Old School [CD]

Koko Taylor

Old School [CD]

The last album from the undisputed Queen Of The Blues. Backed by three different combinations of musicians, Koko tore into straight-ahead, raw Chicago blues that captured the spirit of the classic, tough Windy City sound. From foot-stomping barnburners to powerful slow blues, Koko proved once and for all that her blues are joyous and life-affirming, powerful and soul-stirring. Nominated for a Grammy.

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1. Piece Of Man 4:30
2. Gonna Buy Me A Mule 5:18
3. Black Rat 5:07
4. Money Is The Name Of The Game 6:46
5. You Ain't Worth A Good Woman 5:35
6. Better Watch Your Step 4:53
7. Bad Avenue 5:20
8. Bad Rooster 5:22
9. Don't Go No Further 3:42
10. All Your Love 6:34
11. Hard Pill To Swallow 5:50
12. Young Fashioned Ways 4:42

2009 Traditional Blues Female Artist Of The Year - Blues Music Awards



Koko Taylor: Vocals




(A) Steady Rollin’ Bob

Margolin: Guitar and Slide Guitar (solos on “Black Rat” and “Bad Avenue”)

Criss Johnson: Guitar (solos on “Hard Pill To Swallow,” “Piece Of Man”

and “Money Is The Name Of The Game”)

Billy Branch: Harmonica

Brother John Kattke: Piano

Kenny Hampton: Electric Bass

or Jimmy Sutton: Upright Bass *

Willie “the touch” Hayes: Drums


(B) Criss Johnson: Guitar

Brother John Kattke: Piano

Kenny Hampton: Electric Bass

or Jimmy Sutton: Upright Bass *

Willie “the touch” Hayes: Drums

Mark Kazanoff: Tenor Sax #


(C) The Blues Machine:

Vino Louden: Guitar

Shun Kikuta: Guitar

Stanley Banks: Piano

Melvin Smith: Bass

Ricky Nelson: Drums



Produced by Koko Taylor, Bruce Iglauer and Criss Johnson.

Recorded at Rax Trax, Chicago, IL.

Recorded by Sam Fishkin. Additional recording by Matt Wheeler, Rick Barnes and Michael Levine.

Mixed by Sam Fishkin at The Mix Kitchen, Chicago, IL.

Mastered by Dan Stout and Bruce Iglauer at Colossal Mastering, Chicago, IL.

Photos by Marc Norberg. Assisted by Misty Winter and Flynn.

Packaging design by Kevin Niemiec.

Makeup by Nicole Cap and Cynthia Adams.

Alligator logo by Michael Trossman.


Special thanks to Joyce “Cookie” Threatt, Hayes Harris, Viola Spearman, Lee Threatt, Mark Baier of Victoria Amplifiers for the loan of his wonderful amps, Dick Shurman and Bill Dahl. Thanks to Aine O’Brien, Lauren Hackett, Steve Hofferth and Steve Donahue of Scoozi Restaurant and Lettuce Entertain You, Chicago, IL for photo location. Very special thanks to Criss Johnson for arrangements, band leading and so much more.


Koko Taylor is booked by Monterey International: (312)640-7500; ryan@montereyinternational.net; www.montereyinternational.net.



Blues is my heart. That’s my heart. This album is hard core blues, down in the basement, far as you go. This album is the kind of blues I was listening to down South and when I first came to Chicago.


I came to Chicago around 1951, straight out of the country. We came up here on the Greyhound bus. Couldn’t sit in the front of the bus; ain’t nobody black sit in the front. If you ain’t white, you go in the back and sit. We came with 35 cents in our pockets and a box of Ritz Crackers. That’s all we had to our names. Didn’t know where we was gonna stay. Didn’t have no money. Didn’t have nothing but us. We were just in Chicago, so we’re happy about that, cause we wanted to leave the South.


The South was rough and it was tough, but we was rough and tough too. I was picking cotton, chopping cotton, milking cows, feeding hogs and chickens. And going out catching rabbits to cook for our dinner. Or else eating hoecakes sopped in molasses for breakfast, dinner and supper. I went through what they call hell and high water. It wasn’t nothing nice and it wasn’t nothing easy that I had to go through down South.


When I got to Chicago, it wasn’t easy either. The first job I had was cleaning white families’ homes, taking care of their children, washing their clothes, ironing, cooking, whatever they wanted done. I wasn’t making but like five dollars a day.


But on Saturday night, me and my husband went anywhere there was blues. The music back then was great. It was exciting to me—I thought Chicago was heaven. We didn’t miss nary a Saturday night. We’d go to Sylvio’s or Theresa’s to see Howlin’ Wolf or to see Muddy Waters, Little Walter or Shakey Horton. We didn’t go to no clubs playing that fancy music. Everywhere we went was a blues club. Nothing fancy, nothing beautiful. It was just a hole in the wall where a bunch of us was in there listening to the blues, dancing, drinking, talking loud, doing everything else. It wasn’t a place you had to sit up and look pretty, be cute and use a certain language and say something a certain way.


I didn’t know all the famous blues musicians lived here. Right after I came to Chicago I found out that this is the city where all the guys do their recording. They seemed like regular folks, country folks like me, but they were stars. That’s the way it was with Wolf and Muddy and them. People looked at them as big stars because they was recording artists, and that made them special. But they stayed down to earth, like I do.


That’s why I like blues, because it tells a true story, a down to earth story. It’s not only something about my life; it reaches out to a lot of people. Maybe something to lift you up or help bring you out of this rut you’re in.


I love singing the real, old school blues. It gives me a feeling to sing them type of blues. That’s old school. That’s me.


—Koko Taylor