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Amos Milburn "The Best of Amos Milburn--Down the Road Apiece" (1946-57) EMI/Aladdin

July 07, 1994|BUDDY SEIGAL

Pianist/vocalist Milburn was a synthesis of all that was great in classic rhythm & blues.

He could pound out a boogie like Pete Johnson, jump a blues number like Louie Jordan or caress a ballad like Nat King Cole, and he did so with style, elegance and a sense of cool that earned him hordes of fans for more than a decade.

A suave and handsome figure, Milburn would perform hunched over his piano, his whole body in rhythm with his music, a smile of unrestrained joy parting his lips as he performed such hits as "Chicken Shack Boogie," "Bad, Bad Whiskey" and "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer." His voice, urbane though it was, worked as effectively on an up-tempo shout as it did on smoother numbers. But with the success of "Bad, Bad Whiskey" in 1950, Milburn began concentrating more and more on boozing songs, and unfortunately, lived up to his legend as his drinking increased and his performances became more erratic. The effects of the bottle eventually brought about a series of strokes and may have contributed to an early grave for Milburn, but his music lives on in this generous collection comprising 26 tracks, 17 of which hit the Top 10 on the R & B charts.

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