This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of Be Bop Wino's appearance on the rocking interweb. The first music post (a cassette of Savoy and National movers and groovers) went up on Sunday, the 23rd of September 2007. A couple of years down the line the blog got taken down but reappeared in its current vinyl-only format, which I think is preferable to the old blog. I would like to thank all contributors and collaborators who have done so much to turn Be Bop Wino into something that I never anticipitated it would become when I started it four years ago.
Many thanks to those of you who take the trouble to comment. I've learned a lot from many of those comments. And thanks also to those of you who have corresponded via email over the years. It's been fascinating to hear from fellow bloggers, deejays (both club and radio), musicians from R&B revival bands, record retailers, relatives of the original 1950s musicians, journalists, researchers and fellow enthusiasts.
Here's the Be Bop Wino anniversary playlist. Some of these tracks may still be found somewhere on the blog, but others have been and gone. So for your listening (but not downloading) pleasure we present a round dozen platters from back when R&B was R&B.
1. The Fat Man - Fats Domino
2. Rootin' And Tootin' - Smiley Lewis
3. All That Wine Is Gone - Big Jay McNeely
4. Fats' Frenzy - Fats Domino
5. An Old Cow Hand From A Blues Band - Dave Bartholomew
6. Don't Cry Baby - Big Jay McNeely
1. Ain't Gonna Do It - The Pelicans
2. '44' - Fats Domino
3. Shame, Shame, Shame - Smiley Lewis
4. Good News - Dave Bartholomew
5. I Don't Need You - James "Sugar Boy" Crawford
6. Don't Leave Me This Way - Fats Domino
Here’s the second compilation in the “R&B All-Stars” series. This time round it’s the turn of Imperial Records out of Hollywood, California, although you’d think it was a New Orleans label when you look at the track list and listen to the rollicking rhythm and blues contained within the bits and bytes available for your downloading pleasure.
This is definitely a case of “all killer, no filler.” The Fats Domino tracks date from before “Ain’t It a Shame” and “Blueberry Hill” and are raw roughhouse R&B, with his first ever recording, “The Fat Man” kicking off the whole shebang in a welter of stomping piano. There’s a couple of belters from Smiley Lewis while Dave Bartholomew not only contributes recordings under his own name, but also arranges and plays on just about every other track in the collection. The two Big Jay McNeely tracks are the only reminder here that Imperial was in fact a West Coast label. Don’t worry – they fit right in with the good time rockin’ and rollin’ from New Orleans.
So play it LOUD, with a little bit of cross fading, and be prepared to dance, jump, howl and play air piano as the rhythm takes a hold of you.
With thanks to "Spyder John" for pointing me towards the great Dave Bartholomew instrumental "Good News." Thanks also to Joan K for the 45 rpm record sleeve scan, and to "Brian with a B" for the "R&B All-Stars" idea.
1. Choo Choo's Bringing My Baby Home
2. My Friend Told Me
3. Good Time Sue
4. Stinkin' From Drinkin'
5. Slippin' And Slidin'
6. I Can't Stop Crying
7. Beal Street On A Saturday Night
8. Hey Lawdie, Miss Claudie
9. Have You Ever Had The Blues
1. Waiting And Drinking
2. Blow Man Blow
3. Safronia B
4. Angel City Blues
5. Baby You're Tops With Me
6. I'm Gonna Steam Off The Stamp
8. Look Out For Tomorrow Today
10. I've Got News For You
I first came across the music of Calvin Boze back in the early 1980s via the old Pathe Marconi compilation “Aladdin’s Rock’n Roll Sock Hop.” When I heard his “Hey Lawdy, Miss Claudie” on Side One of the LP, three thoughts raced through my mind:
(1) Nope, that’s not the Lloyd Price song which was brilliantly covered by Elvis
(2) That guy sounds just like Louis Jordan
(3) What’s this old 1940s jump blues doing on a rock and roll album?
Not that I didn’t like “Hey Lawdy, Miss Claudie,” mind you. There was another Calvin Boze track on Side Two, “Good Time Sue” which wasn’t quite as good, but it had the same eerie resemblance to the sound of Louis Jordan. And it turned out that both tracks were from the early 1950s rather than the 1940s. Apart from a 1949 Amos Milburn opus (“Bow Wow”), the rest of the tracks on the album WERE rock and roll by the likes of Gene & Eunice, Thurston Harris, Shirley & Lee, The Jivers, Lee Allen and Little Wilbur and the Pleasers.
