Sunday, 29 September 2013

Roy Brown - Hard Luck Blues

 
 
 
Volume One
 
Side One
1. Hard Luck Blues
2. Good Rockin' Man
3. Ain't It A Shame
4. Love Don't Love Nobody
5. I've Got The Last Laugh Now
6. Trouble At Midnight
 
Side Two
1. Boogie At Midnight
2. Travelin' Man
3. Ain't Got No Blues Today
4. Wrong Woman Blues
5. Queen Of Diamonds
6. Worried Life Blues
 
Volume Two
 
Side One
1. Ain't No Rockin' No More
2. Letter From Home
3. Beautician Blues
4. Long About Sundown
5. Bar Room Blues
 
Side Two
1. Train Time Blues
2. Sweet Peach
3. Double Crossin' Woman
4. Lonesome Lover
5. Big Town
 
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It's time to post another of those Gusto double LP sets which I used to pick up cheaply in a Glasgow department store way back around 1978 or 9. And it’s also time to pay tribute to one of the major figures of vintage R&B, Roy Brown. He was the original good rockin’ man, being the composer of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” which he pitched unsuccessfully to Wynonie Harris in 1947. Roy was signed by DeLuxe Records of New Jersey and recorded the song himself, achieving a substantial R&B hit in 1948. However a cover version by Harris outsold the original and to add insult to injury Harris had another R&B hit with a cover of the B side of Roy’s disc, “Lolly Pop Mama.”
 
Roy’s singing style was very different from that of Harris and the other blues shouters of the time. His vocals were much more overtly influenced by gospel, indeed Roy’s earliest musical performances had been with a gospel group, and he was more of a blues “crier” than a shouter. His passionate, torridly emotional delivery was a big influence on B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Clyde McPhatter and any number of singers whose style is retrospectively considered to be an early manifestation of soul singing.
 
He was also a big influence on Elvis Presley who recorded a version of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” for Sun Records. I’ve always found it interesting to compare “Hard Luck Blues” with “Heartbreak Hotel.” The songs are similarly structured and surely Elvis’ emotional delivery of a tale of woe is largely inspired by Roy’s overwrought performance on the even more desolate “Hard Luck Blues.”
 
Roy had a string of big R&B hits between 1948 and 1951 and it should be remembered that not only did he sing on the mix of poignant blues and wild rockers which constituted his chart topping oeuvre, he wrote them too. He was backed by some of the best jump bands around, including his own Mighty Mighty Men and the Tiny Bradshaw and Griffin Brothers outfits. But from 1952 onwards there were no more hits on the DeLuxe label which had been bought out by King Records in 1948.
 
It has been said that Roy’s successful lawsuit which he took out against King over royalty payments had something to do with the situation, but despite the dispute King continued to record and release very strong material by Roy. It may be that like many of his contemporaries, Roy was a victim of changing fashions within the R&B world, with a younger generation preferring vocal groups to aging blues singers.
 
His last hits were for Imperial Records in 1957 with covers of Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll” and Fats Domino’s “Let The Four Winds Blow.” There was a brief and fruitless return to King and Roy’s singing career gradually faded. He continued to record and perform intermittently throughout the 60’s and 70’s and unlike so many other performers of post war rhythm and blues he was able to take advantage of the revival of interest in vintage R&B which started to take hold in the late 1970s /early 1980s. Tragically he died at the young age of 55 in 1981. Had he lived longer he would assuredly have spent many years touring the blues and rock’n’roll festivals where he would have received the acclaim of new generations of fans.
 
