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 - www.theunarchiver.com - see comments on Little Esther Bad Baad Girl post for details.

2. Use Keka - http://www.kekaosx.com/en/ - see comments on Johnny Otis Presents post.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Amos Milburn - Rare Masters






Side A:
1. Let Me Go Home, Whiskey
2. Three Times A Fool
3. Boo Hoo
4. Empty Arms Blues
5. Operation Blues
6. Every Day Of The Week

Side B:
1. Put Something In My Hand
2. Darling How Long
3. What Can I Do
4. I Need Someone
5. I Love You Anyway
6. Baby, Baby All The Time

Be Bop Wino proudly presents the third instalment of “Operation Amos” – the revival of those Pathe Marconi LPs from the 1980s which introduced so many of us to one of the greatest of all R&B stars – Amos Milburn.

You can check out two more LPs from the series on this blog – “Let’s Have A Party” and “13 Unreleased Masters.” And there are two more to come, so have patience all you fans of real rockin’ R&B, boogie woogie, sleazy early rock n’ roll, blues and smoky nightclub ballads. Which sentence nicely describes the repertoire of the peerless Mr. Milburn and saves me having to write an outline of his career. I’ll get round to it someday. Honest.

In the meantime as I said on an earlier Amos post, just get a hold of “The Unsung Heroes of Rock and Roll” by Nick Tosches and read the relevant chapter which contains invaluable advice on avoiding playing dice in chicken shacks, and the foolishness of drinking and smoking your way to a stroke and having to get your leg amputated, and then finding God when it’s too late. Verily, words of wisdom which are especially relevant to the hedonistic younger generation of today.

Now let’s take a whirlwind chronological tour through the tracks on this crackly as hell slab of vinyl.

First off it’s “Darling How Long” which is from Amos’ first ever session for Aladdin in September 1946. A hissy, crackly track with a nice ballad performance from the recording debutant. There may be a bass and drums in there, but they are almost inaudible.

“Operation Blues” dates from December 1946 and is a nice example of the kind of double entendre blues that Amos liked to record. Something about injecting a woman with medicine. It’s nice to see Mr. Milburn so concerned about the lady’s health. I don't know why he tells her to put her big legs up on the wall. Whatever he’s doing she wants him to do it faster. I’m sure it’s all perfectly innocent.

We jump forward to 1947. In October Amos recorded “What Can I Do,” a nice ballad with simple piano, bass and electric guitar accompaniment. This is very reminiscent of the King Cole Trio. “Empty Arms Blues” is from December 1947 when record labels were frantically stockpiling sides with the AFM strike looming. See “13 Unreleased Masters” for more tracks recorded at this time. This one was released. It’s a fairly standard blues with some nice sax fills by Maxwell Davis and a glorious piano workout from Amos.


78 rpm label scan courtesy El Enmascadero Del Platter


And here's the B side from El Enmascadero Del Platter

“I Love You Anyway” is from April 1951 and features full band backing with good electric guitar weaving out and in the arrangement. It’s Amos’ piano playing which provides the big instrumental break while the saxes riff unobtrusively in the background. The song itself ain’t all that hot though. “Put Something In My Hand” from January 1952 is a good smoky nightclub style blues with Amos lamenting his woman’s generosity towards the local tradesmen while not putting any money into Amos’ hand. At least I think it’s about money. The sleazy sax interjections may be hinting that it ain’t all about cash.

The Aladdin Chicken-Shackers - did they have the X Factor?

Onwards, ever onwards through the long blues night and we reach August 1952 and “Boo Hoo.” There’s a noticeable improvement in sound quality compared to the earlier recordings. This is a superb moody blues – I love it.

We skip forward to December 1952 and both sides of Aladdin 3164. “Three Times A Fool” is another blues set against an insistent sax / piano riff with nice guitar featured. It’s rock and roll for adults before Pat Boone invented rock and roll and the kids took over. The other side of the disc “Let Me Go Home, Whiskey” is a classic. One of a series of booze anthems recorded by Amos in the early 1950s, it’s in the same vein as “Bad, Bad Whiskey,” “Good, Good Whiskey” and “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer” which you can hear on “Let’s Have A Party.” Unfortunately Amos was living the life depicted in these hymns to alcohol with consequences that would prove pretty catastrophic.

Three to go. “Baby, Baby All The Time,” recorded in March 1954, is another classic blues ballad. It’s a fantastic vocal performance from the man. As the mid 1950s approached the hits began to dry up for Amos, which is a damned shame as he was recording some great stuff. From April 1956, “I Need Someone” is a real soulful performance with a female vocal chorus which acquits itself very well with an almost gospel style accompaniment. At this stage of the game Amos’ career was stalling but if he had persevered with this kind of material who knows what may have happened.

