More Box Sets – Wilson Pickett, Dinah Washington, Various Artists

Wilson Pickett
Title: Complete Atlantic Albums Collection

Artist: Wilson Pickett

Label: Rhino

Format: 10-CD Box Set, MP3

Release date: December 1, 2017



This new box set from Rhino UK appears to be a fairly straightforward reissue of Wilson Pickett’s albums for Atlantic, drawing primarily upon versions remastered in 2007. The albums include: In the Midnight Hour (1965), The Exciting Wilson Pickett (1966), The Wicked Pickett (1967), The Sound of Wilson Pickett (1967), I’m In Love (1968), The Midnight Mover (1968), Hey Jude (1969), Right On (1970), Wilson Pickett in Philadelphia (1970), and Don’t Knock My Love (1971).  A nice set if you don’t already own any of Pickett’s albums, but there is no bonus material to entice fans and collectors.


Dinah Washington
Title: Divine Miss Dinah Washington

Artist: Dinah Washington

Label: Verve

Formats: 5-CD Box set, 5-LP Box set

Release date: December 15, 2017


Verve is releasing a 5-disc set, available on both CD and vinyl, of classic Dinah Washington albums from the 1950s.  Though Washington could sing in many styles, including blues, R&B, gospel and pop, the focus here is primarily on her vocal jazz repertoire recorded for the EmArcy label. This is another straightforward reissue project, most likely attractive to those who wish to own pristine 180 gm. vinyl copies of these albums. Among the five discs are two arranged by Quincy Jones—For Those In Love (1955) and The Swingin’ Miss D—and two featuring American songbook standards—After Hours With Miss D (1954) and Dinah Jams (1954). The final album, What a Diff’rence a Day Makes (1959) released by Mercury, was arranged by Indiana native Belford Hendricks in a pop-oriented rhythm and blues style.


Title: Blue Note Review Vol. One – Peace, Love & Fishing

Artist: Various

Label: Blue Note

Formats: 5-CD Box set, 5-LP Box set

Release date: December 15, 2017


Curated by Blue Note president Don Was, the limited edition Blue Note Review Peace, Love & Fishing is the inaugural offering of a bi-annual “luxury subscription box set” designed to appeal to jazz collectors with deep pockets.  Volume One includes a double LP containing new and unreleased recordings by the likes of the Wayne Shorter Quartet, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Gregory Porter, Kandace Springs, Terence Blanchard, and Derrick Hodge—plus a vinyl reissue of the previously out-of-print 1963 Step Lightly album by trumpeter Blue Mitchell. Also included are items that can be shared with other members of the family: artist lithographs, a silk scarf, turntable mat, and the self-published Notables jazz zine. Only registered subscription members are eligible to receive the set; each volume of Blue Note Review costs $200, including shipping to the US or Canada.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss



Light on the South Side

Title:  Light: On the South Side

Artists:  Various

Label:  Numero Group

Format:  Book + 2 LPs

Release date: November 2009

If you’re shopping around for the perfect coffee table book, what could be better than a slick tome that’s packaged with 2 LPs chock full of vintage blues?  Between 1975-1977 photographer Michael Abramson shot images of crowds and performers at various clubs on Chicago’s South Side, and over 100 have been selected for inclusion in the book, which also includes an essay by Nick Hornby.  The accompanying 17 track compiilation features artists such as Little Ed (“It’s a Dream”), Syl Johnson (“Is it Because I’m Black?”), Willie Williams (“Detroit Blues”), Detroit Jr. (“Young Blood”), Bobby Rush (“Bowlegged Woman”), Lucille Span (“Women’s Lib”) and Arlene Brown (“I’m a Steaker Baby”). The tracks have been skillfully remastered, but still retain all of the grit of a South Side Blues club, as illustrated in the official promo:

If you act fast and score one of the first 1000 copies, you’ll also receive a bonus 45 (may only apply to purchases made directly from the Numero site).