In the late 1980s two Calvin Boze compilation LPs appeared. “Havin’ A Ball” was issued on Moonshine. The LP had indifferent sound quality, having been obviously mastered from shellac or vinyl records. The LP on this post, “Choo, Choo’s Bringing My Baby Home” was issued by Route 66 in 1989. As with the Moonshine LP, the tracks are mastered from old records but with slightly better sound quality.
Some Calvin Boze tracks turned up in pristine sound quality on the great Billy Vera double CD compilation on Capitol, “Jumpin’ Like Mad: Cool Cats & Hip Chicks.” The second track on the first disc was the unforgettable “Safronia B” and there were three more gems on the set: “Looped,” “Blow Man Blow,” and “Keep Your Nose Out Of My Business”. How could the last track not be by Louis Jordan? Heck, even the song title was pure Louis. “Safronia B” also turned up on the terrific “The Aladdin Records Story” double CD set.
What was noticeable from these reissues was that very little was known about Calvin Boze. Indeed there seemed to be only one photograph of him, the photo that’s on the front of this Route 66 LP. “Rock and Roll Sock Hop” used a drawing of him that originally appeared on Aladdin record sleeves of the 78 era and this drawing was adapted for the illustration on the front of “Havin’ a Ball.” The most thorough notes on him were by Dave Penny for “Choo, Choo’s Bringing My Baby Home” and even at the time of the writing of these notes in 1989, Calvin’s place and date of birth were unknown.
However, time moves on and more facts about Calvin Boze have come to light. He was born in Trinity County, Texas on October 15th, 1916. He was educated in Houston and in the 1930s he played trumpet and led the Wheatley High School band which numbered Tom Archia, Russell and Illinois Jacquet, and Arnett Cobb among its members. Thereafter Calvin attended Prairie View College where he led the Collegians who included his old school band mate Tom Archia and Charles Brown.
At some time in the mid 1940s Calvin relocated to Los Angeles, possibly after his military service. His first recording was for Globe Records in LA in 1944-45 with Russell Jacquet’s band which included Teddy Edwards on alto sax, Charles Mingus on bass and Chico Hamilton on drums. Two sides were issued on Globe 105 – “Penny’s Worth of Boogie” and “Look What You’ve Done To Me.”
Calvin’s next recordings were as vocalist with Marvin Johnson and his Orchestra (in reality a seven piece jump band) on November 2nd, 1945, for the G&G label. Billed as Calvin Boaz, he sang on “Just A Dream” and “Saffronia Bee,” which he would re-record several years down the line for Aladdin.
In August 1949 Calvin signed for Aladdin Records for whom he recorded a total of seven sessions, commencing on August 15th, 1949 and ending on August 15th, 1952. The recordings, under the supervision of Maxwell Davis, showed a remarkable resemblance to the jump blues hits of Louis Jordan. Not only was Calvin’s singing voice very like that of Jordan (perhaps with the exception of a couple of the slow blues numbers), but the material itself can be described as Jordanesque. It was mostly melodic good humoured jump and jive with “Beal (sic) Street on a Saturday Night” being similar to Jordan’s “Saturday Night Fish Fry” with its description of street life and rambunctious goin’s on – in Memphis in Calvin’s song, as opposed to New Orleans in Jordan’s number. There’s lots of fun for jump blues fans here in spotting the similarities between Calvin’s songs and various Louis Jordan numbers.
As we’ve seen in a previous post, only “Safronia B” had a brief brush with the national R&B chart. However it has stood the test of time and has featured in numerous official and unofficial jive compilations and to this day remains a favourite at jumpin’ record hops. Calvin and his road band were a successful live act, with residencies and appearances in the LA area and several national tours supporting Dinah Washington. Aladdin promoted Calvin’s sides well and even featured his likeness on their record sleeves, but after his final session in August 1952, Calvin faded from the music scene.
Back in the 1980s and early 90s his disappearance from the entertainment world was seen as another aspect of the Calvin Boze mystery. In fact we now know that he took up a career in teaching.
A few years back I posted the Moonshine LP “Havin’ A Ball” and last year I received an email from a former pupil of Mr. Boze. I can’t say how long a gap there was between Calvin Boze’s final recording session in 1952 and the start of his new career as an elementary school teacher. According to our anonymous correspondent he was teaching at George Washington Carver Elementary School in the Willowbrook district of South Los Angeles by 1963.
