Baby Huey – The Baby Huey Story – The Living Legend (1971/2004)

Baby Huey - The Baby Huey Story - The Living Legend (1971/2004)
Artist: Baby Huey
Album: The Baby Huey Story – The Living Legend
Genre: Psy-Soul/Chi-Soul/Funky-Soul
Label: Water
Released: 1971/2004
Quality: FLAC (image+.cue)
Tracklist:
Listen To Me 06:41
Mama Get Yourself Together 06:15
A Change Is Going To Come 09:31
Mighty Mighty 02:49
Hard Times 03:23
California Dreamin’ 04:48
Running 03:39
One Dragon Two Dragon 04:03

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James Thomas Ramsey, aka Baby Huey, introduced himself on stage better than anyone else could have dared: “I’m Big Baby Huey, and I’m 400 pounds of soul.” In the 1960s, he and his band, the Babysitters, played everywhere from the clubs of New York to private parties in Paris, but Chicago was where they were best known– and where they called home. The band would play any gig that would have them during that time, from tiny blues clubs to cruise ships. As a frontman, Baby Huey was talented, flamboyant, and enormous– anywhere from 350-400 pounds, topped off by a giant afro. Unfortunately, Huey died of a heart attack at 26 in 1970, and never saw his debut album released the following year. Since then, Living Legend has remained an obscurity, though its songs have long been embraced by hip-hop, having been sampled by everyone from Kool Herc to Eric B and Rakim to Ghostface.

This Water Records reissue keeps the album’s original running order intact, and adds no extras. Living Legend is a spare effort by today’s standards: eight songs, two of them covers– one of which is among the record’s three instrumentals. However, Living Legend showed Huey and the Babysitters stretching themselves in ways few soul artists of the time did.

The Babysitters were a full band with a horn section that could take psychedelic detours without losing their tightness or funky feel. They were the perfect foil for Huey, who brought it all together with undeniable stage presence and an earnest tenor that was compared to Otis Redding (which rings true if only for their powerful delivery). Listen closely, and you can hear the ravage of excess in his raspy crooning, before he leaps into the highest registers with a squeal that’s equal parts James and Arthur Brown.
by Jason Crock

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