Otis Spann | Someday

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Blues: Chicago Style Blues: Acoustic Blues Moods: Featuring Piano
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Someday

by Otis Spann

Nominated for Blues Music Award for Best Historical Release of 2012 "...gem of a CD..." (Dave Scott/BluesWax) Previously unreleased Blues from the KING of Chicago Blues Piano to be showcased on Sirius XM's "Bluesville"
Genre: Blues: Chicago Style
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Tracks

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1. Chicken Shack
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2:21 $0.99
2. Country Boy
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3:26 $0.99
3. Someday (Acoustic)
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2:44 $0.99
4. Come Back Baby
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2:33 $0.99
5. Meet Me in the Bottom
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3:05 $0.99
6. Spann's Boogie
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1:41 $0.99
7. Someday (Electric)
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3:26 $0.99
8. Blind Man
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3:01 $0.99
9. Back Bay Shuffle
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3:03 $0.99
10. St. Louis Blues
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2:33 $0.99
11. Cold Feeling Blues
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3:22 $0.99
12. Spann's Blues
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3:03 $0.99
13. Blues Don't Love Nobody
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3:21 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Nominated by the International Blues Foundation for Blues Music Award for Best Historical Release of 2012!

Born in Jackson, Mississippi Spann became known for his distinct piano style. His father played piano, non professionally, while his mother had played guitar with Memphis Minnie. Spann began playing piano by age of eight, influenced by his local ivories stalwart, Friday Ford. At the age of 14, he was playing in bands around Jackson, finding more inspiration in Big Maceo Merriweather, who took the young pianist under his wing once Spann migrated to Chicago in 1946. Other sources say that he moved to Chicago when his mother died in 1947 playing the Chicago club circuit and working as a plasterer. Spann gigged on his own, and with guitarist Morris Pejoe, working a regular spot at the Tic Toc Lounge before hooking up with Muddy Waters in 1952.

Although he recorded periodically as a solo artist, Spann was a full-time member of the Muddy Waters band from 1952 to 1968. In that period he also did session work with other Chess artists like Howlin' Wolf and Bo Diddley. Spann's own Chess Records output was limited to a 1954 single, "It Must Have Been the Devil" / "Five Spot", which featured B.B. King and Jody Williams on guitars..

In the late 1960s, he appeared on albums with Buddy Guy, Big Mama Thornton, Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac. Several films of his playing are available on DVD, including the Newport Folk Festival (1960), while his singing is also featured on the American Folk Blues Festival (1963) and The Blues Masters (1966). Following his death from liver cancer in Chicago in 1970, at the age of 40, he was interred in the Burr Oak Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois. He was posthumously elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980


Reviews


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Dave Scott/Blues Wax Online Magazine

Spanning The Years
It took a while for the legendary pianist with the Muddy Waters Band to launch his successful solo career, but Otis Spann had a formidable discography in his own right when he died of cancer in 1970, aged only 40. Fortunately, this gem of a CD with 13 previously unreleased tracks has enhanced his impressive back catalogue even further. Mississippi-born, Spann, inspired by his mentor Big Maceo, moved to Chicago where he established himself as the leading exponent of post-war blues piano. The material on Someday… must have been stored in a can for half a century before the excellent Silk City independent blues and roots team brought it to production.

The sound quality is very clear and most of the recordings are live, although some may be in a studio with enthusiastic and noisy onlookers in attendance. My only quibble is that the liner notes are so general that the listener has to guess dates, venues, and band members; however this detail may just not have been available. For example, I would love to know the harp player on the opening instrumental, “Chicken Shack,”’ as the harmonizing and interplay with the piano are stunning. Also, who is the double bassist thumping out the rhythm with such aplomb on “Blues Don’t Love Nobody.”

Many of the tracks are acoustic and autobiographical, including “Country Boy,” with Spann in a reflective mood about his formative years as he sings, “I was born and raised in the country…I was down and the blues put me on my feet again.” In a similar vein are “Blind Man” and the melancholic “Come Back Baby,” whilst the tempo and temperature rise significantly with “Spann’s Blues” and “Back Bay Shuffle,” the latter reminiscent of the Muddy Waters band.

My favorites are both the electric and acoustic versions of the title track and also “Meet Me In The Bottom.” This is because they epitomize the maestro’s distinctive style whereby the trill of alternate notes and ripple of keys during improvisation with the right hand are complemented perfectly by the maintenance of a steady bass riff with his left.
Overall, this Otis Spann collection is highly significant in that it marks the shift between the authentic country blues he was leaving behind and the new urbane life in the company of luminaries such as Waters, Clapton, and Fleetwood Mac. The album also highlights Spann’s immense vocals, songwriting, and bandleadership qualities which have previously been underestimated.

Congratulations to Silk City for this wonderful piece of blues history.

Dave Scott is a contributing writer at BluesWax