This is a 25-song compilation drawn from Littlefield's output for Modern between 1949 and 1952, including the sole hit he scored for that label, "It's Midnight (No Place to Go)." Littlefield is somewhat more obscure than many other artists mining a similar blues/R&B crossover field in Los Angeles studios in the early 1950s, such as Charles Brown, Amos Milburn, and Floyd Dixon. On the basis of the music here, Littlefield deserves to be in the same echelon as the aforementioned performers. He was a fine pianist who was skilled in the boogie woogie style and tempered for the times with a modern R&B influence. His use of triplets, according to the liner notes, influenced Fats Domino. He was also more versatile than some piano bluesmen of the era, and was comfortable with slow and melancholy-tinged ballads as well as jumping uptempo R&B tunes (the boasting "I Like It" is a standout). His singing was more easygoing than distinctive, but still had a relaxed charm. Many of the sides here were cut with some of the Los Angeles studio musicians -- horn player Maxwell Davis, guitarist Johnny Moore, and others -- that were instrumental in setting the paces for the jazzy, urbane R&B music of the early 1950s in L.A. The sound is very good, and is mastered from the original acetate lacquers, with only occasional (and slight) surface noise peeping through. The disc includes five previously unissued cuts (three of which are alternate takes). A second volume of Littlefield's Modern sides was in the works from Ace as of the 1999 issue of this collection.
Kat on the Keys Review
by Richie Unterberger