Attention Mac Users!

Mac users have been experiencing problems in unpacking the WinRAR archives used on this blog. Two solutions have been suggested.

1. Use The Unarchiver - - see comments on Little Esther Bad Baad Girl post for details.

2. Use Keka - - see comments on Johnny Otis Presents post.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Charlie Parker - The Complete Savoy Sessions Volume 1 (1944-1945)

Side 1:
01. Tiny's Tempo (take 1) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
02. Tiny's Tempo (take 2) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
03. Tiny's Tempo (take 3) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
04. I'll Always Love You Just The Same (take 1) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
05. I'll Always Love You Just The Same (take 2) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
06. Romance Without Finance (take 1) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
07. Romance Without Finance (takes 2 and 3) - Tiny Grimes Quintette

Side 2:
01. Romance Without Finance (takes 4 and 5) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
02. Red Cross (take 1) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
03. Red Cross (take 2) - Tiny Grimes Quintette
04. Billie's Bounce (take 1) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers
05. Billie's Bounce (takes 2 and 3) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers
06. Warming Up A Riff (take 1) - Charlie Parker's Reboppers

Be Bop starts here (sort of)! I posted the first two volumes of  "Charlie Parker - The Complete Savoy Sessions" back in the earliest days of the blog, and here they are again, with new cover and label scans. First up is Volume 1 which covers Charlie's first official small group session - with swing guitarist Tiny Grimes, plus the start of Charlie's second Savoy session featuring his own band which included a young Miles Davis on trumpet and a guest / support appearance by Dizzy Gillespie on piano and trumpet.

The LPs feature the complete sessions including multiple takes and occasionally aborted takes. The post includes information on which of the takes were released as singles. The Grimes session includes two vocal efforts by Tiny, the dreadfully square "I'll Always Love You Just The Same" and the half-heartedly hip "Romance Without Finance." The main interest in this session centres on the swinging instro "Tiny's Tempo" and the Parker composition "Red Cross."

Background to the Savoy Sessions

In 1944 Savoy Records started recording sides by the jazz musicians who jammed in the clubs of Harlem and 52nd Street. Ben Webster, The Count Basie Band (under Earl Warren's name), Lester Young, Hot Lips Page, Pete Brown, Don Byas, Miss Rhapsody and Cozy Cole were among the artists who were recorded. The Hot Lips Page band which recorded a session on September 12th included Earl Bostic, Ike Quebec and guitarist Lloyd "Tiny" Grimes in its lineup. Three days later Tiny Grimes was back leading a small group which had Clyde Hart on piano, Jimmy Butts on bass, Doc West on drums and on alto sax one Charles Parker Esq, late of Kansas City whence he had arrived in the Big Apple with the Jay McShann Orchestra back in January 1942.

When the McShann outfit headed back to K.C. in the summer of '42, Charlie Parker elected to remain in N.Y.C. and play the clubs. At the end of the year he was recruited into the Earl Hines Orchestra at the suggestion of Billy Eckstine and Benny Harris. Also in the band were Sarah Vaughan and Dizzy Gillespie.

In April 1944 Eckstine formed a new band which included Parker, Gillespie, Vaughan, Wardell Gray and Art Blakey. In August 1944 the Eckstine band played a 2 week residency in St Louis where an 18 year old Miles Davis sat in to replace an ill Buddy Anderson. The band then played a week long engagement at the Regal Theatre in Chicago. Charlie Parker quit when the band returned to NYC. Shortly afterwards he was at the Onyx Club in 52nd Street where he worked with Ben Webster. He then appeared at another 52nd Street club, the Three Deuces, in a band which had Howard McGhee on trumpet, Dizzy Gillespie having decided to stick with the Eckstine band.

Just a few doors down 52nd Street from the Three Deuces was the Downbeat Club, where Charlie would drop in to jam with the band led by guitarist Tiny Grimes. On the 14th September Savoy asked Tiny to record a session for them. The following day he turned up with a group which included Charlie Parker. The complete session is on this LP, taking up the whole of Side 1, plus the first three tracks on Side 2.

Five 78 rpm discs were generated from this session. The same takes of each track were used on all of these singles -

Tiny's Tempo (take 3) and I'll Always Love You Just The Same (take 2), were released on Savoy 526.

Romance Without Finance (take 5) and Red Cross (take 2) were released on Savoy 532.

Red Cross (take 2) and Tiny's Tempo (take 3) were released on Savoy 541 credited to Charlie Parker.

I'll Always Love You Just The Same (take 2) and Red Cross (take 2) were released on Savoy 563, credited respectively to Tiny Grimes and Charlie Parker.

Romance Without Finance (take 5) and I'll Always Love You Just The Same (take 2) were released on Savoy 613 credited to Tiny Grimes Quintette.

It would be more than a year before Charlie Parker recorded another Savoy session. This time it would be under his own name. The time between the sessions was a busy one with Charlie involved in recording sessions with inter alia "Clyde Hart's All Stars" (featuring Don Byas) for Continental, Red Norvo, Sarah Vaughan (for Continental) and Sir Charles Thompson's All Stars (including Dexter Gordon) for Apollo. His most important recordings and live appearances were as a member of the small group featuring himself and Dizzy Gillespie. In February 1945 they recorded "Groovin' High," "All The Things You Are" and "Dizzy Atmosphere" for Guild. In May 1945 they recorded "Salt Peanuts," "Shaw 'Nuff," " Hot House" and "Lover Man" (with Sarah Vaughan on vocal) also for Guild. The Gillespie - Parker combo had a residency at the Three Deuces on 52nd Street from March until July 1945.

