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I'll Be Right On Down: The Modern Recordings 1947-1953, CD (£11.50)
A criticism that collectors level at Ace from time to time, is that we don’t rush things, especially where owned repertoire is concerned and take too long to issue them. That’s true up to a point but there are always mitigating circumstances.
Most delays are to do with the restoration process. Given the condition of some sources from 60 years ago, it’s a miracle that some of the CDs come out at all. The engineers at Sound Mastering labour long and hard over the removal of extraneous surface noise, conscious that their efforts must not compromise the eventual sound. Their efforts to have seldom been better represented than they are in this new compilation of early works by acknowledged blues giant, Jimmy Witherspoon.
“I’ll Be Right On Down” is the third part of a trilogy that began with Ray Topping’s “Blowin’ In From Kansas City” compilation, issued in 1991. The new CD has been in the making for well over a year, while our remaining Spoon Modern sources were being copied and audited. It includes Spoon’s 1940s and 1950s Modern masters that Ray was not able to include on that CD, the master takes for tracks where Ray used alternates, and a selection of choice alternates of masters that have appeared on other titles in the Ace catalogue, mostly on our expanded version of Spoon’s first Crown album. The only part of Spoon’s Modern catalogue that has yet to appear on Ace CD, his 1947 recordings with the Al “Cake” Wichard Sextette, will be anthologised next year on a CD devoted to various Wichard groups.
The focus here is on Spoon’s 1951 and 1952 sessions, and the sound is primarily that of jumpin’ R&B as it edged towards rock’n’roll. But as well as rockin’ gems like the title track and ‘Love My Baby’, we also feature some unreleased examples of Spoon’s ballad style that shows he may have had an occasional eye on a piece of Billy Eckstine’s action. Rare items like both sides of Spoon’s rare gospel 78s, issued on the short lived Modern Spirituals series, are also making their legal CD debut here. And, of course, the boffins at Sound Mastering have restored the original acetate audio to an amazing degree, from what were, at times, severely damaged sources. As Spoon compilations go, this ticks all the boxes for any long time fan!
Because of the difficulty in working with some of the sources, it’s taken a while for this collection to come together. But as you will hear, good things do indeed come to those who wait, and this valuable addition to Ace’s sub-catalogue of post-WWII R&B should disappoint no one.
By Tony Rounce