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Friday, 7 December 2018

The Legendary Sun Performers: Rosco Gordon






















Side 1:
01. Let's Get High
02. Real Pretty Mama
03. T-Model Boogie
04. Dr. Blues
05. Just Love Me Baby
06. Love With Me Baby
07. Bop With Me Baby
08. Decorate The Counter (No. 1)

Side 2:
01. Decorate The Counter (No. 2)
02. Love For You Baby
03. That's What You Do To Me
04. Tired Of Living
05. If You Don't Love Me Baby
06. Dream On Baby
07. Do The Bop
08. Sally Jo






We're still hanging around the Sun Studio in Memphis on the Be Bop Wino blues tour with this rather disorderly LP of bits and bobs from Rosco Gordon's two spells with Sam Phillips - the first being in the early '50s when Sam was recording blues sides for leasing to RPM and Chess (and thereby hangs a tale), and the second spell being in the mid-to-late '50s when Rosco teamed up with Sam again, this time to record for Sun.

Only three sides in this collection were released on singles back in the 1950s, all from Rosco's time with Sun Records. Not included here is Rosco's best known side for Sun, "The Chicken (Dance With You)" and plenty more Sun releases / recordings aren't featured. The early 1950s tracks recorded for the Memphis Recording Service are a bit of a ragbag, consisting of sides which weren't sold on to the RPM and Chess labels, and which must have therefore remained in the can until this LP. Included are a rehearsal / demo of "Decorate The Counter" and the rather strange / eccentric "Dr. Blues" with a vocal by "Dr Blues" Maxwell.

Rosco's early career was affected by Sam Phillip's decision to direct material towards Chess in Chicago at a time when RPM / Modern in LA were under the impression that they had the rights to the sides he was recording. In March 1951 Sam recorded Ike Turner's Kings Of Rhythm and sent "Rocket 88" to Chess who released it under sax player Jackie Brenston's name. In June 1951 it reached number 1 in the R&B chart and went on to become the second best selling R&B single of the year.

Meanwhile Rosco's first sides were released through RPM, including the hit "Saddled The Cow (And Milked The Horse)" which reached number 9 in the R&B chart in September 1951. Rosco's next hit was "Booted" which Sam sent to Chess. The record was a number 1 R&B hit in early 1952 and by now the Bihari brothers, owners of RPM / Modern, were more than a little miffed. They found themselves in dispute with Chess over sides recorded by Rosco Gordon and Howlin' Wolf in Memphis. The upshot was that Rosco's sides would be released on RPM while Chess got Howlin' Wolf.

RPM had Rosco's next big hit, "No More Doggin'" which reached number 2 in the R&B charts in the spring of 1952. Problem solved? Everybody happy? Nope, for just to complicate matters even more Rosco started recording for new Memphis diskery Duke Records. The upshot was that Rosco Gordon sides were recorded and released by both RPM and Duke through the rest of 1952. In 1953-54 Rosco's records appeared on Duke which was by then a Houston based label having been taken over by Don Robey. See post on Bobby Bland for details of the takeover.

In June 1955 Rosco started recording for Sam Phillips' Sun label with the first issue being "Just Love Me Baby" / "Weeping Blues" (Sun 227) in September of that year.  Further Sun issues (with occasional simultaneous issue on Sam's Flip label) were: "The Chicken (Dance With You)" / "Love For You Baby" (Sun 237) in December 1955, "Shoobie Oobie" / "Cheese And Crackers" (Sun 257) in December 1956, and "Sally Jo" / "Torro" (Sun 305) in September 1958. There were also a couple of releases on Duke in the first half of 1957 just to keep the label-hopping pot boiling.

Rosco's last Sun session took place in July 1958 ("Sally Jo") and he didn't record again until April 1959 when he kicked off a series of sessions for Vee-Jay which lasted until 1961. But that is for another blog post!

Fax On Da Trax

T Model Boogie, Dr. Blues, - recorded on December 4th, 1951 in Memphis. Rosco Gordon (piano, vocal on "T Model Boogie") with: Willie Sims (sax); Willie Wilkes (sax); John Murry Daley (drums). Dr. Blues Maxwell vocal on "Dr. Blues." Both sides first released on this LP.

