Songlines: ‘Can’t Hold Out Much Longer’ / ‘Crazy ’Bout You, Baby’

In May of 1952, during the sessions for what would be Little Walter’s first release under his own name on Checker Records, he and the band recorded two takes each of both ‘Juke’ and ‘Can’t Hold Out Much Longer’; the latter would be chosen as the B-side. 

Little Walter and His Night Cats

Little Walter: harmonica & vocal /

Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers: guitar /

Elgin Evans: drums

Recorded May 12, 1952, Chicago, IL

Released August 1952, B-side Checker single, ‘Juke

 Can’t Hold Out Much Longer (Little Walter) (2:59)

Walter’s friends Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers weave their guitar lines around one another providing a solid foundation for Walter’s vocal.  Walter drags out each word, as if extracting splinters from his soul. 

These four men had been playing together, in clubs and on record for quite a while by the time they made this recording and it shows in the break, with the guitarists taking turns handing off the lead as Walter repeatedly doubles back on his phrases as if he is struggling to make himself understood. 

Fourteen months earlier, another harmonica master, Sonny Boy Williamson II recorded his debut 78 for Trumpet Records.  Walter seems to have taken the chorus of his number from the B-side of Williamson’s debut, ‘Crazy About You Baby’. 

“You know I’m just crazy about you baby,

wonder do you ever think of me,

“You know I’m crazy about you baby,

 But you don’t care nothing in the world for me”

Other than that, the two songs could not be more dissimilar.  Where Williamson’s is a raucous, house rent party stomp, Walter’s is a slow tempo melancholy plea.

Walter’s B-side seems to have been obscured by the shadow of the A-side side for years.  It was anthologized on a “Best of Little Walter” Chess LP in 1957 (released in the U.K. in 1964) but it would not be reissued again until 1972.

George Smith recorded a close cover of the song on his “Blues With a Feeling (A Tribute To Little Walter)” in 1969 after Walter’s death but it was Ike and Tina Turner’s reworking of the song that same year that spurred a number of covers. 

Ironically, along with the new arrangement, Ike Turner changed the title to ‘Crazy ‘Bout You, Baby’ and this version and the ones that followed credited the song to W. Williamson*.

Ike & Tina Turner

Tina Turner: vocal /

(possibly) Ike Turner: guitar /

All other session personnel, recording date(s) unknown

Released on “Outta Season” (Blue Thumb 1969) /

B-side, Blue Thumb single June, 1969 (U.K.)

A-side, Liberty single July 1969 (U.K.)

Crazy ‘Bout You, Baby –

The harmonica accents that occasionally surface in the mix are all that remain to remind people of the song’s paternity (aside from the lyrics).  Ike’s arrangement is built on a Latin rhythm pattern (making it easy to dance to) and Tina’s vocal is all hunger; this is a woman who knows what she wants and is going to get it. 

Soon after its release as a single across the pond, someone, most likely Mike Vernon or her manager, picked up on Ike’s version and had Christine Perfect cut it for her debut solo release. 

Christine Perfect

Christine Perfect: vocal & Wurlizter electric piano /

Top Topham: guitar / Rick Hayward: guitar /

Martin Dunsford: bass / Chris Harding: drums & percussion

Unknown: tenor & baritone saxophone, trumpet & trombone (not credited)

Recorded either August or November of 1969 at CBS Studio, New Bond Street, London

Released, “Christine Perfect” (Blue Horizon) June 12, 1970

Crazy ’Bout You, Baby

A pleasant pop number, Perfect (wisely) makes no attempt at pushing for the passion or hunger displayed by Tina Turner; the electric piano is the featured instrument along with Harding’s drums and percussion. 

The break, and the accents provided by the uncredited horn section offer glimpse of the potential in the number, but everyone seems intent on not making too much of a fuss, their politeness siphoning off any energy, creating the equivalent of aural wallpaper.  

It is interesting to consider why they didn’t return to Walter’s original arrangement of the song (or something close to it) as it is far better suited to her vocal style and could be seen as a natural follow-up to her “break-out” hit ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’.

Perfect, or the band members of Fleetwood Mac saw the potential of the song in this arrangement, reworking it again and making it the opening number for their first tour without Peter Green in the summer of 1970.

