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  Listen Up! 5/3/04 Listen Up!

Monday, May 3

Wynonie Harris, ď1944-1945,Ē Classics Records. Iíve never heard these early sides by Harris, who a few years later would make some of my all-time favorite jump blues proto-rockíníroll records. His style seems to have emerged fully formed, but the bands were a bit more straight-ahead in the jazz department Ė these recordings are with the likes of Lukcy Millinder, Illinois Jacquet, and Oscar Pettiford Ė and a little light in the raunchy ríníb department. Which isnít to say he wasnít throwing out the double entrendres with impunity. Harris was a pretty man who knew he could have his way with the ladies, and his songs stayed focused on their attention. His cockiness is what makes him stand out 60 years later, and while this isnít an essential collection by any means, you can tell his ego emerged fully formed right from the git-go.

Various Artists, ďSam Cookeís SAR Records Story: 1959 Ė 1965,Ē SAR Records. Itís hard to believe itís been ten years since this cool two-disc set came out. Iíve looked at it for years, but only just now got around to hearing it. The second disc is all soul stuff, with a whole lot of early Johnnie Taylor on it. But, thatís for another day, since today weíre listening to the first disc, all gospel, mostly different line-ups of the Soul Stirrers, the group Cooke left when he went secular. He never stopped working with them, though, as he produced most of these gems. They may not be as stunning as the cuts from the 50s when Cooke was singing, but his replacements came close enough to send some chills up and down the spine. And, then, when you get to the three examples of the Womack Brothers at the end, you wonít believe your ears. Thatís some serious testifying going on there.

--Steve Pick

For more columns by Steve Pick click here



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