Archive for the ‘Sue Records’ Category

Bob & Earl

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Harlem Shuffle / Bob & Earl

Harlem Shuffle / Bob & Earl

Listen: Harlem Shuffle / Bob & Earl
Harlem Shuffle / Bob & Earl

Talk about a period piece. ‘Harlem Shuffle’ makes me feel like I’m listening to late, well, very late night 60′s radio, when music this raw and blues based was kept off the air during the day…or more like, kept off the air almost entirely.

Released in ’63, then still considered race music, this record never got heard by white America. Wasn’t just the obscure English groups that had to sneak through via the late night airwaves ghetto, RnB had to as well. Growing up near Syracuse, we picked up AM stations from Boston and Ft. Wayne on our transistors, for rock that is. But we also managed a black station from Philadelphia and another from Baltimore. Not exactly Alabama or Mississippi, yet still very risky business for white bred upstate New York.

Got to hear a lot of seminal stuff that way, transistor under the pillow. In particular, Bob & Earl’s ‘Harlem Shuffle’, which still feels like a night time record with every time it gets a play. This single created a fantasy world, whereby living on the wrong side of the tracks seemed way far away and rather dangerous to venture too near.

The single had a deserved second life around the early 80′s, when a batch of this type stuff was reissued by some UK labels and the hip college DJ’s were mixing it in with ska revival bands like Madness and The Specials. Earl Lee Nelson had a pretty big hit ‘The Duck’ a few years later (’65) as Jackie Lee.

Wilbert Harrison One Man Band / Prince La La / Derek Martin

Monday, December 30th, 2013

THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS / Various Artists:


Listen: Let’s Work Together (Parts 1 & 2) / Wilbert Harrison One Man Band

Side 2:

Listen: She Put The Hurt On Me / Prince La La

Listen: Daddy Rollin’ Stone / Derek Martin

Just check my previous two posts. Not hard to guess, I’ve been picking through the various artists section of my wall shelf.

Weirdly enough, this is usually a head scratching process. I don’t do it often, but every time seems to unearth a multi-artist record, usually an EP, that I’d never really noticed before, suddenly falling into the ‘where on earth did I get this from’ category. And honestly, it happens every single time. One source, the UK weeklies, who for a few years there during the late 80′s/early 90′s were including free EP’s, whether it be NME, Music Week or Melody Maker, with each issue. I religiously grabbed every one and stuck them in that VA section for a rainy day. The entire chunk now being a treasure trove of both obscure and focus tracks.

When the Ensign label got all hot and bothered about the Sue Records catalog, which I’m guessing they could suddenly access via their 1983 Island distribution deal, they issued a series of four song EP’s religiously honoring the labels iconic history. Some were single artist compilation EP’s by Ike & Tina Turner or Inez & Charlie Foxx. Others were theme centric: SUE INSTRUMENTALS, THE SUE SOUL SISTERS and this, the latter’s partner, THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS. I played all three in the past few hours and basically did a blindfold drill to choose today’s 31 Days Of December – All EP’s post.

THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS, most likely by design, builds around much covered songs from Sue’s UK catalog. And there were many songs to choose from here, not forgetting, the Sue UK label issued the American Sue releases along with various blues and RnB singles from small and indie US labels. Initially, Juggy Murray, who owned Sue in the US was reportedly furious with Chris Blackwell and Guy Stevens, the day to day guy at Island/Sue in London. Apparently, neither had cleared the idea of picking up product from other US companies and slapping a Sue label on it for the UK.

As a result, other than the bothersome bad blood, Sue’s British catalog and discography rivaled the majors like Decca’s, who bolstered their output and image by repping Atlantic, Monument, Tribe, RCA, Coral and others in Britain. Island became the little indie that could, even harder in the 60′s, when swimming against the tide of Decca, CBS, EMI and Pye was near impossible.

And so, the team at Ensign picked some solid originals here that went on to become widely popular as covers. Loads of bands, including The Who and John’s Children released Derek Martin’s ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ during the Mod era.