And so to “Every Day Of The Week” recorded in New Orleans in September 1956. Amos is in fine voice and there’s great backing especially from the tenor sax of Lee Allen, but it’s a pretty unmemorable song. Basically it’s formulaic rock and roll and it was hardly the kind of thing that was going to revive the career of the one time R&B superstar.

I bought this LP second hand and there’s a fair bit of crackle and pop on it. But what care we, the fans of real rhythm and blues?

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps.

Download from here:

http://www78.zippyshare.com/v/VAFUg3mP/file.html


1. Let Me Go Home, Whiskey (December 18, 1952. Aladdin 3164)
2. Three Times A Fool (December 18, 1952. Aladdin 3164)
3. Boo Hoo (August 21, 1952. Aladdin 3159)
4. Empty Arms Blues (December 18, 1947. Aladdin 3032)
5. Operation Blues (December 13, 1946. Aladdin 174)
6. Every Day Of The Week (September, 1956. Aladdin 3340)
7. Put Something In My Hand (January 29, 1952. Aladdin 3125)
8. Darling How Long (September 12, 1946. Aladdin 160)
9. What Can I Do (October 27, 1947. Aladdin 3197)
10. I Need Someone (April 9, 1956. Aladdin 3320)
11. I Love You Anyway (April 18, 1951. Aladdin 3281)
12. Baby, Baby All The Time (March 26, 1954. Aladdin, 3248)

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Updated posts - 2

The latest update to the blog's back catalogue of slightly dodgy posts is to the Sonny Til and The Orioles LP "Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me", first posted back in September 2007. There are new scans, a total rewrite and new links for your delectation.

Robert Termorshuizen kindly contributed a couple of scans of the Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson LP on Bethlehem, "Cleanhead's Back In Town." These have been incorporated into the September 2010 post "Cherry Red Blues."

Friday, 12 November 2010

Joe Houston - Doin' The Twist (Crown CLP 5246)


Side One:
1. Doin' The Twist
2. Twisting The Twist
3. Crazy Twist
4. White House Twist
5. Chitlun's Twist

Side Two:
1. Rocking The Twist
2. Roy's Twist
3. Joe's Twist
4. Texas Twist
5. Casino Twist

We thank a new donor, El Enmascadero Del Platter, to the blog for this Joe Houston LP issued in 1962 on the budget Crown label. Crown had existed since 1953 as part of the Biharis Modern / RPM / Flair setup and had been used for the occasional 45 rpm single release. In 1957 the Biharis transformed Crown into an outlet for budget LPs, starting with reissues of Modern and RPM LPs including some good jazz, R&B and rock and roll by artists such as Stan Getz, Hadda Brooks, The Cadets, Joe Houston, B.B. King, Wardell Gray and Vido Musso.

"Hum Bug" - Joe Houston 45 on Crown 1953/54 (scan courtesy of Joan K)
Thanks to "Brian with a B" for cleaned up version of LP cover
The story of Crown can be found on the admirable Both Sides Now website which includes many cover scans which provide an excellent impression of the kind of material issued on Crown once the back catalogue of Modern / RPM LPs had been exhausted. There were dozens of issues of cover versions both of chart hits and of the top stage and film musicals of the day. All kinds of generic music was pushed out on Crown, such as brass bands, polkas, Christmas tunes, honky tonk piano, George Liberace, Hawaiian music, children’s songs, you get the picture.

Packaging and vinyl quality were shoddy in the extreme, but in amongst the schlock there were many releases of good R&B material from the vaults of Modern, RPM and Flair, which means that cheapo Crown LPs have always been of interest to fans of rhythm and blues. Indeed Ace (UK) have reissued a number of Crown albums on CD but naturally with extra tracks and vastly improved packaging.



No passing fad was immune from a cheap knock off on Crown and in 1962 at the height of the Twist craze the label issued a number of discs to cash in on the dance that was sweeping the nation. The tracks on this Joe Houston album were probably recorded for the LP and not simply gathered from the catalogues of Modern, RPM and Flair. We’ll be continuing our look at the Crown label on a number of upcoming posts, including a look at another twist LP which takes a different approach to this one!

Now it’s over to El Enmascadero Del Platter who recalls the impact of those Crown LPs at first hand:

Doin' The Twist- Joe Houston is one of those "record collector" records. When I worked in a used record store in Boston in the '80's, it (along with Joe's Twisting In Orbit and Rock and Roll with Joe Houston and his Rockets), was one of the "grail" records that the owner kept displayed on the wall. I have the same display on a wall of my record room today. The ultra-cheap Crown label was generally sold in grocery stores and the like, not record stores (remember record stores?)... The cover photo is glued unevenly on a plain white cardboard sleeve. Crown pressings are crude, but have a sound all their own. They kind of jump out of the speakers in a raw, gritty sort of way.