 
Listen to some highlights from “Hard Luck Blues”:
 

 
The tracks, recording dates and original release numbers:
 
1. Hard Luck Blues – Recorded in Cincinnati, April 19th, 1950. DeLuxe 3304 (no. 1 R&B 1950)

2. Good Rockin' Man – Recorded in Cincinnati, January 16th, 1951. DeLuxe 3319

3. Ain't It A Shame – Recorded in New Orleans, May 27th, 1954. King 4731

4. Love Don't Love Nobody – Recorded in Cincinnatti, June 15th, 1950. DeLuxe 3306 (no. 2 R&B 1950)

5. I've Got The Last Laugh Now – Recorded in Cincinnati, January 16th, 1951. DeLuxe 3323

6. Trouble At Midnight – Recorded in Miami, December 15th, 1953. King 4704

7. Boogie At Midnight - Recorded in Dallas, September 20th, 1949. DeLuxe 3300 (no. 3 R&B 1949)

8. Travelin' Man – Recorded in New Orleans, December  18th, 1952. King 4602

9. Ain't Got No Blues Today – Recorded in Cincinnati, May 7th, 1959. King 5333

10. Wrong Woman Blues – Recorded in Cincinnati, January 16th, 1951. DeLuxe 3313

11. Queen Of Diamonds – Recorded in New Orleans, May 27th, 1954. King 4761

12. Worried Life Blues – Recorded in New Orleans, September 2nd, 1954. King 4743

13. Ain't No Rockin' No More – Recorded in New Orleans, May 27th, 1954. King 5247

14. Letter From Home – Recorded in New Orleans, December 19th, 1952. King 4684

15. Beautician Blues – Recorded in Cincinnati, June 23nd, 1950. DeLuxe 3313

16. Long About Sundown – Recorded in Cincinnati, June 22nd, 1950. DeLuxe 3308 (no. 8 R&B 1950)

17. Bar Room Blues – Recorded in Cincinnati, June 22nd, 1950. DeLuxe 3319 (no. 6 R&B 1951)

18. Train Time Blues – Recorded in Cincinnati, June 22nd, 1950. DeLuxe 3318

19. Sweet Peach - Recorded in Cincinnati, April 19th, 1950. DeLuxe 3312

20. Double Crossin' Woman – Recorded in Cincinnati, June 23nd, 1950. DeLuxe 3311

21. Lonesome Lover – Recorded in Cincinnati, September 27th, 1951. King 4689

22. Big Town – Recorded in Cincinnati, January 16th, 1951. DeLuxe 3318 (no. 8 R&B 1951)

The musicians:

Roy Brown vocal on all tracks, accompanied by -

Teddy Riley (tp) Johnny Fontenette (ts) Edward Santineo (p) Louis Sargent (g) Tommy Shelvin (b) Frank Parker (d) September 1949

Boogie At Midnight

The Griffin Brothers Orchestra: Wilbur Harden (tp) Jimmy Griffin (tb) Johnny Fontenette (ts) Harry Porter (bar) Edward "Buddy" Griffin (p) Willie Gaddy (g) Ike Isaacs (b) Emmett "Nab" Shields (d) April 1950

Hard Luck Blues
Sweet Peach

Wilbur Harden (tp) Johnny Fontenette (ts) Leroy Rankins (bar) Edward Santineo (p) Edgar Blanchard (g) Ike Isaacs (b) Emmett "Nab" Shields (d) June 1950

Love Don’t Love Nobody

George Jenkins replaces Nab Shields (d), rest the same, June 1950

Train Time Blues
Bar Room Blues
‘Long About Sundown
Beautician Blues
Double Crossin’ Woman
 
The Tiny Bradshaw Orchestra: Leslie Ayers (tp) Red Prysock (ts) Orrington Hall (ts,bar) James Robinson (p) Edgar Blanchard (g) Clarence Mack (b) Calvin Shields (d) January 1951

Wrong Woman Blues
Good Rockin’ Man
I’ve Got The Last Laugh Now
Big Town

Teddy Riley (tp) Johnny Fontenette (ts) Alexander Nelson (bar) Charlie Nelson (p) Peter "Chuck" Badie (b) Wilbert Smith (d) September 1951

Lonesome Lover

Teddy Riley (tp) Victor Thomas, Sammy Parker (ts) Frank Campbell (bar) Jimmy Williams (p) Jimmy Davis (g) Tommy Shelvin (b) Ray Miller (d) December 1952

Travelin’ Man
Letter From Home

Joe Bridgewater (tp) Sammy Parker, Victor Thomas (ts) Jimmy C. Harris (p) Jimmy Davis (g) Clarence Jones (b) Albert "June" Gardner (d) December 1953

