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Little Milton

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Little Milton



Little MiltonLittle Milton
Blues Critic Little MiltonBlues Critic Little Milton

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He may not be a household name, but die-hard blues fans know Little Milton as a superb all-around electric bluesman � a soulful singer, an evocative guitarist, an accomplished songwriter, and a skillful bandleader. He's often compared to the legendary B.B. King � as well as Bobby "Blue" Bland � for the way his signature style combines soul, blues, and R&B, a mixture that helped make him one of the biggest-selling bluesmen of the '60s (even if he's not as well-remembered as King). As time progressed, his music grew more and more orchestrated, with strings and horns galore. He maintained a steadily active recording career all the way from his 1953 debut on Sam Phillips' legendary Sun label, with his stunning longevity including notable stints at Chess (where he found his greatest commercial success), Stax, and Malaco.

James Milton Campbell was born September 7, 1934, in the small Delta town of Inverness, MS, and grew up in Greenville. (He would later legally drop the "James" after learning of a half-brother with the same name.) His father Big Milton, a farmer, was a local blues musician, and Milton also grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry radio program. At age 12, he began playing the guitar and saved up money from odd jobs to buy his own instrument from a mail-order catalog. By 15, he was performing for pay in local clubs and bars, influenced chiefly by T-Bone Walker but also by proto-rock & roll jump blues shouters. He made a substantial impression on other area musicians, even getting a chance to back Sonny Boy Williamson II, and caught the attention of R&B great Ike Turner, who was doubling as a talent scout for Sam Phillips at Sun. Turner introduced the still-teenaged Little Milton to Phillips, who signed him to a contract in 1953. With Turner's band backing him, Milton's Sun sides tried a little bit of everything � he hadn't developed a signature style as of yet, but he did have a boundless youthful energy that made these early recordings some of his most exciting and rewarding. Unfortunately, none of them were hits, and Milton's association with Sun was over by the end of 1954. He set about forming his own band, which waxed one single for the small Meteor label in 1957, before picking up and moving to St. Louis in 1958.

In St. Louis, Milton befriended DJ Bob Lyons, who helped him record a demo in a bid to land a deal on Mercury. The label passed, and the two set up their own label, christened Bobbin. Little Milton's Bobbin singles finally started to attract some more widespread attention, particularly "I'm a Lonely Man," which sold 60,000 copies despite being the very first release on a small label. As head of A&R, Milton brought artists like Albert King and Fontella Bass into the Bobbin fold, and with such a high roster caliber, the label soon struck a distribution arrangement with the legendary Chess Records. Milton himself switched over to the Chess subsidiary Checker in 1961, and it was there that he would settle on his trademark soul-inflected, B.B. King-influenced style. Initially a moderate success, Milton had his big breakthrough with 1965's "We're Gonna Make It," which hit number one on the R&B charts thanks to its resonance with the civil rights movement. "We're Gonna Make It" kicked off a successful string of R&B chart singles that occasionally reached the Top Ten, highlighted by "Who's Cheating Who?," "Grits Ain't Groceries," "If Walls Could Talk," "Baby I Love You," and "Feel So Bad," among others.

The death of Leonard Chess in 1969 threw his label into disarray, and Little Milton eventually left Checker in 1971 and signed with the Memphis-based soul label Stax (also the home of his former prot�g� Albert King). At Stax, Milton began expanding his studio sound, adding bigger horn and string sections and spotlighting his soulful vocals more than traditional blues. Further hits followed in songs like "Annie Mae's Cafe," "Little Bluebird," "That's What Love Will Make You Do," and "Walkin' the Back Streets and Cryin'," but generally not with the same magnitude of old. Stax went bankrupt in 1975, upon which point Little Milton moved to the TK/Glades label, which was better known for its funk and disco acts. His recordings there were full-blown crossover affairs, which made "Friend of Mine" a minor success, but that label soon went out of business as well. Milton spent some time in limbo; he recorded one album for MCA in 1983 called Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number, and the following year found a home with Malaco, which sustained the careers of quite a few old-school Southern soul and blues artists. During his tenure at Malaco, Milton debuted the song that would become his latter-day anthem, the bar band staple "The Blues Is Alright," which was also widely popular with European blues fans. Milton recorded frequently and steadily for Malaco, issuing 13 albums under their aegis by the end of the millennium. In 1988, he won the W.C. Handy Award for Blues Entertainer of the Year, and was also inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. He died August 4, 2005, in Memphis, TN.

