Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Don't The Moon Look Lonesome?

Detail from "The Trysting Tree" by John Atkinson Grimshaw

One for autumn. "Sent For You Yesterday" recorded by the Count Basie Orchestra in 1938. Vocal by the great Jimmy Rushing.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Howlin' Winds / Rocks In My Bed (National 9144) - Joe Turner

Released April 1951. "Rocks In My Bed" recorded in Chicago, November 29th, 1947. "Howlin' Winds" recorded in Chicago, December 9th, 1947.

Personnel: Joe Turner (vocal), accompanied by: Charles Gray (trumpet); Riley Hampton (alto sax); Otis Finch (tenor sax); Robert Moore (piano); Ike Perkins (guitar); Ellsworth Liggett (bass); James Adams (drums). Meade Lux Lewis replaces Moore on piano on "Howlin' Winds."

"Howlin' Winds" was the last track recorded by Big Joe Turner for National. It was a rerecording of a track he'd originally laid down for that label back in 1945 (that version was never released as a single). After his last session for National, Big Joe spent a few years label hopping from Modern to Swing Time to MGM to Freedom to Imperial before finally landing at Atlantic in 1951 where his flagging career would be revived in a spectacular manner.

National continued to release Big Joe Turner disks right through to 1951, with "Howlin' Winds" being their last Turner release in April of that year. The disk was reviewed in Billboard on the 28th of April. "Howlin' Winds" was deemed to be a "fine mood blues by Turner with first-rate jazz combo backing" while "Rocks In My Bed" was hailed as "one of Turner's standout blues jobs; could make a dent."

It was indeed a rousing release but by the time the review was written, Big Joe had already recorded his first session for Atlantic on April 19th. On the 19th May Billboard reviewed Big Joe's first Atlantic release - "After My Laughter Came Tears" / "Chains Of Love" - which entered the national R&B chart at number ten on the 30th June. It would spend six months on the chart, peaking at number two, and was followed by a series of further hits for Big Joe - "Sweet Sixteen", "Honey Hush", "TV Mama" and "Shake, Rattle And Roll."

And what of the fine "Howlin' Winds" and "Rocks In My Bed"? No chart action, although National did make a gesture on 9th June with this rather low key Billboard advert:

I'm sure Big Joe wasn't particularly worried as thanks to Atlantic he was on his way to being restored to his rightful position as King of the Blues Shouters.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Good Lovin' / Slowly Goin' Crazy (Savoy 830) - H-Bomb Ferguson

Released January 1952. Both sides recorded in New York on 12th December, 1951.

Personnel: H-Bomb Ferguson (vcl); acc by Julius "Hawkshaw" Watson (tb); Ernest "Pinky" Williams (as,bar); Purvis Henson (ts); Kelly Ownes (p); Leon Spann (b); Jack Parker (d).

More blues bawlin', this time from Robert "H-Bomb" Ferguson backed by a band led by Jack "The Bear" Parker although it should be noted that Julius Watson, Purvis Henson and Leon Spann were moonlighting members of the Buddy Johnson Orchestra. Ferguson's first recordings were as vocalist with the Jack Parker band for Derby in 1950 and he also recorded a session with Parker for Prestige. Prior to signing for Savoy, Ferguson cut a session with the Charlie Singleton band for Atlas.

The influence of Wynonie Harris is very obvious on both these sides, although Ferguson did go on to develop his own style and in fact outlasted his more illustrious mentor by decades. Although derivative, this is a good record which sold well in the New York area although it didn't do enough business to make the national R&B charts.

Billboard gave the disk a good review on 19th January 1952. The verdict on "Good Lovin'" was: "Ferguson hits about as hard as his name implies in shouting a good pounding rocker. The double entendres add to the coin attraction, tho the beat is immense. Has a winning quality."

The review of the B side was less enthusiastic: "Ferguson unwinds an acceptable slow blues but doesn't stir the excitment (sic) he creates on the top side."

Below is the Billboard chart of top selling R&B disks from January 12th 1952. In contrast to the chart from 1947 on the Gatemouth Moore post, independent record companies dominate, with only 2 releases by the majors being in the top ten - Johnnie Ray on the Columbia subsidiary Okeh, and Dinah Washington on Mercury.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Love Doctor Blues / They Can't Do This To You (National 4015) - Gatemouth Moore

Released June, 1947.

