In the two short years that The Johnny Otis Show recorded for Capitol, they managed time and again to come up with some of the most eternal sides in rock'n'roll. The legendary Mr Otis adopted the role of ringmaster, whilst the members of his revue took turns to show off their many talents. Marie Adams, the Three Tons of Joy, Mel Williams, Jeannie Sterling and Jackie Kelso all featured on the recordings, backed up by some of the very finest musicians Johnny could assemble.
Their debut Capitol single Ma, He's Making Eyes At Me truly caught the imagination of the British public and went right to the top of the charts in November, 1957.
Back home, the much loved Willie and the Hand Jive hit the US Top Ten the following summer and the whole shooting match went on to spread the word in films and TV. Future gems like Castin' My Spell, Crazy Country Hop and Mumblin' Mosie all helped to sow the seeds for the forthcoming R&B revolution in the UK with many homegrown acts from Cliff Richard to the Animals turning to the Johnny Otis repertoire for a source of material. After the disappointment of previous compilations, from other companies Ace Records have finally restored the balance by bringing together the cream of the Otis crop, including wonderful rock'n'roll tracks such as Bye Bye Baby, All I Want Is Your Love and Shake It Lucy Baby that have not appeared on CD before. This landmark release sets the facts straight on paper too, as the complexities surrounding Johnny's arrival at Capitol have never been fully documented until now. The Greatest Johnny Otis Show is no idle boast, because the team succeeded in capturing such a joyous mood, the excitement still delivers maximum entertainment value. Mr. Otis has nothing to regret.
by Stuart Colman