Thank you, El Enmascadero Del Platter!

Ripped from vinyl at 96 kbps. Password = greaseyspoon

Download from here:

http://www119.zippyshare.com/v/Bbu9BKQf/file.html


1. Doin' The Twist
2. Twisting The Twist
3. Crazy Twist
4. White House Twist
5. Chitlun's Twist
6. Rocking The Twist
7. Roy's Twist
8. Joe's Twist
9. Texas Twist
10. Casino Twist



And now for a special treat – a visit to the record room of El Enmascadero Del Platter at a top secret location somewhere in the USA.




Pride of place (in my view) goes to the 1940s Sparton radio / record player. Ain’t that a killer?



My 78 playing setup is a late 1940's Sparton am/phono console (78 RPM only) I trash-picked it when I was living in Boston. One morning I saw it out by the curb and said "I'll take that!"... I had to get a new cartridge for it- one of the local Boston used record stores, (Stereo Jack's, I think) got it for me. It has one 12" speaker that puts out a surprising amount of bass, not to mention sheer volume, on late forties and fifties 78's. It doesn't sound as good on records from the twenties. Although I have several other portable record players capable of playing 78's, the Sparton has the best tone, by far.

It could really stand to be refinished - the veneer is mostly all off the top, which is why I keep a tablecloth on it. Recently, it stopped putting out sound, but I was able to repair it by replacing one of the 6V6 power tubes. It just started suffering from a little mechanical squeaking sound when the turntable is spinning, which I plan to address soon. I don't think it will be too hard to fix. Every time I move, someone tries to talk me into discarding it, and I just laugh. Needless to say, for those in the throes of advanced record-collector disease, moving is a daunting task to be avoided if at all possible.

Once again, thank you to El Enmascadero Del Platter for this post.

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Five Keys - It's A Groove


Side One:
1. Hucklebuck With Jimmy
2. How Do You Expect Me To Get It
3. Old MacDonald
4. Why Oh Why
5. Serve Another Round
6. I'm So High
7. The Glory Of Love
8. Rockin' & Cryin' Blues

Side Two:
1. She's The Most
2. It's A Groove
3. From The Bottom Of My Heart
4. Close Your Eyes
5. Now Don't That Prove I Love You
6. That's Right
7. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
8. My Pigeon's Gone

The definitive online source for The Five Keys is of course on Marv Goldberg’s website. Much of what appears below is distilled from that article, plus total immersion in a whole bunch of Five Keys tracks. All label scans on this post were kindly supplied by Joan K.

1951 was the year of the vocal group in rhythm and blues as a wave of new groups hit the charts. The Dominoes (“Sixty Minute Man,” “Do Something For Me” and “I Am With You”), The Clovers (“Fool, Fool, Fool” and “Don’t You Know I Love You”) and The Five Keys (“The Glory of Love”) all enjoyed substantial hits. There were hits too for The Four Buddies (“I Will Wait”), The Cardinals (“Shouldn’t I Know”), The Swallows (“Will You Be Mine”) and The Larks (“Eyesight to the Blind” and “Little Side Car.”)

The Dominoes’ “Sixty Minute Man” on Federal was the top selling R&B disk of 1951. The Clovers’ record sales along with those of Ruth Brown and Big Joe Turner helped establish Atlantic as the top selling R&B label of the year. The second best selling R&B label was Aladdin thanks to Charles Brown, Amos Milburn, Peppermint Harris, Floyd Dixon – and The Five Keys.

The Five Keys came from Newport News, Virginia. The group originated as two sets of brothers, Rudy and Bernie West, and Ripley and Raphael Ingram who formed a gospel group called the Sentimental Four in 1945. Within a few years they had branched into pop and R&B and started winning talent contests in local theatres. They added a fifth member, Edwin Hall, and remained as a five piece when Raphael Ingram was drafted, being replaced by Dickie Smith in 1949. At this point they became The Five Keys and it was under this name that they appeared in the famed Amateur Hour at the Apollo Theatre in New York. The success of their appearance led to a week long stint at the Apollo and lengthy tours with The Brownskin Models revue.

