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Ghost Canyon

Title - Complete Atlantic/Elektra Albums: 1962-1983 [6CD]
Artist - Mose Allison

For those unaware, Strawberry Records are proud to present the 12 albums that Mose Allison issued on Atlantic Records and Elektra Musician between 1962 and 1982 on 6CDs. However, This does not include Greatest Hits or Best Of albums which of course duplicated tracks from regular albums.

Although these albums have all appeared on CD reissues at different times over the years this is the first box set to gather together all of the albums from this period in one set.

The original LPs are featured two per CD in chronological order. Produced by Bob Fisher whose detailed essay covers the entire history of Mose Allisonís career with quotes and endorsements from artists like Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Pete Townshend, Georgie Fame, Van Morrison and many others who were inspired by his music, the booklet includes complete recording details and supporting personnel for each album along with numerous reproductions of advertisements, reviews and news stories from music industry magazines.

Designed by Michael Robson and mastered by Simon Murphy, The Complete Atlantic/Elektra Albums: 1962-1983 is the definitive collection of this period of Mose Allisonís career.

Disc One contains the first two Atlantic albums: I Donít Worry ĎBout A Thing and Swinginí Machine
Disc Two contains the albums The Word from Mose and Wild Man on The Loose
Disc Three features Mose Alive and Iíve Been Doiní Some Thinking
Disc Four presents Hello There, Universe and Western Man
Disc Five opens with the live set, Mose In Your Ear and his last album for Atlantic, Your Mind Is on Vacation
Disc Six concludes the box with his two albums for Elektra Musician, Middle Class White Boy and a third live set recorded in 1982. This time from the famed Montreux Jazz Festival, Lessons in Living with sidemen, Lou Donaldson, Jack Bruce, Eric Gale and Billy Cobham.

Disc 1:

I Donít Worry ĎBout A Thing
1. I DONíT WORRY ABOUT A THING
2. IT DIDNíT TURN OUT THAT WAY
3. YOUR MIND IS ON VACATION
4. LET ME SEE
5. EVERYTHING I HAVE IS YOURS
6. STAND BY
7. IDYLL
8. THE WELL
9. MEET ME AT NO SPECIAL PLACE
10. THE SONG IS ENDED

Mose Allison was already 34 and had recorded nine records as a leader before cutting his debut for Atlantic, but this was his dutiful breakthrough, thatís for sure. One of jazzís greatest lyricists, at the time, Allison was making the transition from being a pianist who occasionally sang to becoming a vocalist who also played his own unusual brand of piano.

In addition to the original versions of Your Mind Is on Vacation, I Donít Worry About a Thing (Because I Know Nothing Will Turn out Right) and It Didnít Turn out That Way, he sings bluish versions of two standards (Meet Me at No Special Place and The Song Is Ended) and plays five instrumentals with his trio.

There may well only be about 33 minutes of music on this album, but the set is one of Mose Allisonís most significant recordings; and deservedly so.

Swinginí Machine
11. SWINGINí MACHINE
12. DO IT
13. STOP THIS WORLD
14. PROMENADE
15. IF YOUíRE GOINí TO THE CITY
16. SARITHA
17. I AINíT GOT NOTHING BUT THE BLUES
18. SO RARE

In truth, Jazz fans may find this Allison session unique among scads of releases from this laid-back, witty and original singer and pianist. Almost never found recording outside of the piano trio context, this album perhaps reveals the reason why: on a whole, adding horns to Allisonís band just doesnít work that well.

The trombonist Jimmy Knepper is of particular interest, in that he most often recorded under the intense leadership of Charles Mingus, a far cry from the loose and relaxed sound of Allison.

His fellow horn man here is tenor saxophonist Jimmy Reider; not a very well-known jazzman but certainly competent in a swing style. If the leader had stuck to all vocal numbers this might have been a top drawer album.

That all said, all the vocal tracks here are fine, with the song Stop This World rating among the best things this artist has recorded in a long career.

Itís the instrumental tracks that drag, however, since like any respectable pianist bandleader, Allison chooses to put the two horns out front for theme-solo-theme arrangements that would only be worth repeated listening if every other jazz performance ever recorded happened to vanish off the face of the earth.

