Little Milton – 1970 – If Walls Could Talk
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A great example of why Little Milton was always one of the few Chicago blues artists who could also break strongly in the soul camp at the time – and a beautifully balanced set that perfectly shows both sides of the Chicago scene of the time! Production is by old Vee Jay maestro Calvin Carter, and arrangements by Gene Barge, who manages to slide effortlessly between blues and soul on the set – almost pushing Milton into Tyrone Davis territory, but keeping things a bit more rougher and down home on some of the other numbers. The sound is wonderful – very deep and rich, and with a sound that’s head and shoulders above most other albums of this type in the late 60s.
A1 If Walls Could Talk 2:56
A2 Baby I Love You 2:44
A3 Let’s Get Together 3:00
A4 Things That I Used To Do 3:50
A5 Kansas City 3:02
B1 Poor Man 2:42
B2 Blues Get Off My Shoulder 3:20
B3 I Play Dirty 2:23
B4 Good To Me As I Am To You 2:44
B5 Your Precious Love 2:43
B6 I Don’t Know 2:20
The late, great Little Milton was, much like his contemporary Albert King, a giant of the Soul-Blues genre. Where King’s soulful blues was drenched in the finest of Southern Soul traditions, Little Milton’s funk came with a huge chunk of urban, nitty-gritty Chicago Soul sounds.
Perhaps his finest album for Chess, ‘If Walls Could Talk’ is a masterpiece of electric blues, soul and even a little funk. The catchy, uptempo shufflin’ title-track smells like one of those late-night Chicago blues-club stompers, with Milton’s super raw voice a’ roarin’ and piles of messy brass kickin’ the jam in the butt.
With the delicious mid-tempo soul groove “Baby I Love You” Milton scored a #6 R&B hit, and rightfully so. This is Chicago Soul in the flesh: a fatback, funky groove layered in sophisticated, busy horns and infectious backing vocals.
“Let’s Get Together” keeps it right in the pocket, picking the pace up a bit, riding another solid, heavy duty groove as Milton belts out another powerhouse vocal. More emphasis here on the funky, poppin’ bass and stretched-out horn wails.
Little Milton’s guitar at last appears up front in the mix as he soars through Guitar Slim’s classic “The Things I Used to Do“, turning in a traditional cover of this legendary tune. Leiber and Stoller’s equally well-known “Kansas City” is given the funk treatment, tho’: brilliant gospel piano noodlings here, with more scratching guitar breaks, swaggerin’ horns and that bumpin’ bass.
The flip opens with more well-oiled funky blues, as “Poor Man” is driven by lowdown, incessantly fon-kay drumming and features a catchy descending bass riff on the chorus.
Milton goes for de bleakest of blues with the lamenting “Blues Get Off My Shoulder” but heads back to funky town soon enough, blaring out the vicious soul jam “I Play Dirty“; aside the pounding groove of this sucker, the Chuck Berry-esque guitar fills after each verse give it a menacing sting.
After a fantastic, unadulterated bluesy take on Aretha Franklin’s “Good to Me As I Am to You“, Milton tackles soul-pop on “Your Precious Love“, before closing this majestic album with the barrelhouse boogie blues of “I Don’t Know“.