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Friday 31 December 2010

Smokey Hogg Sings The Blues (Crown CLP 5226)

Side One:
1. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
2. Coming Back Home To You
3. Look In Your Eyes Pretty Mama
4. You Can't Keep Your Business
5. Worryin Mind
6. My Baby's Worryin' Me

Side Two:
1. Runaway
2. You Just Gotta Go
3. It' Raining Here
4. I Got Your Picture
5. When You Get Old
6. Goin Back To Chicago

Once again we thank the mysterious El Enmascadero Del Platter for another vintage Crown LP, complete with “lived in” cover. This time around it’s blues time as we look at the series of “… Sings the Blues” LPs which were released on the Bihari brothers’ budget Crown label in 1961. Four albums of rough and ready bluesmen were released in the short series: “Lightning Hopkins Sings The Blues” (CLP 5224), “Smokey Hogg Sings The Blues” (CLP 5226), “John Lee Hooker Sings The Blues” (CLP 5232) and “Howling Wolf Sings The Blues” (CLP 5240). Thanks to Joan K for the "cleaner" sleeves below. El Enmascadero has sent in the magnificently worn-looking Howling Wolf cover.

Cover "cleaned" by 'Brian with a B'
For blues fans of the late 1950s / early 1960s there were other releases on Crown, including a series of B.B. King albums, a magnificently sleazily packaged Elmore James collection ("Blues After Hours"), more John Lee Hooker, a Pee Wee Crayton LP and a couple of Jimmy Witherspoon albums, including one called “Jimmy Witherspoon Sings The Blues.” Of course what all this material had in common was that it was gathered from the Bihari’s Modern, Flair and RPM labels and the sides were recorded from the late 1940s through to the mid 1950s. Thanks again to Joan K for more covers:

As noted in the previous posts about Crown, the packaging of these albums could be extremely shoddy, with sleeves that had pasted on photos on the front covers, generic back covers and as in this Smokey Hogg LP, a track list which didn’t match up to the record sleeve or the disc label. Ignore the evidence of your eyes, for Side One of this LP has six tracks and not five, the “extra” track being “My Baby’s Worryin’ Me.”

“Ragged but right” is the phrase (as yelled by Smokey somewhere on the LP) which best describes the music here. We simply haven’t had enough wild blues stomp on Be Bop Wino and I’m hoping that this post will go some way towards correcting that failing. Texan Smokey Hogg’s recording career started with a release on Decca before the Second World War but didn’t really pick up until around 1947 when he cut some sides for the small Dallas label Bluebonnet Records. These were leased by Modern and eventually led to a direct recording deal with the Biharis and a move out to the West Coast. His biggest hit was “Little School Girl” which on this album is titled “Good Morning Little School Girl”, and in fact this may well be an alternate take and not the original single version. Judge for yourselves!

Listen to the single release of “Little School Girl,” courtesy of Joan K.

Although his comparatively early death in 1960 meant Smokey never did attract the audiences that Hopkins, Hooker and The Wolf enjoyed thanks to the 1960s blues revival, Smokey had a pretty productive recording career through most of the 1950s, cutting many sides for Modern as well as Specialty, Imperial, Sittin’ In With, Exclusive, Mercury, Federal, Combo and goodness knows who else. His final recordings were for Ebb in late 1957 or early 1958.

Ripped from vinyl at 96 kbps. Password = greaseyspoon

Download from here:

Or here:

Side One:
1- Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (LA Dec 10 1947)
2- Coming Back Home To You Again (LA Feb 17 1950)
3- Look In Your Eyes Pretty Mama (LA 1950)
4- You Can't Keep Your Business Straight (LA 1950)
5- Worrying Mind (LA Dec 10 1947)
6- My Baby’s Worryin’ Me (LA Nov 22 1947)

Side Two:
1- Runaway (LA 1950)
2- You Just Gotta Go (LA November 22, 1947)
3- It's Raining Here (LA September 1951)
4- I Got Your Picture (LA Feb 17 1950)
5- When You Get Old (LA Feb 17 1950)
6- Goin Back To Chicago (LA Feb 17 1950)

Recommended purchases:

The UK Ace label owns the rights to the Modern label recordings and has released three CDs of Smokey Hogg –

“Midnight Blues” has the look of an original Crown LP but in fact the front cover photograph is from a Crown LP of Bizet’s “Carmen.” It’s a great evocation of the Crown “look,” though!

“Serve It to the Right” has a mixture of Modern and Combo recordings and “Deep Ellum Rambler” is drawn solely from the Modern vaults.

I simply must take this opportunity to recommend the Ace reissue of “Howling Wolf Sings The Blues.” The original twelve tracks (including two by Joe Hill Louis) are augmented by eight bonus tracks and there are superb sleeve notes by Dave Sax in which he not only recalls the impact of the arrival of imported Crown LPs in the UK, but also sorts out the tangled tale of Howling Wolf, Sam Phillips, Ike Turner, Modern and Chess from back in Memphis in the early 1950s. A superb release.

With many thanks to the mysterious masked record man, and to Joan K. Information garnered from the Both Sides Now website and the Bruyninckx discography.

Happy New Year, everybody.


Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Boogie Woody! I'd never heard this before - thanks for providing the listen to Little School Girl.

boogiewoody said...

And a guid New Year to you Marie. Lang may yer lum reek.

anticredos said...

Nice LP sleeves with stick a lady on the cover and it's bound to sell philosophy...Woo Dops first vinyl post tomorrow. Happy New Year!

boogiewoody said...

Looking forward to hearing some vocal group vinyl Mr Woo Dops. Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Boogie Woody, I feel reluctant to ask you this. After providing this marvelous Rhythm 'n' Blues-Jazz Hall of Fame for us, it IS very cheeky of me. As you know, I love it when you provide a single song on divShare . . . is there any chance that the Smokey Hogg tune might be temporarily made available for the deed?

Either way, thanks for everything!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the bounty of 2010. May the new year be a happy one for you!

Many thanks, as always.

- d.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Boogie Woody! This is wonderful.

anticredos said...

Yes, I must agree. I want it!

boogiewoody said...

OK guys, you got it! Downloading was turned on - but temporarily!

Greg said...

Thanks so much for this gorgeous record, Boogiewoody. You captain a spendid ship here.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks Greg. Captaining a splendid ship - I love that! It's "The Life Accoustic with Boogiewoody." - I've been watching the splendid Bill Murray in "The Life Acquatic with Steve Zissou" of late ...