The Earthshaker

Koko Taylor

Alligator, 1978

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It’s amazing what decent production will do for an artist.

Take Koko Taylor, for example. Three years prior, on her Alligator debut I Got What It Takes, the rougher-hewed sound somewhat distracted from the overall performance, leaving the disc less of a grand comeback than what I called a tentative first step back into the spotlight.

In 1978, that all changed with the release of The Earthshaker. A disc that definitely shows Taylor’s debt to her mentor Willie Dixon, it is a more powerful effort, and truly the first that showcased her as the queen of the blues – a moniker that would remain with her for the rest of her life.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

From the opening growled notes of “Let The Good Times Roll,” the listener knows that this isn’t going to be your standard 12-bar blues album. Taylor and her band (including Pinetop Perkins on keyboards) are going to make these nine tracks an absolute celebration. Taylor and crew plow through some standards like “Spoonful” and the gender-modified “I’m A Woman” (which, ironically, pairs nicely with the Muddy Waters version of the original recorded around the same time frame), and introduce a Taylor-penned original, “Please Don’t Dog Me”. If anything, the disc might have benefited with the inclusion of more originals like this one.

Standouts? Take your pick. Obviously, choosing “Let The Good Times Roll” to open the disc was a master stroke, as was closing the album with Taylor’s trademark song “Wang Dang Doodle”. But there are others that demand your attention just as much, from her cover of Dixon’s “Hey Bartender” to her take on “You Can Have My Husband”.

In fact, the only moments that stumble come on what sound like skipped beats on “Walking The Back Streets” - a trait that remained from the previous album – which tend to throw the listener for a momentary loop. A good track otherwise, it does make one wonder if this was an intentional part of the original song, and if not, why they were left in the final version.

Still, this is one small complaint for what proves to be a major step forward for Taylor from her previous effort. The Earthshaker was the album where Taylor proved, with little to no doubt, that she was a superstar – and her light would only continue to get brighter.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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