Canned Heat, blues experts themselves, took Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Work Together’ Top 40 in 1970, delaying their version to give the original a chance to sell and reach #32 on BILLBOARD. In a loose full circle chain of events, John Mayall chose to record Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Work Together’ for his fantastic, and I do mean fantastic, Island album, A SENSE OF PLACE from 1990.

The Dorsets

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Listen: Pork Chops / The Dorsets

RnB food songs, especially when used as risque double entendres, well they get me every time.

‘Pork Chops’, was originally issued in ’61 as the first of four releases on the little known Asnes Records, which according to the label’s address was located just down the street from The Apollo. And man does it capture the soundtrack of Doo Wop morphing toward RnB to my ears.

Fantasize a Sunday afternoon matinee at that great theatre, full of hopeful young vocal groups just like The Dorsets, collectively scraping together barely enough for a greasy fry-up somewhere nearby afterwards. All the while, angling for that big hit single breakthrough, a miracle very few would ever experience.

For some reason four years later, by now supposedly a bit out of step musically, Sue Records in the UK released “Pork Chops’, possibly down to a most authentic vocal and delivery. It’s all pretty impossible not to love.

Who was that singer? And where did he end up? Damned if I ever found out. I’ll probably never ever know.

Thelma Jones

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Listen: Stronger / Thelma Jones

I recall hearing the last minute or so of ‘Stronger’ upon entering one of the many used vinyl shops along Ladbroke Grove in March ’77. Despite being totally infatuated with punk, my tastes were still pretty wide when it came to stuff before it, like glam and RnB and such. Plus it was just as hard to avoid a deep strong female voice then as it is now, and so Thelma Jones spiked my interest on the spot.

The bickering about the record’s £100 price sticker immediately disqualified me as it’s potential owner and I proceeded to get plenty light headed over stacks of other things. But I always remembered needing that Thelma Jones single on Sue from then on.

Almost ten years later to the day, I was working for Island and suddenly in the fortunate position of having access to the overflow of extras and forgotten copies that were stowed in various cabinets and cupboards around the St. Peter’s Square office. Rob Partridge, even then a long time employee was now head of press and showed me into a massive storage room bulging with multiples representing all eras, including a few boxes of Sue singles from the bygone days when Island distributed the US label in England.

Distributed initially that is, until Island’s Guy Stevens reportedly started licensing non Sue titles from America and issuing them on Sue UK, unbeknown to Juggy Murray who owned the original label. That resulting saga is easily found on many Sue Records fan and historical sites.

‘Stronger’ was one such record, having been released on the Barry label in the States. Upon finding the above copy amongst the Sue extras in that storage room, I was forever surprised to discover that the last minute I heard several years prior, whereby the “stronger’ lyric is on repeat, was actually the entire song from start to finish. No lyrics basically, and no chorus. Yet when it’s over, seems most folks are drawn to hear it all over again.

Hank Jacobs

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Listen: So Far Away / Hank Jacobs

Those orange, black and white Sue labels still have an addictive visual to them. Not only the color, but the font too. As do their red and yellow UK counterparts. I can’t pass one up, not ever. Well, when they’re at a reasonable price that is, which is becoming less frequent these days.

Best place to find some at affordably would have to be current vinyl stores catering to indie rock. They always have $1 boxes and never seem to have a clue about 60′s soul. I always seem to find at least one. It’s very handy.

As with labelmate Jimmy McGriff, these guys specialized in the Hammond organ instrumentals Mods latched onto in the UK, welcoming those releases into their collections along side not only American contemporaries Jimmy Smith and Billy Preston, but also home based copyists, in the most complimentary way, like The Graham Bond Organtization or Brian Auger & The Trintiy.

‘So Far Away’ is admittedly interchangeable with many early singles by those mentioned or Booker T & The MG’s, Willie Mitchell, even James Brown’s Smash label instrumentals. Yet it’s one that I think of first, and seems to have graduated toward the top of an essentials list in general.

Ike & Tina Turner

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Listen: The Argument / Ike & Tina Turner

Nothing can change the shape of things to come, as Max Frost & The Troopers once professed.

