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Attention Mac Users!

Mac users have been experiencing problems in unpacking the WinRAR archives used on this blog. Two solutions have been suggested.

1. Use The Unarchiver - - see comments on Little Esther Bad Baad Girl post for details.

2. Use Keka - - see comments on Johnny Otis Presents post.

Sunday 25 October 2009

Big Joe Turner - Jumpin' With Joe

By 1951 Big Joe Turner could fairly be described as a “veteran” blues singer and just as fairly his career could have been described as going nowhere. In 1949 and 1950 he had released recordings on a dizzying variety of labels including Excelsior, Swing Time, MGM, Modern, National, Freedom, Imperial and Aladdin. In the spring of 1951 he fronted the Count Basie band at the Apollo, replacing an ill Jimmy Rushing. The gig proved to be a disaster as Joe, who was unfamiliar with the band’s arrangements, missed cues and fluffed endings.

With the jeers of the audience echoing in his ears, Big Joe headed for the Braddock Bar to drown his sorrows. Following closely behind was Atlantic Records honcho Ahmet Ertegun who had witnessed the Apollo debacle but who had also helped promote Joe back in the day, booking him and Pete Johnson for a concert in Washington DC in 1942. And so in the highly suitable surroundings of a barroom Ertegun informed Joe that he was going to record him.

Success came instantly with “Chains of Love”, written by Ertegun especially for Big Joe. The record was a massive hit, staying in the R&B charts for six months and peaking at number two. It also crossed over into the pop charts, reaching number thirty. Along with The Clovers and Ruth Brown, Big Joe established Atlantic as the top selling R&B label in the country. “Bump Miss Susie”, recorded at his first Atlantic session on April 19th, 1951, was a forerunner of the pounding, rocking R&B which would bring Big Joe success not only with rhythm and blues audiences, but also with the rapidly growing number of young rock and roll fans. “Honey Hush” and “Shake Rattle and Roll” both broke into the pop charts in 1953 and 1954.

Further frantic rockers on this LP include “Well Alright”, “Morning Noon and Night”, “Hide and Seek”, and “Flip Flop and Fly”, by which time Atlantic were making a more conscious effort to cater for the rock and roll youth market, rather than relying on young white hipsters picking up on rhythm and blues records. Just compare the arrangements on the early 1950s discs with those from the second half of the decade. Perhaps getting Big Joe to record something like “Teenage Letter” was taking things a bit too far. Although it’s the rockers which dominate this compilation, there are a few good blues performances too, especially “TV Mama” (with Elmore James on slide guitar) and the New Orleans-influenced “Ti-Ri-Lee”.

78 rpm issue of Flip Flop and Fly courtesy El Enmascadero Del Platter
78 rpm issue of Ti-Ri-Lee courtesy of El Enmascadero Del Platter
In the midst of R&B and rock and roll success Big Joe recorded an LP of blues arranged in the Kansas City style of his younger days – “Boss of the Blues.” With hindsight it can be seen as an insurance policy against the inevitable time when chart success would elude the veteran. And yea when that time came, our hero was well placed to attract a new audience of jazz fans and thus keep his career rolling on for a few more decades.

Many thanks to Joan for the folder of vintage label shots.

1984 Charly LP ripped from vinyl. Password = greaseyspoon

Download from here:

1. Bump Miss Susie
2. Honey Hush
3. Oke-She-Moke-She-Pop
4. TV Mama
5. Shake, Rattle And Roll
6. In The Evening (When The Sun Goes Down)
7. Well All Right
8. Ti-Ri-Lee
9. Morning Noon And Night
10. Hide And Seek
11. Flip Flop And Fly
12. The Chicken And The Hawk
13. Boogie Woogie Country Girl
14. Lipstick, Powder And Paint
15. Teenage Letter
16. We're Gonna Jump For Joy

Recommended purchase:

There are plenty of CD collections of Big Joe Turner’s Atlantic sides. The Rev-Ola CD “Flip Flop and Fly 1951 - 1955” is a fine 27 track compilation of the man’s Atlantic heyday.


frutasingular said...

You've got a great blog. I'm glad to find so many things that I like and others I know I'll like but still haven't listened to.
I just wanted to ask you why you've said that recording Teenage Letter was probably going too far for Big Joe Turner.
In our blog, we also put a lot of effort into black music. It's in spanish and in future I would like to talk about some artists I've found here. Hope you don't mind.

Anonymous said...

Turner's "Rockin' The Blues" cover is the same template of a 1958 Ray Charles "Yes, Indeed!" alternate cover - except Ray's screaming girls are overlaid with orange, green and blue. It's terrific to see.

Lovin' the music, as always! - d.

boogiewoody said...

Teenage Letter? Big Joe Turner? Where to begin? "This is a teenage letter and I seal it with a kiss ..." Uh huh - he might be a little too old for such carryings on.

On the other hand one must admire his stamina.

Anonymous said...

What a great day. Thought your blog had been removed then I do a search on Joe Turner & there you are. Looking forward to seeing what I missed & getting this blog back into favs.



Baron said...

Thanks again BW ... on a Turner discovery ... first port of call here ... Baron

Anonymous said...

Can you source or do you have...Big Joe Turner 'Boss Man Of The Blues'LP with Rod Piazza?

Cheers n Beers,


boogiewoody said...

Sorry, Marineband, I don't have anything so modern in my Big Joe mini-collection!