It's been awhile since I've done one of these. Just thought I'd let you know what's spinning here at It's Great Shakes headquarters. So far, 2006 has been a bang up year indeed for finding killer 45's. And all of these have arrived within the last three weeks or so, since my Indy report last month.
1. Jimmy Shaw - "Big Chief Hug-Um An Kiss-Um"/"Take A Chance On Me" (Imperial) What can one say about this record? This is the first single from The Mighty Hannibal, released under his real name in 1958. Anyone who's heard these via Norton's Hannibalism compilation needs no introduction. Neither did I, but it's great to have the original artifact and blast it through the house. Both sides are pure, knock your socks off, rockin' rhythm and blues. One of the greatest two-siders to grace my collection.
2. Big Sambo and The House Wreckers - "At The Party" (Eric) Whew, almost any other month, this one would top the charts. It's every bit as great as the band name and title make it look. "At The Party" is uptempo, drenched in sax and designed for dancing. The flipside of this, the original version of "The Rains Came" charted in 1962.
3. Ronnie Gallant - "Shake, Shake, Baby" (Atlantic) This was a $1 antique store find and it'd be pretty tough to get a bigger bang for my buck. Great, stompin' r&b from 1962. Devotees of "Twist and Shout" and "Do You Love Me" will dig this, plus Gallant's growl only adds to the proceedings.
4. Dee Jay and The Runaways - "He's Not Your Friend" (Smash) I see their "Peter Rabbit", also on Smash, all of the time but this is the first time I've spied a copy of this one. Here, we have excellent, 60's teen garage, with some very cool guitar and lots of great pop hooks. A terrific record and loads of fun to boot.
5. Jon Thomas - "Hey, Hey, Baby!" (ABC-Paramount) Not to be confused with the above "Shake, Shake, Baby", this is still more killer, rockin' r&b, with lots of pumping organ and a cool sax break. Thomas' voice is in the Joe Turner camp, most wailing.
6. Bill Pinkney - "I Do The Jerk" (Fontana) I first read about this one on Dave's excellent Three-Sixty-Five 45's blog (see link on this page) and, voila!, there it was at the flea market the other day. Pinkney goes way back to the original 1950's era Drifters. This record is from the mid-1960's. It's a terrific, uptempo dance number, with gritty vocals. That it's a James Brown production only helps, I'm sure. About the only thing that could improve it is if the guitar cut loose a little bit, like if it got it's own break. Oh well, this still rates way up there with me.
7. The Trophies - "Baby Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (Kapp) Given the dearth of 1960's garage singles floating around, it's always a pleasure to stumble on something like this. Even better, is that it cost only 50 cents to find out just how good it is. "Baby Doesn't Live Here Anymore" is a real pounder, with lots of harmonica and some good guitar on the break. It also has a nice hook.
8. Lavern Baker - "Saved" (Atlantic) Somehow, I have a lucky knack for finding Lavern Baker records on the cheap. Over the last year plus, I've run across seven or eight of her 45's and none have cost more than a buck or two. Here's the latest installment, a terrific, uptempo raver, with lots of pounding drums, a call and response backing chorus and an overall gospel feel. "Don Juan" on the flip ain't no slouch either.
9. The Mints - "Night Air" (Imperial) I did some poking around online and found out to my surprise this quartet (also known as the Four Mints) were a bunch of white guys. Surprising becuase they sure did a nice job of recording some convincing r&b slop in the form of "Night Air". It's a fine, upbeat jumper, with a cool sax break from the most rockin' year of 1957. Also, this is oddly the flipside of a Ken Copeland single for whatever reason.
10. Mel Brown - "Chicken Fat" (Impulse!) Given the label, I thought this might be jazz, as I didn't know anything about Mel Brown. Of course, a tune called "Chicken Fat" is always worth investigating. Turns out this is mid-tempo blues guitar, a la those 60's Lonnie Mack singles on Fraternity, with some organ thrown in for good measure. Good and a tad funky too.