Wednesday, September 24, 2008
It's Great Shakes Radio #4 - R&B Dance Party
Hello, a happy middle of the week. I hope that everyone enjoyed Vincent's excellent mix, last week. Once again, I want to thank him for stopping by and sharing it with us. Please do check out Fufu Stew for more of the same.
Today, I'm drawing my inspiration from Vincent's mix and presenting my first podcast since this past January, namely It's Great Shakes Radio #4. Here are 22 R&B spins from the mid 1950's to the mid 1960's, all taken from (sometimes scratchy) 45's. I hope that you enjoy it.
1. Thurston Harris - Be Baba Leba (Aladdin)
I first heard this on one of the garagepunk.com forum comps and knew that I needed a copy for myself. Lucky me, I found it reasonably priced at one of the recent record shows. I'm not sure of the origins of "Be Baba Leba" but it's closely tied to Helen Humes, who recorded it in about 1945.
2. Harmonica Fats - I Get So Tired (Darcey)
Can't say enough about this one, a pick-up at the most recent record show. Both sides are great r&b blues. Maybe I'll feature "Tore Up" sometime in the future. Anyway, there seem to be plenty of copies of this floating around on eBay and the like.
3. Jessie Hill - Whip It On Me (Minit)
Is it possible to have enough Jessie Hill 45's? I guess maybe if you had them all. "Whip It On Me" is one of his earlier sides for Minit, still on the older, orange label style. The flip of this, "I Need Your Love", isn't any slouch either.
4. Pancho Villa - Bobby's Guitar (Arliss)
Two records and two winners on the Arliss label. After finding the strong "I'm Your Slave" by Jeanie Allen earlier in the year, this Pancho Villa 45 presented itself earlier this month. While the Allen number is a rocker, "Bobby's Guitar" is an excellent, blues based, r&b instrumental, a la Freddy King.
5. Donnie Elbert - Hear My Plea (DeLuxe)
Here's Donnie Elbert with that patented high-pitched vocal that he'd carry with him right on into the 1970's, when he'd have some success on the pop chart, while remaking Motown hits. I picked "Hear My Plea" to go here because it sounded liked it belonged right after the Pancho Villa tune.
6. Buddy Johnson - Bring it Home To Me (Mercury)
If you haven't acquainted yourself with Buddy Johnson, do yourself a favor and start now. His records seem to spring up regularly and never cost more than a few bucks. Here, his sister Ella handles vocal duties, as she did on many of his best sides. "Bring It Home To Me" is prime r&b out of the big band tradition and my favorite Buddy Johnson disc, so far.
7. Nappy Brown - Skidy Woe (Savoy)
I finished making up this podcast yesterday, only to read a couple of hours later that Nappy Brown had passed away on September 20th at the age of 78. Maybe this can serve as a tribute to him in some small way. I have several of his Savoy singles, with this recent find being among my favorites. RIP Nappy.
8. Gene Allison - Somebody, Somewhere (Calvert)
I've had this record for a year or two and have been wanting to get it up on the blog. From 1956, I believe this was Gene Allison's first release and only one for the Calvert label. He'd go on to make many more records up to about 1970.
9. Jimmy McCracklin - The Wobble (Mercury)
In a career that stretches back to the mid 1940's, Jimmy McCracklin has to be a contender for making good records on the most different labels. The best of them have that great, jumpin' r&b sound. Here's one of them from 1959, "The Wobble".
10. The Upsetters - Jaywalking (Fire)
Brian blogged this record ages ago. I'm now pleased to present it here, so everyone can hear it for themselves. Better late than never, I suppose. Anyway, The Upsetters were Little Richard's backing band. "Jaywalking" is an instrumental with a few one liners and maniacal laughs tossed in for good measure. Oh, and there's a flute solo, somewhat unusual for a record like this.
11. Bill Robinson & the Quails - The Cow (American)
Bill Robinson & the Quails go back at least to 1954 on the DeLuxe record label. Here they are several years later in 1963 with a great, mid-tempo, r&b dance tune. I'm not sure of the hit status of "The Cow", although it made this WQAM (Miami) year-end survey. Funny to see it nestled in between Elvis and Allan Sherman.