I was in a Sue Records loop that I just couldn’t get out of on Thanksgiving night. Must have played every Ike & Tina Turner release on the label at least once, each side included.

Lord, I’d totally forgotten about ‘The Argument’, lyrically. Almost valid enough to stand up in court.

Robert Parker

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

RobertParkerBarefootin, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

RobertParkerBarefootinUKA, Robert Parker, Nola, Island, Sue

Listen: Barefootin’ / Robert Parker

Robert Parker began his recording career playing with Professor Longhair on ‘Mardi Gras In New Orleans’ in ’49. Over the next decade, this guy worked with just about every New Orleans musician, including Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, and Huey ‘Piano’ Smith. You name it. Hitting his stride in ’66, after signing to the small Nola Records, he and the label delivered a Top 10 (#7) BILLBOARD hit with ‘Barefootin’.

RobertParkerAction, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is) / Robert Parker

RobertParkerJukebox, Robert Parker

As it turns out, the single was a classic double A side, as ‘Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is)’ became a huge Mod club hit in the UK. It’s cemented his popularity in Europe till this day, where he still can make the occasional appearances and get some royal treatment.

RobertParkerGetTa, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Get Ta Steppin’ / Robert Parker

Despite lack of national radio and chart success, his musical success never stopped. Released in ’74 ‘Get Ta Steppin’ eventually became known as a southern funk template, determined not only by those in the know but more importantly, via endless sampling.

RobertParkerGetDown, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Get Right On Down / Robert Parker

Almost as though lightning struck twice, not unlike the ‘Barefootin’ / ‘Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is)’ coupling, ‘Get Ta Steppin’ / ‘Get Right On Down’ proved to be another double side, basically must have in any respectable soul collection, 7″ single.

RobertParkerCountry, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Give Me The Country Side Of Life / Robert Parker

Despite not issuing albums during the 70′s (his only LP is BAREFOOTIN’ from ’66), Robert Parker just proceeded to make a seemingly essential single each year or so, right up through ’76.

RobertParkerLittleBit, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: A Little Bit Of Something (Is Better Than A Whole Lot Of Nothing) / Robert Parker

As with his 60′s output, career long musical arranger, producer and collaborator Wardell Quezergue was part of ‘A Little Bit Of Something (Is Better Than A Whole Lot of Nothing)’, his final single prior to recording retirement and one I just never see around.

Alexander Jackson & The Turnkeys

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Listen: The Whip / Alexander Jackson & The Turnkeys
The Whip / Alexander Jackson & The Turnkeys

Guy Stevens, who ran Sue UK, was at his most adventurous around ’65 – ’66. Handfuls of obscure RnB records from small independent American labels were finding their way onto Sue and getting released in England monthly. One of the more bizarre chain of events involved this single.

Originally issued in the US as ‘Flea Pot’ by The Lala Wilson Band, Guy Stevens licensed the record and upon release as Sue (WI-386), changed both it’s title and artist to ‘The Whip’ by Alexander Jackson & The Turnkeys. One of the instrumentals that appealed to amphetamined Mods meant the band’s true identity started to become a topic.

Rumors of it being The Graham Bond Organization, with Eric Clapton sitting in on guitar sonically seemed possible given the single directly preceding it on Sue’s release schedule, Little Joe Cook’s ‘Stormy Monday Blues (Part 1 & 2)(WI-385), was an alias for Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds. As well, the two bands often shared nights at The Flamingo on Wardour Street. Seemed an easy possibility but alas, this was not the case.

Either way, with very few copies having sold, it’s value continues to perform like Apple stock, and rise with no end in sight.

Baby Washington

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Listen: Hey Lonely One /Baby Washington
Hey Lonely One / Baby Washington

Born Justine Washington in 1940, Baby Washington began her recording career in ’56 as a member of The Hearts, but within a year, was confusing folks by issuing singles as both Justin Washington and Jeanette Washington. By the time she signed with Juggy Murray’s Sue Records in ’62, Baby Washington had settled in as her best known professional identity. Well, except for two of those sixteen Sue releases, when for whatever reason, Sue 797 (’63) and Sue 124 (’65) were issued as Justine Washington. Go figure.

