Friday, 11 March 2016

Brown Gal






Side A
01. R.M. Blues - Roy Milton
02. Groovy Blues - Roy Milton (vocal - Camille Howard)
03. When I Grow Too Old To Dream - Roy Milton
04. Sometimes I'm Happy - Jimmy Grissom
05. Mr Fine - Roy Milton (vocal - Camille Howard)
06. If I Had You - Dorothy Donegan
07. Milton's Boogie - Roy Milton

Side B
01. Rock It - Lil Armstrong
02. The Piano Player's Blues - Dorothy Donegan
03. Brown Gal - Lil Armstrong
04. Joogie Boogie - Lil Armstrong
05. Baby Daddy - Lil Armstrong
06. Baby Daddy (alt take) - Lil Armstrong
07. Rock It (alt take) - Lil Armstrong

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Red hot and fine as wine jumpin' comp of Gotham sides released on Krazy Kat in 1986. Side A keeps our ongoing Roy Milton theme to the fore as all the sides except Dorothy Donegan's "If I Had You" were originally recorded for Roy's own labels - Roy Milton and Miltone. The discography of Roy Milton's early sides can be confusing as he recorded some of his big hits several times and there were multiple issues of these recordings.

Roy Milton & His Solid Senders first recorded for Lionel Hampton's Hamp-Tone label in September 1945. 4 sides were recorded which were issued on 2 singles: "I'll Always Be In Love With You" / "To Be Alone Blues" (Hamp-Tone 101) and the 2-parter "Burma Road, Parts 1 and 2" (Hamp-Tone 104). These singles were not released until June and July 1946, by which time Roy had recorded for Art Rupe's Juke Box label with great success and was in the midst of setting up his own label, Roy Milton Records.

Art Rupe signed Roy up to his Juke Box record company in November 1945. On the 11th December 1945 Roy recorded 4 tracks which remained unissued and then re-recorded the same tracks on the 22nd December. These were issued in early 1946 on 2 singles: "Milton's Boogie" / "Groovy Blues"(vocal- Camille Howard) on Juke Box 503, and "R.M. Blues" / "Rhythm Cocktail" on Juke Box 504. "Milton's Boogie" sold heavily but "R.M. Blues" was a massive hit, being the 5th best selling "race" record of 1946. In August 1946 Art Rupe decided to leave his Juke Box partners and before the year was out he had started Specialty Records which would become one of the top independent R&B labels in the U.S.

In the meantime Roy Milton had also decided to strike out on his own, going into partnership with Ben Waller and Forrest Perkins to set up Roy Milton Records in mid 1946. Roy re-recorded the tracks he had laid down for Juke Box for issue on his new eponymous label. At an unknown date in 1946 the following Solid Senders recorded sides for Roy Milton and its successor label Miltone: Hosea Sapp (trumpet), Caughey Roberts (alto sax), Buddy Floyd (tenor sax), Camille Howard (piano, vocals), David Robinson (bass), Roy Milton (drums, vocals).

All of which brings us to the tracks on Side A of "Brown Gal." The original issue of these tracks was as follows: "Mr. Fine" and "Milton's Boogie" were issued on Roy Milton 103. "R.M. Blues" and "Groovy Blues" were issued on Roy Milton 105. "When I Grow Too Old To Dream" was issued on Miltone 202, with a Jimmy Grissom number, "Do As I Say" on the B side. "Sometimes I'm Happy" is by Jimmy Grissom who recorded a couple of sessions for Miltone. He was backed by the Solid Senders on one session and by Maxwell Davis and His Blenders on the other session. I can't find which session this track is from.



Many issues on Roy Milton and Miltone featured featured hip cartoons by New York cartoonist William "Alex" Alexander as can be seen by the above examples. Roy himself went back to Art Rupe, signing for his Specialty label in March 1947. The Miltone label carried on, issuing material by Roy, Camille Howard, Jimmy Grissom, Maxwell Davis, Jesse Price and, through a deal with De Luxe Records, material recorded in New Orleans by Roy Brown, Paul Gayten, Annie Laurie and Chubby Newsome.

