Willie Dixon

Greatly Appreciated


Willie Dixon  (July 1, 1915 – January 29, 1992) was an American blues musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger and record producer.  A Grammy Award winner who was proficient on both the upright bass and the guitar and as a vocalist, Dixon is perhaps best known as one of the most prolific songwriters of his time.  Next to Muddy Waters, Dixon is recognized as the most influential person in shaping the post-World War II sound of the Chicago blues.  Dixon’s songs have been recorded by countless musicians in many genres as well as by various ensembles in which he participated.  A short list of his most famous compositions includes “Hoochie Coochie Man”, “I Just Want to Make Love to You”, “Little Red Rooster”, “My Babe”, “Spoonful”, and “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover”.  Dixon also was an important link between the blues and rock and roll, working with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley in the late 1950’s.  (More from Wikipedia)
That’s what it says:  The Magnificent Moodies This record was released in 1965 and was the first album by the Moody Blues.  Like many of the British Invasion bands, they started out as a crackerjack rhythm and blues band, and the U. S. release of the album has a different cover and some variation in the songs.  You probably have difficulty imagining the Moody Blues covering songs by James Brown (two of them, no less), Willie Dixon and George Gershwin; but that is exactly what they do on this album.  
(September 2012)
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Rollin’ Stone by Muddy Waters is a bridge from the raw blues of Robert Johnson directly to rock and roll; while it is basically a straight blues song, there are startling changes in the beat and cadences over the course of Rollin’ Stone.  Within the blues world, it is a direct antecedent to Muddy Waters’ 1954 recording of the Willie Dixon song “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” (Steppenwolf included “Hoochie Coochie Man” on their 1968 debut album Steppenwolf, among numerous other covers by various rock musicians), Bo Diddley’s I’m a Man (1955), and Waters’ answer “Mannish Boy” (also in 1955).  I suppose that Bo and Muddy had a pretty good rivalry going back then, but on several occasions, I saw a performance of “I’m a Man” by Muddy Waters in later life on a series of films on TV called Living Legends of the Blues – that rendition even leaves the cover of I’m a Man by the Yardbirds in the dust.

(March 2014/1)
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The band’s first album, Cactus was one of the best hard rock albums of 1970.  The album opens with a fierce version of the Mose Allison song “Parchman Farm” (about the notorious Mississippi State Penitentiary of that name) – and not long after Blue Cheer recorded that classic blues song (misnamed “Parchment Farm”) on their debut 1968 album, Vincebus Eruptum – plus the Willie Dixon song “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover” that was made famous by Bo Diddley.  But Cactus’s own songs rock just as hard, like “Let Me Swim”, “Oleo” and “Feel So Good”. 


(April 2014)


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Cream’s debut album, the fittingly titled Fresh Cream featured a mixture of traditional blues songs as well as band originals.  The blues songs include Skip James’ “I’m So Glad”, “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” (originally written and recorded by Hambone Willie Newbern, with the first famous recording being by Muddy Waters), and the stomping “Spoonful” (written by Willie Dixon).  


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On June 2, 1964the Soul Agents released their first single on Pye RecordsI Just Wanna Make Love to You b/w Mean Woman Blues.  Later in the year, the single was released in the U.S. and in Canada.  The band made a few lyric changes to the Willie Dixon song (and in the title as well – the actual title is “I Just Want To Make Love To You”), and they inserted some nice instrumental fills into their rendition of this blues standard.  


(May 2014)


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Violent Femmes could be viewed as the quintessential indie rock band, with its near-acoustic sound and alternative-rock sensibililty.  Gordon Gano (guitar and lead vocals) formed the band while he was still in high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the early 1980’s with Brian Ritchie (bass guitar) and Victor DeLorenzo (drums).  Their debut album, Violent Femmes (1983) featured angst-ridden crowd-pleasers like “Blister in the Sun”, “Kiss Off”, “Add it Up”, and “Gone Daddy Gone” (including a verse from a Willie Dixon song).  


(November 2014)


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In June 1963the Rolling Stones released their debut single, a cover of a Chuck Berry song called “Come On”, which reached #21 on the UK charts.  The flip side was Willie Dixon’s “I Want to be Loved”. 


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As described above, the resulting debut album, Crawdaddy Express by the Crawdaddys was comprised mostly of covers of R&B classics by Bo DiddleyWillie DixonChuck Berry, and John Lee Hooker; plus a few from other sources, such as the old Hank Snow tune “I’m Movin’ On” and the magnificent Van Morrison song “Mystic Eyes” that opened the first album by Them.  Only a few familiar songs were included on the album, such as “You Can’t Judge a Book” and “Down the Road a Piece”.  Just two original recordings were included on the album, the title song “Crawdaddy Express” and “Got You in My Soul” (both written by Ron Silva and Steve Potterf). 


(January 2015/2)


Last edited: March 22, 2021