In 1950 The Five Keys became a six piece group with the addition of guitarist Joe Jones. Edwin Hall left the group and was replaced by Maryland Pierce, thus completing the classic early 50s line-up of the group (as pictured on the LP cover) which was now blessed with two formidable lead tenors. Maryland Pierce handled the bluesy ballads and rockers, while Rudy West led the romantic numbers. Baritone Dickie Smith also contributed occasional lead vocals. In February 1951 The Five Keys signed up with Aladdin Records. Their first release in April 1951, “With a Broken Heart” / “Too Late” failed to hit, but their second platter, released in July 1951, “Glory of Love” / “Hucklebuck with Jimmy” was a smash, reaching number one in the R&B charts and finishing as the tenth best selling R&B record of 1951.


“Glory of Love” was the only hit for the Five Keys on Aladdin for whom they recorded up until September 1953, and, although they nominally remained with the label up until July 1954 when they recorded an unreleased session for Groove, a failure to conclude negotiations for a one year extension to their contract seems to have led to months without recording. According to Marv Goldberg’s article, the Aladdin label and the group had different opinions on the kind of material that should be recorded, with the label wanting the guys to concentrate on up tempo dance numbers, while the group members had a preference for ballads and “classics.”


Side one of this LP has eight tracks recorded for Aladdin, mostly up-tempo, rockin’ R&B. “Hucklebuck With Jimmy,” (based on Jimmy Preston’s “Huckleback Daddy” from 1949), “How Do You Expect Me To Get It,” “Old MacDonald,” I’m So High,” and “Rockin’ And Cryin’ The Blues” are all superb rockers with the obligatory blasting saxes, especially “Rockin’ And Cryin’ The Blues” which has Maryland Pierce in great form and the bonus of a blistering sax break.


“Serve Another Round” is an atmospheric sleazy booze blues with tasty sax fills and another great vocal from Maryland Pierce, “Why Oh Why” is another bluesy ballad with a fine Dickie Smith vocal and of course the Rudy West led “Glory Of Love” (with fine support from Dickie Smith) is one of the all time great vocal group ballad recordings.



The Five Keys had many other good recordings on Aladdin including rockers and bluesers like “Come Go My Bail Louise,” “Oh! Babe!” (not the Louis Prima song), “Mama (Your Daughter Told A Lie On Me),” “My Saddest Hour,” and “Hold Me.” They could turn out gutsy versions of standards like “Red Sails In The Sunset” and “There’ll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs of Dover,” and deliver appealing ballad performances like “Someday Sweetheart” and “Story Of Love.” Despite these many fine performances further chart success eluded The Five Keys on Aladdin but this situation changed dramatically when they started recording for Capitol in August, 1954.

By the first session for Capitol, Dickie Smith had left the group, being replaced by Ramon Loper. Rudy West, who had been drafted in late 1952, had not yet returned (he came back in early October 1954) and his replacement Ulysses Hicks was still in the line-up. By the time of the second Capitol session in November 1954, Ulysses Hicks had dropped out of the recording line-up which now consisted of Maryland Pierce, Rudy West, Ripley Ingram, Ramon Loper and Bernie West. This line-up recorded at all subsequent Capitol sessions, the last of which was in February 1958. Ulysses was still part of the Five Keys for live performances, dying of a heart attack at the tragically young age of 25 on the 1st of February 1955 while on tour with the group.


A rock and roll novelty “Ling Ting Tong,” was the first release on Capitol. It was an enormous success, reaching number 5 in the R&B charts towards the end of 1954. The disc also entered the pop charts, peaking at number 28. This success was achieved in the face of heavy sales garnered by a cover version by Otis Williams and The Charms which also reached number 5 on the R&B chart and number 26 on the pop chart.


“Close Your Eyes” was the next release on Capitol and the success of “Ling Ting Tong” was repeated with a number 5 placing on the R&B chart in the spring of 1955. “Close Your Eyes” is a particularly beautiful performance, an ethereal ballad with lead by Maryland Pierce echoed by Rudy West and with subtle vocal backing by the rest of the guys. The instrumental accompaniment is minimalist, leaving the outstanding vocals to carry the song with no background distractions.


Chart success continued with “The Verdict” (number 13 in the autumn of 1955), “’Cause You’re My Lover” / “Gee Whittakers (numbers 12 and 14 respectively in late 1955), and “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” (number 12 R&B, number 23 pop in late 1956). As you can hear from the selection of Capitol sides on Side Two of this LP, The Five Keys’ sound changed from the straight ahead R&B of the Aladdin years and the earliest Capitol sessions. Backing arrangements became bigger and brassier with bands under the supervision of Dave Cavanaugh and Van Alexander. Female choruses were added and the material tended towards out and out pop.




