Archive for the ‘King’ Category

Joe Perkins

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Listen: Little Eefin Annie / Joe Perkins

Having recorded for several small US labels during the early 60′s including King, as Joe Perkins & The Rookies, it was only his ‘Little Eefin Annie’ single for Sound Stage 7 in ’63 that charted at #76. Surprisingly, it was released later that year in the UK on London.

Eefin is basically a fast breathing and wheezing vocal technique, similar to later day beatboxing. An eefing piece called ‘Swamp Root’ was in fact one of the first singles recorded and released by Sam Phillips.

On ‘Little Eefin Annie’ though, it’s Jimmy Riddle, apparently the acknowledged master of the genre, who later brought eefing to national visibility on the television series HEE HAW, that’s doing the eefing. Joe Perkins does the rest.

Ike Turner

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Listen: She Made My Blood Run Cold / Ike Turner
She Made My Blood Run Cold / Ike Turner

Lux and Ivy profusely praised Ike Turner, despite the various mainstream accusations, as being one of the most important contributers to their raw and primal style. ‘She Made My Blood Run Cold’ is easily proof. No shortage of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or ‘Fever’ similarities either.

Who came first and gets the trophy? We’ll never know.

The James Brown Productions: Bill Pinkney / James Crawford / Anna King

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

I Do the Jerk / Bill Pinkney

Listen: I Do The Jerk / Bill Pinkney
I Do The Jerk / Bill Pinkney

There was actually a period in the 60′s when an artist could get away with signing to more than one label at a time, sometimes under different names, sometimes not. Usually, these were all singles deals anyways, I’m guessing, whose shelf life may have been months instead of years. Give someone a few releases and if nothing clicked, keep it all moving and on to the scrap heap they’d go. Not everybody got away with it, specifically James Brown.

As the story goes, while still under obligation to King Records, he upped and signed to Smash, a subsidiary of the Mercury/Philips group. Pretty quickly it was squashed, but as he still owed Smash many sides, James was forced to record as an instrumentalist for the label, specifically playing organ. A big old Hammond at that, thereby helping create amongst other genres, mod jazz, well sort of, as his stuff was mostly a combination of soul & schlock. Kinda black muzak versions you could say. All great listens though, the perfect party soundtrack in it’s day or even now in trendy trust fund pads or retro club nights. Part of his deal with Smash included a production imprint, whereby he did just that, produced other artists for Smash, Mercury and Fontana (another sister label), many bearing the recognizable ‘James Brown Production’ logo. Most famous was Bobby Byrd, his loyal sideman for decades.

Not so famous, but musts nonetheless, found their way, despite little or no marketing/push, onto the Mercury Group’s release schedules.

Like Bill Pinkney’s cash-in, almost Young Rascals rocker, ‘I Do The Jerk’ on Fontana. This was when the Jerk was a dance de jour. Everyone did it, or claimed to know how. Never ever heard ‘I Do The Jerk’ at the time, but mind you, was way to young even if it was played. Most likely, the pop stations went nowhere close, although from tooling the annals of radio playlist history, God bless Google but be prepared to work, some very, very secondary Southern delta markets spun it occasionally.

Strung Out / James Crawford

Listen: Strung Out / James Crawford
Strung Out / James Crawford

The super great, and oddly James Brown similar, James Crawford, released the spectacular ballad ‘Strung Out’ on Mercury. Don’t bother closing your eyes and imagining, you won’t need to. This could easily be the man himself. Quite possibly, buried somewhere in the Universal master tape storage library, which sadly was partially destroyed by fire not that long ago, may exist a James Brown version. Or maybe a vocal guide demo version laid down by producer for artist. Meaning James Brown for James Crawford.

If Somebody Told You / Anna King

Back to Soul / Anna King

Listen: If Somebody Told You / Anna King
If Somebody Told You / Anna King

Which brings this post to the one time featured female vocalist from the touring version of The James Brown Revue. She being Anna King. Good voice, perfect look: processed hair, bullet proofed into place, body tight, sparkle floor length ensembles and no doubt, an onstage sizzling swagger.

She made a few singles, produced by James Brown for Smash. And even an album. As well, she did one 7″ with Bobby Byrd ‘Baby Baby Baby’, which was included on the UK only EP BACK TO SOUL.


Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Ah! Shucks Baby / Tiny

Listen: Aw! Shucks Baby / Tiny
Aw! Shucks Baby / Tiny

Not unlike Big Maybelle, Tiny could belt it out. With only a few minor hits to claim, she came and went in relative obscurity. Despite being signed to King/Federal, and touring with, amongst others, Joe Turner, Bo Diddley, Little Willie John, Etta James and Ray Charles, it seems her star never properly shined. From the sound of this single, she was a powerhouse. Originally released in ’57 (she was signed from ’57 – ’60), King decided on reissuing this, her most successful record in ’63 which is pressing above.