Possible reason being, as Baby Washington, she may have had trouble getting live bookings. From what I witnessed yesterday when Baby Washington made a rare NYC appearance, she probably blew away all the competition on any of those stages back then. Even now, at 70 years old, it takes a lot of balls to follow her. Seriously, her poise and confidence were impeccable. She looked beautiful and then there was the voice. Do not miss her if you get the chance.

Luckily, through the years, I’ve managed to collect all but three of her US 7′s. Not a weak one in the bunch, plus it’s pretty hard for this completist to pass up anything on Sue. Far too many peaked at #90 or below on Billboard’s Top 100. Even more didn’t chart at all. God bless America is not applicable when it comes to Baby Washington.

‘Hey Lonely One’ (or ‘Hey Lonely’ as the early DJ copies read) spent one lonely week at #100 on 10/12/63. It wasn’t included in her all too short set yesterday, probably due to it being less familiar. I like to think it was out of her mercy for others on the bill.

Tarheel Slim & Little Ann

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Listen: Security / Tarheel Slim & Little Ann
Security / Tarheel Slim & Little Ann

The musical history of Tarheel Slim is a long one. As a member of The Jubilators, he and his cohorts pulled a true fast one in 1950, when the six man group drove to New York from North Carolina with a mission in mind. On a single day, they recorded seventeen songs for four different labels, under four different names.

Initially, billing themselves as The Selah Jubilee Singers, they cut four gospel songs for Jubilee Records, before moving on to Regal Records’ studio in New Jersey as The Jubilators. Then over to Newark, recording four secular blues songs, including ‘Lemon Squeezer’, as The 4 Barons for Savoy Records. Finally, they drove back to Apollo Records in Manhattan, where, as The Southern Harmonaires, they recorded four more gospel tracks. However, Apollo owner Bess Berman realized the subterfuge. She signed them to a contract which allowed the other companies to release their recordings, providing they promoted them as a secular R&B rather than gospel.

Fast forward to ’56, by which time he and Anna Lee Sanford, now married and professionally recording as The Lovers, found themselves signed to Fire Record as Tarheel Slim & Little Ann. In addition to being a much better name, seems the label steered them in a way better direction too. Suddenly they were releasing some happening 45′s, all a seemingly perfect balance between gospel, soul and rockabilly. Despite a red hot guitar break, as one reviewer described it, for some reason, ‘Security’ has remained basically overlooked.

Derak Martin

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

derakmartindaddyrollingsue, Derak Martin, Sue Records, John's Children, The New York Dolls, Streewalkers,, The Who

Listen: Daddy Rollin’ Stone/ Derak Martin
Daddy Rollin' Stone/ Derak Martin

Right down to the misspelling of his name on the label, this reeked of street, almost bootleg. The noisy, dirty recording being the kind that would aggressively make the rounds on the underground club circuit, deep south US or deep north UK. ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ and Derek Martin’s reach were validated by the bands that covered the track: The Who, John’s Children, The New York Dolls, Roger Chapman’s Streetwalkers. And that’s just the recorded versions.

The Ethiopians / Roy Shirley / Lyn Taitt & His Band / King Perry

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Listen: Train To Skaville / The Ethiopians
Train To Skaville / The Ethiopians

Trains infatuated me as a kid. My Dad would take me to the nearby railroad yard, where we’d watch the freight trains being assembled, a work engine pushing various cars to the top of the hump, then releasing them down the hill where the switching tracks would route each onto the correct train. As they’d crash into the most recent stationary car in the chain, their hooks would couple and so on and so on. Before long, a proper freight train would materialize and eventually, a pair of main diesel engines would tug them away, beginning their journey.

This was in Minoa, NY. I believe those train yards are long gone. Disassembled during the early 70′s when train travel was pretty much exterminated in the US.