Trouble At Midnight

Philip Scott (ts) James H. Thomas (p) Edgar Blanchard (g) Tommy Shelvin (b) Frank Parker (d) May 1954

Ain’t It A Shame
Ain’t No Rockin’ No More
Queen Of Diamonds

Melvin Lastie (tp) Sammy Parker, Johnny Fontenette (ts) Salvador Doucette (p) Jimmy Davis (g) Tommy Shelvin (b) Placide Adams (d) September 1954

Worried Life Blues

Johnny Griffin, Ray Felder (ts) unknown (bar) Jon Thomas (p) John Faire, Fred Jordan (g) Edwyn Conley (b) Ron McCurdy (d) May 1959
 
Ain’t Got No Blues Today

Buying Roy.

His peak years are well covered by 3 Chronological Roy Brown CDs on the Classics label:

 


Ace has two good CDs of Roy’s sides. "Good Rockin' Brown" is an in-depth look at his earliest sides and is mastered from the original acetates:

 
"Mighty Mighty Man!" covers his later King material after his hit making days had passed. There’s plenty of good stuff on it!

 
Sources: Bruyninckx Discography, sleevenotes to the Route 66 LPs "Good Rocking Tonight", "Laughing But Crying", "I Feel That Young Man's Rhythm." Wikipedia article on Roy Brown.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Riffin’ With The Griffin Brothers Orchestra

 
 
 
 
 
Side A
1. Little Red Rooster
2. Weepin' And Cryin'
3. Griff's Boogie
4. Blues All Alone
5. The Teaser
6. Pretty Baby
7. Blues With A Beat
8. Stubborn As A Mule
 
Side B
1. I Wanna Go Back
2. I'm Gonna Jump In The River
3. Comin' Home
4. Tra-La-La
5. Shuffle Bug
6. Ace In The Hole
7. Hot Pepper
8. It'd Surprise You
 

Here’s a cracking little collection released on UK Ace in 1985. There’s enough jumpin’ and jivin’ and bluesin’ chantoosin’ and weepin’ and cryin’ to keep any R&B fan happy. Not only do you get a tight jump combo, you also get star vocalists Margie Day and Tommy Brown and bootin’ tenor sax from Noble “Thin Man” Watts. You have probably concluded that I quite like this LP.
 
Trombonist James Griffin and his pianist and occasional vocalist brother Edward “Buddy” Griffin hailed from Norfolk, Virginia. In the late 1940s they formed a jump combo which became prominent on the Washington DC rhythm and blues scene. The band was taken under the managerial wing of local music entrepreneur Lillian Claiborne who in 1950 fixed them up with Dot Records, a recently founded label out of Gallatin, Tennessee.

A few months before signing with Dot, the Griffin Brothers band had been augmented by singer Margaret Hoffler, another native of Norfolk, who had moved to New York in the mid 1940s to pursue a singing career and had performed vocal duties with a group called “Four Bars And a Melody”.


In 1947 they had released a single “Near You” / “It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dream” on Savoy. The platter had been mercilessly panned in a Billboard review, with Margaret’s song stylings receiving some especially cutting remarks – “thin and listless”, “straining uncomfortably in her chant.” As you can hear on the featured LP Margaret would prove to be a dynamic and earthy blues singer when she recorded with the Griffin Brothers.

Marriage, pregnancy and a subsequent marital breakup brought Margaret’s musical career to a halt and she moved back to Norfolk in 1950. The Griffin Brothers asked her to join their band and after the Dot signing, she changed her name to Margie Day at the suggestion of label owner Randy Wood.

The band’s first release “Street Walkin’ Daddy” / “Riffin’ With Griffin” sold well, and their next release, with both sides featuring Margie, “Little Red Rooster” / “Blues All Alone”, was a bigger hit, reaching number 5 in the R&B charts in 1951.

