Saturday, 1 November 2008

Jimmy Wright - Let's Go Crazy Crazy Baby

This was one of the earliest posts I put up on Rock Hall more than a year ago. I’ve added scans of the gatefold sleeve so that the full liner notes by Ken Mills are available via this re-up. The notes make for odd reading at times as they verge on the pretentious, yet they evoke the excitement of the Los Angeles R&B scene in the early 1950s as the music spread through the different communities in the city. R&B histories have detailed the role of radio in helping the music break out, but this LP is the only source I have seen that looks at the role played by this group of young white musicians like Jimmy Wright and Porkey Harris in broadening the appeal of R&B. Several years before rock and roll hit the national charts, Wright, Harris and Russ Young were playing R&B alongside the likes of Big Jay McNeely and Chuck Higgins both onstage and in the recording studio. The notes below are a summary adapted from Ken Mills’ liner notes for the album.

“From 1953 to 1956, the Wright band was meltdown hot and these are the records that produced stardom, as heard on the Huggy Boy, Hunter Hancock and Ray Robinson shows. They worked two to three gigs a week, sharing bills with The Jewels, The Native Boys, The Queens, The Hollywood Flames, The Lamplighters, The Medallions, The Robins, Jimmy Huff and Duke Henderson.” - Ken Mills

Jimmy Wright grew up in Huntington Park, a middle class suburb of Los Angeles. His folks bought him a set of drums and drum lessons. Early influences were records by Joe Liggins, Bull Moose Jackson and Jazz At The Philharmonic. He idolised Gene Krupa, standing in line night after night at the Orpheum Theater to catch his show. In 1948 (at the age of 16 or 17) Jimmy put together his first band, basing the sound on that of Big Jay McNeely. He rented the local Oddfellows Hall for concerts and charged the neighbourhood kids a quarter as entrance fee. A few years later he was doing the same thing for real – renting clubs and halls and staging concerts which featured not only his own band, but Big Jay himself as headline act. At this time he got together with Porkey Harris, a guitarist who played in Big Jay’s band. The pair can be seen walking through the audience at a 1954 gig in the atmospheric photo on the front cover of this LP.

In the spring of 1953 he hired tenor sax man Boogie Daniels for his first recording session and hawked the dubs round Capitol and Modern Records. Jules Bihari the head of Modern arranged a further recording session for the band at which ‘Scotch Mist’ (a sax instro written by and featuring Daniels) and ‘Porkey Pine’ (a guitar instro written by Porkey Harris) were cut. This disc became a big West Coast hit in the summer of 1953 and the band was soon touring on big R&B package shows featuring the likes of Marvin and Johnny, The Flairs and The Four Freshmen.In 1954 Jimmy cut three records for John Dolphin’s Cash label – ‘Huggy Hop/Huggy Jump’, ‘Blow Jimmy Blow’ and ‘Sailin’ Low’. The first record was intended to be the theme for Huggy Boy’s radio show which was broadcast from the window of the Dolphin’s of Hollywood record store, but Huggy dropped the tune after a few weeks.

In 1956 the Jimmy Wright Band recorded ‘Let’s Go Crazy Crazy Baby’ which features great tenor sax by Chuck Higgins and not-so-great vocals by Huggy Boy. The side was still a local hit though! The band’s last recording session was in late 1956 (under the name of Porkey Harris and his Fantabulous Five) at which the powerful guitar instro ‘Pig Pen’ was cut.After breaking up his band and joining The Rocking Brothers, Jimmy Wright quit the music business to escape the pressures of an “on the road” lifestyle. He took up jobs like truck driver, florist and handyman and invested the profits he had made from his peak year concerts in property.(adapted from Ken Mill's sleevenotes)

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps. Password = greaseyspoon

Download from here:

http://rapidshare.com/files/159621247/Let_s_Go_Crazy_Crazy_Baby.rar

Or here:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=Q9AEUL7H

1. Let's Go Crazy Crazy Baby
2. Jimmy's Boogie
3. Sailin' Low
4. I'm In The Mood To Be Loved
5. Huggy Jump
6. Blow Jimmy Blow
7. Up And Over The Hill
8. Scotch Mist
9. Sad Strings
10. Porkey Pine
11. Huggy Hop
12. Pig Pen / as Porky Harris and his Fantabulous Five
13. Slow Down Baby
14. Shufflin'
15. Boogie Tonight

2 comments:

boogieman said...

Fantastic album! I found it in Brussels in July in a second-hand record shop that had just purchased a warehouse full of LPs. All new, mint, for prices between 5 and 8 EURO. There was a lot of other Route 66, JukeBox Lil' , Flyright etc ... a goldmine, all brand new and pretty cheap.
Such a pleasure to browse thru' all these crates of "new" LP.

Marineband said...

Any chance to reup in zippy please?