Posted by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

Twelve Nights in Hollywood

Title:  Twelve Nights in Hollywood

Artist:  Ella Fitzgerald

Label:  Hip-O Select

Catalog No.:  001292002

Format: 4 CD box set; MP3

Release Date:  November 10, 2009

In May 1961, Ella Fitzgerald did a ten-night stint performing at the Crescendo, one of Hollywood’s best jazz clubs; the following year, she returned for two more nights.  The 1961 album Ella in Hollywood was released with material from that first performance series, and is regarded as one of the best live recordings of Fitzgerald’s career, and several tracks from the 1962 performances were released as singles.  However, the rest of the material from those performances has gone unreleased and unheard for the past forty-eight years.  Hip-O Select’s new four-disc box set Twelve Nights in Hollywood seeks to rectify that omission:  excluding the previously released material from Ella in Hollywood and the 1962 singles, it instead brings together her best performance sets from all twelve nights, including alternate performances of already-released songs and premiere recordings of songs that Fitzgerald had not yet recorded in the studio at the time of these performances.  This set showcases Fitzgerald at the height of her career, from her easy stage presence to her virtuosic scatting and improvisation.

Posted by Ann Shaffer


Title:  Debut: The Complete Clef/Mercury Duo Records, 1949-1951

Artist:  Oscar Peterson

Label:  Hip-O Select

Format: 3 CD box set; MP3

Catalog No.:  12950

Release Date:  November 10, 2009

This new three-disc set from Hip-O Select draws together recordings from Oscar Peterson’s first performances in the U.S. in 1949-1950.  All 49 tracks are duo recordings, as Peterson performed with upright bass accompaniment by either Ray Brown or Major “Mule” Holley, in the time before he developed his trio format.  While most of the tracks in this set have been released on earlier albums, Debut compiles them, newly remastered, into a set that captures an early but important stage of Peterson’s career.  Besides early singles and album tracks, this collection also includes a previously unreleased version of the song “There’s A Small Hotel.”  The set is expansively packaged, with liner notes by David Ritz, reproductions of album covers, and a lengthy discography.

Posted by Ann Shaffer

Taking Care of Business

Title: Taking Care of Business, 1956-1973

Artist: Freddie King

Label: Bear Family Records

Format: 7 CD Box Set (12″ x 12″)

Catalog No.: BCD 16979 GK

Release Date: June 2, 2009

Electric blues guitarist Freddie King has been largely neglected in the annals of rock history, for all that his career spanned three decades and his style strongly influenced newer guitarists from Eric Clapton to Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Part of this is due to his recording history—he jumped from label to label and alternated spellings of his name almost randomly, so assembling his body of work is a challenging effort.  Some of it, too, is that the tracks of his later years are somewhat uneven, as he tried to ride the waves of changing rock/pop styles, spanning novelty dance crazes like the Twist and the Watusi, as well as musical trends such as surf rock and bossa nova.  Finally, since he died at the age of 42 in 1976, it’s impossible to say where his career might have taken him in the past three decades had he lived.  Nevertheless, the “Texas Cannonball” built his own style off of B.B. King’s single-string playing, doing the picking with fingers and thumbs for a more down-home Texas sound, but crossing well into rock territory with fiery solo riffs and passionate vocals.  He was also one of the first Black bluesmen to front an integrated band, a practice continued throughout his career (his penultimate solo album Burglar, released in 1974, was produced and recorded with Eric Clapton, who had already been playing his own covers of King’s songs for ten years.)

Taking Care of Business spans most of King’s career, omitting his last few years and labels.  The first four discs follow his music through the 1950s and 1960s, including influential signature tracks such as “Hide Away,” “San-Ho-Zay,” and “Have You Ever Loved a Woman,” as well as novelty tracks such as “Low Tide (Zoo Surfin’),” “Do the President Twist,” and “The Bossa Nova Watusi Twist.”  They also include alternate takes of some of King’s standards, offering different stylistic interpretations of signature tunes.  The last three discs see King through the late sixties into the seventies, incorporating funk and soul into his sound, as well as including a number of live tracks and untitled instrumentals.  Accompanying the set is a large, lavishly-illustrated hardbound book by Bill Dahl that traces King’s life and career, including an extensive discography, and would be equally at home on a coffee table or a library shelf.  Though this isn’t a complete collection, it makes an excellent compilation King’s career with all its highs, lows, and little-knowns.

Reviewed by Ann Shaffer