So we kick off with the blues, and Be Bop Wino tours the South – beginning with Sam Phillip’s studio in Memphis, Tennessee, where he recorded blues artists for release on Modern / RPM out of LA , Chess in Chicago and of course for his own Sun label. Howlin’ Wolf, Rosco Gordon, Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm, Doctor Ross (the harmonica boss!) and one man band Joe Hill Louis were just some of the talents who graced the studio at 706 Union Avenue.
Jackson, Mississippi was the home of Lillian McMurray’s Trumpet label where the recording careers of the second Sonny Boy Williamson (William Miller) and Elmore James kicked off. Sonny Boy’s “Mighty Long Time” was the B side of his classic “Nine Below Zero.” Another label which originated in Memphis was Duke, founded by James Mattis, but in 1952 it was taken over by the Houston based owner of Peacock, Don Robey, and its operation moved to Texas. Duke remained an outlet for musicians from Memphis, including Bobby Bland, Johnny Ace and Junior Parker. The latter had made his first recordings in Memphis under the supervision of Ike Turner for Modern / RPM, but found greater success with Sun (“Feelin’ Good” and “Mystery Train”) before moving on to Duke.
Colourful entrepreneur Don Robey founded his Peacock label in Houston in 1949 initially to record blues guitarist / singer Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown who was being managed by Robey. In this collection there are three early Peacock recordings, by Lavada Durst (Dr. Hepcat), New Orleans guitarist Edgar Blanchard and Houston bass player Donald “Silver” Cooks. Blanchard and Cooks are backed by Blanchard’s band The Gondoliers. The harmonica on these two tracks is played by the legendary Papa Lightfoot out of Natchez, Mississippi.
Hillbilly musician Eddie Shuler formed Goldband Records in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1951. The label had a strong country / Cajun / rockabilly roster, but Eddie started recording R&B artists like Boozo Chavis and Classie Ballou in the mid fifties. Lee Baker Junior, better known as Guitar Junior was Goldband’s most successful blues artist hitting it big with his first release in 1957, “Family Rules.” Guitar Junior eventually moved to Chicago, changed his name to Lonnie Brooks, and enjoyed a successful “second” blues career.
The only track recorded for a major label here is the unreleased “Sober” by Piano Red. The track was recorded for RCA in Atlanta with backing provided by Clyde “Blow Top” Lynn’s band. Born in 1911 in Hampton, Georgia, as Willie Perryman, Piano Red’s recording career started in 1936. In the 1950s he had an unlikely career boost when he released a series of raucous (and salacious) R&B pounders like “Rockin’ With Red” and “Right String Baby But The Wrong Yo Yo” which attracted a whole new audience of young rock ‘n rollers.
Many southern artists migrated to the Northern cities. John Lee Hooker is always associated with Detroit and Chicago of course became home to many southern blues musicians. Chi-Town’s Chess Records (and its Checker subsidiary) had a fantastic array of blues talent – Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Jimmy Rogers, these are just a handful of names from dozens. Magic Sam (Sam Maghett) belonged to the generation which succeeded that of Muddy and his cohorts. In 1957 he started recording for the small Cobra label, with “All Your Love” (recorded under the supervision of Willie Dixon) being the most successful of four singles he released in 1957 / 1958.
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1. She May Be Yours (But She Comes To See Me Sometime) / Joe Hill Louis
- Sun 178, 1953
2. Downtown Boogie / Doctor Ross
- unissued Sun Studios recording, early 1950s
3. I'm Gonna Forget About You / Ike Turner
- unissued Sun Studios recording, 1953
4. Mighty Long Time / Sonny Boy Williamson (II)
- Trumpet 166, 1951
5. That's Alright / Junior Parker
- Duke 168, 1957
6. Hattie Green / Lavada Durst
- Peacock 1509, 1950
7. Creole Gal Blues / Edgar Blanchard
- Peacock 1514, 1950
8. Mr Ticket Agent / Silver Cooks
- Peacock 1510, 1950
9. There Better Be No Feet (In Them Shoes) / Junior Parker
- Duke 147, 1955
10. Everything's Going To Be Alright / Little Walter
- Checker 930, 1959
11. Chocolate Drop / Howlin' Wolf
- unissued Sun Studios recording, 1951/52
12. Decorate The Counter / Rosco Gordon
- unissued Sun Studios recording, 1952
13. Sober / Piano Red
- unissued RCA recording, 1953
14. Movin' On Down The Line / John Lee Hooker
- unissued United Sound Studios recording 1948-52
15. All Your Love / Magic Sam
- Cobra 5013, 1957
16. Roll Roll Roll / Guitar Junior
- Goldband 1068, 1958
17. Diggin' My Potatoes / Washboard Sam
- Chess 1545, 1953
18. Blue Midnight / Little Walter
- Checker 955, 1960 (recorded 1952)