Allisonís piano playing picked up some steam as the í60s wore on, so it is a shame he didnít revisit this concept at a later date. In all, an enjoyable album but a tad bit disappointing, in my humble opinion.

Disc 2:

The Word from Mose
1. FOOLKILLER
2. ONE OF THESE DAYS
3. LOOK HERE
4. DAYS LIKE THIS
5. YOUR RED WAGON
6. IíM THE WILD MAN
7. ROLLINí STONE
8. NEW PARCHMAN
9. DONíT FORGET TO SMILE
10. IíM NOT TALKING
11. LOST MIND

This iconoclastic performer has sometimes been described as a country blues player, perhaps leading to images of a blind man standing on a corner playing a guitar with a bottleneck slide.

In reality, Allison is from a much more cosmopolitan tradition, and the country blues adage comes from attempts to describe the sound he gets playing light, swinging jazz with a distinctly rural, Southern influence.

This album, from one of many he recorded for Atlantic, actually contains examples of him taking material from the real country blues heritage and reworking it into his own style, to brilliant effect.

His New Parchman Farm is a simply fantastic piece, as he changes what was once a stark, depressing prison blues into something else again.

Perhaps this version would be more suited to white-collar criminals such as the Watergate mob, basking in upper-class prisons complete with tennis courts.

At any rate, this is a performance that only the most hardened individual would be able to listen to without a smile cracking their face.

Wild Man on The Loose
12. WILD MAN ON THE LOOSE
13. NO TROUBLE LIVINí
14. NIGHT WATCH
15. WHATíS WITH YOU
16. POWERHOUSE
17. YOU CAN COUNT ON ME TO DO MY PART
18. NEVER MORE
19. THATíS THE STUFF YOU GOTTA WATCH
20. WAR HORSE

The lionís share of recordings by this artist are in a piano trio setting, and this mid-í60s session finds him working with one of the best combinations he ever had.

Bassist Earl May is a solid, inventive player who is beautifully recorded here with a sound that can have the soulfulness of a classical guitar at times.

On drums, Paul Motian is something of a legend, and here is heard at his most straight-ahead, simple and swinging with some nice touches from the brushes. He is also recorded extremely well, giving the pianist a really beautiful base to take off from, as well as making the overall tracks sound brilliant.

The art of recording piano trios in this manner, with such a clear and immediate sound, seems to have been lost unfortunately. Sometimes a weak link on his records, even the Allison instrumentals come across forcefully. Is there a Cecil Taylor influence, or is it just the same Duke Ellington touches heard in Taylorís music?

The instrumental track Power House is one of the finest numbers of this sort Allison has ever recorded. Vocal performances are smooth as always, although the set does not contain any totally classic numbers.

Disc 3:

Mose Alive!
1. SMASHED
2. SEVENTH SON
3. FOOLíS PARADISE
4. I LOVE THE LIFE I LIVE
5. SINCE I FELL FOR YOU
6. LOVE FOR SALE
7. BABY PLEASE DONíT GO
8. THATíS ALRIGHT
9. PARCHMAN FARM
10. TELL ME SOMETHINí
11. THE CHASER

This wonderful album was recorded at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California, where the atmosphere was relaxed and created an gentle, easy swing set in a Trio-style setting. Allison sings and plays in an unspectacular, yet still oh-so very cool way, which actually manages (in this live setting) to breathe new life into his own songs and some blues tracks from down home.

Accompanied by Stan Gilbert on bass and Mel Lee on drums, and featuring Allisonís subdued vocals, wacky lyrics, and superb piano playing, this vivacious live album has some great piano solos and a truly memorable performance of the classic Parchman Farm.

Iíve Been Doing Some Thinkiní
12. JUST LIKE LIVINí
13. CITY HOME
14. IF YOUíRE GOINí TO THE CITY
15. NOW YOU SEE IT
16. YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE
17. YOUR MOLECULAR STRUCTURE
18. LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO
19. IF YOU REALLY LOVED ME
20. EVERYBODY CRYINí MERCY
21. I FEEL SO GOOD
22. LET IT COME DOWN
23. BACK ON THE CORNER

Three years had gone by between this release and the previous Mose Allison outing on Atlantic, perhaps giving the artist time to concoct some of the really tasty lyrics he came up with.

