Honkers and Screamers, Be-Boppers and Doowoppers, Rockers, Rollers and Boogie Woogie Jukebox Chicks
Sunday, 6 February 2011
Joe Liggins & his Honeydrippers - Darktown Strutters Ball
1. Miss Betty's Blues
2. Got Your Love In My Heart (Herb Jefferies)
4. I Know My Love Is True
5. Got A Right To Cry
8. Sugar Lump
1. The Darktown Strutters Ball
2. Downhome Blues
3. Breaking My Heart
4. Sweet Georgia Brown
5. The Blues
7. Spooks Holiday
8. Daddy On My Mind
Way back in the blog we had a look at the early part of Joe’s career and in particular at the impact of his 1945 hit “The Honeydripper.” The LP featured on this post was the first of the two Joe Liggins compilations issued by Jukebox Lil back in the 1980s. It includes the follow up hit to “The Honeydripper” – “Got A Right To Cry.” Other R&B chart hits included here are “Tanya,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” and “Darktown Strutters Ball,” all recorded for Exclusive, a label for which Joe had a total of 10 hits between 1945 and 1948.
In 1949 Exclusive closed down as they were unable to convert their operation to accommodate the new 45 rpm format. In January 1950 Joe and the Honeydrippers started recording for Specialty, the label for which his brother Jimmy was already recording. Joe’s first session for his new label produced the biggest R&B hit of 1950 – “Pink Champagne.” There were further hits on Specialty including “Frankie Lee” and “Little Joe’s Boogie,” both in 1951, with Joe’s flow of hits finally drying up in 1952 with “Cryin’ Over You.”
Joe left Specialty in 1954, moving to Mercury where he recorded a session which failed to arouse public interest. From then on Joe’s recording career was intermittent, his next session being for Aladdin in 1957 with no further recordings until 1962 when he returned briefly to Mercury. In 1965 he cut a few sides for his brother Jimmy’s Duplex and J & J labels, then four years later he recorded an album for Johnny Otis’ Blues Spectrum label. Joe reformed the Honeydrippers for occasional live gigs, and in the 1980s as interest in jump blues revived, the band started making appearances at the major jazz and blues festivals, bringing the sound of the 1940s to a new generation of fans. The final curtain came down on a long and distinguished career when Joe died in July 1987.
Two of my favourite Joe Liggins sides are here – “Miss Betty’s Blues” and “Walkin’.” Both feature that relaxed shuffle rhythm coupled with appealing melodies which was the trademark of the best of Joe’s music.
"Miss Betty's Blues" with the story of the origin of this track, streamed audio of the vinyl rip and YouTube videos of El Enmascarado's original 78 rpm. This includes the other side of the disc - "Lover's Lament."
The Classics series covers Joe's career from 1946 - 1952 in 3 CDs. Look 'em up on Amazon.co.uk.
Also of interest is the Ace CD "Jazz Me Blues" by Joe's sax player Little Willie Jackson, backed by the Honeydrippers including Joe on piano. This is a set of sides recorded for Modern in 1947. I guess it almost qualifies as a "moonlighting" sesssion as the band were under contract to Exclusive at the time.
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"The night is the corridor of history, not the history of famous people or great events, but that of the marginal, the ignored, the supressed, the unacknowledged; the history of vice, of error, of confusion, of fear, of want; the history of intoxication, of vainglory, of delusion, of dissipation, of delirium." Luc Sante - Low Life