While Ivory Joe Hunter is most famous for his 1950s recordings for MGM and Atlantic, some of his earliest (though not his very first) R&B hits were done in the late 1940s for the King label. Woo Wee! The King & DeLuxe Acetate Series is a 26-track compilation which has several of them, including "I Like It," "Guess Who," and "I Quit My Pretty Mama." However, it's not exactly a best-of for his King stint, as it (with the exception of "Guess Who") concentrates on the bluesiest material he did for the company (including an odd turn into semi-calypso, "Don't Know"). That's a plus or a minus, depending on your taste. If you're a hard-line R&B fan, you'll probably appreciate the emphasis, but it does mean the omission of some of the King R&B hits he had with more pop-oriented ballads. Too, the general listener might appreciate the balance that a few such ballads would have lent to the program. That understood, it's a good compilation of much of his early work, as well as an above-average, single-artist anthology from the era in which blues, jazz, boogie, and pop were merging to form R&B. Hunter's a cut above even most of his fellow hitmakers in the genre, with superb piano work and rich, higher-than-normal vocals that are both lightly soaring and considerably earthier than, say, Nat King Cole's. His 1950s recordings are still more significant, as their absorption of country and pop influences into R&B led to a more innovative, modern-sounding, and varied style, but these earlier tracks are noteworthy as well. The song quality might be better than it's ever been for this material, as it's mastered from the original acetates, and doesn't include the overdubs and echo that King added to some of the tracks when they were issued on LPs. As additional bonuses, there are extremely detailed, lengthy liner notes; three previously unissued alternate takes; and his first hit, 1945's "Blues at Sunrise," originally released by the Exclusive label, but acquired by King.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger