Going Back to Kay Cee

Going Back to Kay Cee

by Little Willie LittlefieldLittle Willie Littlefield


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Littlefield's stint with Federal was brief (1952-1954), and not nearly as commercially successful as his time with Modern prior to that. Nonetheless he did a good amount of recording in that period, from which 19 tracks emerged to form this CD retrospective of his Federal years. It, together with Ace's slightly more extensive overview of Littlefield's Modern era, Kat on the Keys, forms a satisfying document of his most productive years. The Modern stuff is a little more well-known, and though it's a close call as to which disc is better (not that you can't get both), the nod might go to Going Back to Kay Cee by a whisker, if only for the inclusion of Littlefield's most famous recording, the 1953 single "K.C. Lovin'." This is the original model for the song that would be adapted into Wilbert Harrison's number one hit "Kansas City" and become a rock standard. Of course Federal wanted to milk that cow as much as it could, which is why a take of "K.C. Lovin'" was overdubbed with rockier instrumentation and retitled "Kansas City" on a 1959 single. That "Kansas City" single (which is actually not at all bad) is here too, along with a few "Kansas City" soundalikes. Actually, however, this is a pretty strong and (for the early-'50s piano blues genre) a fairly diverse set, including a couple of vocal duets with Little Esther and one with Lil Greenwood; some effectively brooding, but not dragging, blues such as "Blood Is Redder Than Wine"; and the strikingly unusual "(Please Don't Go) O-O-O-Oh," where Littlefield adopts an effective and unique gargling vocal style. Littlefield's vocals are wise and aged beyond his years, and his piano playing is fine throughout; the instrumental showcase for his boogie "Jim Wilson's Boogie" is superb.

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