In a short series of emails our informant has painted a picture of a dedicated and very effective teacher. Mr. Boze was able to guide his young charges through the difficult days in the aftermath of the assassination of JFK. In a lighter moment one Friday afternoon he gave his class a demonstration of how to do “The Mashed Potato” much to their noisy delight. Once a hep cat, always a hep cat.
Sadly Calvin Boze passed away in June 1970 at the comparatively young age of 53.
The J.C. Marion website has a page “Remembering Calvin Boze” at this link:
The article has interesting information about his live appearances.
“Spyder John” has informed me that issues 9 and 10 (volume 1) of ‘Fessa John Hook’s “Dancing on the Edge Journal” contain a two part article on the origins of “Safronia B.” There is an exploration of the California big band scene of the 1930s as well as info on Marvin Johnson and Calvin Boze. See:
“Calvin Boze: the Complete Recordings, 1945 –52 (Blue Moon BMCD 6014) was issued in 2007 and is still available.
“Marvin Johnson: Jumpy Rhythm Jive, the Complete Recordings, 1946–51 (Blue Moon BMCD 6050) was issued in 2006 and is also still available at mid-price if you look around.
I’ve ordered my copies of the Blue Moon CDs from Amazon.co.uk marketplace. So much for the argument that blogs discourage CD sales.
There are twelve of Calvin Boze’s Aladdin sides on the previously recommended 4 CD collection on JSP “Rare West Coast Jump ‘n’ Jive 1945 – 1954.” Tip - search around for a reasonable price on this set. The people at Amazon.co.uk are doing it for £9.99. Don’t go paying around £20 for it!
Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps. Password = greaseyspoon
1. Tell The Truth - The 5 Royales
2. I'll Go Crazy - James Brown & his Famous Flames
3. Driving Sideways - Freddy King
4. Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong - Albert King
5. Over The Rainbow - The Checkers
6. Cherry Wine - Little Esther
1. I'm Tore Up - Billy Gayles
2. Goofy Dust Blues - Little Willie Littlefield
3. Tonk Game - Hank Marr
4. It Won't Be This Way Always - The King Pins
5. Teardrops On Your Letter - Hank Ballard & The Midnighters
6. Need Your Love So Bad - Little Willie John
I hope this will be the first in a series of "R&B All-Stars" posts which will present short label based compilations of 1940s and 1950s rhythm and blues sides. As I believe in the old adage that "less is more", these compilations will be presented as 12 track LPs complete with front and back covers. The tracks may be few in number but I like to think that "all killer, no filler" is an apt description for these mythical 12 inchers. Every selection is a gem, says I, chosen from well-worn vinyl.
The LP covers will be based on scans of original 78 rpm and 45 rpm record sleeves supplied by Joan K and El Enmascarado. The idea for these covers originated with our photoshopper "Brian with a B" although the covers on this post are by myself, so all complaints should be directed to me!
"King R&B All-Stars" is a mix of mainly mid to late 1950s sides, most of which were originally released on Federal, a subsidiary label of King. Soul fans should be pleased by the impassioned gospel-style pleading on the sides by James Brown, The 5 Royales and The King Pins. Hank Ballard and Little Willie John get deep down in the two classic weepers "Teardrops On Your Letter" and "Need Your Love So Bad" and there's some raunchy blues guitar on the tracks by Freddy King, Albert King and Billy Gayles (with the Ike Turner band).
If you own the copyright of any music posted here and wish to have it removed from the blog, please contact me at the above email address and it will be removed forthwith.
Dedicated to REAL R&B, Rock'n'Roll, Blues and Jazz
This is a site dedicated to rockin' 1940s and 1950s music, ripped from vinyl. Some cuts are a bit on the rough side. If you're looking for audio perfection you're on the wrong site baby! If you like what you hear on this site please buy this kind of music. There are many reasonably priced reissues available from web dealers or perhaps from your local record shop, if it still exists. These reissues will be in far better sound quality than the vinyl rips on this site and they will usually have more up to date liner notes and info, so go out and splash a little cash now and again. Help keep those reissue labels going in these difficult times.
No in-print CDs will be posted here. In fact no CDs will be posted here. I will occasionally list recommended purchases to help you hear more from artists featured on the blog.
"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