The contrast between the treatment of two ballads, “Close Your Eyes” and “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” is quite marked, with the latter featuring a female backing chorus and band accompaniment (admittedly muted until the final couple of bars) behind a vocal by Rudy West that could have been by The Ink Spots’ Bill Kenny. “It’s a Groove” just about qualifies as rock and roll despite the “square” big band arrangement, but really there is no hope for “That’s Right”, a pure pop novelty. “She’s The Most,” “Now Don’t That Prove I Love You,” and “My Pigeon’s Gone” all rock along in good style, although sounding much more like pop than the Aladdin material. The last in particular is raised well above pop mediocrity by some good sax blasting and a rousing Maryland Pierce lead vocal.

The final Five Keys session for Capitol took place in February 1958 and soon afterwards Rudy West left the group followed by Ramon Loper. The contract with Capitol was allowed to lapse without any further recordings being made, although Five Keys singles were released up until November 1958. In July 1959 the group signed up with King Records for whom they recorded in a more R&B style between August 1959 and March 1960. In the second half of 1960 the group finally broke up, although a group led by Rudy West, “Rudy West and The Five Keys” issued a couple of records in the 1960s.

The real Five Keys were reunited (although they didn’t perform) in 1983 when they received the Pioneer Award at The Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 1992 the group were inducted into the UGHA Hall of Fame and for the last time Maryland Pierce and Rudy West performed the haunting “Close Your Eyes” on stage. On an earlier post on the Aladdin LP “The Best of The Five Keys,” an anonymous comment said:

“In New York City in 1992, Rudy West, Maryland Pierce, Bernie West, Dickie Smith, and Ripley Ingram appeared on stage together for one last time. They sang "Close Your Eyes." I was in the audience. What a thrill it was. The call and response between Rudy West and Maryland Pierce in that song have never been equalled. Some of my record-collector friends consider the Five Keys the greatest vocal group of all time.”

Amen to that, good brother or good sister!

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps.

Download from here:

http://www7.zippyshare.com/v/HI5ITo8O/file.html


Tracklist: tracks 1 – 8 recorded for Aladdin, 1951-1953. Tracks 9 – 16 recorded for Capitol, 1954-1957.
Month of recording and month of release are given where known.

1. Hucklebuck With Jimmy (March, 1951; Aladdin 3099, July 1951)
2. How Do You Expect Me To Get It (September, 1953; Aladdin 3245, May 1954)
3. Old MacDonald (August, 1951; Aladdin 3113, December 1951)
4. Why Oh Why (October, 1952; Aladdin 3263, May 1955)
5. Serve Another Round (September, 1952; Aladdin 3158, October 1952)
6. I'm So High (September, 1952; Aladdin 3204, September 1953)
7. The Glory Of Love (March, 1951; Aladdin 3099, July 1951)
8. Rockin' & Cryin' Blues (October, 1952; unreleased)
9. She's The Most (February, 1956; Capitol 3392, April 1956)
10. It's A Groove (January, 1957; Capitol 3710, April 1957)
11. From The Bottom Of My Heart (June, 1956; Capitol LP T-828, February 1957)
12. Close Your Eyes (November, 1954; Capitol 3032, January 1955)
13. Now Don't That Prove I Love You (?; Capitol 3597, November 1956)
14. That's Right (?; Capitol 3502, August 1956)
15. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind (June, 1956; Capitol 3502, August 1956)
16. My Pigeon's Gone (February, 1956; Capitol 3455, June 1956)

Capitol EPs:

Capitol EAP 1-572 released January 1955


Capitol EAP 2-828 released February 1957: not a live performance!


Recommended reading and listening:

Marv Goldberg’s article on The Five Keys appeared in issues 246 and 247 of Blues and Rhythm magazine, February and March 2010. Take out a subscription now by going to bluesandrhythm.co.uk and don’t forget to order the required back issues. Read Unca Marvy for the full lowdown on The Five Keys. Find out how many guys called Joe Jones were in the group! Find out how The Five Keys became Seven at one stage! So who were The Four Keys? Find out who sang what! And when! Read about double breasted grey plaid suits! Discover the Fidel Castro connection! And how Bo Diddley pissed off Ed Sullivan! And guess how much the guys earned in royalties from Aladdin and Capitol! (not difficult …)

Rocking and Crying: the Complete Singles 1951 – 1954 (Jasmine JASCD 555)
A mid price 2CD set from Jasmine with a total of 58 tracks This one is on my “to buy” list, for just as soon as I can get the readies together. This collection includes all their Aladdin singles and early Capitol singles. And as a bonus, the “almost but not quite released” single on Groove.

Rocking and Crying the Blues: 1951-57 (Rev-Ola Bandstand)
A mid price 30 track CD spanning the best of their Aladdin, Groove and Capitol output.