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Thursday, 21 June 2018

Piano Red In Concert

Side 1:
01. Wrong Yo-Yo
02. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
03. Umph-Umph-Umph
04. Got You On My Mind
05. Fattenin' Frogs For Snakes
06. Rockin' With Red

Side 2:
01. Jump Man Jump
02. Do She Love Me
03. Real Good Thing
04. Pay It No Mind
05. Six O'Clock Bounce
06. Please Tell Me Baby
07. Jumpin' With Daddy
08. Goodbye

A rather beat up second hand copy of a repro (or bootleg if you prefer) issue of an LP which was originally released in July 1956 on Groove as LG-1002, along with two EPs (both titled "Piano Red In Concert") which between them featured 8 of the tracks on this album.

The LP title is slightly misleading as only Side 1 was recorded live in March 1956 at the Magnolia Ballroom in Atlanta. The tracks on Side 2 were recorded at two sessions in Nashville in the Spring of 1955, with five out of the eight being issued on single while the remaining three tracks made their debut on this album.

I love this ragged but right 12-inch helping of raucous honky tonk piano, shouted blues, real down in the alley gutbucket sax honking, and if you listen carefully, some tasty guitar. And yes I know this is getting slightly repetitive but when I bought the LP second hand through mail order about 5 years ago, I wasn't very impressed with it. The sound quality was rather indistinct on the studio tracks on Side 2 and there were quite a few clicks and pops so I'm delighted to report that it scrubs up very well on mp3, although there is still some surface noise.

The music? Well, Piano Red sounds like he could have been thumping the ivories in a Wild West Saloon in the 1870s, or perhaps in a New Orleans bordello around 1905, or maybe even in a Chicago speakeasy in the Roaring 20s, so what the heck is he doing producing wild R&B in the 1950s? His is an unusual background when you look at the rest of his R&B contemporaries of the time. He was born Willie Lee Perryman in Hampton, a small town 30 miles from Atlanta in 1911. Both he and his elder brother Rufus were albino. Rufus carved out a successful career as a blues pianist under the name "Speckled Red," a reference to his skin colour.

Willie followed in his brother's footsteps in the 1930s but didn't have the same success. Although he took part in a recording session for Vocalion in 1936 along with Blind Willie McTell his sides weren't released. "Piano Red" as Willie was now known gave up being a full time professional musician and went to work as an upholsterer. He kept playing gigs at small local joints at weekends and in 1950 he was "spotted" at one of these by Atlanta record shop owner John Young who tipped off the local RCA Victor distributor who in turn alerted the company and a recording session was arranged for the 25th July 1950 in Atlanta.

When Piano Red's first single "Rockin' With Red" / "Red's Boogie" came out in late 1950 it was a double sided hit, becoming the 25th best selling R&B record of 1951. More hits followed - "Right String But The Wrong Yo-Yo," "Just Right Bounce" and "Layin' The Boogie" all charted in 1951, making Piano Red the 9th best selling R&B artist of that year.

Although the chart hits dried up, he continued to be a big live attraction and his records on RCA and its subsidiary Groove had a good following. What was surprising was that he had considerable appeal with a younger audience, both white and black, despite the fact that his style was rooted in the pre-war era. Perhaps the explanation for this lies in the mix of material he performed - the double entendre of  the likes of "Rockin' With Red"and "Wrong Yo-Yo" was mixed in with rockers like "Jump, Man, Jump," sentimental standards like "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and even country hits such as Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'." This was backed up by raucous R&B bands, perhaps the best being the one on this record, the "Blow Top" Lynn band out of Atlanta.

Piano Red was dropped by RCA / Groove in 1958 and his career seemed to have finally reached the end but there was another comeback in the first half of the 1960's with a new name, a new band and a new sound. This time Willie Perryman was Doctor Feelgood who along with his Interns recorded for Columbia and Okeh from 1961 - 1966. And when that was played out,well there were plenty more albums to record and jazz and blues festivals to play, both in Europe and America. In fact his last recording was in late 1984, about 10 months before he passed away in July 1985.

EP covers courtesy Joan K

Fax On The Piano Poundin' Trax

Side 1, tracks 1-6 recorded live at the Magnolia Ballroom, Atlanta, Georgia on March 5th, 1956. Personnel: Willie Lee Perryman (Piano Red) vocal / piano with - John Peek (trumpet); Clyde "Blow Top" Lynn (tenor sax); Wesley Jackson (guitar); Kid Miller (bass); Put Jackson (drums). Also present was Bertha Colbert (vocal) who duetted with Piano Red on "I'm Nobody's Fool" (not included on this LP). 

Side 2.

"Pay It No Mind",  "Jump Man Jump"  and "Do She Love Me" were recorded in Nashville on February 14th, 1955. Personnel: Piano Red (vocal, piano) with Clyde "Blow Top" Lynn (tenor sax); Wesley Jackson (guitar); George "Kid" Miller (bass); James "Put" Jackson (drums).

Pay It No Mind / Jump Man Jump - released on Groove 4G-0101 in March 1955.

Do She Love Me - first released on this LP and EP EGA 6 (Piano Red In Concert).

"Real Good Thing", "Six O'Clock Bounce", "Please Tell Me Baby", "Jumpin' With Daddy," and "Goodbye" aka "Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye" were recorded in Nashville on July 25th, 1955. Personnel - same as February 14th, 1955 session, add The Four Students (vocal group) on "Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye."

Six O' Clock Bounce / Goodbye - released on Groove 4G-0118 in August 1955.

She Knocks Me Out / Jumpin' With Daddy - released on Groove 4G-0136 in January 1956.

Real Good Thing; Please Tell Me Baby - first released on this LP. "Real Good Thing" also released on EP EGA 6 (Piano Red In Concert). "Please Tell Me Baby" also released on EP EGA 7 (Piano Red In Concert).

I'm off to Amsterdam this weekend so the next blog post will be around the middle of next week. Keep a rockin'! Tot ziens!


Anonymous said...

BW, thank You for the fantastic post on Piano Red,
and thanks to Joan K. for the atmospheric EP covers.
Best wishes; (hope You'll find good vinyl in Amsterdam).
- Jay from the North.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks for this comment and the other comments you left, Jay Actually I remember there was a good record shop near the Albert Kuipmarkt - perhaps I'll manage a visit?


Bob Mac said...

Many thanks for this one, BW. And I wish you a pleasant trip, hope you have a ball in Amsterdam.

boogiewoody said...

Cheers Bob. It could get hectic ...


The Jackal said...

Thanks again Woodie

Unknown said...

Your blog is beautiful!

I also love the music of this time.
Amazing tunes and wonderful musicians.
Many thanks to you for these publications.

Welcome to my blogs!
I recommend becoming a regular reader of this blog.
Be sure to list my blog in the list of your favorite blogs!

boogiewoody said...

Folks, the blog addresses in the previous email are legit. Plenty of vinyl rips of mostly instrumental / light orchestral pop with the occasional LP which falls within "Be Bop Wino territory." I've just downloaded a Sam "The Man" Taylor LP from the georgy1950 blog. His MGM sides but reissued on a budget label. Nifty artwork!