Milt B’s “Mod Popcorn R&B”

Philip Paul‘s stellar stick work really drives this “killer” instrumental version of “Fever” that features organ (Milt Buckner) and vibes (Gene Redd) — recorded at Cincinnati’s King Studios on March 5, 1963:

“Fever”     Milt Buckner     1963

Organ:  Milt Buckner
Drums:  Philip Paul
Bass:    Bill Willis
Vibes:   Gene Redd

“Fever” — rightly selected as the A-side of a 1963 single release on King subsidiary, Bethlehem (paired with “Why Don’t You Do Right“) — would be characterized 54 years later as “Mod Popcorn R&B” when sold at auction.

“Fever” would also be one of the highlights of 1963 long-playing release The New World of Milt Buckner, an album produced by Hal Neely, arranged by Gene Redd and Milt Buckner, and engineered by Chuck Seitz. (with cover design by Joseph F. Wood).  2013 would see the album reissued on compact disc in Japan.

Milt Buckner’s Organ:  Too Hot?

Milt Buckner’s “hot” organ – as CrownPropeller’s Blog humorously relates – would reach “fever pitch” at a Chicago night club, The Eden Roc, in 1962 the year prior.

Jet  – July 19, 1962 issue – courtesy of CrownPropeller Blog

“Fever” & Strings: Little Willie John Gets the Last Word

1995’s King R&B Box Set yielded a couple other rarities in addition to Hank Ballard’s unreleased piece of mod soul – such as this rare strings version of Little Willie John’s biggest (and hugely influential) hit, “Fever”:

Somewhere in my archive of Mojo back issues there’s a small piece with Dr. John recounting his days under the tutelage of Cosimo Matassa at J&M Studios in New Orleans and mentioning that “Fever” – recorded March 1, 1956 at the King studios in Cincinnati – had a particularly great drum sound that was envied at the time.

Fever - Little Willie John LP

“Fever” – written by Eddie Cooley & Otis Blackwell and recorded first by Little Willie John – has been covered by a diverse array of artists from Peggy Lee, Elvis, and Ray Charles to The Jam, The Cramps, and Tom Verlaine.