Archive for the ‘Checker’ Category

Tommy Tucker

Friday, November 13th, 2015

tommytuckerhiheeleduka, Tommy Tucker, Checker, Chess, Don Covay, Pye

Listen: Hi-Heel Sneakers / Tommy Tucker TommyTuckerHighHeeled.mp3

It was very early on that I’d learned to depend on certain labels for a consistant style or quality. Many collectors focus on their entire runs, and Chess/Checker is easily one such company. Basically, I was never disappointed by their 60′s output. Must have been an early radio station handout that turned me on to Tommy Tucker, although this did reach #11 in ’64. His Jimmy Reed style was an instant magnet, and I’m happy to this day that I plonked down $5 for his one and only Checker album at the time.

Don Covay also comes to mind, he wrote ‘Long Tall Shorty’, Tommy Tucker’s followup to ‘High Heeled Sneakers’. Covered by The Kinks and The Graham Bond Organization, it was apparently a common staple in the London clubs for a bit. Not a hit at the time, it’s deservedly risen to an equal ‘classic’ position for Tommy Tucker through the years.

Jimmy McCracklin

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

The Walk / Jimmy McCracklin

Listen: The Walk / Jimmy McCracklin

His biggest chart hit, ‘The Walk’, was the result of an AMERICAN BANDSTAND appearance in ’58, although the record had been released in ’57. Thus was the power of a very few, limited music outlets at the time. Then it was called television.

Dick Clark’s weekly program must have been aggressively worked for such precious exposure. To Dick Clark’s credit, many of the black acts, often who’s records were covered by white performers thus robbing the originals of the hit, were given shots. Jimmy McCracklin was one.

‘The Walk’ is a great combination of RnB and Jump Blues, which he carried over from the release of his first single, ‘Miss Mattie Left Me’ in 1945.

He went on to record for a few labels including Imperial and Stax, where with Lowell Fulson, co-wrote the massive ‘Tramp’ as recorded by Carla Thomas & Otis Redding, and as recently as 2007 played the San Francisco Blues Festival for the sixth time.

This copy came with the original jukebox tab stapled to it’s sleeve, where it shall remain.

Sugar Pie DeSanto

Saturday, November 6th, 2010


Listen: Slip-In Mules / Sugar Pie De Santo SugarPieSlipIn.mp3

I was so taken by her name from the very first time I saw it: Sugar Pie De Santo. You see I’m a pushover when it comes to cakes, pies, basically anything from bakeries. And there are none quite like the ones in mainland Europe. I first travelled there in ’87 with X and 10,000 Maniacs and had just become an unbearable militant vegetarian, basically making all my friends uneasy whenever they ate any meat. At least I had Natalie and Exene, both vegetarians, on my side for the trip, but still, not very nice I realize now. Those bakeries were safe neutral ground for us all. The places were so good, especially the ones in Holland and Switzerland. Oh and Denmark too. I still think about them.

There was a great record store just down from The Paradiso in Amsterdam, where both bands were playing. The window was jammed with Checker/Chess records and we were just staring at all the great sleeves. It was late and the place was closed. There were at least two from Sugar Pie De Santo. And next door was a Bakery & Sweet Shoppe. It must have been there for decades. Ever since, I’ve associated her with bakeries, good ones too.

I attended the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Awards show in Philadelphia September ’08, Vivian Green was singing with Chaka Kahn. It was heaven on earth for rubbing shoulders with legends: Bill Withers, The Dixie Cups, Mable John, Aretha Franklin, The Marvelettes, Earl Van Dyke, The Soul Brothers, Martha & The Vandellas, so many, they were all there.

I had no idea until arriving that Sugar Pie De Santo was being inducted. Plus she even performed and no one was ready. She owned the place, wow, what a fireball and a voice to stop most others in their tracks. I’m inclined to say she stole the show, but Bill Withers doing ‘Grandma’s Hands’ was pretty fierce too. ‘Slip-In Mules’ has always been my favorite single by her, although I have many. Her phrasing of toes into toesies is classic.

Worth getting immediately: SUGAR PIE DE SANTO / GO GO POWER: THE COMPLETE CHESS SINGLES 1961 – 1966 (Ace CD 317). It’s all her Chess A & B sides, including this one. Pretty much a must-have.

