Blues Bytes


May 2011

an associate
Otis Spann Is The Blues

Walking The Blues


Otis Spann
Otis Spann Is The Blues
Walkin' The Blues
Candid Records

Otis SpannIn 1960, Otis Spann recorded a session for Candid Records that ranks with the finest blues recordings of its time. Spann’s incredible piano had been a vital part of Muddy Waters’ band since the early ’50s, and would continue to be through most of the ’60s, but this was his first solo venture, other than a single for Chess in 1954 (“It Must Have Been The Devil”).

This session was split into two recordings for Candid, Otis Spann Is The Blues and Walkin’ The Blues. Joining Spann on this recording was guitarist Robert Lockwood, Jr. Like Spann, Lockwood had been around the blues scene for years, appearing on dozens of Chess recordings by Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Eddie Boyd, but on very few solo recordings himself.

Otis Spann Is The Blues was released first and Spann and Lockwood share vocals duties on the ten tracks. Spann’s piano work is a joy to hear. Always understated and tasteful during his days with Waters, he continues that trend on his own recordings, though he does step out a bit on his solos, including a pair of impressive instrumental, the after-hours “Otis In The Dark,” and the lively “Great Northern Stomp.”

Vocally, Spann was highly underrated and he does a fine job here. Lockwood takes the mic for four tunes, all of which will be familiar to his longtime listeners. Regarded as a consummate session guitarist, naturally his guitar work complements Spann perfectly.

Otis SpannOn Walkin’ The Blues, Spann and Lockwood were joined by St. Louis Jimmy Oden on several tracks. Oden was a singer/piano player who had a solid recording and performing career from the ’30s to the ’60s. He’s best known for writing the timeless blues standard, “Goin’ Down Slow,” and later wrote a few songs for Muddy Waters in the early ’60s. He sings on several tracks here, including his baby, “Goin’ Down Slow.” Spann also takes vocals on a few tracks and acquits himself well, but his piano playing is picture perfect, as is Lockwood’s support on guitar. It was almost like the pair had been playing together for years.

Spann’s complete recordings for Candid were reissued years ago in a now-out of print box set that oddly paired his work with Lightnin’ Hopkins’ recordings for the label. Spann went on to record other sessions for Vanguard, Bluesway, and Prestige, before he passed away from liver cancer at the age of 40 in 1970, but few measured up to his first outing as a solo artist for Candid.

--- Graham Clarke


[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]



The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: May 20, 2011- Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2011, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.