Otis Spann - The Blues of Otis Spann/Cracked Spanner Head

Otis Spann - The Blues of Otis Spann/Cracked Spanner Head
Release Date:
June 21, 2005
Chicago Blues, Electric Chicago Blues, Piano Blues, Regional Blues
The Blues of Otis Spann/Cracked Spanner Head

On the one hand, it makes sense that The Blues of Otis Spann and Cracked Spanner Head should be packaged together in a double-disc set, and on the other, it makes no sense at all, since they are essentially the exact same album. Blues was recorded in England with Otis Spann on piano and vocals, Little Willie Smith on drums, Ransom Knowling on bass, and an uncredited Muddy Waters on guitar (Waters is simply listed as "Brother" in the liner notes), and was released in 1964. Aside from a couple of ill-advised harpsichord boogies, it was a solid set, with Spann shining on "Sarah Street," "The Blues Don't Like Nobody," the dramatic and moving "Lost Sheep in the Fold," and the wonderful cover of Arthur Crudup's "Rock Me Mama" that opened the album. For some reason, however, producer Mike Vernon went back to the master tapes four years later and overdubbed horns and additional guitar on the tracks, then remixed, reshuffled, and renamed everything to make the album called Cracked Spanner Head, which was released in 1969. It isn't quite the disaster that blues critics have claimed it is, but it hardly improves on the original Blues set, and it is a little disconcerting to hear songs like "Keep Your Hand Out of My Pocket" (retitled "Crack Your Head" on the Spanner disc) and Crudup's "Rock Me Mama" (given the new title of "Wagon Wheel") under these new circumstances. Blues historians and archivists may be glad that the two albums are now available under one roof, but casual listeners may not be too pleased with hearing the same album twice, whatever the differences.

Rock Me MamaOtis Spann3:55
I Came from ClarksdaleOtis Spann4:25
Keep Your Hand Out of My PocketOtis Spann3:25
Spann's BoogieOtis Spann2:05
Sarah StreetOtis Spann3:14
The Blues Don't Like NobodyOtis Spann3:33
Meet Me in the BottomOtis Spann2:58
Lost Sheep in the FoldOtis Spann4:29
I Got a FeelingOtis Spann3:32
JangleboogieOtis Spann2:56
T.99Otis Spann3:05
Natural DaysOtis Spann3:22