"They Can't Do This To You" recorded in New York, November 15th, 1945.
Personnel: "Gatemouth" Moore (vcl), acc by Al "Budd" Johnson's Orchestra : Dick Vance (tp); Jimmy Hamilton (cl); Budd Johnson (ts); Harry Carney (bar,as); Sam Benskin (p); Al Hall (b); J.C. Heard (d).

"Love Doctor Blues" recorded in New York, October 25th, 1946.
Personnel: Dwight "Gatemouth" Moore (vcl), acc by Tiny Grimes Swingtet : Russell Royster (tp); Herman Flintsall (as); John Hardee (ts); Sam Benskin (p,celeste); Tiny Grimes (g); Al "Junior" Raglin (b); Eddie Nicholson (d).

Thought I'd post another "snapshot" of early R&B history with this fine example of jump blues featuring blues shouter and future reverend, Gatemouth Moore. The tracks are ripped from vinyl, specifically from the Savoy 2 LP set "The Shouters", hence no label shots.

The A Side, "Love Doctor Blues" is a sly, slinky variation on the well used blues theme of super stud acting as "doctor" to cure the ladies of whatever ails them. There's cracking backing from The Tiny Grimes Swingtet with nice guitar from Tiny and subtle tenor horn from John Hardee.

John "Bad Man" Hardee
The uptempo B Side has "They Can't Do This To You" also features a first class backing group, that of sax player Budd Johnson.

The disk received a favourable review in Billboard on June 7th, 1947:

"The gusty and groovey blues singing of Gatemouth (Dwight) Moore lets loose in free-swinging rock 'n' rhythm style for both of these Harlemese selections. And with the jam-packed bands behind him bringing up a tasty musical dish, the spinning is something to occupy the attention. Spinning solid and spicey is Doc Pumus's "Love Doctor Blues," Gatemouth telling of his office hours from sundown till the break of dawn with no fees charged for his fem patients. Guitarist Tiny Grimes leads the musical aggregation for this grooving which gives forth some of John Hardee's fine tenor sax blues blowing. Takes his own blues novelty, a jive fashioned "They Can't Do This To You," at a faster clip, with tenor saxist Budd Johnson, who rounds up the accompanying hot men, giving forth some of his sax smoke."

The Billboard reviewer's verdict was: "Race locations will lap up 'Love Doctor Blues.'"

"Doctor Moore has just what you need, Ma'am"

Above is the "Race Chart" of juke box plays from the same edition of Billboard, June 7th 1947, which shows us what was big at the time Gatemouth's disk was released. There are four Louis Jordan numbers, two from The Mills Brothers and one from song belter Frankie Lane. The major labels dominate with only one independent label, Manor, having a disk in the chart. There's still a strong feel of the big band era with Erskine Hawkins, Lionel Hampton and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson all present although in the case of the latter two, the recordings are by small groups assembled from the parent big bands.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Frank Culley And Buddy Tate - Rock'n Roll Instrumentals For Dancing The Lindy Hop

Side A (Frank Culley)
1. Nine O'Clock Express
2. Lindy Rock
3. Go, Floorshow!
4. Bubbles
5. Speed Limit

Side B (Buddy Tate)
1. Sent For You Yesterday
2. That Girl
3. Fatback And Greens
4. Tete-A-Tate
5. Skip-A-Page
6. Jackie
7. Blue Buddy

Previously posted in 2008. I have added new front and back cover and label scans. Volume on the sound files has been equalized. There has also been a complete rewrite of the post.

This is a 1984 Krazy Kat reissue of Baton BL-1201 which was released in May or June 1955. A brief note in the May 28th 1955 issue of Billboard announced that Baton intended to release "a package of rock and roll instrumentals for lindy hoppers." It was also noted that Frank Culley had "inked an exclusive deal with Baton." The Buddy Tate tracks "Jackie" and "Blue Buddy" were not on the original Baton LP.

Side A was recorded in NYC in May or June 1955. The musicians accompanying Frank Culley (tenor sax) are unknown although it is possible that Harry Van Walls was on piano.

Side B was recorded in NYC on the 29th March 1954. Personnel: Pat Jenkins (tp); Eli Robinson (tb); Ben Richardson (cl,as,bar); Buddy Tate (ts); Skip Hall (p,org on "Jackie"); Flat Top Wilson (b); Clarence "Fats" Donaldson (d)

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps.

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Baton Records was founded in New York City towards the end of 1953 by Sol Rabinowitz. He had recorded four sides by The Rivileers with the intention of selling them to an existing record company, but having failed to strike a deal, he started his own record company and had a major hit with his first release, "A Thousand Stars" by the aforementioned Rivileers. Baton's second release was a Rivileers' follow up "Darling Farewell" / "Forever" which had good sales although rather less than a "Thousand Stars."

