12 O'Clock Track: Little Willie John, "I'm Shakin'"

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Little Willie John had his way with the R&B charts from 1955 to '61, his years at Cincinnati's King Records, racking up 17 Top 40 hits—plus a few that broke into the pop charts, including his biggest smash, the finger-snapping "Fever" from 1956. His 1960 tune "I'm Shakin'" was released as the flip of his string-sopped version of the pop standard "A Cottage for Sale," which reached number 63 on the pop chart but couldn't make a dent on the R&B side. Time has made clear that "I'm Shakin'" was the real keeper on that record, and I got a reminder of that when I heard Jack White's terrific cover on Blunderbuss. White hams it up, exaggerating John's pronunciation of nervous as "noy-vous," but it's clearly a loving and sincere tribute. Today's 12 O'Clock Track is John's original version, which turns up on a useful new two-CD anthology of his King singles called Complete Hit Singles: A's & Bs (Real Gone Music).

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