-- Steve Huey of All Music Guide.


We're Gonna Make It

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1965We�re Gonna Make It
1968Sings Big Blues
1970If Walls Could Talk
1972Grits Ain�t Groceries (live)
1973Waiting For Little Milton
1973What It Is
1974Blues �N Soul
1974Montreux Festival
1975Tin Pan Alley
1976Friend Of Mine
1981Walking The Back Streets
1982The Blues Is Alright
1983Age Aint Nothing But A Number
1984Playing For Keeps
1987Annie Mae�s Caf�
1987Movin� To The Country
1988Back To Back
1988I Will Survive
1990Too Much Pain
1992Who�s Cheating Who
1992Strugglin� Lady
1994I�m A Gambler
1995Live! At Westville Prison
1996Cheating Habit
1997Count The Days
1998For Real
1999Welcome To Little Milton
2001Feel It
2002Guitar Man
2004Blues Is Alright: Live! At Kalamazoo
2005Think Of Me
2005Blues In The Night


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1965 We're Gonna Make It

01. We're Gonna Make It
02. If Walls Could Talk
03. So Mean To Me
04. Let Me Down Easy
05. Blind Man
06. Feel So Bad
07. Man Loves Two
08. Let's Get Together
09. You're Welcome To The Club
10. Blues In The Night

1968 Sings Big Blues

01. Feel So Bad
02. Reconsider Baby
03. Stormy Monday
04. Woke Up This Morning
05. Hard Luck Blues
06. Please, Please, Please
07. Sweet Sixteen
08. Fever
09. Sneaking Around
10. Don't Deceive Me
11. Have Mercy Baby
12. Part Time Love

1970 If Walls Could Talk

01. If Walls Could Talk
02. Baby I Love You
03. Let's Get Together
04. The Things I Used To Do
05. Kansas City
06. Poor Man's Song
07. Blues Get Off My Shoulder
08. I Play Dirty
09. Good To Me As I Am To You
10. Your Precious Love
11. I Don't Know

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1972 Grits Ain't Groceries (live)

01. Let Me Down Easy
02. Grits Ain't Groceries
03. Blind Man
04. I Can't Quit You Baby
05. That's What Love Will Make You Do
06. Walking The Back Streets And Crying

1973 Waiting For Little Milton

01. It's Amazing
02. Who Can Handle Me Is You
03. Woman, You Don't Have To Be So Cold
04. The Thrill Is Gone
05. That's How Strong My Love Is
06. What It Is
07. Little Bluebird

1973 What It Is

01. Spring
02. Let Me Down Easy
03. We're Gonna Make It
04. Blind Man
05. Tell Me It's Not True
06. That's What Love Will Make You Do
07. What It Is

1974 Blues 'N Soul

01. Woman Across The River
02. Behind Closed Doors
03. Sweet woman Of Mine
04. Worried Dreamer
05. How Could You Do It To Me
06. You're No Good
07. 'Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do
08. Hard Luck Blues

1974 Montreux Festival

1975 Tin Pan Alley

01. If That Ain't A Reason
02. Mr. Mailman (I don't want no letter)
03. I'm Living Off The Love You Give
04. That's What Love Will Make You Do
05. I'm Gonna Cry A River
06. Rainy Day
07. Lovin' Stick
08. Tin Pan Alley
09. Let Me Back In
10. Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson
11. If You Talk In Your Sleep
12. Packed Up And Took My Mind