Like most kids in the 60′s, I had a few sets of Lionel trains. Actually, still do. They reside in my parent’s attic. Haven’t touched them since high school. Lionel trains were like heroin. I knew if I messed with either, I’d be whisked into serious addiction. So instead, I decided to o.d. on records.

As late as ’85, New York City’s last standing Lionel train shop was still open for business. Corinne and I were casually walking along East 23rd Street one Sunday shortly after moving to town, and there it was. A time warp. Inside, several large city/country landscape displays with trains chugging through miniature towns and mountainsides were clattering away. Behind the counter, shelves lined with Lionel’s signature cobalt blue and orange boxes, full of model train cars and engines, were stacked to the ceiling. I got the shakes. I wanted to buy everything. It was a wonderful and horrible moment all at once.

So the train fetish is real, and anytime there’s a song about trains, I’m intrigued.

The Ethiopians ‘Train To Skaville’ by most accounts, fits into the sunny day bounce typical of ska records, but I always chose to imagine it recapping a risky journey through Jamaica by night. Way more unsettling.

Listen: Hold Them / Roy Shirley with Lyn Taitt & His Band
Hold Them / Roy Shirley with Lyn Taitt & His Band

Listen: Doctor Dick / King Perry
Doctor Dick / King Perry

Thanks to The Specials and Madness, the pioneer Ska and Rock Steady labels from the 60′s began reissuing these classics in the late 70′s. With a sought after gem always gracing Side A, many times something more obscure or collectible landed on the flipside.

In the case of Island, two tracks made up Side B of all their re-releases, both the Ska/Reggae ones on the old red and white label, as well the RnB reissues on Sue.

I was reminded of all these details having stumbled on a fantastic site, 45-SLEEVES. It’s a bible for those of you who, like myself, can’t sleep when a record isn’t housed in it’s correct, time period specific company bag.

Shades Of Blue

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Listen: Oh How Happy / Shades Of Blue
Oh How Happy / Shades Of Blue

Like The Casinos from around the same time period (1966), Shades Of Blue were basically a white, really white, vocal group that got mistaken for black. It became a big part of their story. ‘Oh How Happy’ could have easily been The Contours or The Vibrations suddenly coming on to your local pop station that summer, when a groundswell of airplay surrounded the single’s release.

Although the label copy indicates otherwise, Shades Of Blue’s website claims Edwin Starr co-wrote ‘Oh How Happy’ with their help. Either way, someone turned out a mainstream blue eyed soul benchmark in the process.

One of the many RnB indie label licenses Guy Stevens acquired for UK release through Sue, I’m betting he too thought they were from the hood.

Otis Redding

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Listen: Shout Bamalama / Otis Redding OtisBamalama.mp3

Recorded in ’60 and issued early the next year as Otis Redding & The Pinetoppers on both the Confederate and Orbit labels, ‘Shout Bamalama’ was quickly picked up by the King subsidiary Bethlehelm. Despite these various pressings, it was a nasty process trying to find a copy. Most common is the later reissue on King proper, released simply as Otis Redding. And even that is damn scarce.

Sue UK picked up ‘Shout Bamalama’ four years later, in ’65, trading off on the frenzy surrounding his live shows and subsequent success of PAIN IN MY HEART entering Britain’s album chart. As with the US King pressing, the record was issued only as Otis Redding.

Sue UK was in full force that year, both as an outlet for US Sue masters and stray singles such as ‘Shout Bamalama’, conveniently available for licensing in England from small American blues and RnB imprints. The label’s release schedule was a jaw dropper.

Listen: Fat Girl / Otis Redding OtisFatGirl.mp3

It was no surprise to read Otis Redding sighting Little Richard as his biggest influence in THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LITTLE RICHARD: THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY, certainly not after having heard both sides of this single. It’s pounding, driving, stomping soul review delivery was indeed Little Richard’s blueprint.

‘Fat Girl’ sounds maybe like one of Otis Redding’s earliest songwriting attempts, thankfully not covering his tracks, and thereby parking itself next to ‘Get Down With It’, in my opinion, Little Richard’s shining moment on 7″, and a single I’ve posted previously.

