Born seven years after his bandleader brother Joe, Jimmy Liggins embarked on his own musical career in 1947. After a brief try at a career in boxing, Jimmy became driver for Joe’s band as they toured the country in the wake of their smash hit “The Honeydripper”. Jimmy couldn’t help but be impressed by the large amounts of money that Joe was earning and at the end of 1946 he left The Honeydrippers to start up his own band, which he named The Drops of Joy.
In September 1947 the band started recording for Art Rupe’s Specialty Records, with “I Can’t Stop It” being their first release. This record demonstrated that Jimmy’s sound was going to be very different from Joe’s. Jimmy’s up-tempo recordings all featured pounding rhythms, shouted, half-spoken vocals and heavy riffing from twin tenor saxes. When the band played slower blues it was with a real gutsy down-in-the-alley feel as you can hear on this 1981 Mr R&B compilation.
The first incarnation of The Drops of Joy had the hard blowing tenors of Harold Land and Charles “Little Jazz” Ferguson backing up Jimmy’s guitar and vocals on his self-penned songs. Chart success came in 1948 with “Teardrop Blues” (Billboard no. 7) and in 1949 with “Careful Love” (no. 15), both songs having been recorded in December 1947.
The first line-up of The Drops of Joy broke up after a violent incident during a performance on the 1st April 1948 in a Jackson, Mississippi skating rink. Little Jazz was slashed with a razor and Jimmy was shot through the mouth. Full details can be read in the sleeve notes of this LP.
In November1948 the new line-up, augmented by Maxwell Davis, recorded four tracks and returned to the charts with “Don’t Put Me Down” (no. 9). In 1951 Jimmy formed a third version of the band which included Herman “Rockhouse” Manzy on drums. In late 1952 or early 1953 The Drops of Joy recorded their last session for Specialty which yielded their biggest hit “Drunk”. Jimmy then left Specialty, possibly because of a money dispute, a course of action for which he later expressed regret. He had only one more recording session, in June 1954 for Aladdin. Four terrific hard-rocking sides were recorded; “I Ain’t Drunk”, “No More Alcohol”, “Boogie Woogie King” and “Talking That Talk”, but none saw chart action.
Jimmy’s music represented a step away from the swing influenced jump bands, and was a move towards the harder rocking variety of rhythm and blues and ultimately rock and roll. Download and enjoy some real righteous riffs!
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Download from here:
1. I Can't Stop It
2. Don't Put Me Down
3. Troubles Good-Bye
4. Misery Blues
5. Move Out Baby
6. Answer To Teardrop Blues
7. That Song Is Gone
8. I Want My Baby For Christmas
9. Down And Out Blues
10. That's What's Knockin' Me Out
11. Lonely Nights Blues
12. Goin' Down With The Sun
13. Brown Skin Baby
14. Lover's Prayer
15. Dark Hour Blues
16. I'll Never Let You Go
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