1976 Friend Of Mine

01. Friend Of Mine
02. You're Gonna Make Me Cry
03. Baby It Ain't No Way
04. Mis-Using My Love
05. Don't Turn Away
06. It's All Bad News
07. Bring It On Back
08. Sundown/Sundown (Monologue)
09. I'm In Love with My Best Friend's Wife

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1981 Walking The Back Streets

01. Walking The Back Streets And Crying
02. Before The Honeymoon
03. Somebody's Tears
04. Blue Monday
05. Married Woman
06. Eight Men, Four Women
07. Open The Door To Your Heart
08. Letter Full Of Tears
09. Bet You I'll win

1982 The Blues Is Alright

01. The Blues Is Alright
02. How Could You Do It To Me
03. Bad Luck Is Falling
04. Chains And Things
05. Walking The Back Streets And Crying
06. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water
07. I'm Diggin' You
08. Things Have Got To Change

1983 Age Aint Nothing But A Number

01. Age Ain't Nothing But A Number
02. Gotta Keep Our Love Alive
03. Let It Be Me
04. I Wanna Love You
05. Don't Leave Me
06. Living On The Dark Side Of Love
07. Guess How Much I Love You
08. Why Are You So Hard To Please

1984 Playing For Keeps

01. You're Gonna Have a Murder On Your Hands
02. Nobody's Sleeping In My Bed
03. Fishing In The Right Stream
04. I'll Catch You On Your Way Down
05. Comeback Kind Of Love
06. The Blues Is Alright
07. Misty Blue
08. The Only Thing That Saved Me
09. Don't You Know
10. Goodnight My Love

1987 Annie Mae's Caf�

01. I'm At The End Of My Rainbow
02. A Real Good Woman
03. Breakaway Clean
04. Copyright On Your Love
05. Cheating Is a Risky Business
06. Annie Mae's Caf�
07. This Must Be The Blues
08. Too Hurt To Cry
09. You're My Strongest Weakness
10. Why Can't We Be Together

1987 Movin' To The Country

01. You Just Can't Take My Blues
02. Movin' To The Country
03. His Old Lady And My Old Lady
04. You're So Cold
05. Just Because You See Me Smilin'
06. Room 244
07. Lovin' On Borrowed Time
08. A Possum In My Tree
09. At This Moment
10. Have You Ever Loved A woman

1988 Back To Back

01. I Was Trying Not To Break Down
02. Caught In The Act (of getting it on)
03. You Can't Trust Your Neighbor
04. Penitentiary Blues
05. I Had Too Much Heaven Last Night
06. I Don't Believe In Ghosts
07. It's Hard To Explain
08. The End Of The Rainbow
09. Fast Young Lady
10. The Wind Beneath My wings

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1988 I Will Survive

1989 Live!

1990 Too Much Pain

01. Bad Dream
02. The Cradle Is Robbing Me
03. Still In Love With You
04. Runaway
05. The Woman I Love
06. Your Wife Is Cheating On Us
07. Too Much Pain
08. Gonna start A Rumor
09. Count The Days

1992 Who's Cheating Who

1992 Strugglin' Lady

01. Strugglin' Lady
02. My Dog And Me
03. Caf� Woman
04. Always On My Mind
05. Let Them Talk
06. If This Ain't The Blues
07. A Nickel And A Nail
08. She Never Gets The Blues
09. I Keep Falling For You
10. Bending The Rules

1994 I'm A Gambler

01. Casino Blues
02. I've Got The Blues
03. Poke Salad Annie
04. Like A Rooster On A Hen
05. Pledging My Love
06. Love Is A Gamble
07. That's All Right
08. Baby Please
09. You've Been Gone Too Long
10. A Man Needs A Woman
11. That's What A Good Woman Can Do

