Mose Allison – Takes to the Hills – Epic/Sony/ PurePleasure BA17031 – stereo vinyl (orig. release: 1961) ****:
(Mose Allison – piano & vocals; Addison Farmer, Henry Grimes, or Aaron Bell – bass; Jerry Segal, Paul Motian, or Osie Johnson – drums)
PurePleasure in their vinyl re-release program has chosen a mighty fine Mose Allison LP from the early 1960s to get an audiophile remastering. Renowned producer Teo Macero matched Mose with three different rhythm sections. Each had a standout performer that would have been an exemplary choice on their own to anchor a mix of Allison tunes, or well-known standards made famous by blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Dixon, and Lightin’ Hopkins. We get to hear bassist Addison Farmer on three tracks, bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Paul Motian on three selections, and drummer Osie Johnson on the remaining numbers.
The main attraction, of course, is Mose, who is a master of boogie-woogie, blues, and bebop piano styles. His laid- back hipster vocals are his trademark, and in his early 30s when this session was cut, Mose was clearly in his prime. He makes both the piano and vocals seem effortless, an ultimate expression of “cool.” His trio mates have few center stage moments and seem content to comp ably behind the leader, setting a rock solid groove.
On “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Hey, Good Lookin,” Mose both struts and testifies, while “Back on the Corner” expresses the joy of hanging out. On “I Love the Life I Live” drummer Paul Motian keeps a righteous shuffle beat.
What sells this issue and justifies a premium price are the superb acoustics provided by ace remastering engineer, Ray Staff. PurePleasure advertises their releases as pressed on “silent” 180 gm vinyl, and it is absolutely so on this audiophile vinyl. There is an intimacy where the sound stage puts the listener in a first row position catching Allison’s humming, and expressive piano runs. If you dig Mose Allison and have a turntable you’d like to show off, then this audiophile LP fits the bill nicely…
Side 1: V-8 Ford Blues, Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone, Baby Please Don’t Go, Hey Good Lookin’, I Love the Life I Live, I Ain’t Got Nobody(And Nobody Cares for Me)
Side 2: Back on the Corner, Life is Suicide, ‘Deed I Do, Ask Me Nice, You’re a Sweetheart, Mad With You