Listen: Blues, Early Early (Part 1) /Big Maybelle Smith
Okay, so Big Maybelle deservedly received a Grammy Hall Of Fame Award in 1999. Commendable gesture, generous even, given the deciding NARAS members in no way were to blame for the obscurity she endured during her lifetime. And to be fair, they clearly knew she earned such a recognition.
But Big Maybelle really did get shafted in her day. For instance, in ’55 she recorded ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On’, produced by Quincy Jones, a solid two years before Jerry Lee Lewis’ version. Both were full throttle rockin’, but being black of course meant the white guy got the airplay.
Her run with Savoy Records lasted between ’57 – ’61, and even in her professional lifetime, only ever released one single, ‘Blues, Early Early (Part 1)’, oddly in the middle of her string with Savoy, as Big Maybelle Smith.
Laying my eyes on ‘Blues, Early Early (Part 1)’ gave me a tingly jolt I will take to my deathbed. Was I frozen in that spot the moment I stumbled on it? Take a guess.
Mike Goldsmith rang me late one Friday night. He was jonsing to do some record digging, suggesting we hit random spots on Long Island that next day. I agreed. Somehow he’d sussed a comic book store that stocked records and so we leisurely dropped by. Holy whatever. The owner had stumbled on a radio station find. His store, including the backroom, was brimming, more liken heaving, with the most obscure promos I have truly ever seen in one place. Clearly a mainstream dealer had combed them first, leaving behind what was unfamiliar. Fine. Thank you God.
I picked up easily five hundred 7′s, hitting the cash machine several times. All in original sleeves. Note the period brown, ribbed, fold over bottom on this particular copy as proof.
And all mint. We were both experiencing tremors that cocaine crack can’t touch.