Big Joe Turner, All The Classic Hits 1938 – 1952

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
From the sultry to the swaggering, Big Joe could do it all.

Turner's the ultimate in rock-'em-sock-'em urban blues shouting of the '30s and '40s. Backed by everything from solo boogie woogie pianists (Pete Johnson was his favorite) to r&b and jazz combos, the singing bartender from Kansas City simply reared back and let 'er roar — while maintaining clean phrasing and an exquisite command of melody and rhythm, no less. "Roll 'Em Pete" is the song that launched the boogie woogie craze. Big Joe was unbeatable on sex-with-a-smile romps like "Cherry Red," "My Gal's a Jockey" or "Around the Clock, Parts 1 & 2," but he was also capable of great tenderness on the likes of "Piney Brown Blues" or "Howlin 'Wind." There's no such thing as too much Big Joe Turner.