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1-CD-Album Digipak (4-plated) with 39-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 86 mns.​ A... more

Christine Kittrell: Call Her Name

1-CD-Album Digipak (4-plated) with 39-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 86 mns.​

A forgotten R&B legend reborn on Bear Family! This comprehensive CD collection contains: All 15 songs originally issued on the Tennessee and Republic labels, including one with Little Richard backing her! Plus five unissued alternative takes of Republic titles.All eight songs issued by Champion, Vee-Jay, and Federal, and one unissued Vee-Jay song. One song issued pseudonymously on Hit Records and Spar Records. 

All sourced from master tapes wherever possible. Rare photographs and memorabilia. And a 40-page booklet by Martin Hawkins based on original interviews with Christine Kittrell, her producers, and backing musicians.Christine Kittrell made some of the best R&B of the 1950s and '60s without ever becoming a household name. She was the leading nightclub vocalist on the rocking Nashville scene in the late 1940s and '50s. A marvellous singer - far more versatile than most of her contemporaries - Christine Kittrell worked with Joe Turner, Fats Domino, Memphis Slim, Little Walter, Johnny Otis and even
Count Basie. Her relatively few recordings, mainly on unfashionable labels, possessed rare expressiveness that could elevate a mundane song into something exceptional. She sang late night mood songs like Heartache Blues and Don-t Do It, and pounding rockers like Call His Name and Lord Have Mercy - where she is backed by Little Richard on piano and vocals. Her rerecording of Call His Name in the 60s, became a northern soul classic. She also recorded the original version of the anthemic I-m A Woman. Her biggest hit, Sittin- Here Drinking, featured one of her trademark spoken intros.

Nashville-born Christine Kittrell settled in Columbus, Ohio where she became a matriarch of her local blues scene. She suffered a number of falls and illnesses, starting with mortar bomb injuries received on a singing tour during the war in Vietnam - she liked to say that she was the only blues singer wounded in action! She died in 2001. This 31-track CD collects together all 29 different songs Christine Kittrell recorded in the 1950s and 1960s for the Tennessee, Republic, Champion, Vee-Jay, Hit/Spar and Federal labels.

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Kittrell, Christine - Call Her Name CD 1
01 Call His Name
02 Leave My Man Alone
03 Don't Do It
04 Old Man You're Slipping
05 Sittin' Here Drinking
06 I Ain't Nothin' But A Fool
07 Heartache Blues
08 You Ain't Nothin' But Trouble
09 Slave To Love
10 Gotta Stop Loving You
11 I'll Help You Baby
12 L & N Special
13 Every Night In The Week
14 Evil-Eyed Woman
15 The Price You Pay For Love
16 Snake In The Grass
17 Snake In The Grass
18 Lord Have Mercy (I'm So Lonely)
19 Sittin' Here Drinking Again
20 Black Cat Crossed My Trail
21 If You Ain't Sure
22 I'm Just What You're Looking For
23 I Thank Him
24 Mr. Big Wheel
25 Sittin' And Drinkin'
26 I'm A Woman
27 It's Nobody's Fault
28 Next Door To The Blues
29 Love Letters (Straight From My Heart)
30 Ain't Never Seen So Much Rain Before
31 Call His Name
Christine Kittrell Christine Kittrell was a big woman with a big voice. That ace songsmiths... more
"Christine Kittrell"

Christine Kittrell

Christine Kittrell was a big woman with a big voice. That ace songsmiths Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller apparently intended their I'm A Woman for Peggy Lee rather than Kittrell doesn't mean Christine's original reading isn't superior.

Born August 11, 1929 in Nashville, she went by the surname of Porter as a little girl and got started singing in Baptist churches. She wed Rufus Carrethers of the Fairfield Four at age 14, but neither the marriage nor her commitment to gospel music lasted for long. Christine was singing secular music at 17, gigging with saxist Louis Brooks' combo. She met second husband Hank Kittrell at the New Era Club, the same venue where she met songwriter Ted Jarrett in 1951.  He set up an audition with Tennessee Records, owned by Bill Beasley, cousins Alan and Reynold Bubis, and Howard Allison, and that fall, Kittrell began recording for Tennessee.

The following spring, Christine wrote the after-hours ode Sittin' Here Drinking. Though it never broke nationally, the platter was a strong regional seller, establishing Kittrell as a versatile blues chanteuse ripe for touring. Tennessee folded at year's end, but Beasley launched another imprint, Republic, and Kittrell picked up right where she left off. A '54 Republic date found Christine backed by Little Richard on piano. Splitting her time between Nashville and Chicago, Kittrell continued to tour, but sessions became sparse apart from a '58 date for Alan Bubis' Champion label. Jarrett produced the session, and he got Christine on Chicago's Vee-Jay Records in 1961, as he had his protégés Gene Allison and Larry Birdsong.

Kittrell only made two sessions for Vee-Jay A&R man Calvin Carter. Her first single paired Charlie Singleton's Mr. Big Wheel and a remade Sittin' And Drinking. Her '62 encore, like its predecessor done at Universal Recording on Chicago's near North Side, backed Christine with the label's fine house band: tenor saxists Red Holloway and Lucius 'Little Wash' Washington, baritone saxist McKinley Easton, trombonist Harlan Floyd, pianist Horace Palm, bassist Quinn Wilson, drummer Al Duncan, and crisp guitarist Lefty Bates. I'm A Woman swings easy and free as Kittrell struts her stuff with a non-stop barrage of clever boasts that Leiber and Stoller reportedly conceived for Peggy Lee. However Christine got her hands on the anthem—the resourceful Carter, perhaps—her original version emerged in July of '62. Lee's hit treatment didn't debut for several more months.

That July, Kittrell moved to Columbus, Ohio. She made her last important session in 1965 for Federal in Cincinnati, a typically classy affair that failed to provide her with the comeback vehicle she so richly deserved. While entertaining U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968, she was wounded by shrapnel, shelving her for a year. By 1970, Kittrell took a day job and abandoned show biz altogether, though she did unfurl her powerful pipes anew during the late '90s.

Christine Kittrell died December 19, 2001 from emphysema. Bear Family's splendid 'Call Her Name' brings together her entire catalog on one CD, underscoring the uncommon high quality of her discography. 

 

Bill Dahl
Chicago, Illinois

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23 May 2017

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Tracklist
Kittrell, Christine - Call Her Name CD 1
01 Call His Name
02 Leave My Man Alone
03 Don't Do It
04 Old Man You're Slipping
05 Sittin' Here Drinking
06 I Ain't Nothin' But A Fool
07 Heartache Blues
08 You Ain't Nothin' But Trouble
09 Slave To Love
10 Gotta Stop Loving You
11 I'll Help You Baby
12 L & N Special
13 Every Night In The Week
14 Evil-Eyed Woman
15 The Price You Pay For Love
16 Snake In The Grass
17 Snake In The Grass
18 Lord Have Mercy (I'm So Lonely)
19 Sittin' Here Drinking Again
20 Black Cat Crossed My Trail
21 If You Ain't Sure
22 I'm Just What You're Looking For
23 I Thank Him
24 Mr. Big Wheel
25 Sittin' And Drinkin'
26 I'm A Woman
27 It's Nobody's Fault
28 Next Door To The Blues
29 Love Letters (Straight From My Heart)
30 Ain't Never Seen So Much Rain Before
31 Call His Name