For the label's third release, Sol turned to ex Count Basie tenor sax player Buddy Tate who in early 1954 was leading a small band which played regularly at Harlem's Celebrity Club. The band recorded a session for Baton on 29th March 1954, resulting in the release of two singles. The first release (Baton 202), "Blue Buddy" / "Fatbacks And Greens", had good sales in the Philadelphia area as it was featured heavily on the local "Bandstand" TV show. A second Buddy Tate single, "Jackie" / "Sent For You Yesterday" failed to sell despite airplay from DJ Alan Freed after whose wife the A side was named.

Buddy Tate
In September 1954 amid much hoopla Alan Freed relocated to NYC from Cleveland and began broadcasting his R&B / Rock 'n' Roll show six nights a week on WINS. Rock and Roll was suddenly big news in the Big Apple and the record companies were soon scrambling aboard the bandwagon. At the end of May 1955 Baton announced that they had signed former Atlantic Records R&B tenor sax star Frank "Floorshow" Culley and that an LP of rock 'n' roll instrumentals was in the pipeline.

Culley had enjoyed R&B chart success on Atlantic in 1949 - 1951 with hits such as "Cole Slaw", "After Hour Session", "Hop 'N' Twist" and "Gone After Hours." His record sales along with those of Tiny Grimes and Joe Morris had helped to establish Atlantic in its early years, before the really big hits of Ruth Brown, The Clovers, and Big Joe Turner transformed the label into the number one R&B outfit of the 1950s.

Frank "Floorshow" Culley (Atlantic LP cover)
The five tracks recorded by Culley for Baton, probably at the end of May or during June 1955, were combined with five of the more uptempo Buddy Tate tracks from the March 1954 session to make up the LP "Rock'n Roll Instrumentals For Dancing the Lindy Hop" a title which may have caused some bemusement among dance purists, but may have been aimed at the older swing generation as well as the new rock 'n' roll generation in the hope that neither would be too fussy about the number of beats to the bar.

Baton EP cover courtesy Joan K
In May 1956 Baton released a two part instrumental single by Frank Culley, "After Hours Express, Parts 1 and 2" (Baton 226), which was an edit of "Nine O'Clock Express" from the "Rock'n Roll Instrumentals" LP. Billboard opined:"This is a pair of sides given over entirely to solid instrumental jamming. It's wild, fast-moving stuff and should drive those terping kids crazy. Culley blows tenor for all he's worth. Should be a good box entry."

The arrival of the rock and roll craze prompted a slew of instrumental releases in 1955-56, kicking off with the success of Red Prysock's "Hand Clappin'" on Mercury. The June 16th 1956 issue of Billboard noted the phenomenon but cautioned "Rock and Roll has retired some of the formerly popular instrumental groups ... new bands and new dance steps have taken their place; some of the veterans are converting successfully. Lack of disk jockey support seems to be the only drawback to producing big instrumental hits with greater frequency in the next months."

Although the biggest selling R&B record of 1956 was an instrumental, Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk," many of the rush of  instrumental releases such as "After Hours Express" failed to chart. Sil Austin's "Slow Walk" and its subsequent cover version by Doggett were the exceptions. Two years later Baton finally had a national R&B and pop instrumental success with Noble "Thin Man" Watts' "Hard Times (The Slop)."

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Jump Man, Jump!

Side 1
1 Gene Phillips - Hey Now
2 Bobby Smith - Don't Shake Those Hips At Me
3 Frank Culley - Hop 'N' Twist
4 Dave Bartholomew - Cat Music
5 Varetta Dillard - Mercy Mr Percy
6 Camille Howard - Bangin' The Boogie
7 Harry Crafton - Big Fat Hot Dog
8 Little Esther with Little Willie Littlefield - Turn The Lamps Down Low

Side 2
1 Big Maybelle - New Kind Of Mambo
2 Jimmy Preston - Estellina Bim Bam
3 Pee Wee Crayton - Huckle Boogie
4 Kenzie Moore - Let It Lay
5 Benny Brown - Pappa
6 Paul Williams - Spider Sent Me
7 Gay Crosse - Fat Sam From Birmingham
8 Lil Armstrong - Rock It

All tracks ripped from vinyl @320 kbps

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It's time for another Be Bop Wino compilation of late 40's and early 50's R&B, mainly drawn from the stash of vinyl I digitized during my recent long absence from posting.  The "Juke Joint Jukebox" blues comp was drawn from tracks digitized during the same period but now we find ourselves back in the Boogiewoody comfort zone with this selection of jump blues, boogie, and sax driven rockin' R&B. Mind you, there's a smattering of West Coast style blues guitar courtesy of Gene Phillips and Pee Wee Crayton on LA's Modern label.