I was in Washington DC in the early 90′s, returning to New York on a Sunday. Duane and I were there to see a band for Medicine, my label. Next morning, I scoured the yellow pages for a vinyl shop. One small listing was close by and sounded interesting, claiming doo-wop, gospel and blues amongst it’s specialties, so we gave it a go.

It was in a pretty run down section of town and to be honest, we were the only two white folks in sight. The elderly man who ran the place, as he had for 30+ years, was behind the counter making small talk with a few women his age, all in their Sunday best, fresh from church. The shop was filled with cds and only a small section of 7″ vinyl in a back corner, not at all like he described his stock when I’d called earlier. Even more frustrating, the very vast majority of them were recent reissues. Really dreadful.

But I did notice a few Chess, Checker and King originals amongst them, all of which I selected and eventually made my way up to the counter with them in hand. Duane too had picked out a bunch. When I asked the price, he looked through them and said “They’re usually $4 but I think we should have a half price sale today, seeing as you boys have chosen some really nice stuff here”.

We immediately launched into all kinds of questions – from both sides. “How did we know about these records?” from him, and “Did you ever get to see Inez & Charlie Foxx or Slim Harpo?” from us. That kind of banter. We were having a great old time. Then he says “It’s about time to close but if you’d like, I’ll let you into the basement. I have a lot more records down there and you might find a few good ones”. We were taking the shuttle home, they flew hourly and therefore in no hurry. Seemed a little odd to close your shop midday (it was at that point around 2pm) and invite the only two customers, behind the counter then down to the basement. We took the chance.

Oh my God, the place was heaving with boxlots of 45′s. Loads and loads, mostly Chess and King. He came down and started spinning Sonny Boy Williamson and Hank Marr records, so many others too. We were there for hours, high as kites on the buzz. I still ask Duane, what were we thinking? We should have bought them all. I came home with at least 200, all in company sleeves. Tiny’s ‘Aw! Shucks Baby’ was just one of the endless jems.

After all that, this truly kind, gentle and generous man drove us to the airport in his big old, polished, oversized 70′s car, going way below the speed limit, in true fashion. It was like a little kid’s first ride in a stretch, and the stories about the past, like seeing shows at The Howard Theatre, kept flowing. Duane recalls his name being Christian, but in the high of the moment, we didn’t exchange contact info, a real regret. Still, a priceless memory for life.

King Records Warehouse

Above: A shot of the King Records shipping room. I wonder if any of Tiny’s were being picked and packed?

James Brown & The Famous Flames

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Listen: Cold Sweat (Part 2) / James Brown & The Famous Flames JamesBrownColdSweat2.mp3

“Excuse me while I do the boogaloo”.

And meanwhile the rest of us can try finding ‘Cold Sweat (Part 2)’ on any number on James Brown comps and anthologies. Well don’t waste your time.

The full seven/eight minute take is out there, but not the original two part monos like on the 7″. That’s the problem with many reissues. Someone goes back, finds the master – the stereo master that is, cleans it up and sells the ‘remastered version’. Never the two mono sides from the original single. We’re supposed to get excited about this? What it really means is all the good stuff gets scraped off, leaving something clean and polished, and dull.

That’s why the oldies stations don’t ultimately get me excited. All those remastered versions of ‘California Girls’ or ‘The Sounds Of Silence’, as if we need to hear them ever again to start, come off sterile and missing something. The dirt, that’s what.

Well here’s the mono ‘Cold Sweat (Part 2)’ before the wash and wax.

Jack Dupree

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Tongue Tied Blues / Jack Dupree

Listen: Tongue Tied Blues / Jack Dupree

This was a bizarre discovery from that very first pile of singles I blagged off WMCR, claiming to be from the local Children’s Hospital and needing donations. There were many greats in that stack of about fifty (The Others, The Pretty Things, Inez & Charlie Foxx, The Mickey Finn, The Hullaballoos, Ike & Tina Turner, Jimmy Reed), but this earned an immediate spot.

I played it for everyone, all as baffled as myself on first listen. We were feeling confidently hip to this blues music The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and The Kinks claimed as their influences, even though we simply were not. A true and pure example had yet to be served our way until that very first spin of ‘Tongue Tied Blues’. Just listen and you’ll understand.

