Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
This November 14, 1968, session was recorded in Chicago, co-produced by Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records and Willie Dixon. It's decent, though journeyman, '60s electric Chicago blues augmented by a couple of tenor saxes. Littlejohn has a pleasant voice and is a skilled guitarist, but does not have the fire or individuality that leaps from some of the musicians to whom one might compare him. Those might include figures like Buddy Guy, say, or Elmore James' more fully produced sides, or on something like "Catfish Blues," the Muddy Waters approach. Littlejohn did write most of the dozen tunes, interspersed with covers of songs by James, Dixon, Brook Benton (a refreshingly unusual choice for a mainstream '60s Chicago bluesman), and J.B. Lenoir.
John Littlejohn's stunning mastery of the slide guitar somehow never launched him into the major leagues of bluesdom. Only on a handful of occasions was the Chicago veteran's vicious bottleneck attack captured effectively on wax, but anyone who experienced one of his late-night sessions as a special musical guest on the Windy City circuit will never forget the crashing passion in his delivery. Delta-bred John Funchess first heard the blues just before he reached his teens at a fish fry where a friend of his father's named Henry Martin was playing guitar. He left home in 1946, pausing in Jackson, Mississippi; Arkansas; and Rochester, New York before winding up in Gary, Indiana. In 1951, he began inching his way into the Gary blues scene, his Elmore James-influenced slide style making him a favorite around Chicago's south suburbs in addition to steel mill-fired Gary.
Littlejohn waited an unconscionably long time to wax his debut singles for Margaret (his trademark treatment of Brook Benton's "Kiddio"), T-D-S, and Weis in 1968. But before the year was out, Littlejohn had also cut his debut album, Chicago Blues Stars, for Chris Strachwitz's Arhoolie logo. It was a magnificent debut, the guitarist blasting out a savage Chicago/Delta hybrid rooted in the early '50s rather than its actual timeframe. Unfortunately, a four-song 1969 Chess date remained in the can. After that, another long dry spell preceded Littlejohn's 1985 album So-Called Friends for Rooster Blues, an ambitious but not altogether convincing collaboration between the guitarist and a humongous horn section that sometimes grew to eight pieces. The guitarist had been in poor health for some time prior to his 1994 passing.
Recorded at Universal Studios - Chicago, III. November 14, 1968
01. What In The World You Goin' To Do (Willie Dixon) 03:53
02. Treat Me Wrong (John Funchess) 03:30
03. Catfish Blues 03:30
04. Kiddeo (Brook Benton) 03:45
05. Slidin' Home (John Funchess) 03:56
06. Dream (John Funchess) 05:15
07. Reelin' And Rockin' (John Funchess) 02:25
08. Been Around The World (John Funchess) 05:20
09. How Much More Long (J.B. Lenoir) 03:53
10. Shake Your Money Maker (Elmore James) 04:19
11. I'm Tired (John Funchess) 04:19
12. Nowhere to Lay My Head (John Funchess) 03:44