Basic track details are listed below but here are a few observations on some of the tracks, in no particular order.

Guitarist, blues shouter and songwriter Harry Crafton recorded for Gotham in the late forties and early fifties. He was also a member of the semi legendary Nite Riders Orchestra along with Doc Starkes, Harry Van Walls and Melvin Smith. Dripping with double entendre, "Big Fat Hot Dog" features a fine vocal performance by Agnes Riley.

Boogie pianist Camille Howard was a mainstay of Roy Milton's Solid Senders, but also had her own parallel solo recording career. In a similar vein, Erskine Hawkins Orchestra alto saxman Bobby Smith had a parallel recording career in which he led a small band of Hawkins sidemen which recorded for Apollo in 1949-50. "Don't Shake Those Hips at Me", recorded after the Smith band moved over to the Ruby label features the tenor sax of Sam "The Man" Taylor. Benny Brown's "Pappa" is an answer record to Ruth Brown's big 1953 hit on Atlantic "Mama (He Treats Your Daughter Mean)".

And so to Jimmy Preston's "Estellina Bim Bam". Anyone up for a humorous take on habitual domestic abuse? It has a very catchy melody but to my ears the lyrics are extremely unsettling. Perhaps back in 1950 many people would have considered the record to be comedy but nowadays it would be the subject of a thesis on its underlying subtext of misogyny and possible racism. However, on Be Bop Wino we present the recordings of the 1940's and 1950's as they were, rather than as we would like them to have been, so despite my doubts the recording is included on the compilation.

Pianist, bandleader and singer Lil Armstrong (Lil Hardin) was a member of King Oliver's band where she met and married Louis Armstrong in 1924. They divorced in 1932 and Lil went on to build a successful career as an accompanist and bandleader, recording for Decca from 1936 to 1940. Her theme tune was "Brown Gal" (Decca, 1936) which she rerecorded for Gotham in 1947. At the same session she recorded "Rock It", a frantic piece of double entendre, the final verse of which is the unforgettable:

"Yeah, he rocked me sittin', he rocked me lyin',
If I'd a had wings, he'd a rocked me flyin'."

Nothing can follow that. Listen for yourselves, fellow groovers!

The tracks (artist, title, original issue, year of recording):

1 Gene Phillips - Hey Now: Modern 20-558, 1948

2 Bobby Smith - Don't Shake Those Hips At Me: aka Shake Your Hips, Ruby 102, 1951

3 Frank Culley - Hop 'N' Twist: aka Fish Tail, Atlantic 902, 1949

4 Dave Bartholomew - Cat Music: Imperial 5308, 1954

5 Varetta Dillard - Mercy Mr Percy: Savoy 897, 1953

6 Camille Howard - Bangin' The Boogie: Specialty 404, 1951

7 Harry Crafton (w Agnes Riley) - Big Fat Hot Dog: Oscar 106, 1954

8 Little Esther with Little Willie Littlefield - Turn The Lamps Down Low: Federal 12115, 1952

9 Big Maybelle - New Kind Of Mambo: Okeh 7069, 1954

10 Jimmy Preston - Estellina Bim Bam: Gotham 240, 1950

11 Pee Wee Crayton - Huckle Boogie: Modern 20-742, 1950

12 Kenzie Moore - Let It Lay: Specialty 456, 1953

13 Benny Brown - Pappa: Gotham 293, 1953

14 Paul Williams - Spider Sent Me: Savoy 670, 1948

15 Gay Crosse - Fat Sam From Birmingham: alternate take of Gotham 279, 1952

16 Lil Armstrong - Rock It: Gotham 256, 1947

Friday, 3 October 2014

Juke Joint Jukebox

Side 1
1 Sonny Boy Williamson - Don't Start Me To Talkin'
2 John Lee Hooker - This Is Hip
3 Jimmy Reed - You Got Me Dizzy
4 Otis Rush - All Your Love
5 Elmore James - Sho Nuff I Do
6 Guitar Slim - The Things That I Used To Do
7 Little Junior Parker - Sweet Home Chicago
8 John Lee Hooker - Boom Boom

Side 2
1 Jimmy Reed - Big Boss Man
2 Little Junior Parker - 5 Long Years
3 Johnny "Guitar" Watson - Hot Little Mama
4 Muddy Waters - I'm Ready
5 Pee Wee Crayton - Crayton's Blues
6 Doctor Ross - The Boogie Disease
7 Elmore James - Elmo's Shuffle
8 Jimmy Rogers - Walkin' By Myself

All tracks ripped from vinyl at 320 mbps.

