Archive for the ‘Slim Harpo’ Category

Slim Harpo / Lazy Lester / Leroy Washington / Lightnin’ Slim

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

EXCELLO ROCKERS / Various Artists:

Side 1:

Listen: Shake Your Hips / Slim Harpo

Listen: I’m A Lover Not A Fighter / Lazy Lester

Side 2:

Listen: Wild Cherry / Leroy Washington

Listen: Hello Mary Lee / Lightnin’ Slim

EP’s came along from the labels for many reasons. Besides being generally rare due to their overall lack of substantial sales, as only the very biggest shifted sizable quantities, many were issued as promotional only. As a rule, they went to radio and the press, but on some occasions, to retail for in-store play, the latter being prevalent in the US during the early 1970′s.

EXCELLO ROCKERS wasn’t really any of the above though. It was about this time that England’s Ace Records issued a series of Excello artist compilations as indicated on the EP’s back cover. So what better reason was needed to create a classy promo only treat for the most informed industry friends and clients of the label? None. Clearly much care was taken in it’s preparation, right down to the cobalt blue and tangerine tri-centered pressing.

Three of the four acts here were amongst Excello’s best known and seemingly biggest sellers, given the number of singles each released during the label’s most active ten years, from 1962.

Then there’s Leroy Washington. His backwoods moonshine style was a template for so much of the mid and late 60′s output by the white British blues bands that I’m surprised he’s never name checked. Or maybe they didn’t even know he was their guy. Sounds to me like he, let’s say, rubbed off on many of his contemporaries. Perhaps without knowing, it could have been Leroy Washington who influenced Freddie King who influenced Peter Green or Kim Simmonds who influenced….the dominoes tip from there.

‘Wild Cherry’ was Leroy Washington’s first on Excello in 1958 with only two more to follow for the label during ’59 and ’60. The track is really blues on it’s way to becoming rockabilly, and wouldn’t have been out of place on the The Cramps BLUES FIX EP.


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?

Slim Harpo

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

I'm A King Bee / Slim Harpo

Listen: I'm A King Bee / Slim Harpo I_m A King Bee.mp3

Slim Harpo, real name: James Moore, might as well have been granted a patent on mid 60′s electric blues. Yeah yeah, there were a bunch of great players then, definitely Jimmy Reed, Freddie King, etc, so it’s admittedly a personal pick. His calm voice sat suggestively in every song and those lyrical double entendres were a riot. This one takes the cake. The Rolling Stones recorded a superb version for their first album, so it was nice to find the original was even sleazier. No surprise it was not a commercial hit, but certainly it’s a classic, one of the many of examples written about in THE LONG TAIL.