Archive for the ‘Brunswick’ Category

Linda Hopkins

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Listen: Higher And Higher / Linda Hopkins

Today, Linda Hopkins turns 88.

Discovered by Mahalia Jackson at age 11, then seeing Bessie Smith at the New Orleans Palace Theatre one year later in ’36 sent her on a path full of so many accomplishments. Read MOTHERIN’ THE BLUES: LINDA HOPKINS – THE CONTINUING LEGACY OF THE BLUES WOMAN. Wow, I was riveted.

In the early 60′s, she cut several sides with Jackie Wilson for Brunswick, which lead to some solo singles of her own for the label as well.

Although ‘Little By Little’ preceded swampier soul by a few years, it still retains a traditional manic juke jump chaos. Her full voice overpowers any of the tracks lack of swing, and miraculously, that perfectly recorded snare drum gets some nice loud spikes in the mix.

Jackie Wilson

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Listen: Baby Workout / Jackie Wilson

It’s strange how time has diminished the apparent power and originality once associated with Jackie Wilson.

Read Doug Carter’s THE BLACK ELVIS: JACKIE WILSON. You won’t be able to put it down, nor will you understand why he didn’t reach legendary status like those who credited him with their inspiration: Michael Jackson, James Brown and Elvis Presley for starters.

On stage, his knee drops, splits, spins, one footed across-the-floor slides became the blueprint from which they, and many others, lifted, crowning him Mr. Excitement. As a result of the book, I found myself trolling through a surprisingly large section of about thirty Jackie Wilson singles, involuntarily amassed through the years, sure that one day, I’d need them. Well that day arrived even before the book’s halfway mark. Didn’t take much to pull out and spin the pristine pressing, on original orange labelled Brunswick, of ‘Baby Workout’, a huge record in ’63 (#5 Pop). Workout being the giveaway word, this title held great potential. No let down there.

House producer Dick Jacobs, ann under appreciated band leader and executive, took responsibility for A&Ring many of Jackie Wilson’s records during the period. His clean, safe backing vocals and big orchestral arrangements, often dismissed and unfairly overlooked, actually helped to bring out the grit in both Jackie Wilson’s voice and songwriting. According to many, the combination of these two talents led to some of the earliest soul recordings, many becoming mainstream hits, like ‘Baby Workout’.

Listen: Soul Galore / Jackie Wilson

The post Dick Jacobs era resulted in Carl Davis being tasked the Jackie Wilson production responsibilities. One of their first works together, ‘Soul Galore’, got no traction upon release, somehow failing to pick up much airplay, even on the RnB stations. But by the early 70′s, it qualified as one of Jackie Wilson’s biggest Northern Soul successes, thereby being reissued, via the pressing pictured above.

Luckily, a very typical trait of Carl Davis’ was to consistently incorporate pumped up, brass arrangements into swinging soul songs, thereby helping give Jackie Wilson one of his biggest and ultimately final mainstream hits with ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher’ a year or so later in ’67.

The Wildare Trio

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Listen: Cruising / The Wildare Trio WildareCruising.mp3

Listen: Bossa Nova Blueport / The Wildare Trio WildareBlueport.mp3

Don’t go to Yahoo searching for info on The Wildare Trio. The message from them: “Sorry, no matches found for “wildare-trio”. If you didn’t find what you’re looking for, try another search.” Why thank you very much. Glad I exchanged my YHOO shares for AAPL some seven years ago.

Now if you do want some history on The Wildare Express aka The Wildare Trio during their Brunswick days, check out FUNKY 16 CORNERS. Well, you really should check it regularly anyways. There you’ll discover many wonders of the 7″ black vinyl world. And specifically, this trio’s swinging, soulful Hammond organ leader Rueben Wilson, not to mention his combo’s historical timeline.

