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Monday 29 August 2016

Big Jay McNeely - Big "J" In 3-D

Side 1:
01. The Goof
02. Ice Water
03. Big Jay Shuffle
04. Rock Candy
05. Whipped Cream
06. Hot Cinders

Side 2:
01. 3-D
02. Hardtack
03. Nervous Man Nervous
04. Mule Milk
05. Let's Work
06. Beachcomber

Download from here:

This is a 1988 bootleg reissue of a Big Jay McNeely Federal / King LP from the 1950s. This LP first appeared in 1955 as an eight track, ten inch LP called simply "Big Jay McNeely" (Federal 295-96). In December 1956 it reappeared as a 12-inch, 12 track LP with the title "Big Jay In 3-D" (Federal 395-530). The four additional tracks were "Rock Candy", "Hardtack", "Let's Work" and "Beachcomber", with the track order as on this 1988 Sing label repro.

In 1959 the album was re-released on the King label with the title changed to "Big "J" In 3-D" (King 650). The front cover was similar to the cover of the Sing repro. There have also been issues on King which combined the "3-D" background effect of the Federal issue with the title design seen on the Sing front cover. This version survived as a CD issue on King:

This LP was originally posted on the blog in November 2007. The original upload used the King CD front cover as album art, but this time round I've replaced it with the Sing front cover. Back in 2007 I was under the impression that the King CD cover was the original 1956 front cover, but I was mistaken, as I have detailed above.

Federal may have issued this LP as an answer to two LPs released by Combo in 1956. These were compilations of sax instros by Joe Houston and Chuck Higgins. Federal had 16 Big Jay recordings which he had cut for the label between August 1952 and April 1954 and which had been released as singles between October 1952 and August 1954. When this album was released Big Jay was long gone from the label, having recorded for Vee-Jay in March 1955 and for Atlantic in September 1956. The latter session was never released.

In a post on the Baton LP "Rock 'n' Roll Instrumentals For Dancing The Lindy Hop" (Buddy Tate and Frank Culley) I mentioned that Billboard had noted an upsurge of tenor sax instrumental releases by record companies during 1955-56, inspired by the success of Red Prysock's "Hand Clappin'." Most of these sides failed to chart with the notable exceptions of Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk" (the top selling R&B record of 1956) and Sil Austin's "Slow Walk." The 1956 charts were dominated by singers such as Fats Domino, Clyde McPhatter, Little Richard, Little Willie John and Ray Charles, and also by vocal groups such as The Clovers, The Cadillacs, The Five Satins and The Dells.

Indeed, several years before, Big Jay had noticed that even at concerts where he was the headline act, vocal group support acts were greeted more enthusiastically by the mainly young audiences. The 1956 sleeve notes on the back cover of "Big "J" In 3-D" describe the wild reaction of his teenage audiences at "Jazz Concerts" at Los Angeles venues such as the Shrine Auditorium and the Olympic Auditorium, but this was an accurate description of his concerts around 1950-51 not in 1956. "Mule Milk" attempts to capture this kind of atmosphere by dubbing on crowd noises to a run-through of "Night Train" by Big Jay and his band.

However, the music contained in this LP remains impressive. "The Goof" was the first wild honk track I ever heard, on one of those Old King Gold albums in the 1970s. "Nervous Man Nervous" is even better, but I must be getting old because nowadays I prefer some of the slower, more relaxed tracks such as "Big Jay Shuffle" with which Mark Lamarr used to close his much missed "Shake, Rattle and Roll" show on BBC Radio 2. Speaking of whom, a version of "Mule Milk" with no added crowd noise is / was available on the Westside CD "Mark Lamarr Presents Mule Milk 'N' Firewater", a compilation of rocking King / Federal / De Luxe sides which was released in 2000.

The front cover of the CD uses one of the photographs taken by Bob Willoughby at a Big Jay performance during Hunter Hancock's "Midnight Matinee" at the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium in 1951.

JazzWax blog has Bob's description of Big Jay in action at the Midnight Matinee. It's a must-read for the eyewitness account of Big Jay and his audience and for the accompanying photographs.

Big Jay McNeely releases on Federal:

Federal 12102 - Big Jay Shuffle / The Goof - October 1952

Federal 12111 - Penthouse Serenade / Just Crazy - February 1953

Federal 12141 - Nervous Man Nervous / Rock Candy - August 1953

Federal 12151 - 3D / Texas Turkey - late 1953

Federal 12168 - Ice Water / Mule Milk - February 1954

Federal 12179 - Hot Cinders / Whipped Cream - April 1954

Federal 12186 - Hard Tack / Let's Work - June 1954

Federal 12191 - Strip Tease Swing / Beachcomber - August 1954 *

* "Beachcomber" was reviewed in Billboard, but "Strip Tease Swing" was omitted from the R&B review section!

A download of the original Federal LP "Big Jay In 3-D" is available on the "Don't Ask Me ... I Don't Know" blog - that's where I found the front cover shown above . Thanks to Xyros. If it's authenticity you're after, download the original instead of the reissue on offer here!

1 comment:

richsoul said...

Thanks for all the Big J Neeley. One of the true authentic blues man. Thank you very much!!