Decorate The Counter (1 - demo)Decorate The Counter (2), Dream On Baby, If You Don't Love Me Baby - recorded on January 23rd, 1952 in Memphis. Rosco Gordon (piano, vocal) with: Willie Wilkes (tenor sax); Richard Sanders (baritone sax); John Murry Daley (drums). All first released on this LP.

Love For You Baby, That's What You Do To Me, Let's Get High, - possibly recorded in February 1955 in Memphis. Rosco Gordon (piano, vocal) with: Billy Duncan, Charles Taylor (alto saxes); Willie Wilkes (tenor sax); Richard Sanders (baritone sax); Foree Wells (guitar); Tuff Green (bass); John Murry Daley (drums). The Chicken (Dance With You) / "Love For You Baby" released on Sun 237 and Flip 237 in December 1955. "That's What You Do To Me" and "Let's Get High" first released on this LP. "Let's Get High" released on single Sun 801 along with "Bop With Me Baby." This is probably a 1970s/80s bootleg.

Just Love Me Baby, Tired Of Living, - recorded on June 9th, 1955 in Memphis. Rosco Gordon (piano, vocal) with: Harvey Simmons (tenor sax); Richard Sanders (baritone sax); Pat Hare (guitar); Tuff Green (bass); Jeff Grayer (drums). "Just Love Me Baby" / Weeping Blues released on Sun 227, September 1955 and on Flip 227, October 1955. "Tired Of Living" first released on this LP.

Love With Me Baby, Bop With Me Baby, Do The Bop, - probably also recorded at the June 9th 1955 session. Personnel as above. Three sides first released on this LP. "Bop With Me Baby" / "Let's Get High" also released on a single Sun 801 - probably a 1970s/80s bootleg.

Real Pretty Mama - recorded on October 26th, 1956 in Memphis. Rosco Gordon (piano, vocal) with: Lionel Prevost (tenor sax); James K. Jones (baritone sax); Phillip Walker (guitar); Louis Willy Candy
(bass); Joe W. Payne (drums). First released on this LP.

Sally Jo, - recorded in July 1957 in Memphis. Rosco Gordon (vocal) with Freddy Tavares (guitar) and unknown bass and drums. "Sally Jo" / Torro released on Sun 305 in September 1958.

CD Heaven

I have 2 Rosco Gordon CDs in my collection, both of which I can recommend:


"Bootin': The Best Of The RPM Years" (Ace CDCHD 694). Exactly what it says on the title. Includes an RPM issue of "Booted" which failed to make any headway against the Chess hit release. 24 loose as a goose tracks.


"Rosco's Rhythm" (Charly SNAP 222 CD) is basically a complete collection of his sides recorded for Sun plus the Memphis Recording Service sides which weren't released on RPM or Chess. The collection is bookended with the Chess release of "Booted" and Rosco's best known Vee-Jay side "Just A Little Bit." 30 shufflemongous tracks.

There are comprehensive 2CD sets on both Jasmine and JSP which may be worth investigating.

4 comments:

B_B said...

"Cheese and Crackers" this is a good 'un! (Oops... Sun 257 is NOT on board..!)

A great ('70s LP) series from Charly, and brings back some good memories of trying to "collect them all!"

LOOK!:

https://www.discogs.com/label/1023552-The-Legendary-Sun-Performers

Sorry to git you juices flowing alla yous D.A.D. * sufferers. . .

(* D.A.D. = Download Addiction Disorder)

Ho, ho, ho. And Happy Merry from Sunny So. Cal.!

(Where the mudslides, wildfires, Invasions, etc. have ceased... For now...)

Bob Mac said...

Thanks BW, nice album and hopefully we'll get the others in the series in due course.

boogiewoody said...

Cheers folks. I've only got a couple more in the series - one blues, one rockabilly. They're not currently in the queue of stuff I'm in the process of digitising but I guess I could look them out! In the meantime there's a load of R&B, swing and another desperate rock 'n' roll to come.

BW

louboutin raymond said...

Thé sun 800 série is bootleg.theh le somme innisued(at this time)si des issues on