12. Betty Lavett - Shut Your Mouth (Atlantic)
From what I can gather, this was Betty Lavett's first single, released in 1962. That means she would have been just 16 years old at the time. It seems that she's still going strong today. "Shut Your Mouth" is another mid-tempo, r&b gem, with a great vocal.
13. Betty Everett - Hands Off (Vee-Jay)
From one Betty to another, here's a record collecting lesson in always flipping over those hits. Here we have the b-side of Everett's huge "The Shoop Shoop Song". That's right, the outstanding "Hands Off" is just lurking over on the other side, waiting for someone to play it. Being the record's hit status, it ought to be an easy and cheap find. Thanks to Brian Marshall for cluing me in on this one.
14. Johnnie & Joe - Shortening Bread (Lana)
Lana Records was a 1960's era label that specialized is reissues and re-recordings of previous hits. Here, Johnnie & Joe" reprise their "Over The Mountain, Across The Sea" on the a-side. The big mystery is this terrific version of "Shortening Bread" on the flip. It doesn't look to have appeared before this Lana release. I'm not sure whether it's something that was left over from their Chess days or if Johnnie & Joe recorded it especially for this single. Either way, it's a winner.
15. Chet "Poison" Ivey - 'Tater Patch (Atco)
Chet "Poison" Ivey is a little tough to get a handle on. He recorded for several labels right on through the 1960's. "'Tater Patch" is one of his early releases, perhaps even his first, from 1959. It's a revved-up dance tune, with lots of piano, sax and some cool guitar. "The Slop", on the flipside, is also a winner.
16. Round Robin - The Roundest of Them All (Domain)
Up to a couple of months ago, I'd never heard of Round Robin. Now, I have a couple of his records. This was the first, found on my vacation trip to California. It's a great, upbeat dance number from 1964. I've also seen footage of him performing this song on Shindig!
17. Willard Burton - The Twistin' Twist (Peacock)
I don't know a lot about Willard Burton. One thing I do know is that I like this record a lot, from the whoops and hollers, to the great, wailing organ and sax. I found this disc at a local flea market a few months back for just a couple of bucks. It has "1962" written on the sleeve. So there you go.
18. Roosevelt Grier - Deputy Dog (Youngstown)
You learn something new every day. I found this record just last week, digging in the backroom of a record store. I wondered if it was the same "Deputy Dog" that Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs recorded for one of their albums. On arriving home and giving this a spin, I found that it's indeed the same song. Not only that, but I also noticed that Roosevelt Grier, himself, is given songwriting credit. Sure enough, a quick check of Sam the Sham's Little Red Riding Hood LP confirmed that he's credited there too. There's barely any mention of this disc on the net, as it shows up in a discography or two and that's about it. Doesn't anyone know about this thing? From about 1966.
19. Noble "Thin Man" Watts - The Beaver (Cub)
Noble "Thin Man" Watts is probably best known for his string of singles for the Baton label during the mid to late 1950's, instrumentals like "Blast Off", "Flap Jack" and "Hard Times (The Slop)". Here's one from just after that, from 1960. I seem to have scored a lot of things on the Cub label recently and this is one of the best of that bunch.
20. Rochell & the Candles - Hey, Pretty Baby (Swingin')
I've had this record for several years and have wanted to get it blogged. It's a pretty great r&b rocker from 1961, complete with guitar break. Rochell & the Candles had a few other singles for the Swingin' label, none of which I've heard. I wonder if any of them are as good as this one?
21. Baby Cortez - Honey Baby (OKeh)
Dave "Baby" Cortez is most closely identified with his series of organ instrumentals released for labels like Clock and Chess during the 1960's. Occasionally, he'd sneak in a vocal number and here's an early one from him, dating back to 1958. It's a really good r&b rocker with a guitar break. The flipside of this, "You Give Me Heebie Jeebies" is a Little Richard styled rave-up.
22. Sonny & Jaycee - You Keep Doggin' Me (Ember)
Here's another one from 1958. I can't get much of a handle on this record, outside of the fact that it was Sonny Terry and J.C. Burris, with perhaps some help from Sticks McGhee tossed in. It's one of those discs that seems to have fallen between the cracks which is a shame, as it's really good. Good enough, in fact, to close out this edition of It's Great Shakes Radio.