Little Stevie Wonder

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Listen: Workout Stevie, Workout / Little Stevie Wonder StevieWorkout.mp3

Saturday November 27, 2010. 5:30pm. Thought I’d be braving Christmas shopping gridlock mayhem but no…it was an easy sail across town and up to the west side building where Vicki Wickham and her doorman stood by, hand cart stacked with 150 count white 7″ boxes all neatly labeled. The top one: A – Ellison. Oh boy. Was it Andy or Lorraine?

I plotzed when the phone rang several weeks back, Vicki down the other end letting me know she’s found “a lot of 45′s in my storage space”. All forgotten about, for years now. Would I come get them?

“They’re mostly RnB or Soul, and from the 60′s. Oh and the labels all have those big red A’s on them that you like so much luv.”

God bless Vicki Wickham. Really, she is a saint. Forever looking out for me – and to think from her READY STEADY GO Redifussion office to my collection. That’s how these records have travelled. I mean, here are the very copies that resulted in so many bookings on the program. The real artifacts. Thank you Vicki.

This collection wasted no time. It opened a door I’d forgotten all about: early Stevie Wonder, before the voice changed, when he was still known as Little Stevie Wonder. “Workout Stevie, Workout’ was his fifth single, and third non-LP. Coming off ‘Fingertips’, which went to #1 pop, this fizzled at #33. Give a listen though, a pretty high position considering how spontaneous and raw the take is. Did this actually get radio play?

As with all his early releases, ‘Workout Stevie Workout’ was a very bluesy RnB, and sounded live, or pretended to be. Theoretically, the Motown sound began here, but these early singles could just as easily have been from New York’s countless imprints, such as Sue Records, or so many labels out of the south.

Listen: Monkey Talk / Little Stevie Wonder StevieMonkeyTalk.mp3

Even better, the B side. I would absolutely vote ‘Monkey Talk’ the winner of the two tracks. Check out his intro, pretty risqué. What a jam, don’t know what else to call this. Been playing it over and over all day.

One of the many great things about collecting records, you’re always finding something new to be insatiable over. But sometimes it can be right under your nose. Yeah, this UK pressing just entered my world, but the US copy has been in my library…since the later part of the 20th century.

Bobby Bland / Little Joe Cook / Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Listen: Stormy Monday Blues / Bobby Bland BobbyBlandStormyMondayBlues.mp3

Turns out Bobby Bland was the initial culprit, or at least the most well known one. His version of ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ is actually another song, simply titled ‘Stormy Monday’ or ‘Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad)’ written by T-Bone Walker. The real ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ was an Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine composition. Yet every time an artist covered the former and mislabeled it as ‘Stormy Monday Blues’, the wrong songwriters would get the royalties. What a mess.

Poor T-Bone Walker, he was apparently forever trying to get paid. The Allman Brothers Band, who without doubt earned him the most, correctly registered their release to ensure all would fall into place properly. Problem being the song itself was so good, it became a signature staple. The mislabeling, a domino after-effect.

Bobby Bland had the first hit at RnB and Pop in ’62. I was too young to hear this one on the wireless when current, but it must have sounded pretty sweet, especially at night. It’s a real night time record. I bet it was played a lot in the South.

Listen: Stormy Monday Blues (Part 1) / Little Joe Cook LittleJoeStormy1.mp3

Listen: Stormy Monday Blues (Part 2) / Little Joe Cook LittleJoeStormy2.mp3

Apparently, more than mislabeling happened with Little Joe Cook’s version, released by Guy Stevens on Sue Records in the UK. First of all, he and Chris Blackwell started this Island UK imprint to release American Sue releases in Britain. Somewhere along the line, they just began putting out any blues or RnB master they acquired from the States under the Sue moniker, unbeknownst to Juggy Murray, owner of Sue in New York. That fueled the first set of fireworks.

