As the liner notes to this compilation explain, "The chief purpose of this CD is to reissue the remaining Modern masters that were originally issued in Spoon's name and that have so far not been digitized by Ace."
So while the CD's subtitle, "The Modern Recordings 1947-1953," might lead you to assume that this could be a retrospective with all or the best material Jimmy Witherspoon cut for the Modern label during that period, be aware that it's actually a mix of some of his Modern 45s with some previously unissued outtakes and alternates. Since not all Witherspoon or R&B fans collect the singer's Modern work, by acquiring his Ace CD reissues (or keep track of what's been reissued on which of those), it might be best for the general listener to treat this anthology as a respectable, but hardly definitive, collection of some of the sides he cut for Modern during the late '40s and early '50s. These don't include his biggest sellers from the time (some of which weren't recorded for Modern in any case), but it's a decent assortment with roughly equal proportions of both uptempo R&B/jump blues, and ballads, if not a collection that includes any of his top signature tunes. They're hardly highlights, but a couple gospel sides from a 1953 single issued on Modern's gospel label stand out as anomalous changes of pace, though Witherspoon doesn't sound comfortable working with a background choir on these. Better is the title track, a 1953 45 penned by the then-emerging young songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, which has tempo changes and some Latin rhythmic influence that anticipates the more varied R&B variations soon to blossom in 1950s rock & roll. Leiber and Stoller also wrote its flipside, "Oh Mother, Dear Mother" (also included), which exhibits a clear Fats Domino influence.
Richie Unterberger ~ AllMusicGuide
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