The opening track, Just Like Liviní, alternates between absurd satire and to-the-point cynicism in a way that is completely unique to Allison, although many other artists have tried to imitate it. How many songwriters can sum up life in less than two minutes, after all?

There are many other highlights as well, including the memorable structure of City Home and a rococo reworking of You Are My Sunshine that might cause a riot at a wedding if played as a request.

A peak perhaps not only of this album but the entire Allison career is the ballad Everybodyís Cryiní Mercy, as powerful an indictment of hypocrisy as has ever been recorded. Bassist Red Mitchell is on hand with his fat but easy to digest sound, and he seems to prompt Allison to play aggressively.

Disc 4:

Hello There, Universe
1. SOMEBODY GOTTA MOVE
2. MONSTERS OF THE ID
3. I DONíT WANT MUCH
4. HELLO THERE, UNIVERSE
5. NO EXIT
6. WILD MAN ON THE LOOSE
7. BLUES IN THE NIGHT
8. IíM SMASHED
9. HYMN TO EVERYTHING
10. ON THE RUN

This obscure Mose Allison LP has the pianist/singer/lyricist using a larger band than usual, an octet with Richard Williams and Jimmy Nottingham on trumpets, altoist Jerome Richardson, either Joe Henderson or Joe Farrell on tenor, Pepper Adams or Seldon Powell on baritone, Bob Cranshaw and John Williams on bass, and drummer Joe Cucuzzo.

The truth is, most of the other musicians are really not needed, for their solos take away from Allisonís vocals and piano solos. Allison (who also plays a bit of organ) contributed nine of the ten songs on the album (all but Blues in the Night), best known of which are the title track Hello There, Universe and Wild Man on the Loose, although there are no hits or future standards included.

Western Man
11. IF YOU ONLY KNEW
12. HOW MUCH TRUTH
13. BENIDICTION
14. NIGHT CLUB
15. DO NOTHING TILL YOU HEAR FROM ME
16. MOUNTAINS
17. WESTERN MAN
18. ASK ME NICE
19. TELL ME SOMETHING
20. IF YOUíVE GOT THE MONEY, IíVE GOT THE TIME
21. MEADOWS

On this outing, Allison noticeably tries to update his sound a little by doubling on electric piano and using electric bassist Chuck Rainey and drummer Billy Cobham, but his fans had little to fear on this out of print LP.

Allisonís wry wit is in fine form, and his ironic yet truthful lyrics are always fun to hear. None of his nine originals from the studio session caught on (Ask Me Nice is perhaps best-known), but his cover versions of If Youíve Got the Money, Iíve Got the Time and Duke Ellingtonís Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me make the songs seem as if they were written for him.

Disc 5:

Mose In Your Ear
1. LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO
2. FOOLíS PARADISE
3. I DONíT WORRY ABOUT A THING
4. POWERHOUSE
5. HEY GOOD LOOKINí
6. I AINíT GOT NOTHINí BUT THE BLUES
7. YOU CAN COUNT ON ME TO DO MY PART
8. YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE
9. DONíT FORGET TO SMILE
10. THE SEVENTH SON

In my humble opinion, this live session from 1972 features Allison at his best. Performing with his working trio (bassist Clyde Flowers and drummer Eddie Charlton), Allison sounds quite inspired on such tunes as Foolís Paradise, I Donít Worry About A Thing, Hey Good Lookiní, I Ainít Got Nothiní But The Blues and The Seventh Son.

Most memorable is his minor-toned downbeat ballad version of You Are My Sunshine which casts new meaning on the usually optimistic lyrics which, to my mind, makes this entire set a near-classic set.