Fireworks display number two came when EMI’s Chis Farlowe & The Thunderbirds, now suddenly known as Little Joe Cook, found their studio rehearsal of ‘Stormy Monday’ had been taped, and subsequently released, without their knowledge or permission, on the Sue label by Guy Stevens. Story goes he and Chris Farlowe were quite close, and according to Albert Lee (guitartist in The Thunderbirds), it was meant to hide from EMI that their band was moonlighting on another label.

On top of all that, this release credited Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine correctly – if you go by the song title on the label. Problem was the music on the vinyl was again the T-Bone Walker composition of ‘Stormy Monday’, not ‘Stormy Monday Blues’. More headaches for T-Bone.

Some say Little Joe Cook’s version is the greatest UK blues record ever recorded. I’ve read this on a bunch of occasions. Who can say. Tell you one thing, it’s a shimmering take on an already late night, after hours classic. It may be one of my all time favorite blues numbers. It and ‘St. James Infirmary’.

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.

The Nashville Teens

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

 Find My Way Back Home / The Nashville Teens

Listen: Find My Way Back Home / The Nashville Teens NashvilleTeensFind.mp3

Last night’s season premier of MAD MEN ended with The Nashville Teens’ ‘Tobacco Road’, their one decent sized US hit. It reminded me I should share this story.

Back in the late 80′s when I worked A&R for Elektra, a guy came to play me his demo. Nice kid, worked at Colony Records a few blocks away on Broadway. In the 60′s, it was a haven for every release available, and the whole back wall was a 45 only counter manned by several employees – and open until 2AM. Always a hubbub of activity, the clerks were constantly juggling customers and going into the back, searching for whatever single you desired, and usually returning with it in hand.

Problem was they sold everything at list price – then 99¢. Seemed a fortune at the time, so you had to have unsuccessfully scoured all other shops before taking that plunge. I used to coax my Aunt Carm into the shop every summer when she’d take me on my yearly pilgrimage to the city.

Anyways this fellow and I get to talking, and I ask if they still have all those 7′ singles in the back sorted by label (which is how they did in the 60′s – you needed to know which label and preferably it’s catalog # as well). “Yes, they’re still set up that way”. So I tell him some of my favorite ones: Deram, London, Sue, Fontana.

A few days later, he comes back to Elektra. I get a call from the front desk informing me he’s upfront. What the fuck does he want – the demo wasn’t great and I told him so already. Turns out he thought I was a nice guy, and wanted to encourage me to let him return with new songs – so he just grabbed all the old stock on those labels and brought them over as a present. A heart stopper of a moment.

‘Find My Way Back Home’ (on the short lived blue swirl label with the WHITE instead of BLACK London logo) was one of many, many jems.

True story.

Jackie Day

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

jackieday, Jackie Day, Sue Records, Ace Records

Listen: Get To Steppin’ / Jackie Day JackieDaySteppin.mp3

Like the rest of the world, I know very little about Jackie Day. She had a single on UK Sue, was married to Big Jay McNeilly, and ‘Get To Steppin’ was, prior to this promo only 7″ release, never issued on a 45. It’s featured on the Ace 6TS 100 CLUB ANNIVERSARY SINGLES compilation cd – and in true form, Kent Records have made the DJ only single available in a plain white, as opposed to full colour company sleeve, just like in the 60′s.

Billboard Magazines

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

I got a fantastic email today from a reader in France, Bands Michel, who alerted me to a site whereby you can read just about every BILLBOARD from the 50′s, 60′s and onwards. These are mesmerizing. Scrolling through the weekly singles reviews whereby they predict records that will achieve Top 20, Top 60 or simply a ‘Chart’ placing alone is worth the visit. Most of the greats are in that later section, although many a ‘should have been a hit’ record features in the other two as well. Not to mention stunning full page tip sheet adds for singles by The Herd, The Who, Mary Wells, Scott Walker, Ike & Tina Turner, The Small Faces, multi artist adverts for Mercury, Okeh, Motown, Fontana, Deram, Ric Tic, Bang, Sue Records plus hundreds and hundreds more. Do yourself a favor: