01) Wet Back Hop - Chuck Higgins
02) Tonky Honk - Chuck Higgins
03) Fools Are Getting Scarcer - Roy Milton
04) I Can't Go On - Roy Milton
05) Oh Yeah - Chuck Higgins
06) Don't You Know I Love You - Chuck Higgins (Vocal by Frank Dunn)
01) Reelin' And Rockin' - Roy Milton
02) Nothing Left - Roy Milton
03) The Itch - Chuck Higgins
04) Looking For My Baby - Chuck Higgins
05) Baby I'm Gone - Roy Milton
06) Cry Some Baby - Roy Milton
12 Hits! Battle of the Bands! Chuck Higgins versus Roy Milton! Released in 1956, this 12 tracker is an irresistible collection for fans of West Coast Honk and West Coast Jump. Brought to you by regular contributor Marv, these waxings encapsulate the two generations of Los Angeles R&B: the jump blues of the 1940s and the R&B / rock and roll of the 1950s.
Roy Milton, of course had been enjoying hit record success since 1946 when his "Milton's Boogie" and "R.M. Blues" soared towards the top of what was then called the Race Music charts. These discs were released on Art Rupe's Juke Box label which soon became Specialty. Roy had a total of 19 R&B chart hits for the label, his last "biggie" being "Night And Day" in 1952.
Roy's last session for Specialty was in October 1953, although that label still issued his material into 1955. His next recording session was for Dootone when he laid down the tracks on this LP in April or early May 1955. By then Roy's jazz, swing and boogie based form of R&B was decidedly old fashioned but the tracks here are all good, with "(You Got Me) Reelin' And Rockin'" and "Baby I'm Gone" rocking along nicely.
The Cash Box, 21st May 1955
If Roy's spectacular record sales were long gone by 1955, Chuck Higgins was still hanging in there as regards West Coast teen appeal in the same year when he recorded a session for Dootone. His big success had come early in his recording career in 1952 with "Pachuco Hop" / "Motorhead Baby" on Combo which was a strong seller on The Coast. For the next few years he label hopped around LA diskeries with sessions for John Dolphin, Aladdin and Specialty.
Unlike Roy Milton, Chuck's popularity remained entirely local to the LA area. However, the good will he had built up among LA's Mexican R&B followers with "Pachuco Hop" was thrown away with the release on Dootone of the spectacularly badly named "Wet Back Hop." Ouch.
Setting aside that dreadful faux pas, the Higgins sides here are good strong mid '50s R&B with great guitar work by Jimmy Nolen who manages to sound like T-Bone Walker on "Don't You Know I Love You" and like Chuck Berry on "Looking For My Baby."
The Story Behind The Tracks:
Roy Milton - all sides recorded in Los Angeles circa April 1955. Personnel: Roy Milton (drums, vocals) with - Charles Gillum (trumpet); Jackie Kelso (alto sax); Eddie Taylor (tenor sax); Floyd Turnham (baritone sax); Camille Howard (piano); Jimmie Davis (guitar); Lawrence Kato (bass).
Fools Are Getting Scarcer / I Can't Go On - Dootone 363 - May 1955
You Got Me Reeling And Rocking / Nothing Left - Dootone 369 - July 1955
Cry Some Baby / Baby I'm Gone - Dootone 398 - July 1956
Chuck Higgins - all sides recorded in Los Angeles on an unknown date in 1955. Personnel: Chuck Higgins (vocal, tenor sax); with - Danny Crisp (trombone); Kenny Battle (tenor sax, baritone sax); Frank Dunn (vocal, piano); Jimmy Nolen (guitar); Roy "Candy" Johnson (bass) James Lee (drums)
Here I'm Is / Tonky Honk - Dootone 361 - April 1955
Wetback Hop / Don't You Know I Love You Baby - Dootone 370 - August 1955
Looking For My Baby / Eye Ballin' - Dootone 376 - November 1955
The Itch / Gambling Woman - Dootone 387 - March 1956
Oh Yeah / I Need Your Love - Dootone 396 - June 1956
Information from 45cat.com, bsnpubs.com, and The Cash Box. Album art adapted from discogs.com. Sound files from Marv.
You Gotta Buy These:
For Dootone sounds straight from the master recordings, Ace (UK) is your one stop shop. If you liked this album, then these fine platters will get your toes a tappin' -
Dootone Rock'n' Rhythm and Blues (Ace CDCHD 839)
Well, it's pretty obvious where they got the idea for the cover from! This CD could be regarded as a greatly expanded version of the LP on this blog post. But not quite, as it doesn't have "Oh Yeah" by Chuck Higgins. Every other track on the LP is present on this 28 tracker which features more Roy Milton and Chuck Higgins, Mickey Champion (backed by Roy Milton), Lorenzo Holden, Ernie Freeman, Helen Humes, Claude McLin and Joe Houston. A must buy.
Honk! Honk! Honk! (Ace CDCHD 781)
"Oh Yeah" is on this one. I've sung the praises of this one many times before. 30 sides mainly from Combo but with a smattering of Dootone sides. Features Joe Houston, Chuck Higgins, Roy Milton, Jack McVea, Lorenzo Holden, Louise Beatty and other cool West Coast cats. Be there or be square. Capiche?
Many thanks to Marv for sending in this Dooto LP. I'm gone man, solid gone.