Little Milton – More and More


Little Milton


Listen – More and More MP3″

As we speak – at this particular moment, and no other, because we live in an ever changing world where each ticking second is in some way unique – all is well. While I can’t say that I’ve gotten caught up on my sleep (a never ending chase, akin to a snail catching up with a cheetah), I did get a couple of extra hours of slumber under my belt last night, and as a result – if not totally refreshed – I no longer have the mental acuity of a slice of burnt toast.
It’s finally starting to cool off roundabout these parts, and I don’t know what those of you who live in perpetually warm climates think, but I find cool breezes and turning leaves to be refreshing, in all ways. What better time then to whip out a very tasty slice of bluesy soul (or soul-y blues as the case may be) by the late great James Milton Campbell, known to fans of good grease the world over as Little Milton.
While I am in no way an expert on Little Milton, I will tell you that his mid-60’s powerhouse ‘Grits Ain’t Groceries’ (a retitled version of the Titus Turner classic, recorded by Little Willie John as ‘All Around the World’*), a real party-starter, is one of my favorite Chicago soul cuts.
Though he was born in Mississippi, he first recorded with Ike Turner in Memphis (for the Sun label) before hooking up with Checker in 1961. he would stay with that label until the early 70’s, after which he moved on to Stax (until 1975), then Glades for a few years after that, and then finally to Malaco where he recorded through much of the 80’s. Sadly he passed away in 2005 after suffering a stroke.
Not too long ago, I was listening to one of Mr. Finewine’s archived ‘Downtown Soulville’ shows (on the WFMU web site) and heard today’s selection, which he had included in a 2005 memorial tribute set, dedicated to Little Milton. Like I said on Monday, it was one of those records that as soon as I heard it, I needed to have one of my own.
The tune, which was written by a mysterious pair named Don Juan and Vee Pee Smith would later be covered by Blood Sweat and Tears. Listening to the Little Milton original, it’s not hard to see why David Clayton-Thomas wanted to cover it, as it’s right up his (and the bands) stylistic alley. They take it at a much faster pace, in which the tune loses a little bit of its built-in funk, but it’s still worth a listen.
Much like ‘Grits Ain’t Groceries’, ‘More and More’ (which was a Top 50 R&B hit in 1967) has a decidedly funk underpinning to it’s soul groove. Milton’s vocals and guitar work are outstanding, and I really love the way the horns (arranged by none other than Charles Stepney**) build under the guitar riff at the beginning of the record.
Fortunately, much of Little Milton’s best work is available in reissue, and for the most part his Checker 45s aren’t too hard to come by at reasonable prices.

*The first version I ever heard of ‘All Around the World’ was recorded by the Fleshtones in 1981 and released as the b-side of ‘The World Has Changed’. It was years before I realized that the tune had long R&B roots. The Fleshtones take on the tune is absolutely kick-ass, and if you can find it (it was last reissued in 1989 on ‘Living Legend Series: The Fleshtones’) , I think you’ll dig it.

** I originally typed “Richard Stepney” (got my Richard Evans/Charles Stepney wires crossed) and was alerted to the mistake by a reader (Thanks!).

6 Responses to “Little Milton – More and More”

  1. allen Says:

    I think you mean Charles Stepney, one of Chess’ house arrangers. Great tune, kinda like some Otis’ funkier joints.

  2. funky16corners Says:

    Thanks for the catch Allen. I guess I was thinking about Richard Evans and Charles Stepney at the same time.

  3. The Stepfather of Soul! Says:

    A lot of Chess soul material from that time had that subtle funk thing going on. Robert Pruter has wrote (and Jerry Butler mentioned in “Only the Strong Survive”) that there wasn’t a “Chicago sound” the way that Memphis or Detroit had a “sound,” and they are correct to a point – that Chess “subtle funk” always sticks out to me.

  4. stewart Says:

    Damn! Thanks for pulling that one out. I’ve not heard it in a few years and i had been meaning to digitise my 45 of it for some time now. There were quite a few Little Milton 45s around this time that were almost as good as this. Well worth looking them out. Tracks such as ‘Just A Little Bit’ and ‘Spring’ come to mind.

  5. darcy Says:

    In the UK this track was recently brought to the attention of the masses (me included) when it was featured in a KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) advert. That was a great series of adverts, all featuring soul classics (most with a Northern bent). Their recent ad campaigns haven’t come close to matching that series.

  6. Allen Avila Says:

    I got a blast listening to the original version of more and more by Little Milton.

    I remember when I heard the tune for the first time from an album called “Blood, sweat , and tears” back in 1971. At this party at a place on a
    Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder (I also remember the guy having trouble getting the reel-to-reel tape set up right). The first notes that boomed the party were these of the opening track in that album: “More, and more… all the time…”. That evening I was pretty stoned, but not so much that could forget that first, lasting impression. The Blood, Sweat, and Tears version had more of a brass fringe but Little Milton’s seems to have more powerfull vocals. Congrats for your blog. I’ve visited only about twice, and you can already count it among my favorites.

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