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Now back before I discovered the joys of jump blues, I used to listen to the "real" blues, mainly electric guitar and harmonica driven blues from Chicago. Growing up in the UK in the 1960s, you couldn't help but hear the blues "second hand" via groups like The Stones, The Pretty Things, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and my favourite British blues group, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.

It was thanks to a school pal, one Shuggy Cameron, that I first heard some of the original blues artists when round about 1970 he lent me 2 LPs - "Muddy Waters at Newport" and "Blues is King" by B.B. King. The awful results of that exchange of records (I lent him the debut albums of Steppenwolf  and Fleetwood Mac) are all too visible on this blog 44 years later. Shuggy probably went on to become a brain surgeon or airline pilot or some such while here I am half buried in a great heap of vinyl.

So here's a home made compilation of the kind of blues we don't have often enough on Be Bop Wino. All 1950s or even early 60s sides from Chess, VeeJay, RPM, Specialty and Duke, and mostly well known tracks. No extensive notes this time. Just download and groove to these stompers and swayers. I've decided to try the new Mega site as my slow broadband connection makes uploading to Zippyshare just about impossible. Hope the link works OK!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Clyde McPhatter - Rock And Cry

Side 1
1. Seven Days
2. Treasure Of Love
3. Thirty Days
4. Without Love (There Is Nothing)
5. Rock And Cry
6. You'll Be There
7. Just To Hold My Hand
8. Long Lonely Nights

Side 2
1. No Love Like Her Love
2. Come What May
3. Deep Sea Ball
4. A Lover's Question
5. I Can't Stand Up Alone
6. Lovey Dovey
7. Since You've Been Gone
8. You Went Back On Your Word

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We continue the Clyde McPhatter story with this 1984 Charly compilation of his solo sides for Atlantic. A Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters single ("Hot Ziggity" / "Everybody's Laughing") was released by Atlantic under Clyde's name only in August 1955. On August 25th 1955 Clyde recorded his first real solo single, "Seven Days" / I'm Not Worthy Of You", which was released in January 1956.

As you can hear on the audio player below, Atlantic abandoned the R&B arrangements of Clyde's work with The Drifters. From now on his records would feature brassy pop arrangements complete with vocal chorus. This is an approach Atlantic used with many of its R&B artists in the second half of the 1950s. 

"Seven Days" just failed to enter the pop top 40, but subsequent McPhatter releases were more successful. In June 1956 "Treasure Of Love" reached number 16 in the pop charts. "Without Love" reached number 19 in February 1957 and "Just To Hold My Hand" reached number 26 in July of that year. Clyde's most successful single for Atlantic, "A Lover's Question" reached number 6 in October 1958, spending a total of 20 weeks in the top 40. However the rest of Clyde's releases on Atlantic failed to match the performance of "A Lover's Question" with only "Since You've Been Gone" entering the top 40, peaking at number 38 in August 1959.

In 1959 Clyde left Atlantic for MGM but none of his releases on that label charted. In 1960 he signed up with Mercury and had a major hit with "Lover Please" which reached number 7 in the pop charts in the spring of 1962. This proved to be his last chart hit and he left Mercury in 1965 just as his career entered a decline. His remaining years were blighted by alcohol problems and make for rather sad reading - "Drifting Away: The Tragedy Of Clyde McPhatter" is a poignant chapter in Tony Allan's book "Save The Last Dance For Me: The Musical Legacy Of The Drifters".

In the last four posts on this blog we have seen what a major talent Clyde McPhatter was. He brought the intensity of gospel singing into rhythm and blues and thus helped pave the way for the coming of soul music. His shift to a more mainstream style brought pop chart success, but only for a few years. However he was the third biggest selling R&B artist of the 1950s with only Fats Domino and The Platters outselling him.

Clyde McPhatter's solo releases on Atlantic (thanks to Joan K for the label scans):

Seven Days / I'm Not Worthy Of You (Atlantic 1081) recorded August 25th, 1955, released January 1956.