In early 1951, the Griffin Brothers recruited Atlanta based blues singer Tommy Brown as another vocalist. Brown had recorded some raucous sides for Savoy in January 1951, including “Atlanta Boogie” which featured a chorus of “Let’s rock and roll till the break of day.” It’s possible that the backing band on the session was the Griffin Brothers outfit, but this has never been confirmed.

The band recorded a cover version of Dave Bartholomew’s “Tra La La” with Tommy on vocals, achieving another R&B top ten hit in the summer of 1951 and then gained even more success with a Margie Day double sider, “Pretty Baby” / ”Stubborn As A Mule” which reached number 10 in the R&B charts.

Tommy Brown’s “Weepin’ And Cryin’” which was released late in 1951 became the band’s biggest chart hit, reaching number 3 but by then Brown was already in the process of leaving, having been called up for military service after which he pursued a solo career.

Margie Day left the band in August 1952, toured and recorded with Paul Williams on Dot and Decca, and made further R&B and jazz recordings on various labels, eventually returning to Norfolk where she organised a community project to help children wishing to develop careers in the performing arts.

The Griffin Brothers Orchestra continued to record for Dot into 1954 when the band split with Buddy joining Chess Records.

Sources:

Sleevenotes to “Riffin’ With The Griffin Brothers Orchestra” by Ray Topping

Notes to Acrobat CD “The Griffin Brothers: Blues With A Beat” by Dave Penny

Article on Margie Day in “Dancing On The Edge” Vol 1 No 3 by ‘Fessa John Hook

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1. Little Red Rooster – vocal: Margie Day (December 1950, Dot 1019)

2. Weepin' And Cryin' – vocal: Tommy Brown (February 1951, Dot 1071)

3. Griff's Boogie – instrumental (December 1950, Dot 1020)

4. Blues All Alone - vocal: Margie Day (December 1950, Dot 1019)

5. The Teaser – instrumental (February 1952, Dot 1095)

6. Pretty Baby – vocal: Margie Day and Tommy Brown (February 1951, Dot 1070)

7. Blues With A Beat – instrumental (December 1950, Dot 1020)

8. Stubborn As A Mule - vocal: Margie Day (February 1951, Dot 1070)

9. I Wanna Go Back – vocal: Buddy Griffin (mid 1952, Dot 1117)

10. I'm Gonna Jump In The River – vocal: Margie Day (mid 1952, Dot 1104)

11. Comin' Home – instrumental (mid 1952, Dot 1105)

12. Tra-La-La – vocal: Tommy Brown (February 1951, Dot 1060)

13. Shuffle Bug – instrumental (February 1951, Dot 1071)

14. Ace In The Hole – vocal: Margie Day (mid 1952, Dot 1108)

15. Hot Pepper – instrumental (December 1950, Dot 1024)

16. It'd Surprise You – vocal: Margie Day (February 1952, Dot 1094)
 
All sides recorded in Washington DC.
 
Band personnel in 1950: Jimmy Griffin (tb); Wilbur Dyer (as); Virgil Wilson (ts); Buddy Griffin (p); Jimmy Reeves (b) Emmett "Nab" Shields (d); Margie Day (vcl).
 
Band personnel in 1951-52: Jimmy Griffin (tb); Wilbur Dyer (as); Noble Watts (ts); Buddy Griffin (p,vcl); Wilbur Little (b); Belton Evans (d); Margie Day (vcl); Tommy Brown (vcl).
 
Listen Up! Griffins, Margie and Tommy on streaming media player:
 

 
Buying The Griffin Brothers – 2 CDs were released on Acrobat about 10 years ago – “Blues With A Beat” Volumes 1 and 2. Volume 1 includes some of Tommy Brown's sides recorded on Savoy before he joined the Griffin Brothers. Volume 2 includes some tracks recorded by Buddy Griffin with his wife Claudia Swann after the band broke up.