Your Mind Is On Vacation
11. YOUR MIND IS ON VACATION
12. FOOLINí MYSELF
13. NO MATTER
14. ONE OF THESE DAYS
15. I FEEL SO GOOD
16. FIRES OF SPRING
17. IF YOU ONLY KNEW
18. I CANíT SEE FOR LOOKINí
19. WHAT DO YOU DO AFTER YOU RUIN YOUR LIFE
20. SWINGINí MACHINE
21. PERFECT MOMENT
22. YOUR MOLECULAR STRUCTURE

It seems strange to realize that this was Mose Allisonís only recording during the 1973-1981 period. In addition to his trio with bassist Jack Hannah and drummer Jerry Granelli, such guests as altoist David Sanborn, Al Cohn, and Joe Farrell on tenors and trumpeter Al Porcino pop up on a few selections.

However, Mose Allison is easily the main star, performing ten of his originals (including a remake of the famous title cut, What Do You Do After You Ruin Your Life, and Swinginí Machine) plus renditions of the standards Fooliní Myself and I Canít See for Lookiní.

Disc 6:

Middle Class White Boy
1. HOW DOES IT FEEL (TO BE GOOD LOOKING)?
2. ROLLINí STONE
3. I DONíT WANT MUCH
4. MIDDLE CLASS WHITE BOY
5. WHEN MY DREAMBOAT COMES HOME
6. IíM NOBODY TODAY
7. IíM JUST A LUCKY SO-AND-SO
8. BACK DOWN SOUTH
9. THE TENNESSEE WALTZ
10. HELLO THERE, UNIVERSE
11. KIDDINí ON THE SQUARE

Simply put, Middle Class White Boy is a quite wonderful dose of Mose Allison - wry, sly, lyrics mixed with his piano, it is a well-blended collection of originals and covers, including Muddy Watersí Rolliní Stone, and Duke Ellingtonís Just a Lucky So and So.

Indeed, and whether purposely orchestrated to be so or not, most songs are from the point of view of the smart-aleck outsider who misses what he doesnít have, but finds humor in his situation. Tracks such as How Does It Feel (To Be Good Looking?) and the title track itself pretty much sets the tone for the album.

Furthermore, if you were to only buy the one album, this is a truly great place to start your Mose Allison collection or to explore deeper if you donít have it yet.

Lessons In Living
12. LOST MIND
13. WILD MAN ON THE LOOSE
14. YOUR MIND IS ON VACATION
15. YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE
16. SEVENTH SON
17. EVERYBODY CRYINí MERCY
18. MIDDLE CLASS WHITE BOY
19. I DONíT WORRY ABOUT A THING
20. NIGHT CLUB

Recorded in a live setting in 1982 - the same year as the aforementioned Middle Class White Boy album - Lessons in Living is a mixed bag.

The material is terrific, and Mose Allison is in typically fine form, the issue lies more with the all-star band assembled for the date: bassist Jack Bruce, drummer Billy Cobham, and soloists Eric Gale (guitarist) and Lou Donaldson ( alto saxophonist).

For starters, Allison didnít need a large band - or any band, at all really - to shine. Though he had been absent from the recording scene for six years until that point, he had continued to perform live and his chops as both a pianist and a singer are stellar.

These players, fine as they are, donít seem to understand the subtler kind of magic that Allison puts across in a club setting, and donít know how to lay back enough - this is particularly the case with Cobham, who is overly busy throughout the date, double-timing already fast tunes like Wild Man in the Street.

Bruce, playing electric bass, has a wonderful facility to move and shift gears with the pianist, but still feels a shade behind Cobhamís fast and furious beat - the overdriven Your Mind Is on Vacation is a case in point.

That said, Allison feels like he is having the time of his life. Donaldsonís solo on You Are My Sunshine is stirring and raw, something that feels jarring at first with the wonderfully relaxed groove of Allisonís arrangement, but fits like a glove after a chorus.

The stomping pace of Willie Dixonís Seventh Son is a highlight on the set with Cobham lightening his touch a bit and Allisonís vocal is swaggering and tough. The laid-back blues of Everybody Is Crying Mercy is another gem, with the band holding Allisonís blues loose and easy.

In closing, Lessons in Living is basically for Allison devotees, but it has fantastic moments. Ironically, Allison didnít return to recording again for another three years in 1986 after this set was originally issued.

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