This audience recording, despite the rough sound, captures how the number was crafted into a showcase for the “new” band’s three leads. 

Fleetwood Mac

Christine McVie: piano & vocals /

Danny Kirwan: guitar / Jeremy Spencer: guitar /

John McVie: bass / Mick Fleetwood: drums

Recorded live at the Fillmore East, NYC August 28, 1970

Crazy ‘Bout You, Baby (7:44) –

Perfect sings two verses and a chorus and then Spencer steps forward for an extended break.  The recording favors Kirwan in the mix, making it a little difficult to appreciate Spencer’s contributions.

Kirwan takes a slightly shorter break later on in the number and the two engage in a bit of two guitar dueling towards the end, aligning it more closely with what audiences had come to expect from Green-era Fleetwood Mac.

Around the time that Fleetwood Mac began this tour, Elvin Bishop’s second LP, “Feel It!”  would have been in shops.  It too had a cover of the song.  The studio recording emphasizes the Latin undercurrent of Ike Turner’s arrangement, recruiting Chipeto Areas and Michael Carabello from Santana to play the timbales and congas on the track.   

Despite the busyness of the arrangement, the number is strangely stagnant, failing to build any tension, undermining any sense of release.  Vocalist Jo Baker is left to carry the weight and she is simply not a strong enough soul singer to pull it off, relying on raspy shouting in an attempt to build a sense of excitement.

There is footage of the band performing the number in September of 1970 at the Fillmore East from the film “Welcome to the Fillmore” with the band reworking the arrangement with far superior results.

The Elvin Bishop Group

Jo Baker: vocal / Elvin Bishop: guitar /

Stephen Miller: organ /

Kip Maercklein: bass / John Chambers: drums /

Recorded September 23, 1970 at the Fillmore East

Available at The Music Vault: 

Crazy ‘Bout You, Baby (6:59) –

The energy level has been increased dramatically.  Losing the percussionists has the effect of freeing the other musicians; their contributions can now be heard more clearly and Bishop’s guitar is added to the mix to excellent effect. 

They almost double the length of the studio recording but where the earlier take felt padded this one flows naturally.  The rhythm section keeps the number at a steady boil and Miller’s organ break and Bishop’s shorter guitar break each smoothly increase the heat. 

And while Baker was no match for Tina Turner (especially in a live setting) no one was.  With the instruments now powering the number, she could relax a bit and sing more naturally. 

Back in England, the band recorded the song at one of their first BBC sessions – the cleaner, balanced, recording allows us to appreciate the new arrangement much more easily than the live versions available

Playing the song on a nightly basis for three months has tightened the band’s sound and they lock into the groove and simply let rip.  A great performance.

Fleetwood Mac

Christine McVie: piano & vocals /

Danny Kirwan: guitar / Jeremy Spencer: guitar /

John McVie: bass / Mick Fleetwood: drums

BBC Session – Radio One Club –

Recorded November 10, 1970

Available on: Madison Blues – Live and Studio Recordings (Secret Records 2003)

Crazy ‘Bout You, Baby (3:52) –

With a faster tempo than even the live recordings, Perfect now sounds engaged with the song.  Fleetwood’s furious drumming forces her to keep up and compete with Kirwan’s guitar.  Kirwan’s tone is still more shrill than what he normally employed but his playing here is a highlight of the performance.  Spencer stays in the background but he finds the open spaces in which to drop in little accents to excellent effect. 

*Because Sonny Boy Williamson II recorded a song with the title ‘Crazy About You Baby’ with the same stanza, people assume that the credit is for Williamson II; but the credit reads “Willie Williamson”, which refers to neither of the two Sonny Boys. 

I believe this was a pseudonym for Turner. 

Either way, the covers feature Little Walter’s lyrics, set to Ike Turner’s arrangement, credited to (possibly) Sonny Boy Williamson II!

When the studio recording of the song from Christine Perfect’s debut appeared on “The Blue Horizon Story: 1965 – 1970 Vol. 1” the credit was corrected and most of the subsequent releases containing the BBC and live recordings by Fleetwood Mac credit Little Walter Jacobs.

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