Me, I found this record, as with a good hundred or so more, at an Evangelist Church rummage and cake sale not too far from our house. I’d love to tell you where, but it’s one of my last undiscovered secrets. It’s a yearly do, and all the elderly church ladies sell traditional food: rice, string beans, sweet potato pie, mac & cheese and I mean a MEAN mac & cheese, corn bread, blackeyed peas, the lot. Every last morsel is homemade and laid out in a mismatch of their pots and pans from home. And then there’s the dessert table: pies galore, we’re talking homemade crusts, pineapple upside down cake, fresh peach and cherry cobblers with real, heart attack threatening whipped cream. Heaven right out there in front of a church – perfect.

I’m usually one of the first to show up, really early, like 6am. Certainly the first looking for vinyl. I try to go every year and have for at least fifteen. Even when there’s a bunch of records already out – the pastor still seems to enjoy leading me downstairs to dig through a few more.

‘Crusing’ / ‘Bossa Nova Blueport’ was part of a particularly good crop in that infamous basement. The lot were all pretty used, but nicely scratchy – almost to the point of politically correct. If one didn’t sample the music, the surface noise would’ve been of equal value. Despite their condition, the records were all housed in their original company sleeves. First miracle.

The best part of all this being I didn’t know what record it was for a few years now. Meaning I’d spent one entire festive Saturday night converting vinyl to mp3, getting such a machine like assembly line process in motion, that I forgot to identify a few of them until the next day, by which time the records, mixed with that evening’s simultaneous friends, food and drinks, had been shuffled and re-stacked beyond logic. It was the one last single I struggled to identify for ages, until this past Sunday morning. I was digging, really digging to find something fresh for the DJ set Phil and I were doing at Brooklyn Bowl later that afternoon. I found this, thought hmm and threw it onto the turntable. Boom – it’s that record! Found it. Always hoped I would but you know what it’s like when a single slips into that black hole of the unfiled. This was the last, evasive, unidentified mofo in my itunes library that was making me crazy for years. So I found some sort of peace, just as the Evangelist’s good book promises, I think.

Hamilton Bohannon

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

BohannonSouthAfUS, Hamilton Bohannon, Brunswick

BohannonSouthAfUK, Hamilton Bohannon, Brunswick

Listen: South African Man / Hamilton Bohannon BohannanAfrican.mp3

In the late 80′s, the Record & Tape Exchange in Notting Hill Gate was just giving away records. Yeh, they had that second level, higher priced collectables floor, but all the £1 DJ and average, common ones on the ground floor were an awesome deal. In fact, for a while, they took over an empty store front a few doors down and opened a 10p shop. Everything was 10p, seriously. There was a lot of garbage, but also a lot of gems. Even more so for an American becoming more obsessed with owning everything on a UK pressing as well as the US one.

I couldn’t wait to get there – and usually would head over as soon as I’d land at Heathrow. Started staying at The Pembridge Court Hotel, just off Notting Hill High Street – an outrageously convenient block away. What a great place, with the two orange cats that’d come to your room and sometimes stay the night. It was a pretty popular place, Kate Hyman turned me on to it. The downstairs bar was a well known but secret hangout, Annie Nightingale came by one evening. Talk about a treat. What stories.

I couldn’t resist those Brunswick Hamilton Bohannon 7′s. They were forever in that £1 ground floor bin. He’d basically passed me by when current, especially the later disco and 80′s stuff. But these early/mid 70′s singles are really worth finding. ‘South African Man’ is probably my favorite, and I must have half a dozen UK pressings of it. I couldn’t leave them behind, they were such a bargain.


BohannonDanceUKA, Hamilton Bohannon, Brunswick

Listen: Dance Your Ass Off (Edited Version) / Hamilton Bohannon BohannonDance.mp3

Anything that sounds great in the jukebox gets a leg up. Bohannon’s endless grooves always fit the bill. In fact, nothing much really happens on a whole lot of his tracks but that endless groove, especially ‘Dance Your Ass Off’, not until the very end. Makes me want the long version, as those strings had to go somewhere. With a song title like that back in ’76, you were sure not to get radio play, and this didn’t, being one of his few Brunswick singles to not chart in the US.