 
 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Lowdown Baby – Joe Morris And His Orchestra





Side A
1. Lowdown Baby
2. Jump Everybody Jump
3. You're My Darling
4. Ghost Train
5. I Hope You're Satisfied
6. Pack Up All Your Rags
7. Midnight Grinder
8. Can't Stop My Crying

Side B
1. Bald Head Woman
2. Love Fever Blues
3. That's What Makes My Baby Fat
4. I Had A Notion
5. Who's Gonna Cry For Me
6. Take Your Time
7. Crazy Mixed Up World
8. Going Going Gone

We continue our jump season with the second Joe Morris LP issued by Jonas Bernholm, this time on his Jukebox Lil label. This collection of sides recorded between 1949 and 1957 looks at the “second stage” of his band, when bop influences were abandoned in favour of out and out R&B. For a while the band was billed as the “Joe Morris Blues Cavalcade” and featured a number of vocalists, including Laurie Tate whose “Any Time, Any Place, Any Where” was a huge hit in 1950/51, Billy Mitchell who later became a member of The Clovers, and a certain Fay Scruggs who changed her name to Faye Adams and went on to have to big hits on Herald with “Shake A Hand” and “I’ll Be True To You” with Joe’s band backing her on both of those smashes.

This LP has a nice mix of sides by the various vocalists as well as a couple of strong instrumentals. My favourite tracks are the atmospheric “Ghost Train”, the rousing “Jump Everybody Jump” and the amusing “That’s What Makes My Baby Fat” sung by Joe and the future Faye Adams. It’s a response to all those R&B songs about large women as Miss Adams upbraids Joe about his increasing rotundity.

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 1. Lowdown Baby (vocal – Joe Morris) Decca 48126

 2. Jump Everybody Jump (vocal - Joe Morris) Atlantic 931

 3. You're My Darling (vocal – Laurie Tate) Atlantic 942

 4. Ghost Train (instrumental) Atlantic 974

 5. I Hope You're Satisfied (vocal – Laurie Tate) Atlantic 942

 6. Pack Up All Your Rags (vocal – Billy Mitchell) Atlantic 933

 7. Midnight Grinder (instrumental) Atlantic 940

 8. Can't Stop My Crying (vocal – Laurie Tate) Atlantic 965

 9. Bald Head Woman (vocal – Billy Mitchell) Atlantic 974

10. Love Fever Blues (vocal – Jimmy Lewis) Atlantic 940

11. That's What Makes My Baby Fat (vocal – Joe Morris & Faye Adams) Atlantic 985

12. I Had A Notion (vocal – Al Savage) Herald 417

13. Who's Gonna Cry For Me (vocal – Mr Stringbean) Herald 418

14. Take Your Time (vocal – Al Savage) Herald 430

15. Crazy Mixed Up World (vocal – Faye Adams) Herald 429

16. Going Going Gone (vocal – Louis Madison) Atlantic 1160

Here’s a short streaming playlist with some highlights from the LP:


 
Buying Joe:


This 26 track CD came out on Acrobat in 2003. It features lots of the early jazzy sides with Johnny Griffin plus some of the later R&B material. Still available on Amazon.

 
 
You can usually rely on the Classics label from France to come up with the goods and sure enough they’ve two Joe Morris discs. Both are available through Amazon.


And lastly Johnny Griffin’s debut album for Blue Note is a monster. Get hip and get it!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Fly Mister Fly – Joe Morris & His Orchestra





Side A
1. Fly Mister Fly
2. Wilma's Idea
3. Joe's Boogie
4. Out Of The Night
5. Lowe Groovin'
6. Jump With Me
7. Mad Moon
8. The Spider

Side B
1. Bottletop
2. Wow!
3. Weasel Walk
4. Boogie-Woogie March
5. Chuck-A-Boogie
6. Beans And Cornbread
7. Portia's Boogie
8. Broken Hearted Blues

Although tenor sax man Johnny Griffin is the headliner on the front cover of this 1985 Saxophonograph LP, these sides were recorded by and originally credited to Joe Morris And His Orchestra. Band leader, trumpeter and occasional vocalist Joe Morris and tenor sax legend Johnny Griffin were both former members of the Lionel Hampton big band. Around 1946 or 1947 they formed a small group which showed an inclination to go down the bop path rather than the jump blues / R&B route.