1995 Live! At Westville Prison

01. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water
02. Eight Men, Four women
03. Friend Of Mine
04. Medley: How Could You Do It To Me/etc.
05. Bad Luck
06. You're The One
07. Loving You Is the Best Thing That Happened To Me
08. That's How Strong My Love Is

1996 Cheating Habit

01. Kick My Cheating Habits
02. How Does A Cheatin' Woman Feel
03. What Do You Do When You Love Somebody
04. This Time They Told The Truth
05. It's Time For The Blues
06. It's Hard To Stumble
07. I Wouldn't Take Nothing For Your Love
08. Shake, Rattle And Roll
09. I Worry About You
10. The Other Man

1997 Count The Days

01. I Will Survive
02. I'll Catch You On Your Way Down
03. 4:59 AM
04. Jealousy
05. You Just Can't Take My Blues
06. Penitentiary Blues
07. The End Of The Rainbow
08. Too Much Pain
09. Count The Days
10. Nobody's Sleeping In My Bed

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1998 For Real

01. Big Boned woman
02. He Saw An Opening
03. I'd Rather Be With You
04. What Our Love Needs
05. It Hurts Me Too
06. A Rainy Night In Georgia
07. To Love Somebody
08. Blues For Mr. �C�
09. If That's What You Wanna Do
10. I'd Rather Go Blind
11. Tear This House Down Tonight

1999 Welcome To Little Milton

01. When The Blues Come Knockin'
02. Right To Sing The Blues
03. Mother Earth (recitation)
04. Mother Earth
05. Never Trust A Woman
06. Love Hurts
07. Gimme My Broom
08. Two Loves
09. Lump On Your Stump
10. Me And My Woman
11. Some Kind Of Wonderful
12. I Can't Quit You Baby

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1999 Reality

01. A Right To Sing The Blues
02. That's The Way I Feel About It
03. I've Got To Remember
04. I Want My Baby Back
05. Walking On Thin Ice
06. I'm Jealous Of Her Husband
07. Angel
08. I'm Gonna Give It Up
09. You Better Change Your Ways
10. You Left A Goldmine For A Golddigger

2001 Feel It

01. A Juke Joint In My House
02. Born Yesterday
03. If You Give Me Your Heart
04. I Gotta Get Away From You
05. Shot From The Saddle
06. Baby Let Me Rock You
07. The Love Of A Woman
08. She Know How To Wear A Hat
09. Lovable Girl
10. You're Givin' Me The Blues
11. He's Got You
12. Lady

2002 Guitar Man

01. Guitar Man
02. Take Time Out To Hear Me Some Blues
03. Still Some Meat Left On This Bone
04. Blues Tune-Up
05. I Could Have Saved Our Love
06. I Wish I Could Be Your Lover
07. You Were On The Right street
08. The Juke Joint Is Calling Me
09. Mr. And Mrs. Untrue
10. Just One Moment
11. Whenever You Come Around
12. My Way

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2004 Blues Is Alright: Live! At Kalamazoo

01. Still Some Meat Left On This Bone
02. Just One Moment
03. I Don't Believe In Ghosts
04. Slow Blues Medley: Annie Mae's Caf�, etc.
05. I Wouldn't Take Nothing For Your Love
06. The Blues Is Alright
07. Gone For Good
08. New Man In Town
09. Thank You
10. No More Tears
11. Pray
12. All We Need Is Love
13. Big Bee
14. Who's Gonna Be Your Sweet Man?
15. I'm Your Honeyboy
16. Life Of Ease
17. Born In Chicago
18. My Back Scratcher

2005 Think Of Me

01. Gonna Find Me Somebody To Love
02. Let Your Love Rain Down On Me
03. The Blues Is My Companion
04. Something Wonderful
05. Gone With The Wind
06. I'll Be
07. Next To You
08. Think Of Me (thinking of you)
09. Reconsider Me
10. Second Hand Love
11. Feel Like A Man
12. That's Where It's At

2005 Blues In The Night

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Graphics by YSM

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