Archive for the ‘Guy Stevens’ Category

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Megatons

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

megatonsshimmysue, megatons, island, sue records, chris blackwell, guy stevens

Listen: Shimmy Shimmy Walk (Part 1) / The Megatons MegatonsShimmy.mp3

Sorry but isn’t this the ‘Wang Dang Doddle’ riff? I’m expecting to hear Jimmy Reed start singing any second.

But these are all good things. I think it’s what’s called a scorcher. Deep studio funk was an inviting description I read recently as well. It’s the soundtrack to a black and white, smokey club segment whereby the music always ends to early – and before the days of Shazam, so you’d never know who the fuck it was.

Didn’t hurt that ‘Shimmy Shimmy Walk’ released on Sue. You just know for sure Guy Stevens played it at those romantic sweat boxes off Wardour Street in the 60′s.


Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Continental Mind / Ernestine Anderson

Listen: Continental Mind / Ernestine Anderson ErnestineContinentalMind.mp3

A traditional jazz vocalist from the get go, she fell nicely into the mid 60′s Mod scene due in no small part to her association with Sue Records. Guy Stevens ran this Island imprint for Chris Blackwell and it’s catalog was flawless, focusing on the raw and brazen US RnB/smokey keyboard jazz stuff of the day. Years later, this one would be considered trendy bachelor pad fare. At 80 years old, she still performs – and will be in New York Feb 9-14. Do yourself a favor, check out this footage:

Ernestine Anderson – Moanin (BBB 1967)
Uploaded by soulpatrol. – Full seasons and entire episodes online.