Treasure Of Love / When You're Sincere (Atlantic 1092) recorded March 4th, 1956, released April 1956

Thirty Days / I'm Lonely Tonight (Atlantic 1106) recorded July 26th, 1956, released September 1956

Without Love (There Is Nothing) / I Make Believe (Atlantic 1117), Without Love recorded October 10th, 1956, I Make Believe recorded March 4th, 1956. Released December 1956

Just To Hold My Hand / No Matter What (Atlantic 1133), recorded February 13th, 1957, released April 1957

Long, Lonely Nights / Heartaches (Atlantic 1149), Long, Lonely Nights recorded June 30th, 1957, Heartaches recorded October 10th, 1956. Released July 1957

Rock And Cry / You'll Be There (Atlantic 1158), Rock And Cry recorded October 10th 1956, You'll Be There recorded February 13th, 1957. Released September 1957

No Love Like Her Love / That's Enough For Me (Atlantic 1170), recorded September 4th, 1957, released January 1958

Come What May / Let Me Know (Atlantic 1185), recorded February 26th, 1958, released May 1958

A Lover's Question / I Can't Stand Up Alone (Atlantic 1199), recorded August 7th, 1958, released September, 1958

Lovey Dovey / My Island Of Dreams (Atlantic 2018), Lovey Dovey recorded August 7th, 1958, My Island Of Dreams recorded October 10th, 1956. Released February 1959

Try, Try, Baby / Since You've Been Gone (Atlantic 2028), Try, Try, Baby was recorded by Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters on March 14th, 1954 but credited to Clyde McPhatter only. Since You've Been Gone was recorded on 27th February, 1959. Record released June 1959

There You Go / You Went Back On Your Word (Atlantic 2038), There You Go was recorded by Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters on March 14th, 1954 but credited to Clyde McPhatter only. You Went Back On Your Word was recorded on 27th February, 1959. Record released September 1959

Don't Dog Me / Just Give Me a Ring (Atlantic 2049), Don't Dog Me was recorded by Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters on November 12th, 1953 but credited to Clyde McPhatter only. Just Give Me A Ring was recorded on February 26th, 1958. Record released January 1960

Let The Boogie Woogie Roll / Deep Sea Ball (Atlantic 2060), Let The Boogie Woogie Roll was recorded by Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters on August 9th, 1953 but credited to Clyde McPhatter only. Deep Sea Ball was recorded on February 26th, 1958. Record released April 1960

If I Didn't Love You Like I Do / Go! Yes Go! (Atlantic 2082), If I Didn't Love You Like I Do was recorded by Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters on March 14th, 1954 but credited to Clyde McPhatter only. Go! Yes Go! was recorded on March 4th, 1956. Record released November 1960

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Clyde McPhatter And The Drifters - Bip Bam

Side 1
1. Money Honey
2. Let The Boogie Woogie Roll
3. Don't Dog Me
4. Gone
5. Such A Night
6. Lucille
7. Warm Your Heart
8. The Way I Feel

Side 2
1. Bip Bam
2. Honey Love
3. Whatcha' Gonna Do
4. If I Didn't Love You Like I Do
5. There You Go
6. Try Try Baby
7. Everyone's Laughing
8. Three Thirty Three

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Clyde McPhatter And The Drifters - perhaps the apotheosis of vocal group R&B? With Clyde McPhatter as Theos? Whatever you may make of that (remember - Google is your friend), the recordings contained in this utterly fantastic slab of vinyl certainly represent some kind of peak in the history of R&B vocal group performance.

And it all happened over what now seems an incredibly short time period - the group's first recording session took place at the end of June 1953. The results proved unsatisfactory and a drastic change in personnel was effected before the second session in August 1953. Four more sessions followed, with the final one taking place in October 1954. Seven singles were released between September 1953 and August 1955 by which time Clyde McPhatter was no longer a member of The Drifters, having made his last appearance as an official member of the group in January 1955. But the star that shone so briefly shone so very, very brightly as you can hear on this 1984 UK release on Edsel.

On the previous posts on The Dominoes, we saw that Clyde McPhatter left that group in April 1953. His absence from the Dominoes lineup was noticed by Atlantic Records honcho Ahmet Ertegun when he attended a concert at Birdland in New York City. Ertegun was a huge admirer of McPhatter's gospel drenched high tenor and he quickly set about tracking the singer down, and soon had him signed, sealed and delivered to what was already the top selling R&B label in the country.

