Willie Dixon’s 1988 Hidden Charms was one of the first non-compilation blues CDs I bought and I have a great fondness for the album. Although a prominent bassist and producer at Chess Records, Dixon is more remembered as the composer of many blues classics like I Can’t Quit You Baby, Little Red Rooster, Hoochie Coochie Man, I Just Want To Make Love To You and many more tunes covered by late 1960s bands from Led Zeppelin to the Rolling Stones (check out Wikipedia’s article on Willie Dixon).
Generally not considered an essential or great blues album by diehard blues fans, the music on Hidden Charms is nonetheless very listenable and won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Recording in 1988. The songs on the album aren’t of the more popular blues rock variety but all the tracks offer a groovy sound. Featuring an all star band of Chess session musicians Dixon had worked with from the 1950s and 1960s mixed with some newer talents like Sugar Blue (on harp), the performances on the songs are understated but very tasteful. In particular, one can hear great rapport between guitarist Cash McCall, pianist Lafeyette Leake and Sugar Blue on I Cry For You (the highlight of the CD for me) and I Do The Job. Jazz bassist Red Callender provides classy bass lines that provides tracks like Don’t Mess With The Messer and I Don’t Trust Myself with an old school swinging big band sound.
It is also worth mentioning that the sound quality on the Hidden Charms CD is excellent. Highly recommended.