The original Roy Milton Juke Box masters had meanwhile been inherited by Specialty and it is possible that some Miltone masters also went with Roy to Specialty. His two Juke Box singles were reissued as Specialty singles, and further Specialty singles included titles originally issued on Roy Milton / Miltone. These may have been re-recordings or reissues of the original Roy Milton / Miltone masters. Roy continued to record for Specialty until 1953, achieving considerable success with hits such as "True Blues", "Everything I Do Is Wrong","Hop, Skip And Jump", "The Hucklebuck", "Information Blues", "Oh Babe" and "Best Wishes."

The Miltone label continued for a few years under the "colourful" leadership of Forrest Perkins. It was a tale of lawsuits and a flight to the Phillipines to set up a recording plant. Much greater detail of the saga is available in an article by Louis Opal Nations in "Blues & Rhythm" Magazine no. 235, Christmas 2008.

In June 1950, Billboard announced that Ivan Ballen, head honcho of Gotham Records, had purchased 300 Miltone masters, including sides by Roy Milton, Camille Howard and Jimmy Grissom.  Sides were released on Gotham in 1950 as follows:

Gotham 258 - "Mr Fine" / "Milton's Boogie" ("Mr. Fine" was credited to Camille Howard, "Milton's Boogie" to Roy Milton & The Solid Senders);

Gotham 260 - "R.M. Blues" / "Groovy Blues" ("R.M. Blues" was credited to Roy Milton & The Solid Senders, "Groovy Blues" was credited to Camille Howard & The Solid Senders);

Gotham 261 - "When I Grow Too Old To Dream" / "Sometimes I'm Happy" both sides credited to Camille Howard despite the fact that Roy Milton sings on Side A and Jimmy Grissom sings on Side B.

Dorothy Donegan was a Chicago born jazz pianist who enjoyed a long recording career. Her early recordings (starting from 1942) included issues on Continental, Plymouth and Miltone. Her only release on Gotham, "Piano Player's Blues" / "If I Had You" was recorded in 1950 and issued on Gotham 257. She went on to record for labels such as Roulette, Jubilee, MGM and European labels Four Leaf Clover and Black & Blue. Her last recording was of a concert in the Caribbean on board the SS Norway in 1992. A stylish way to sign off!

Lil Armstrong was born Lil Hardin in Memphis. She joined King Oliver's band where she met and married Louis Armstrong. Although the marriage lasted only seven years she kept the name and continued to record with Louis as well as building a long and distinguished career in her own right. Of particular note is her stay at Decca from 1936 to 1940 where she recorded her best known song "Brown Gal" which was later adapted by Clarence Palmer as "Brown Boy" and later as "Bad Boy."

She had a session for Gotham, probably in 1950, which resulted in two singles, "Baby Daddy" / "Joogie Boogie" (Gotham 241) and "Rock It" / "Brown Gal" (Gotham 256). These are excellent recordings backed by a tight combo (personnel unknown) and featuring great blues and boogie piano and strong vocals from Ms Armstrong. "Baby Daddy" is a suggestive and salacious paen to a well built toy boy. "Rock It" is unmitigated filth which simply has to be heard to be believed.

Sources -

The Roy Milton and Miltone Record Labels by Opal Louis Nations, Blues & Rhythm magazine no. 235, Christmas 2008.

Global Dog Productions website, http://www.globaldogproductions.info/

Notes to "Brown Gal" LP, Krazy Kat LP 808, by Tony Buke, 1986.

Big Al Pavlow's The R&B Book, Music House, 1983.


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3 comments:

sunman said...

Thanks for another great post on Roy Milton. Do you have the two tracks that Buddy Floyd recorded under his own name and ,if so, could you post them?

boogiewoody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
boogiewoody said...

Hi sunman. I've just found the Buddy Floyd track "Just Before Sunrise" (Miltone 5250). According to discographical info the other side of this disc was by Jesse Price. I'll investigate further ... Do you know what the other track under Buddy Floyd's name was?

BW