Buster Brown

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Listen: Two Women / Buster Brown BusterBrown2Women.mp3

Another Detroit find (see previous post).

Buster Brown had his first hit, ‘Fannie Mae’ in, ’59. He was almost fifty at that point. He’s recorded for some of the best RnB labels ever: Fire and Checker, as well as small locals like Serock.

I learned a long time ago to never pass up a Buster Brown record. If you love the early Rolling Stones, here’s why.

Little Milton Campbell

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Listen: I’m Tired / Little Milton LittleMiltonTired.mp3

I must have easily twenty Checker 7′s by Little Milton, or Little Milton Campbell, as he’s listed on a few including ‘I’m Tired’.

Written by Savoy Brown’s Chris Youlden, I’m sure I read somewhere that Little Milton decided to cover it as a thank you to the band for releasing a version of his ‘Grits Ain’t Groceries’. Still, what an honor this must have been for not only Chris, but the whole group.

To my knowledge, it’s his last release for the label, and doesn’t even show up on most discographies. Interesting that Donny Hathaway was involved. He didn’t grace many releases that weren’t his own.

Sugar Pie DeSanto

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

sugarpiesoulful, Sugar Pie De Santo, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Pye International, Chess, Checker

Listen: Soulful Dress / Sugar Pie DeSanto

Proof that you can never have too many Sugar Pie Desanto singles.

Sonny Boy Williamson

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

sonnyboywilliamsonhelpme, Sonny Boy Williamson, Chess, Checker, Paul Jones, BBC 2

Listen: Help Me / Sonny Boy Williamson SonnyBoyHelp.mp3

I wonder if Plyrene Atkinson misses this single – or maybe she upgraded to a cleaner copy, preferring a more recent Checker label design. Yeah right. I loved this copy when I stumbled on it in a Greenpoint junk store. The basement was FULL of records. Still is – but it’s been seriously picked. This was in 2001, just before 9/11. I spent several weekends in that basement. No one was buying the records, as the guy had loads of great chachkas, furniture, kitchen items and clothes on the ground floor level. Very few even ventured into the basement. I supplied him with boxes of promo cd’s which were selling like hotcakes, so all the 45′s came my way first.

The name sticker on the label, which I would usually remove, became a romantic attraction to another time – when blues would sell to the nooks and crannies of America, truly becoming the folk music of it’s day.

I never loved this record until Paul Jones played it on his BBC Radio 2 program. How did I not ‘hear’ this one years earlier? Before the day of streaming and/or archived BBC content, Roger Armstrong would religiously record both the Paul Jones show and SOUNDS OF THE SIXTIES onto DATs every Saturday, then drop them in the mail. Talk about a friend.

Still a BBC 2 fixture, Paul Jones is certainly the voice of authority when it comes to the blues. ‘Help Me’ was, well, an RnB hit actually, peaking at #24 in April ’63. It sure does sound good in a 1959 Seeburg 222.

Sugar Pie DeSanto

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

sugarpiedesantouk, sugar pie desanto, chess, checker, pye

Listen: Use What You Got / Sugar Pie DeSanto

You need only get the new cd, GO GO POWER – THE COMPLETE CHESS SINGLES 1961 – 1966, open the booklet and begin your lusting for Sugar Pie DeSanto. The liner notes should be essential reading at Harvard, but they can’t touch the photos. She was more of a firecracker than I’d ever imagined. I missed out on seeing her during the heyday. Luckily, I did get to watch a still sizzling Sugar Pie DeSanto last fall at the Rhythm And Blues Foundation Awards in Philadelphia. Yum. Still hot.

Happily there are a bunch of must-haves amongst her Checker/Chess singles. The bump and grind vamp of ‘Use What You Got’ might be one the world’s greatest B sides. It started out as the A side in the States, but was flipped for the UK. This copy’s from the Tony King collection, it dips a toe into the vast pool of RnB pressings he amassed. Musically, not unlike The Cramps, or should I say they were not unlike Sugar Pie and the label’s house band: Leonard ‘Baby Doo’ Caston (organ), Gerald Sims (guitar), Louis Sutterfield (bass) and Maurice White (drums). Listen and you’ll see what I mean.