Old School by Koko Taylor

Old School by Koko Taylor
Old School by Koko Taylor Old School by Koko Taylor Old School by Koko Taylor Old School by Koko Taylor (click images to enlarge)
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Description of Old School by Koko Taylor

Released 2007-04-03

Released by Alligator Records

Available in Audio CD format

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Manufacturer Description

OLD SCHOOL takes listeners back to the rough and tumble blues of Koko Taylor's early Chicago days, as she teams up with an all-star band of the city's finest players. Koko conjures deep blues spirit from back in the day with five new originals and revitalized classics by Willie Dixon, Magic Sam, Memphis Minnie and more. It's gritty, unvarnished 'old school' blues and proud of it, as Koko infuses every track with ageless energy and passion.

Go ahead and call it a comeback. Despite her advancing years and frail health following a 2003 hospitalization, Old School shows that the Queen of Chicago Blues has no intentions of abdicating her throne just yet. Koko Taylor isn't terribly prolific--this is only her third album in 14 years--but she's also never released a lackluster effort, and this is no exception. As the title suggests, you should be prepared for tough, rugged Chicago blues sung by one of the masters of the genre, regardless of gender. Taylor's legendary booming voice does show some wear, but her husky pipes, wang-dang-doodle attitude, and sheer enthusiasm will convince any skeptics that the singer is far from phoning in her performance. The disc is split evenly between originals and covers of Willie Dixon, Magic Sam, and others, all powered by a gritty yet professional no-nonsense band featuring guitarists Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin and Criss Johnson, along with the harmonica great Billy Branch. Musically, there aren't many surprises, but at this stage Taylor isn't pushing boundaries with her meat-and-potatoes diet of grinding shuffles mixed with the occasional slow blues. Knocking off a tune or two from the hour-long program might have made this a more concise, compact statement, however. Yet with songs as frisky as "Bad Rooster"--possibly an answer to the classic "Little Red Rooster"--and a strutting version of Dixon's "Don't Go No Further," there's no doubt that Taylor remains as passionate and intense as when she was first claiming her crown, nearly four decades ago. --Hal Horowitz