September 2005

Little Milton - Think of Me
Telarc CD-8361
Format: CD
Released: 2005

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Telarc’s expanding blues roster is an impressive lineup of great musicians that the label has graced with high-class packaging and good recordings. Two recent Telarc releases, Debbie Davies’ All I Found [CD-83626] and Jimmy Thackery’s Healin’ Ground [CD-83624], are career high points that should help bring both guitarists the larger followings they deserve. Little Milton didn’t need any help in that area -- his standing as a blues legend was well established. Think of Me, his first disc with Telarc after a long association with Malaco, was the work of a master who, at nearly 71, was still finding ways to keep the blues fresh. Hearing how much he was in command of his powers makes his recent passing even sadder.

On his later recordings, Milton didn’t often summon the big-throated shout that made his Chess recordings so powerful. Always an urbane singer, he employed even subtler shading in his voice, and the most compelling moments on Think of Me are when his voice drops to a near whisper. Milton and co-producer Jon Tiven wrote most of the tunes, which allowed the singer to tap into his strengths and stretch a little. "Gone With the Wind" evokes both Motown and the Chitlin’ Circuit, while "Let Your Love Rain Down On Me" delivers its gospel message gently but with great feeling.

The playing by all is solid throughout, but organist Bruce Katz is especially notable (as he is on the Debbie Davies disc). The old-Memphis-soul feel and a set of very strong tunes make Think of Me a substantial addition to a remarkable career, and it’s disappointing that it will be Little Milton’s last time out.