KOKO TAYLOR. THE EARTHSHAKER, CONSIDERED (1978): We gonna shake it Wang Dang Doodle . . .

 |   |  1 min read

KOKO TAYLOR. THE EARTHSHAKER, CONSIDERED (1978): We gonna shake it Wang Dang Doodle . . .

The story of the great Koko Taylor – the “Queen of the Blues” who died in 2009, age 80 – is also the story of the blues: born poor in the South, migrated to the North and when in Chicago plugged in and got rowdy.

Taylor who arrived in Chicago when she was 18, as she told Elsewhere in a wide-ranging interview in 1988, was spotted by Willie Dixon and she cut her classic version of Dixon's Wang Dang Doodle (which Howlin' Wolf had previously recorded).

It became one of her concert and album staples, and it closes this album pulled from the shelves at random for consideration.

Taylor, who inevitably ended up on Alligator although my copy of this is licensed to the UK label Sonet, sang gospel in Memphis before heading out for Chicago however her audience was increasingly more international than local.

But her influence was profound: Janis Joplin, Shemekia Copeland and Bonnie Raitt among her admirers.

It would be fair to say few of her albums are consistently great, and this one is no exception.

The_Earthshaker_Koko_TaylorIt gets away in fine party-time form with Let The Good Times Roll and Spoonful but her range, while always raw and impressive, isn't much suited to some of the other material (Cut You Loose) and it's over to the seven-piece band – which includes pianist Pinetop Perkins – to carry the songs.

I'm a Man gets flipped for a gritty I'm A Woman and Taylor lives up to the album title and her reputation as a serious blues belter (You Can Have My Husband But Please Don't Mess With My Man).

And Wang Dang Doodle with its catalogue of street characters is still a terrific song, here with guitarists Johnny B Moore and Sammy Lawhorn getting some time to shine.

As the anonymous liner note writer observes, “Koko's music is pure, unabashed bar music. It's perfect for just plain getting drunk and getting down. It's music that can reach down inside and shake you out of even the deepest depression.”

For about two thirds of this album that is true.

.

You can hear this album on Spotify here

.

Elsewhere occasionally revisits albums -- classics sometimes, but more often oddities or overlooked albums, a few by major artists -- and you can find a number of them starting here.


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   The Album Considered articles index

THE ROLLING STONES: BEGGAR'S BANQUET, CONSIDERED (1968): A walking clothesline of styles

THE ROLLING STONES: BEGGAR'S BANQUET, CONSIDERED (1968): A walking clothesline of styles

Half a century ago the Rolling Stones released their Beggar's Banquet album, widely considered a return-to-form after the debacle of their shapeless attempt at psychedelia on the largely... > Read more

RAS KIMONO, WHAT'S GWAN, CONSIDERED (1990): The conquering lion of Lagos

RAS KIMONO, WHAT'S GWAN, CONSIDERED (1990): The conquering lion of Lagos

Known as the Nigerian rub-a-dub master, Ras Kimono -- sometimes Raz Kimono -- came to attention in reggae circles with his first two albums Under Pressure (1988) and this follow-up two years later.... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT  . . . SANDY BULL: He had the whole world in his hands

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . SANDY BULL: He had the whole world in his hands

Just a thought, but if Sandy Bull had been British, magazines like Uncut and Mojo would be running major, rediscovery features about him and placing him in the pantheon of innovative guitarists... > Read more

Tord Gustavsen Ensemble: Restored, Returned (ECM/Ode)

Tord Gustavsen Ensemble: Restored, Returned (ECM/Ode)

The previous album by young ECM pianist Gustavsen at Elsewhere was his trio album Being There which was named a Best of Elsewhere 2007 album. Echoes of that group's delicate beauty and vibrant... > Read more