The Reverend Kelsey / The Congregation Of The Temple Church Of God & Christ

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

reverendkelseyps, Reverend Kelsey, Brunswick

reverendkesley, Reverend Kelsey, Brunswick

Listen: I’m A Witness For My Lord / The Reverend Kelsey ReverendKesleyWitness.mp3

Listen: I’m A Royal Child / The Reverend Kelsey ReverendKesleyRoyal Child.mp3

Ok, I’m not a collector of Gospel, and certainly not an expert, yet always pick up the singles in the odd event I occasionally find them. This EP was amongst Tony King’s collection, and is brimming with fervour, spontaneity and a fantastic sense of urgency. These recordings show how the preacher and his congregation combine in passionate yet tender reverence, in a way that authentic spirituals always do.

Released in ’59, the four song EP included the A and B sides of The Reverend Kelsey’s 1956 UK single ‘I’m A Royal Child’ / ‘Where Is The Lion In The Tribe Of Judea’. I’m posting the A, and ‘I’m A Witness For My Lord’, both reaching riveting finales.

Anyone with a spare of his first UK single ‘The Wedding Ceremony Of Sister Rosetta Sharpe And Russell Morrison (Parts 1 & 2) – please email me.

The Crickets Featuring Buddy Holly

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Maybe Baby / The Crickets Featuring Buddy Holly

Listen: Maybe Baby / The Crickets Featuring Buddy Holly CricketsMaybeBaby.mp3

Once THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY film hit, summer ’78, I started my obsession with his many great singles. How I’d not really paid attention prior is baffling. I never noticed that most of my favorite singles by The Hullaballoos were actually his hits. Never mind, I began the amassing of his Coral and Brunswick output. Now at first this was a bit confusing. Hits that are all referred to as ‘Buddy Holly’ now were actually issued as either Buddy Holly or The Crickets back in the day (’57 – ’59). Not unlike say, The Ramones, turns out he didn’t have anywhere near the placements chart-wise his impact deserved – or that history has proven him to have achieved. In fact, he only graced Billboard’s Top 10 three times, and all in ’57.

Possibly the confusion of issuing records under two names – even more oddly – by the same parent company Decca’s two subsidiary imprints (Coral and Brunswick) contributed.

One of my many favorites is ‘Maybe Baby’. All Crickets singles were issued on Brunswick – while all Buddy Holly’s were on Coral. As a final pain in the ass complication, this Crickets record is on Coral. Go figure.

Brenda Lee

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Is It True / Brenda Lee

Listen: Is It True / Brenda Lee

Several months ago, I noticed someone on eBay selling six nice, clean Brenda Lee UK Brunswick singles in the original company sleeves for about $5 and figured, you can never have enough Brenda Lee. I’ve always really liked her, even though I don’t listen too often. The great news is she still sounds like a fireball kid with a monster voice to this day. So I went for it, they arrived and I was quite pleased to find when playing through them, that I just loved this one.

‘Is It True’ immediately sounded English to me. On closer examination of the label, I saw the track was written by Carter/Lewis, a pretty famous UK team who wrote many hits in the 60′s and even released records as The Ivy League and The Flowerpot Men to name a few. Google them.

I have now probably played this a few hundred times, faithfully converting the single to an mp3 on my turntable device (this year’s Christmas present from my dear brother-like friend Howard Thompson) and putting it onto my shuffle.

It came up on the subway yesterday and I just repeated it about a dozen times. So here it is.

A funny footnote, when filing away my new UK copy, I discovered I’d had a US pressing (I did admit I don’t listen enough), and it’s additional label copy indicates ‘Recorded In England’. My guess is she was steered toward jumping on the British Invasion train in ’64. Thank you to whoever suggested it.

Coincidentally, the single peeked at #17 in both the UK & US charts in Sept/Oct ’64 respectively.

Brenda Lee will be 64 in December. She’s still a baby, so hopefully she’ll play New York soon and I’ll get to see her.