60+ minutes of the finest from the Queen of the Blues. Includes Wang Dang Doodle, I'd Rather Go Blind and Blues Hotel, plus a previously unreleased track. Guest appearances by B.B. King, Buddy Guy and more. All music remastered in 20-bit audio. Packaging includes rare photos and mini-poster
Koko Taylor, vocal With Vocal: Buddy Guy (3) B.B. King (15)
Guitar: Criss Johnson (2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15; solo on 2, 6, 7, 11, 12); Buddy Guy (3; solo on 3); B.B. King (15; solo on 15); Mighty Joe Young (9; solo on 9); Sammy Lawhorn (1, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12; solo on 5); Johnny B. Moore (1, 5, 10); Michael “Mr. Dynamite” Robinson (8; solo on 8); Eddie King (8); Calvin “Vino” Louden (3, 4)
Bass: Cornelius “Mule” Boyson (1, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12); Johnny B. Gayden (2, 13); Jerry Murphy (3, 4, 8, 11, 14); Kenny Hampton (7, 15)
Drums: Vince Chappelle (1, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12); Ray “Killer” Allison (2, 3, 11, 13, 14); Clyde “Youngblood” Tyler, Jr. (8); Brady Williams (4); Kriss T. Johnson, Jr. (7, 15)
Piano: Pinetop Perkins (1, 5, 10; solo on 5); “Professor” Eddie Lusk (2; solo on 2); Bill Heid (12); Ken Saydak (15); Jeremiah Africa (4)
Organ: Bill Heid (6, 9); Jim Dortch (11, 14); “Professor” Eddie Lusk (13); Jeremiah Africa (3, 4); Dolpha Fowler, Jr. (7)
Harmonica: Mervyn “Harmonica” Hinds (1); Carey Bell (4)
Trumpet: Elmer Brown II (11); Larry Bowen (7); Alto Sax: Jerry DiMuzio (7) Tenor Sax: Abb Locke (2, 9, 10; solo on 10); Henri Ford (11); Gene Barge (11); Mark Colby (7) Baritone Sax: Abb Locke (5); Willie Henderson (7, 11); Trombone: Edwin Williams (11) Steve Berry (7) Horns on 11 arranged by Gene Barge Horns on 7 arranged by Tom Tom MMLXXXIV
Band arrangements on 4, 7, 11 & 15 by Criss Johnson
Track 9 produced by Koko Taylor, Joe Young and Bruce Iglauer at Sound Studios, Chicago, IL, 1975.
Tracks 1, 5 & 10 produced by Koko Taylor, Bruce Iglauer and Richard McLeese at Mantra Studios, Chicago, IL, 1978.
Tracks 6 & 12 produced by Koko Taylor and Bruce Iglauer at Streeterville Studios, Chicago, IL, 1981.
Tracks 2 & 13 produced by Koko Taylor, Bruce Iglauer and Criss Johnson at Streeterville Studios, Chicago, IL, 1985.
Track 8 produced by Bruce Iglauer, Koko Taylor and Robert “Pops” Taylor, live at FitzGerald’s, Berwyn, IL, 1987.
Tracks 11 & 14 produced by Bruce Iglauer, Koko Taylor and Criss Johnson at Streeterville Studios, Chicago, IL, 1989-1990.
Tracks 3 & 4 produced by Criss Johnson, Koko Taylor and Bruce Iglauer at Streeterville Studios, Chicago, IL, 1993.
Tracks 7 & 15 produced by Koko Taylor, Criss Johnson and Bruce Iglauer at Chicago Recording Company and Streeterville Studios with additional recording at Chicago Trax, Electrical Audio, Chicago, IL and NRG Recording, N. Hollywood, CA, 1998-1999.
Engineers: Stu Black (9), Freddie Breitberg (1, 5, 6, 10, 12), Justin Niebank (2, 11, 13, 14), Timothy Powell (8), David Axelbaum (3, 4, 7, 11, 14, 15)
Additional recording by Steve Frisk (11, 14), David Brickson & Julian Herzfeld (3, 4), Chris Steinmetz, Rob Bochnik & Jay Baumgardner (7, 15)
Re-mastered for the Deluxe Edition at Studio Chicago, Chicago, IL by Brian Jensen and Bruce Iglauer.
Deluxe Edition series produced by Bob DePugh, Bruce Iglauer & David Forte. Deluxe Edition series design by David Forte Art Production by Kevin Niemiec Cover photo by Steve Kagan Back book photo by Doug Fulton Tray photo by Rex Miller
Koko Taylor is universally hailed as The Queen of the Blues, the hardest-singing, most exuberant woman in the blues. In a career that’s spanned 40 years, she’s poured out her powerhouse vocals on stages around the world, from the little bars of Chicago’s South Side to giant international festivals. Now, well past most people’s retirement age, she still performs 80 shows or more a year, never holding back an ounce of power or soul.
Koko’s story is a classic tale of the blues. Born into a sharecropping family in Tennessee, she was mesmerized by the records of Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie, and by the blues she heard on Memphis radio shows hosted by B.B. King and Rufus Thomas. Although her father insisted she sing only gospel music, young Koko had heard her calling. With her brothers playing on homemade instruments, she began belting out the blues while still a teenager.
At the age of 18, she accompanied her husband-to-be, Robert “Pops” Taylor to Chicago on a Greyhound bus, with only ‘35 cents and a box of Ritz Crackers.’ Pops worked two factory shifts while Koko found work as a housemaid in the classy North Shore suburbs. Koko and Pops spent their nights in the South Side blues bars, listening to her heroes like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. When Koko was asked to sit in, and those blues giants heard the raw, growling power of her voice, she was invited back again and again. One night, while sitting in with the Wolf, she caught the ear of famed songwriter and producer Willie Dixon. Dixon was floored by the little woman with the big voice, and brought her to Chess Records as his personal project. In 1966, Koko hit nationwide on the R&B airwaves with Willie’s song “Wang Dang Doodle.” It launched her career, put her on the road and even won her a European tour.
But by the end of the ‘60s, Chess had been sold, and Koko was without a label. She continued to perform, often as a guest with her friend Mighty Joe Young’s band. It was at one of Joe’s gigs that I first heard Koko, singing with freight-train power and total confidence. She joined the Alligator family soon after, and has been with us ever since. She’s become a prolific songwriter, creating funky rhythm grooves for her original tunes. Along with her trademark raucous shuffles and grinding slow blues, Koko has ‘gone all the way down in the basement’ with the deepest of soul ballads, showing the subtlest shadings of her talent. And when she’s asked her friends to join her in the studio, they’ve been happy to oblige. B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Son Seals, Lonnie Brooks, Carey Bell, James Cotton, Johnnie Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Keb’ Mo’ and Pinetop Perkins have all guested on her albums. On six of those albums, Koko has called on Criss Johnson, the extraordinary guitarist and arranger, to help shape her songs.
Today—26 years after joining Alligator Records, having won a Grammy and 21 W.C. Handy Awards, still touring worldwide—Koko Taylor stands as the preeminent woman in the blues world, the undisputed Queen.