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Koko Taylor - Old School

Old School

Koko Taylor

Alligator Records- 4915

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Bob Gottlieb

Right from the opening vocal statement on Piece of Man, you can rest assured that Koko is back, and she is ready to rip it up in her own inimitable style. This is hard core Chicago style blues, mean and raw with none of the rough parts touched up to make it palatable, smooth and polished; just glistening with the sweat, sheen, and beauty that comes of hard work. To carry this recording, the power and truth of Koko's sandpaper voice have the strength and grit they have always had, no illness was going to hold her from chosen work, and she is backed by three fine bands made up of veteran players. People such as Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin, Mark Kazanoff, Willie "the touch" Hayes, and her long time guitar player Criss Johnson anchor the music and takes this disc down to that subterranean level of hellfire and brimstone where the blues reign supreme.

For this disc she wrote 5 of the songs and they are standouts and fit right in there with the others, written by writers such as Willie Dixon, Sam Maghett, and the classic Lizzie Lawler tune, Back Rat. Koko's version of this tune stands toe to toe with Big Mama Thornton's version, never giving a centimeter of ground.

There was some doubt about her recording and performing again when she was so sick several years ago. She has showed with this recording that she is back, and with the insight gained from her tribulations, her voice is more powerful and expressive than ever. In addition she has never been a prolific writer, but her 5 new songs here are a new high number for any of her works and there is no slacking in the quality of the tunes. Her best recording in a very long time that gives some idea of the power of this woman and what she is capable of doing, and hopefully even more to come in the future.

Track List:

  • Piece of Man (Koko Taylor)
  • Gonna Buy Me A Mule (Koko Taylor)
  • Black Rat (Lizzie Lawler)
  • Money Is The Name Of The Game (Johnny Thompson)
  • You Ain't Worth A Good Woman (Koko Taylor)
  • Better Watch Your Step (Koko Taylor)
  • Bad Avenue (Walter "Lefty Dizz" Williams)
  • Bad Rooster (EG. Kight & Richard Fleming)
  • Don't Go No Further (Willie Dixon)
  • All Your Love (Sam Maghett)
  • Hard Pill To Swallow (Koko Taylor)
  • Young Fashioned Ways (Willie Dixon)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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