Clyde recruited the first set of Drifters in May 1953 and the following personnel went into the recording studio at the end of June - Clyde McPhatter (lead tenor), David Baughan (tenor), William Anderson (tenor), David Baldwin (baritone) and James Johnson (bass). The four recordings made that day proved to be disappointing with only one track, "Lucille", ever being released - as the B side of "Such a Night" in January 1954.

A new set of Drifters was soon put together by Clyde. The Thrasher brothers, Gerhart and Andrew, both gospel singers with The Silvertones and The Thrasher Wonders were the first to join. Another gospel singer Bill Pinckney ( formerly of The Jerusalem Stars and The Southern Knights) was recruited and the line up was completed by the addition of Willie Ferbee, the only member of the group who did not come from a gospel background.

This group went into the recording studio on August 9th 1953. From this session "Money Honey" b/w "The Way I Feel" was chosen as the group's first record to be released in September 1953 and in November it was top of the R&B record chart. Bass singer Willie Ferbee left the group after this session and Bill Pinckney moved into the bass spot. The group lined up as follows for the remaining four Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters sessions: Clyde McPhatter (lead tenor), Gerhart Thrasher (tenor), Andrew Thrasher (baritone) and Bill Pinckney (bass). These sessions took place in November 1953 and February, March and October 1954.

In January 1954 "Such a Night" / "Lucille" was released with the A side reaching number 5 in the R&B charts and B side "Lucille" surprisingly reaching number 7. The third Drifters release didn't appear until May 1954 - "Honey Love" / "Warm Your Heart". Not only did "Honey Love" top the R&B charts, it also reached number 21 in the pop charts. By this time Clyde had been drafted although as his first posting was to Fort Dix, New Jersey, he was still able to attend a recording session in October and perform at some of the more important live dates. Dave Baughan who had been present at the first failed recording session took Clyde's place at most live appearances.

Single number four was released in October 1954 - "Someday You''ll Want Me To Want You" / "Bip Bam", reaching number seven in the R&B charts. In November 1954 "White Christmas" / "Bells Of St. Mary's" was released for the upcoming festive season, reaching number two in the R&B charts. Around this time a second lead tenor was recruited to accompany Dave Baughan at live appearances - Johnny Moore. 

Clyde's last live appearances as a member of The Drifters were in January 1955 among them being Alan Freed's first live New York show, The Rock and Roll Jubilee Ball. In February 1955 the sixth Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters single was released - "Gone" / "What'cha Gonna Do". The record reached number 2 in the R&B charts. Around this time Clyde decided that his future lay as a solo act. Perhaps this was the reason behind some trade adverts crediting "What'cha Gonna Do" to Clyde McPhatter with no mention of The Drifters.

On April 21st 1955, The Drifters were in the recording studio without Clyde. Dave Baughan, Gerhart Thrasher, Andrew Thrasher and Bill Pinckney were now the group personnel as Johnny Moore had left. The formal announcement that Clyde had left The Drifters for a solo career was made on July 16th. In August "Everybody's Laughing" / "Hot Ziggity" was released, credited to Clyde McPhatter despite the fact that the tracks had been recorded by Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters. On August 25th 1955, Clyde (still in the army) went into the studio to record his first genuine solo single without The Drifters - "I'm Not Worthy Of You" / "Seven Days".

According to Marv Goldberg, Bill Pinckney was adamant that The Drifters weren't particularly resentful at not being credited on "Everybody's Laughing". However one wonders what their thoughts were when during 1959 - 1960 no less than five Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters tracks were used as B sides on Clyde's solo singles, with no credit being given to his former group mates.

In August 1955 Johnny Moore returned to The Drifters and a new chapter in the history of the group began. We'll take a look at Clyde's solo career in an upcoming post.

Track details:

1. Money Honey - Atlantic 1006, released September 1953.

2. Let The Boogie Woogie Roll - Atlantic 2060, released April 1960, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Deep Sea Ball".

3. Don't Dog Me - Atlantic 2049, released January 1960, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Give Me A Ring".

4. Gone - B side of "What'cha Gonna Do", Atlantic 1055, released February 1955.

5. Such A Night - Atlantic 1019, released January 1954.

6. Lucille - B side of "Such a Night", Atlantic 1019, released January 1954.

7. Warm Your Heart - B side of "Honey Love", Atlantic 1029, released May 1954.

8. The Way I Feel - B side of "Money Honey", Atlantic 1006, released September 1953.

9. Bip Bam - Atlantic 1043, released October 1954.

10. Honey Love - Atlantic 1029, released May 1954.

11. Whatcha' Gonna Do - Atlantic 1055, released February 1955.

12. If I Didn't Love You Like I Do - Atlantic 2082, released November 1960, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Go! Yes Go".

