domingo, 19 de julio de 2009

Jean Knight: Mr. Big Stuff (1971) ... plus

Soul singer Jean Knight's only big hit was a monster: the sassy funk classic ‘Mr. Big Stuff,’ one of the largest-selling singles ever released by the legendary Stax label. A native of New Orleans, Knight made her first recordings for producer Huey P. Meaux's Jet Stream and Tribe labels during the mid- to late '60s (many of her sides were later collected on West Side's Blue Soul Belles, Vol. 2). Her success largely confined to the immediate area, Knight was working as a baker when she went to Malaco Studios in Jackson, MS, for a session with veteran producer Wardell Quezerque in 1970. The key track, a spirited putdown of male arrogance called ‘Mr. Big Stuff,’ was shopped to Stax Records, who passed on it at first. However, after King Floyd's ‘Groove Me’ (another Malaco recording) went gold, Stax reconsidered and released ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ in 1971. It was an enormous hit, spending five weeks at number one on the R&B charts and falling one slot short of the same position on the pop side. Her debut album, released that same year, also featured a lot of good material on it, not all of it in the same vein as her hit. Producer/arranger Wardell Quezergue (who also appeared on keyboards) handled the record well, with a band consisting of Malaco hands like guitarist Jerry Puckett and drummer James Stroud. Knight shows an admirable range on these songs, stretching out on the heartbroken ballads ‘A Little Bit of Something (Is Better Than All of Nothing)’ and ‘Why I Keep Living These Memories’, each with a heavy church feel. ‘You City Slicker’ was much too much of a ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ sound-alike, but ‘Take Him (You Can Have My Man)’ would've been a worthy follow-up to her only Top Ten hit. Despite being a pretty solid album and after some similarly gritty follow-up singles (which included ‘You Think You're Hot Stuff’ and ‘Carry On’, both featured on this reissue plus 4 more bonus tracks), Knight couldn't manage to duplicate the success of ‘Mr. Big Stuff,’ and quickly faded from the soul scene, returning briefly in the ‘80s and late-‘90s.

Jean Knight performing her biggest hit, the funky Mr. Big Stuff:

4 comentarios:

Nosi dijo...

Bill dijo...

Hi Nosi,
Thanks for the Jean Knight,I`m having a computer slowdown when I visit your site.I hope it`s just my memory getting full from all my downloads from your sites!!

justme dijo...

Thanks! This is great! The cd has been remastered as well as has the bonus tracks! :)

flageolette dijo...