In late 1946 /early 1947 they recorded four boppish sides for Manor. Towards the end of 1947 they started recording for the new Atlantic label, quickly adopting a more R&B oriented approach to their recordings. At this stage of its development, Atlantic’s leading acts were two small groups with deep jazz roots – the Morris outfit and the Tiny Grimes band. Both groups soon started to achieve respectable record sales by recording in a swinging popular style, and both featured big toned abrasive tenor sax players – Johnny Griffin and Red Prysock respectively.

This fine LP of sides recorded between 1946/7 and 1949 shows the process of the move by the Joe Morris band from jazz into solid R&B / jump territory, particularly in the contrast between the Manor sides and pounding instrumentals such as “Wow!” and “Weasel Walk” and the cover version of “Beans And Cornbread.” Missing from this collection is the band’s powerful version of “The Applejack” which is certainly well worth catching.

Griffin left the band around 1950, moving on to a very successful jazz career. The Joe Morris band became the “Joe Morris Blues Cavalcade”, an R&B revue show similar to that of Johnny Otis, which enjoyed a fair amount of success in the R&B field. But I am getting ahead of myself, for the Blues Cavalcade and its vocalists such as Laurie Tate and Faye Adams will be subject of our next post.

In the meantime enjoy an LP which sits squarely in the Be Bop Wino zone, where jazz, jump and R&B meet in a rousing mix.

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Fly Mister Fly – Manor 1136
Wilma's Idea – Manor 1157
Joe's Boogie – Manor 1157
Out Of The Night – Manor 1136
Lowe Groovin' – Atlantic 855
Jump With Me – Atlantic 855
Mad Moon – Atlantic 859
The Spider – Atlantic 859
Bottletop – Atlantic 878
Wow! - Atlantic 870
Weasel Walk - Atlantic 870
Boogie-Woogie March - Atlantic 855
Chuck-A-Boogie - Atlantic 855
Beans And Cornbread - Atlantic 878
Portia's Boogie – Decca 48123
Broken Hearted Blues – Decca 48126

Some highlights from an excellent collection:

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Look Out! It’s Louis Jordan And The Tympany Five





Side 1
1. Keep A Knockin'
2. Sam Jones Done Snagged His Britches
3. You Run Your Mouth And I'll Run My Business
4. Pinetop's Boogie Woogie
5. Boogie Woogie Came To Town
6. Saxa-Woogie
7. I Like 'Em Fat Like That
8. They Raided The House

Side 2
1. Ain't That Just Like A Woman
2. Jack, You're Dead
3. Boogie Woogie Blue Plate
4. Look Out
5. Pettin' And Pokin'
6. Junco Partner
7. House Party
8. I Want You To Be My Baby

Here’s a second helping of Louis and like the first it’s a collection which deliberately avoids the biggest hits and serves up a gumbo of not so well known sides.

If you’re a newbie to this kind of jumpin’ jive then that means that there’s no “Caldonia” or “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” or “Let The Good Times Roll” or “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby” or “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” or “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” or any of the other dozen or so monster smashes which have been well covered by numerous greatest hits compilations during the thirty five years in which I’ve been listening to this kind of music. You’re gonna have to go out and buy that stuff for yourself, but in the meantime enjoy this compilation of obscurer hepcat musings by the great Louis Jordan.

In contrast to our previous post which looked at Louis’ output from 1940 to 1942, this 1983 Charly LP is a career spanning survey of sides he recorded for Decca, kicking off with the old blues “Keep A Knockin’” which he recorded in 1939, and finishing in 1953 with “I Want You To Be My Baby.” Yes, it’s the same “Keep a Knockin’” which Little Richard revived in a particularly manic recording, and you can also get a whiff of Chuck Berry by listening to guitarist Carl Hogan’s intro to “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman” recorded in 1946.

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Check it out:

This 5 CD set on JSP has all the Louis you’ll ever need!


Absolutely vital reading – “Let The Good Times Roll” by John Chilton:


This post on Big Road Blues has interesting stuff on the origins of “Keep A Knockin’”:

http://sundayblues.org/archives/6305
 
And of course here’s a playlist – listen to the transformation from small group swing to jumpin' R&B!