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Monday 21 March 2016

Joe Houston - Rockin' 'n' Boppin'


Side 1
01. Rockin' 'n' Boppin'
02. Flying Home
03. Walking Home
04. Earthquake
05. Waycross Mama Blues
06. Moody
07. Hurricane
08. Go Joe Go

Side 2
01. Cornbread & Cabbage
02. Jay's Boogie
03. Doin' The Lindy Hop
04. Boogie Woogie Woman
05. Hog Maws Part 2
06. Dig It
07. Shtiggy Boom
08. Joe's Gone
09. The Hully

Download from here:

Bought second hand. There is damage to the inner sleeve which renders a small part of the notes unreadable.

We continue our tribute to the late Joe Houston with a Saxophonograph LP which hasn't been on the blog before.

I was saddened to read in the March edition of "Blues & Rhythm" that Joe Houston had passed away last December after a long period of ill health. One of my favourite LPs of the 1980s R&B reissue craze was "Rockin' At The Drive In" on Ace. This was a reworking of an LP originally issued on Combo in 1956. The honking sax was awesome, relentless even, and as for the cover art, ye gods! There in the car park of a Googie architecture drive in restaurant was the man himself, blowing his sax to an admiring crowd of teens plus DJ Art Laboe and, artfully placed in the picture, a couple of open top cars each about the size of a small house (by UK standards). 1950s California seemed impossibly cool to somebody living in gloomy, rain soaked Glasgow in the 1980s.

"Rockin' 'n' Boppin'" provides a good overview of Joe's 1950s recording career. The gatefold sleeve contains notes by Ken Mills which at times could be called "fervent" as he preaches the glories of the Southern California R&B scene and Joe's contribution thereto. Included in the notes is a section on another LP already on this blog, "Earthquake," which was released by Pathe Marconi in the early 1980s. This was a compilation mainly consisting of sides originally recorded for Imperial. Unfortunately some of the tracks were wrongly titled and the original versions of "Hurricane" and "Earthquake" were not actually on that LP. However, they are here on "Rockin' 'n' Boppin'!" Read Ken Mills's notes for the full story.

Original release info plus reviews culled from the pages of Billboard:

01. Rockin' 'n' Boppin' - Cash 1018, late 1955.

02. Flying Home - Cash 1013, c September 1955.

03. Walking Home - Cash 1013, c September 1955.

Billboard, 1st October 1955
04. Earthquake - Imperial 5201, 1952.

05. Waycross Mama Blues - Freedom 1526, late 1949 /early 1950.

06. Moody - Bayou 004, May 1953. "Houston is the honking tenor type as he and the ork read off a riff-built instrumental for a good side."

07. Hurricane - Imperial 5196, July 1952. "The ork under Houston drives hard on a rhythm instrumental cleffed by the leader. Results are adequate."

08. Go Joe Go - Lucky 004, May 1954.

09. Cornbread & Cabbage - Hollywood 423, May 1953. "Houston shows a lot of sax on this side, a dynamic riff effort."

10. Jay's Boogie - Hollywood 423, May 1953. "More sax work with abandon by Houston, this time to a boogie beat by the ork."

11. Doin' The Lindy Hop - Modern 863, April 1952

12. Boogie Woogie Woman - Modern 879, August 1952. "A jump boogie gets a solid go from the ork and Lois Butler helps it along with her vocal. Material is not impressive."

13. Hog Maws Part 2 - Magnum 45-723, 1964.

14. Dig It - Modern 879, August 1952. "The ork enjoys itself jamming away on this riff item with lots of solo work featured thruout. Tune builds a bit, but not as much as it could. Jazz fanciers may like."

15. Shtiggy Boom - RPM 426, February 1955. "Swingy new rocker that has all the West Coast record firms excited is handed a driving reading by the Houston ork, with the sidemen on the vocal. Houston turns in some solid work on sax, and the side builds all the way. This could happen."

Scan from Joan K

16. Joe's Gone - RPM 426, February 1955. "And Joe Houston does go in this swinging instrumental side. Both jazz and blues fans will be interested in this wild cutting. Houston comes thru with excitement. Two potent juke sides."

17. The Hully - Combo 157, August 1959. "A blues-oriented instrumental with a rocking rhythm. Some good horn passages and interesting musical figures."

Recommended site:

Now somebody get me a time machine. I gotta get back to 1950s LA!


Bob Mac said...

Thanks for more Joe Houston. If you ever find that time machine back to the 1950s take me along will you? I really want to see Guitar Slim performing, be good to catch Elmore James while we're at it :-)

boogiewoody said...

Cheers Bob. The current Doctor Who (Peter Capaldi) is a fellow Glaswegian. I'll ask him if the Tardis could be made available for an R&B tour of 1950s USA. Add Wynonie to the list of must-sees!

Bob Mac said...

My father was a Scot, he was born in Rothesay, then his family moved to Johnstone/Crosslee/Houston area. I lived for a while in Scotland in the mid 1960s, I really liked the people in Glasgow/Paisley, very welcoming.

Rebecca said...

Great post,thanks !!!

boogiewoody said...

Thanks for the comment, Rebecca! Bob - my father spent a large part of his life in Millport, on the Isle of Cumbrae just a few miles across the water from the Isle of Bute where Rothesay is. There's a coincidence!


Bob Mac said...

BW. Some years ago I was drinking in a bar in southern Thailand and I got chatting with this guy and I find out he has the same surname as me, very Scottish Mac......

Turns out he was born on Islay but as a kid his family migrated to Canada (my family migrated to Australia)

I said to him...we're probably related. My family from Bute, your family from Islay, same surname/clan. Total strangers in a bar in Asia but we probably got the same DNA.

Scots & Irish, they're all over the world, and dead easy to find in bars in

boogiewoody said...

Yes, Bob, we get everywhere! I particularly enjoyed the story of Ron McCurdy from Belfast who was Roy Brown's drummer on his later King sessions. It all came to light in the comments on the "Hard Luck Blues" post here:

Of particular interest is an obituary from a Cincinnati newspaper sent in by John Clifford who was in the backing band for Roy's BBC session.

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

Thanks for more from the Mr. R&B catalogue - always welcome.
You may be interested to note that contrary to sleeve notes BOOGIE WOOGIE WOMAN and DIG IT are Houston cuts from 1951 - this probably means that the personnel needs rethinking.
I keep coming back to Joe's sessionography periodically but with the alternate titles and takes it ain't easy.
Keep up the good work and more Saxophonograph please.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks Daddy Cool, I'll root around for more Saxophonograph. The Bruyninckx discography has Boogie Woogie Woman and Dig It as being recorded at Joe's first LA session for Modern along with Blowin' Crazy, Goin' Crazy and Sentimental Journey. He also lists an unissued version of Boogie Woogie Woman as having been previously recorded in Houston for Macy's. I have no idea how reliable that info is however.

It took me several weeks to get my head round the complications surrounding the Imperial sides! All of which shows why I was content with giving the issue details once I checked them in Billboard but steered well clear of trying to work out where and when the recordings were made. I leave that to people who are better qualified than myself.

Joe's discography is much more complicated than the devilishly convoluted Schleswig- Holstein problem in 19th century diplomacy.

Bob Mac said...

BW: thanks for the link, interesting read.

Roy Brown - Hard Luck Blues is one hell of an album. I had the LP back in the early 1970s but it wasn't a 2 LP, just 1 LP.

"Boogie At Midnight" was often heard blasting at full volume through my house.