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Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Beale Street Gang - Back Alley Blues

Side 1:
01. Lights Out
02. Raising The Roof
03. Jelly Roll Jan
04. Jumpin' In Jack's House
05. Teddy Bear

Side 2:
01. Fatstuff Boogie
02. Lazy Joe
03. Back Alley Blues
04. Red, Red Wine
05. Boogie Grunt

Download from here:

If you like your R&B stripped down to the basics, if you dig a late night smoky club atmosphere with a small group groovin' on lowdown blues and boogie, if Sonny Thompson's "Long Gone" is your bag, then this is the stuff for you.

"The Beale Street Gang" (occasionally "The Beale Street Boys") was the moniker of several small groups led by pianist Milt Buckner which recorded for Savoy in 1946-48 and again in 1951. While recording these sessions Milt's main musical activity was with the Lionel Hampton big band of which he was an original member, having joined as pianist and arranger in 1941. In 1949 and early 1950 Milt recorded for MGM with his own short lived big band (the sides had a similar sound to that of Hamp), but by October 1950 Milt was back with the Hampton outfit.

The sides on this little comp could therefore be regarded as very much a "side project" and they certainly have a spontaneous feel about them as they consist mainly of basic blues riffing and boogies. It's R&B the way I like it!

In 1952 Milt changed over from piano to the Hammond organ and embarked on a long career playing small group jazz. In the 1950s into the early 1960s he cut material for Capitol, Argo and Bethlehem. From 1966 until his death in 1977 he recorded many LPs for European labels, especially the French label Black & Blue.

The Beale Street Gang sides represent a brief outbreak of raw R&B in between Milt's more well known stints as big band arranger / pianist and organ combo leader. Here's the details, groovers:

"Lights Out" and "Raising The Roof" were recorded in NYC on October 28th, 1946. Personnel: Milt Buckner (piano) with: Pazzuza Simon (tenor sax); Curly Russell (bass); Arthur Herbert (drums).

Lights Out / Raising The Roof was issued on Savoy 653 in July 1947. Credited to The Beale St. Boys then on later issues to The Beale Street Gang.

"Jelly Roll Jan," "Raisin' The Roof" and "Teddy Bear" were recorded in NYC on December 8th, 1947. Personnel: Milt Buckner (piano) with: unknown (trumpet); Ray Abrams (tenor sax); possibly Curly Russell (bass) and possibly Arthur Herbert (drums).

Jelly Roll Jan / Jumpin' In Jack's House was issued on Savoy 669 in August 1948.

"Teddy Bear" was issued as the B Side of Regent 129, probably in October 1948, credited to The Beale Street Gang. The A Side was "Killer Diller" by Gene Coy And His Killer Dillers. This disc was very popular in Jamaica where it was released on Savoy 5555 and later as a 45 on Top Rank.

"Fatstuff Boogie," "Lazy Joe" and "Back Alley Blues" were recorded in NYC on July 11th 1948. Personnel: Milt Buckner (piano) with unknown trumpet, tenor sax, bass and drums.

Fatstuff Boogie / Lazy Joe was issued on Savoy 693 in May 1949.

"Back Alley Blues" was issued as the B Side of "Double Crossin' Blues" by the Johnny Otis Quintette on Savoy 731 in February / March 1950. The original review issue of this disc had "Ain't Nothin' Shakin'" by Leon Sims coupled with the Johnny Otis side, but this seems to have been quickly replaced by The Beale Streeters' opus.

"Double Crossin' Blues" which featured Little Esther and The Robins was a number 1 R&B hit in March and April 1950. In May 1950 it was replaced at the top of the R&B charts by another Johnny Otis disc - "Mistrustin' Blues" which featured Little Esther and Mel Walker.

"Red, Red Wine" and "Boogie Grunt" were recorded in NYC on April 5th, 1951. Personnel: Milt Buckner (piano, vocal) with: Tyree Glenn (trombone); Harold Clark (tenor sax); Reuben Phillips (baritone sax); Aaron Bell (bass); Tim Kennedy (drums).

Red, Red Wine / Boogie Grunt was issued on Savoy 785 in May 1951. Credited to Milton Buckner And His Beale Street Gang.

I first came across The Beale Street Gang when I was reading up on the background to the Savoy LP "Rhythm and Blues Volume 1" which had "Lights Out" credited to Milton Buckner. Read that post for details of how "Lights Out" reappeared in 1954 as "Blue Nights" credited to The Hot Shots.

For an in depth look at this phase of Milt Buckner's career see this website:

For listening it has to be this CD:

Classics 5032. Now out of print but you may be able to pick up a second hand copy. Or visit a certain blog by a certain French uncle and search around!


Bob Mac said...

Thanks for this BW. And I hope you enjoyed your break in England.

I have Milt Buckner - Blues & Rhythm Series Classics (1946-1951) if it's needed at all by anyone.

george said...

Many thanks, boogiewoody!

12vjoe said...

Thank you so much!

Don Rocin said...

Thanks for this great music and all the work you’ve done on the notes and artwork, BW.

Its such a fantastic time the late 40s. You get downsized Swing and Jazz bands churning their riffs into Jump Blues and Bebop and R&B – riffs that will re-emerge in the guitars of early Rockabilly and Rock and Roll.

What a time to be alive and playing.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks Don - concise summary of what was going on during one of the most creative periods in popular music.

Thanks for commenting everyone, and yes, Bob, I had a great time down in England!

Capt. Arrr'n'bee said...

Bob Mac - I am interested in the Milt Buckner album if you would be so kind to post it.

Bob Mac said...

@Capt. Arrr'n'bee: OK I'll locate it and post a zippy link later today.

Bob Mac said...

Milt Buckner - Blues & Rhythm Series (1946-1951) @ 192kbps

I'm pretty sure I got this from our French uncle, so thanks to him too.

boogiewoody said...

Cheers Bob. Uncle Gil's post is here:

There's a whole pile of Chronological Classics on Uncle Gil's blog. Many are without the information booklets, but the collection is a marvelous treasure trove for R&B fans.

Just go over to Uncle Gil's blog, type in "Blues & Rhythm Series" in his search box and download to your heart's content. Help keep those links alive!

I've got some Chronological Classics CDs in my own collection. Wish I'd bought more when they were in print as the ones that are still available go for high prices. I think they were compiled by Dave Penny.

Bob Mac said...

BW: I think I have pretty well all the "Blues & Rhythm Series", at least all the ones that interest me. Probably got most from Uncle Gil, so they tend to be lower bitrate, not that it matters much, I don't detect much, if any, differences unless played on the finest equipment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all of your effort, detailed posts, and fantastic music provided here. You are truly doing a service to all that listen to, and appreciate, great music. I'm very thankful. I fear that great music like this is increasingly in danger of fading away forever, but you help to expose it, and give it all a new life. I wasn't around to appreciate these times first hand, but I have great admiration for these timeless sounds. Thanks again!