doo wop of "Cross My Heart," or the upbeat rock & roll of "I'm in Love." Usually, though, the Bobbin sides are fine mixes of '50s electric blues with sharp, jazzy brass and urbane R&B influences in the singer's songwriting.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:00
2 2:30
3 3:00
7 2:32
8 3:08
9 2:55
10 2:21
13 2:57
14 3:01
15 2:35
16 3:13
17 2:11
18 2:26
19 2:11
20 2:38
21 2:53
22 2:37
23 2:50
24 2:03
25 2:46
26 2:09
27 2:48
blue highlight denotes track pick