The Johnny Otis Story Vol 1: Midnight At The Barrelhouse 1945-1957 Various Artists (Johnny Otis)


Rhythm & Blues
Ace Records
Catalogue Id:
CDCHD 1312

There can’t be many people who have done more in the name of rhythm & blues than John Alexander Veliotes – Johnny Otis to his friends and fans.

Johnny has packed a lot into his lifetime: author, father, painter, radio DJ, TV host, sculptor, political activist, priest, farmer and much more besides. But whatever he’s known for, it’s the music he’s been making since the mid-1940s that has always endeared him to record collectors and marked him as one of the true originators of R&B.

Johnny turns 90 as 2011 draws to its close, and Ace felt that this momentous occasion should be marked by not one but two CDs in celebration of Johnny’s life and more than thirty years of recording activity. “Midnight At The Barrelhouse” is the first volume, and the repertoire embraces Johnny’s early years as a bandleader through to the peak of his worldwide popularity with his first and biggest Capitol hits. The second volume, “The Show Goes On”, will carry on with more Capitol classics and take us through to Johnny’s 1970s successes on Okeh/Epic and his own Hawk Sound label.

Johnny always downplayed his skills as a vocalist but, as can be heard throughout our programme, his singing was always as enjoyable and recognisable as anyone who ever fronted his band. He can also be heard on drums and vibes throughout the set. Even though he’s not always the featured artist, his role in the creation of each and every one of these tracks is always apparent. Our selections here also showcase the great musicians from his classic early bands such as Pete “Guitar” Lewis and Devonia “Lady Dee” Williams, plus vocalists of the calibre of Marie Adams, Bobby Nunn (and the Robins), Big Mama Thornton and Little Esther. Many of these tracks will be as familiar as family to Johnny Otis devotees, but we have managed to disinter several terrific unissued cuts from the 1950s to gladden the hearts of even the most ardent completist.

By Tony Rounce


Track listing


Side 1

  • 01 Preview Johnny Otis Signature - Johnny Otis and His Orchestra

  • 02 Preview Good Old Blues - Johnny Otis Orchestra. Featuring Pete "Guitar" Lewis

  • 03 Preview Harlem Nocturne - Johnny Otis, his drums and orchestra. Saxophone solo by Rene Bloch

  • 04 Preview Double Crossing Blues - Johnny Otis Quintette, the Robins and Little Esther

  • 05 Preview Midnight In The Barrelhouse - Johnny Otis Orchestra. Featuring Pete "Guitar" Lewis

  • 06 Preview The Turkey Hop Part 2 - Johnny Otis Orchestra vocal by the Robins. Featuring Pete "Guitar" Lewis

  • 07 Preview Boogie Guitar - Johnny Otis Orchestra. Featuring Pete "Guitar" Lewis

  • 08 Preview Wedding Boogie - Johnny Otis Congregation. Vocal by Little Esther, Mel Walker and Lee Graves

  • 09 Preview Oopy-Doo - Johnny Otis and his Orchestra, vocal Johnny Otis and Chorus

  • 10 Preview Miss Mitchell - Johnny Otis and his Orchestra

  • 11 Preview Rock Me Baby - Johnny Otis Orchestra. Vocal by Johnny Otis

  • 12 Preview Hound Dog - Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton

  • 13 Preview Robey's Bounce - Johnny Otis and his Orchestra. Featuring Pete "Guitar" Lewis

  • 14 Preview Every Beat Of My Heart - The Royals

  • 15 Preview Cattle Train - Johnny Otis and His Orchestra. Featuring Jimmy "Hurricane Edwards"' Beasley

  • 16 Preview So Fine - The Sheiks

  • 17 Preview Like Shortnin' Bread - Johnny Otis and Orchestra

  • 18 Preview Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! - Johnny Otis and Orchestra

  • 19 Preview The Midnite Creeper Part 1 - Johnny Otis Orchestra

  • 20 Preview The Midnite Creeper Part 2 - Johnny Otis Orchestra

  • 21 Preview Tough Enough - Johnny Otis & Orchestra vocal by the Jayos

  • 22 Preview Shake It Lucy Baby - The Johnny Otis Show. Vocal by Johnny Otis

  • 23 Preview Bye Bye Baby - The Johnny Otis Show. Vocal by Johnny Otis and Marie Adams

  • 24 Preview Ma (He's Making Eyes At Me) - The Johnny Otis Show with Johnny Otis and his orchestra with vocal Marie Ad

  • 25 Preview Willie And The Hand Jive aka The Johnny Otis Hand Jive - The Johnny Otis Show. Vocal by Johnny Otis

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Press quotes


An extremely entertaining collection. ★★★★

Record Collector

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