Monday, June 4, 2012
THE BABY HUEY STORY - THE LIVING LEGEND
Track 1 - Listen To Me
Track 2 - Mama Get Yourself Together
Track 3 - A Change Is Going To Come
Track 4 - Mighty Mighty (Live)
Track 5 - Hard Times
Track 6 - California Dreamin'
Track 7 - Running
Track 8 - One Dragon Two Dragon
From Pitchfork.Com -
"James Thomas Ramsey, aka Baby Huey, introduced himself on stage better than anyone else could have dared: "I'm Big Baby Huey, and I'm 400 pounds of soul." In the 1960s, he and his band, the Babysitters, played everywhere from the clubs of New York to private parties in Paris, but Chicago was where they were best known-- and where they called home. The band would play any gig that would have them during that time, from tiny blues clubs to cruise ships. As a frontman, Baby Huey was talented, flamboyant, and enormous-- anywhere from 350-400 pounds, topped off by a giant afro. Unfortunately, Huey died of a heart attack at 26 in 1970, and never saw his debut album released the following year. Since then, Living Legend has remained an obscurity, though its songs have long been embraced by hip-hop, having been sampled by everyone from Kool Herc to Eric B and Rakim to Ghostface.
The Babysitters were a full band with a horn section that could take psychedelic detours without losing their tightness or funky feel. They were the perfect foil for Huey, who brought it all together with undeniable stage presence and an earnest tenor that was compared to Otis Redding (which rings true if only for their powerful delivery). Listen closely, and you can hear the ravage of excess in his raspy crooning, before he leaps into the highest registers with a squeal that's equal parts James and Arthur Brown.
Produced by the legendary Curtis Mayfield, three songs he also penned make up the meat of the album. "Mighty Mighty" is a raucous funk shuffle, including handclaps and crowd noise that give it the feel of a backyard throwdown, with little girls piping in at Huey's invitation while he praises Walgreen's turkeys and Thunderbird in his proto-rapping. Its gaiety is infectious and almost overwhelming. The "Hard Times" arrangement seems almost restricting for Huey's voice and character, but we have to thank Mayfield for handing him the tune-- it's the record's most memorable melody, and Huey's version is superior to Mayfield's own. "Running" adds warbling electric piano and guitar to Mayfield's melodic funk, the most lamentable example of what the Babysitters could have achieved if Huey had lived to record another LP.