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Sunday, 20 March 2011

I Ain’t Mad At You

Gatemouth Moore - before he saw the light
Recently I came across the Jesse Price version of “I Ain’t Mad At You” and it immediately went straight into my all time top ten favourite R&B discs. Well, make that top thirty. It’s a beautifully relaxed and subtle performance of what I thought was the classic song by blues shouter Dwight “Gatemouth” Moore, a track which has been lurking in my collection for about two and a half decades.

After a search through the vinyl cupboard I retrieved Gatemouth’s track on my beat up copy of the double LP “The Shouters,” which was part of the “Roots of Rock ‘N’ Roll” series on Savoy Jazz. The Gatemouth Moore track which dates from 1945 is not the same song which became a modest hit for Jesse Price in 1947. The full title of the Gatemouth song is “I Ain’t Mad at You, Pretty Baby.” However there are similarities between the two, particularly around the shared refrain of “I ain’t mad at you!”

Price’s “I Ain’t Mad At You” was in its turn covered by Count Basie but that version is wildly different from the Price disc as you can now hear by clicking on the playlist. To round off our little wander along the back roads of early rhythm & blues, I’ve added an unreleased version by The Jones Boys which they recorded for Gotham at an unknown date. This frantic version is very different from anything else on the playlist, so despite the shared song title (well, almost) there are four very different performances.

Click on the playlist widget below for some Sunday afternoon rhythm’n’ bluesin’:

Track 1 – “I Ain’t Mad At You, Pretty Baby” (National 6001) by Dwight “Gatemouth” Moore with Dallas Bartley and his Small Town Boys. Recorded in Chicago on May 10th, 1945.

Kill 'em Gatemouth!
Gatemouth Moore is a performer whom we must investigate further here on Be Bop Wino. Like Jesse Price he had deep jazz roots in Memphis and Kansas City. While singing with Walter Barnes and his Royal Creoles he survived the appalling Natchez Rhythm Club inferno of April 23rd, 1940 which killed some 200 dance hall patrons as well as most of Gatemouth’s bandmates. In 1949 he had an onstage religious experience and immediately gave up screechin’ for preachin’.

Track 2 – “I Ain’t Mad at You” (Capitol 348) by Jesse Price. Recorded in Los Angeles on October 17th, 1946.

This is the track that got me searching through the vinyl vault. It's a nicely relaxed performance from a small studio jump group led by drummer and singer Jesse Price who is another performer whom we must revisit on Be Bop Wino. He was part of the booming Kansas City jazz scene of the 1930s – being drummer in the Benny Moten band and, after Moten’s death, in the Count Basie led version of that aggregation.

When Basie and the boys left KC for greater things, Price opted to stay on in the wide open city and ceded the drum chair to his friend Jo Jones. In 1939 the booming KC music scene came to an end with the arrest of mayor Pendergast and Price left with Harlan Leonard’s Rockets, one of the last bands to leave the now cleaned up, reformed and God fearing former Sodom of the plains. A brief spell as drummer in the Ella Fitzgerald led Chick Webb Orchestra (Chick having shuffled off this mortal coil) brought Jesse to Los Angeles, the Gomorrah of the Coast, where he settled down to take part in countless R&B and jazz sessions across the ensuing decades.

Track 3 – “I Ain’t Mad At You” (RCA Victor 20-2314) by Count Basie and his Orchestra. Vocal by Taps Miller. Recorded in New York on May 22nd, 1947.

This is an almost unrecognizable version of the Jesse Price disc. Taps Miller provides a scat vocal over the ensemble vocals and big band arrangement. The band includes Preston Love on alto sax, while the tenor saxes are wielded by Paul Gonsalves and Buddy Tate. A Google image search uncovers an unfortunate run in with the drugs squad for singer / dancer Taps Miller. But he was young and foolish back then. Try it for yourselves. The search, not the drugs.

Track 4 – “I Ain’t Mad At You” (Gotham, unreleased) by The Jones Boys. Unknown date – possibly around 1952 - 1953.

Who let 'em loose on this? It's a howling, blasting deconstruction of the Jesse Price opus, or maybe of the Gatemouth Moore song, it’s hard to tell. I don’t know anything about the Jones Boys. There was a vocal / jive group of the same name in the 1930s and early 1940s. There was also a loose mid 1950s jazz aggregation whose members shared the surname Jones. Quincy Jones, Eddie Jones and Jo Jones were in that group.

I have no idea if either of these groups is related in any way to the performers on this track. All I know is that whoever the Gotham Jones Boys may be, they carried out a similar assault on “Night Train.”


Holly said...

Thank you very much for this excellent and informative post!

boogiewoody said...

Thanks Holly - I wasn't sure how a playlist post would go down with the Be Bop Army. I'm glad you like it.


