Cora Anne Walton, best known as Koko Taylor, came from being the daughter of a sharecropper in Tennessee to become one of the many singers on the early 50’s Chicago blues scene. First arriving with her truck driving husband in 1952, she was discovered by Chess Records talent scout/songwriter/session player extraordinaire Willie Dixon. She made her first singles during the 60’s. Including her first version of Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle”. While she got her first recording contract later in the decade from Alligator Records, Taylor’s best known musical outlet was through her live performances.
My parents both saw Koko Taylor perform twice in the early 1990’s. It was at the Hauck Auditorium at the University of Maine. My mother, normally not a concert fan, described Taylor as one of the most powerful stage presences she’d ever experienced. Through a blog dealing with the printed word, the sensations of the live concert experience isn’t always possible to convey with great accuracy. So it seemed appropriate to focus on one of her studio recordings that came close to capturing Taylor’s presence. One of them is the opening track of her 1969 debut album entitled “Love You Like A Woman”.
The songs groove consists of a heavy funky drum at the heart of the music. The rhythm guitar plays some chunky lines surrounded every little break in the rhythm. The bass plays an elaborate set of runs and walk downs whenever the rhythm needs it. Throughout most of the song, the horn section plays the roll of accentuating Taylor’s vocal leads. On the chorus of the song, the horns play a more sustained and melodic role in the song. The drums and a chicken scratch style of guitar makes up the a B section to that chorus. Several chorus/refrain sequences are played out before the song fades out.
“Love You Like A Woman” is a late 60’s song that encompasses that era in black American music very thoroughly. The song surely has soul-with its right on time message of a lady having to rule the roost in a household. Its also played with the utmost amount of funk-instrumentally influenced by the approach of James Brown and Stax. Structurally however, the song is all the way 12 bar electric blues. Much as with her contemporary Etta James, Koko Taylor was (especially with the help of Willie Dixon) able to show the versatility of the blues form in the era when soul and funk music was ascendant.