More rock n’ roll than blues methodology, Koko Taylor breaks more than hearts with her debut record I Got What It Takes. A stormy romance that bounces between the all-star performances of Mighty Joe Young and Sammy Lawhorn who open the bridges, unleashing a flood gate with their guitar work. Wrangling in the staples of what keeps Taylor a Chicago monument of sound.
Often times, she is called the “Queen of The Blues” for her ability to shake the landscape with each thunderous howl, passion is her primary tool to her advantage. The opening track “Trying To Make A Living” is a forerunner for these horns played by Abb Locke that spurt and give warmth to a fundamental sound of blues-rock. Each note played reflects this distant sound that is weathered, but somehow familiar and studied even 44-years after it was initially released. I Got What It Takes is a Southern sound that works to reflect a modern performance.
Truly working in a well-oiled fashion is the band that backs up Taylor’s vocals, each piece is a detrimental shift to the keyboards covered by Bill Held, or the drums performed by Vince Chappelle. Nearly every moment is stuck in support to Taylor who highlights these instrumental sectionals. Often times, the bass lines in blues are the foundation to the overall sound and with Cornelius Boyson, nothing changes here. He is a power forward in this case that can provide and bear the weight to carry the mainline.
Most of I Got What It Takes is a rushing, almost headstrong push toward some overbearing bounce back from the dichotomy of sound. A strong vocalist needs a strong band to back her up, and in this case with Taylor, the band works exceptionally well. Showcased best on the track “Be What You Want To Be,” she delivers this standing-ovation through her lines that rattle and resonates. Then as the instrumentalists move in to pounce, she uses their daydream-esque production to provide a balancing act between thunderous and gentle grasps.
It is an achievement that almost hits every perfect note on the scorecard in what is loved in any blues or rock n’ roll record. As each checkmark goes down the line with Taylor marching to the almost jazz-influenced movements, I Got What It Takes branches into a career from a Chicago-native that fell into the hearts of all.
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