Hank Mizell

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Jungle Rock / Hank Mizell

Listen: Jungle Rock / Hank Mizell 2-18 Jungle Rock.mp3

Twenty years. That’s how long it took for this one to become a hit. Originally released in 1956, then again in ’57 on King Records. According to myth, this was heard on a bootleg compilation by someone at Charly Records in the UK. They decided to license the master properly, and release the song as a single. As a result, it got some BBC airplay, started selling and eventually peaked at #3 in England during March ’76. A primal rockabilly blueprint, much like many Ersel Hickey singles, it was suddenly in tune with the times. At 53, Hank became a chart success. Great record.

The Persuaders / Junior Tucker

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Listen: Some Guys Have All The Luck / The Persuaders PersuadersLuck.mp3

Only in hindsight did I hear The Persuaders version of ‘Some Guys Have All The Luck’. God only knows how that happened. I worked at a one-stop in Fall ’73, delivering records to accounts, and to my apartment….bad karma. I thought there wasn’t a 7″ I had left out of those personal allocations, but obviously I was wrong.

Add to that, how did I miss it on the radio? There was nothing else to listen to while doing those said deliveries and this one went pop, peaking at #39 in Billboard that very November.

Eventually, around the Christmas season, I got moved inside, pulling orders and restocking. At this I was a whizz. Could do it in my sleep – and loved it. I was in the LP department – all organized by label, then chronologically by catalog number within each. Can you imagine sections for King, Okeh, Fontana, Sue, Deram, Philips, Parrot, Stax, Smash…….ok enough torture.

The front half of the warehouse was dedicated to the 45′s. Maude did my version of the job up there, and she had a Kevin pile – one of everything. Well, sometimes 5 or 10, depending on varying factors. Once a one hundred count box was full, off to the tape dispenser, then on to the cart, bound for the delivery truck, it went. Oh to go back in time.

Still, I didn’t end up with a copy of this one for years.

Listen: Some Guys Have All The Luck / Junior Tucker JuniorTuckerSomeGuys.mp3

Fast forward. 1980.

Oldest trick in the book: cover classic soul songs in a reggae style. Pretty much works every time. In this case, beyond great.

I fell in love with Junior Tucker’s ‘Some Guys Have All The Luck’ upon release. I dare say it got played hundreds and hundreds of times in my record room that year, and on my radio shows.

Corinne and I were both reggae lovers, having been weened on the hard corp Lee Perry and Jack Ruby releases Howard was sending our way starting in ’76. An all time favorite series, THIS IS REGGAE MUSIC, especially Volume 3, became our crowd’s anthem anthology. And I dare say all my best friends from that period can be transported back to some of the greatest times of our lives when we spin it nowadays.

Had I known then, that about ten years after Volume 3′s release, I would one afternoon walk into Chris Blackwell’s office, and suggest reviving the series with a Volume 4 and 5 (Volume 5 exclusive to reggae style RnB covers – this was included), and that he would say “Yes”, my heart would have frozen.

James Brown

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

JamesBrownBoogaloo, James Brown, Smash

Listen: James Brown’s Boo-Ga-Loo / James Brown
James Brown's Boo-Ga-Loo / James Brown

One day, around ’90, I decided to own every last James Brown single from the 60′s and 70′s. It was a most fun challenge, and surprisingly easy. Don’t forget, we were still in the heyday of folks dumping their vinyl for cd. Despite all the unsolvable problems that began with the onset of the cd configuration, it was absolutely a miracle for the vinyl collector. What could be better than the entire world wanting to unload their records?

James Brown’s temporary switch from the King label to Smash lasted a only year or two. Seems he signed one contract before the previous one expired, ultimately settling it all by agreeing to record only instrumentals for Smash. Some fans seem to downplay their interest in the period – not me. Besides, I’m a sucker for any releases from the Mercury Records Group: Philips, Fontana, Blue Rock, Limelight and of course Smash.

The best part of all this being the public tired of his assembly line, contract fulfilling output, so sales declined faithfully with each release. These last few before returning to King became the hardest to find. Good fun in my book.

‘James Brown’s Boo-Ga-Loo’ came and went completely unnoticed. Although the label copy suggested it’s from his NEW BREED album, it’s not. Well, sorta not. The track is actually an edited version of ‘New Breed’ retitled and easily doubles as incidental music for a B movie. No problem.

JamesBrownJimmyMack, James Brown, Smash

Listen: Jimmy Mack / James Brown
Jimmy Mack / James Brown

Equally enamored with muzak renditions of familiar hits meant many of his singles for the label were prime wants like ‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ plus his own covers of ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’ and ‘Try Me’ for instance.

The last Smash 7″, and non-LP as well, is a lazy, slightly mundane (and therefore perfect for my tastes) version of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s ‘Jimmy Mack’. As with many of the jazz organists from that period, I bet they all rattled out these one after the other in a day long session, thereby making both recording costs and sales pressure low. Everyone needed a few for party music I guess. Another hard one to find, yet most likely competition is pretty minimal.