Anonymous said...

Boogiewoody, I loved this post and your approach to presenting the four different versions. (The Jesse Price is my favourite - I'd never heard it before.) Marie

boogiewoody said...

Thank you Marie - yep, I love the Jesse Price version too. It hits a nice lazy groove.

davep369 said...

Hi BW,

Nice little timeline of one of the classic phrases of early r&b. You could also have included versions by 'Spoon, The Flennoy Trio and Bobby "Mr Blues" Merrill, not to mention two other incarnations by Gatemouth Moore (Chez Paree and King) and a very nice Jesse Price live version that was issued way back on the old Swinghouse label.
Incidentally, the old "Shouters" double inadvertently used an alternative take of the song and not the National 6001 master. Sorry for the pedantry...

boogiewoody said...

Thank you davep369. Pedantry? I don't think so! We should be grateful for you pointing the way towards even more R&B delights.

Bob Merrill was on the Cootie Williams "Typhoon" post back in September 2010. I even mentioned that he recorded a version of "I Ain't Mad At You" around 1960 or 1961. Then I promptly forgot about it.

The Swinghouse LPs which featured airshots of R&B artists of the 1940s were among the very first R&B records I bought. In fact I've just gone to the vinyl cupboard and pulled out the LP you refer to. Thanks for the reminder.

And thanks for the info about Gatemouth's "I Ain't Mad At You" on "Shouters" being an alternative take. I would never have known.

Now to listen to that live Jesse Price track ...

The DoorKeeper said...

love that Jesse Price song. Thanks for reminding me. I have it on an LP in the attic and i've been meaning to reset the mousetraps!

The DoorKeeper said...

heheh I have number 788 of that Swinghouse LP with the Jesse Price - which one have you got?

I remember the Maurice Rocco version of Why Don't You Do Right being a wonderful track too.

'heads over to the record player'

boogiewoody said...

Hi Doorkeeper - unfortunately the number has been stamped in ink and then got blurred - it might be number 498. For those of you who don't know what we're talking about, the 1979 Swing House LP " R & B and Boogie Woogie" was issued in a limited edition of 3000 copies and an assurance that your LP "is already a collectors item."

The track that stayed with me through the years was "Oh Boy! That's Where My Money Goes" by the Four Blazes.

Thanks to davep369 at least two grizzled R&B fans have been reminded that there is a live version of Jesse Price's "I Ain't Mad At You" on the LP and both have gone on a rummage through their mouldering vinyl. And once more the sound of the likes of Maurice Rocco, Ray McKinley and Four Joes and a Jane (love "Jam Boogie")is heard throughout the land!

The DoorKeeper said...

Well that whole LP is great!
The live version of I Ain't Mad has a bit more pep to it, and now i need a video because i want to know what was making the audience was laughing at!

Thanks for pointing me in that direction.

boogiewoody said...

Credit for the direction pointing goes to davep369. I've got so many old LPs in my cupboard I really need someone else to remind me of what's on them.

I've got volumes 1 and 3 of the Swinghouse "R&B and Boogie Woogie" LPs - I never did get volume 2. I've got other Swinghouse records - e.g. a couple of Louis Jordan live collections and a King Cole Trio one too. All good stuff.

davep369 said...

I have volume two, too! It's not quite as strong as volume one, but it's still pretty damn good - pick of the bunch being two airshots from the Saunders King band in 1943. I reissued one of these on a 2003 CD compilation called "Welcome Back To Town: Live R&B and Jump Blues" (El Toro R&B 104).

davep369 said...

Should also have mentioned the probable originator of this enduring number - the wonderful Buddy Johnson & his Orchestra who recorded "I Ain't Mad At You" in 1942 on Decca with Chester Boone taking lead vocal.

The DoorKeeper said...

cheers Dave (I assume your name is Dave!)
I'll keep my ears pinned back for that - the only other swinghouse i have is a cab calloway radio shows

but i'm not going up in the attic at this time of night!

boogiewoody said...

I've prepared an extended version of the playlist which now includes the Buddy Johnson original and the Bob Merrill side from 1960 or 1961. I hope to post it tonight. The weather here is far too nice to spend the day crouched over a PC ...

Thanks for the info davep369!


boogiewoody said...

Doorkeeper - I've got the Cab Calloway, too. Plus a Count Basie. There's also an Erskine Hawkins on a Swinghouse sub-label called First Heard. Oh, and a Lionel Hampton on another sub-label called Magic Records. All live performances.

Extended version of "I Ain't Mad At You" post is now up.


hamfat said...

Thanks once again - I found the Bobby Mr. Blues Merrell 45 of I Ain't Mad At You in a bargain bin at Woolworth's back in 1970. I was 17 and I played it to death. What a great record.
Nice idea to hear all these versions back to back.