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Billy Stewart One More Time: The Chess Years

1 rating: 4.0
1990 audio CD release

Put on Billy Stewart's One More Time: The Chess Years. When you hear Bo Diddley's opening guitar on "Billy Blues," you know you're listening to something special. Billy Stewart ices the cake with a hiccupping, apologetic vocal. That lovely guitar melody … see full wiki

Tags: Music, Albums, R&b, Jazz, Soul, R & B
1 review about Billy Stewart One More Time: The Chess Years

Such a gifted performer; one wonders what might have been.

  • Dec 9, 2008
Rating:
+4
Like Little Willie John and Jesse Belvin before him, Billy Stewart remains a largely unknown and vastly underrated figure in the history of R&BBilly Stewart was discovered by the legendary Bo Diddley who was so impressed by his ability to play the piano that he asked Billy to join his band back in 1956.  Diddley even got Stewart a recording contract with his record label Chess and Billy recorded "Billy's Blues".  That one went virtually unnoticed and Billy Stewart would not venture back into the studio for another seven years.

In my opinion, "One More Time: The Chess Years" is and always has been the best Billy Stewart collection available.  For when Billy resumed recording at Chess in 1962 he made several outstanding and really unique records.  Most oldies fans will probably recall a couple of Billy's earliest hits including "I Do Love You" and the magnificent "Sitting In The Park" from the golden year 1964.  But Billy wanted to appeal to a wider audience and was willing to take chances to achieve that goal.  In 1966 he recorded the LP "Billy Stewart Teaches Old Standards New Tricks". The first single released from that album was Billy's rollicking interpretation of the George Gershwin classic "Summertime".   I think Ol' George would have approved.   That tune would go on to become one of the surprise hits of 1966.   It was dynamite!   "One More Time: The Chess Years" offers the album version of that song which is nearly five minutes long.  The follow-up single to "Summertime" was Billy's remake of the great Doris Day hit "Secret Love".  I have always enjoyed that one as well.  Billy Stewart had about a dozen songs appear on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1962 and 1969.  Of the songs you are probably not familiar with I would recommend the uptempo "Because I Love You" as well as "Sugar and Spice", a tune that would remind you quite a bit of Marvin Gaye's "Pride and Joy".  This should not be surprising as Marvin and Billy worked together frequently in the Washington D.C. area in the late 50's and early 60's.

"One More Time; The Chess Years" offers the listener a nice retrospective on the tragically short career of this talented artist. In January 1970, Stewart's car ran off a road in North Carolina and plunged into a river killing him and three members of his band.  Billy Stewart was not a particularly prolific recording artist.  He much preferred performing "live" and devoted most of his energy to that.  Although we can never know, Billy Stewart most likely would have wound up pursuing a career in jazz.  He possessed all the attributes of a great jazz artist.  If you have never heard him sing anything but his signature song "Summertime" you owe it to yourself to give this disc a listen.  You will not be disappointed.    Highly recommended.
Stewart 1 Stewart 2

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