Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Willie Mitchell With the 4 Kings: Tell It to Me Baby
Willie Mitchell, Memphis trumpeter and band leader most famously known for running Hi Records, for cutting a string of great instrumentals in the 60s, and for producing Al Green and Ann Peebles in the 70s, died yesterday. He was 81.
For decades Mitchell worked his magic at his own Royal Studios, in Memphis, TN, often with great session guitarist Teenie Hodges leading the Royal house band. On the Al Green & Ann Peebles records these guys were the Kings of Quiet, achieving a rare level of warmth and intimacy in the studio. Still, great as all that music is, it’s all a little too “suede denim” for me. I prefer the earlier Willie Mitchell, of 4 Kings fame, here performing their first single “Tell It To Me Baby,” from 1958, on Memphis Rockabilly/C&W great Eddie Bond’s Stomper Time label. The song was written by 4 Kings lead singer Don Bryant. In fact, Willie Mitchell wasn’t actually in the band, tho he finagled song credit nonetheless, as he was more like the band’s leader and manager. Anyway, it’s a rocker. Tell it to me baby!