13. There You Go - Atlantic 2038, released September 1959, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "You Went Back On Your Word".

14. Try Try Baby - Atlantic 2028, released June 1959, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Since You Were Gone".

15. Everyone's Laughing - Atlantic 1070, released August 1955, credited to Clyde McPhatter.

16. Three Thirty Three - unissued until 1971 LP "The Drifters, Their Greatest recordings - The Early Years" (Atco SD33-375.)

1957 Atlantic LP which mixed tracks by Clyde solo and with The Drifters
Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebooks
Save The Last Dance For Me: The Musical Legacy Of The Drifters by Tony Allan

A BIG thank you to Joan K for all the vintage label and cover scans.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Dominoes - These Foolish Things

Side 1
1. No Says My Heart
2. Harbor Lights
3. The Deacon Moves In (Little Esther and The Dominoes)
4. I Can't Escape From You
5. Heart To Heart (Little Esther and The Dominoes)
6. When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano
7. Deep Sea Blues
8. Love Love Love
9. No Room

Side 2
1. I'm Lonely
2. Yours Forever
3. These Foolish Things
4. Rags To Riches
5. Ringing In A Brand New Year
6. Can't Do Sixty No More
7. Over The Rainbow
8. O Holy Night
9. What Are You Doing New Years Eve

This little homemade "LP" contains all the remaining Dominoes tracks I have on vinyl, outwith the previously featured album "Have Mercy Baby."

The first 12 tracks are from the Clyde McPhatter era Dominoes, with the added attraction of Federal labelmate Little Esther on a couple of the sides. "Rags To Riches" has McPhatter's replacement, Jackie Wilson, on lead vocal.

"O Holy Night" and "What Are You Doing New Years Eve" were recorded and released on King in 1965, long after the early 1950s R&B heyday of the original Dominoes and long after their pop success in the late 1950s. The only connection this final incarnation of the group had with the successful earlier versions of The Dominoes was manager / vocal coach Billy Ward who was determined to keep the group going long after the demand for their style of music had faded.

Track details:

1. No Says My Heart - B side of Harbor Lights, released January 1951.

2. Harbor Lights - Federal 12010, January 1951.

3. The Deacon Moves In - Little Esther and The Dominoes with the Johnny Otis band. B side of "Other Lips, Other Arms", Federal 12016, released February 1951.

4. I Can't Escape From You - B side of "Sixty Minute Man" (Federal 12022), released April 1951.

5. Heart To Heart - Little Esther with The Dominoes (Federal 12036), released November 1951.

6. When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano - B side of  first release of "That's What You're Doing To Me" (Federal 12059), February 1952.

7. Deep Sea Blues - B side of "Have Mercy Baby" (Federal 12068), released April 1952.

8. Love Love Love - B side of reissue of "That's What You're Doing To Me" (Federal 12072), May 1952.

9. No Room - Federal 12105, October 1952. Released as by "Billy Ward And His Dominoes", as were all subsequent Dominoes releases.

10. I'm Lonely - B side of "Yours Forever".

11. Yours Forever - Federal 12106, released November 1952.

12. These Foolish Things Remind Me Of You - Federal 12129, April 1953. Last release featuring Clyde McPhatter.

13. Rags To Riches - King 1280, released October 1953. The group's biggest success with a Jackie Wilson lead vocal, reached number 2 in the R&B chart.

14. Ringing In A Brand New Year - King 1281, B side of "Christmas In Heaven" released November 1953.

15. Can't Do Sixty No More - Federal 12209, released January 1955.

16. Over The Rainbow - King 1502, released September 1955.

17. O Holy Night - King 6016, released in September 1965.

18. What Are You Doing New Years Eve - B side of "O Holy Night".

Here's five tracks for your listening pleasure. A couple of deep, deep Clyde McPhatter performances are included.

Download from here:

Sources: "The Unsung Heroes Of Rock 'n' Roll" by St. Nicholas of Tosches

Label shots are crops of original scans by Joan K. "LP" cover was adapted from Joan's scan of a Dominoes record in a Federal sleeve.

More rockin' R&B vocal groups are in the pipeline! Stay tuned to the blog that jumps, jives and wails!