When the Three Deuces residency finished Dizzy Gillespie formed a big band for a Southern tour. Charlie attended a few rehearsals then split to form his own combo which opened at the Three Deuces in early August. In October the combo was at The Spotlite, also on 52nd Street, with the line up pictured below - Charlie Parker (alto sax), Miles Davis (trumpet), Dexter Gordon (tenor sax), Sir Charles Thompson (piano), Leonard Gaskin (bass) and Stan Levey (drums).

On 26th November Charlie Parker arrived at WOR studios in NYC for his Savoy session where he was accompanied by Miles Davis (trumpet), Argonne Thornton aka Sadik Hakim (piano), Curly Russell (bass), Max Roach (drums) and Dizzy Gillespie (piano, trumpet).

The first 3 takes of "Billie's Bounce" are on this LP, but it would be take 5 (on Volume 2) which would be the released take. Before proceeding to takes 4 and 5 the group improvised on the harmonies of "Cherokee" with what was later named "Warming Up A Riff" which was eventually released on Savoy 945 b/w "Thriving On A Riff" from later in the same session. Volume 2 which will be posted soon has the remainder of this session, including more takes of "Billie's Bounce," "Now's The Time" and "Koko." Stick around for more bop!

Elsewhere on the blog:

Info on Tiny Grimes here:

In the next thrilling episode - "Now's The Time" and "Is This The Way To Camarillo?" Bird and Diz head out West and meet up with Slim Gaillard. Vout-o-roonie!

Monday, 5 March 2018

Ruth Brown - Rockin' With Ruth (re-up)

Side 1:
01. Teardrops From My Eyes
02. 5-10-15 Hours
03. Daddy Daddy
04. Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean
05. Wild Wild Young Men
06. Love Contest
07. Hello Little Boy
08. Oh, What A Dream

Side 2:
01. Somebody Touched Me
02. Bye Bye Young Men
03. I Can See Everybody's Baby
04. As Long As I'm Moving
05. This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'
06. I Can't Hear A Word You Say
07. Papa Daddy
08. Don't Deceive Me

Note: download includes bonus folder of label scans from Joan. "Rockin' With Ruth" was originally posted on this blog on the 9th March 2010. This re-up has new cover and label scans. The archive is a Zip file generated by PeaZip. Some downloaders have been unable to open the RAR archive files since WinRAR was updated, so I thought I would try an alternative archiver. Please let me know if there are any problems.

This post started as a response to a re-up request but just kinda grew and grew. Here we go -

Ruth Brown - The Atlantic Years

Ruth Brown's massive record sales helped establish Atlantic as the top R&B label of the 1950s, so much so, that Atlantic was sometimes referred to as "The House That Ruth Built." Her best selling years were from 1951 - 1954, although she continued to have R&B chart entries (and some pop hits too) until 1960.

She was born Ruth Weston in Portsmouth, Virginia, on January 12th 1928. "Brown" was the surname of her first husband, trumpet player Jimmy Brown, whom she married early in her career. Like many R&B artists, Ruth's earliest exposure to music came through the church, in Ruth's case through the different styles of music in two churches - the organ / piano accompanied music of the African Methodist Episcopal church of which her father was a member, and the acapella singing of the North Carolina Baptist church to which her mother's family belonged.

Her father sang in the church choir and played the piano at home where family singsongs would consist mainly of sacred songs and old fashioned sentimental (and 100% "clean") pop songs. When a teenage Ruth started to get gigs singing blues songs at local clubs and USO venues, she had to "sneak out" to perform. Her most spectacular feat of fooling her parents came in 1944 when she took a bus to New York under the pretext of visiting her uncle but in reality with the intention of entering the amateur night at the Apollo, which she won.

Once she had graduated from high school Ruth was in a position to be more open about her musical ambitions and took gigs from bigger and more distant venues. It was while performing at a club in Detroit that she was spotted by bandleader Lucky Millinder and it seemed that her big break had arrived when he signed her as a vocalist for his band. The big break proved to be illusory as he already had a strong female vocalist in Anisteen Allen, and Ruth was fired on the flimsiest of pretexts after singing at just one gig in Washington D.C.

Left stranded by Millinder, Ruth had the good luck to get an audition for former bandleader Blanche Calloway, the older sister of Cab, who was running a Washington club called the Crystal Caverns. Blanche was impressed enough to offer young Ruth a temporary spot at the club to help her get back on her feet and back home. This was the real career break for Ruth, because her performances went down so well that word got to Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson at Atlantic Records. The two diskery honchos made the trek to Washington and were impressed enough to offer Ruth the chance to sign up to what was still a pretty small recording company without a hit record to its name.

Blanche Calloway who had become Ruth's manager phoned the Apollo Theater in New York and arranged an appearance for her new client with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra, and so in October 1948 Ruth set out by car for NYC to appear at the premier black entertainment venue and to record for Atlantic. She made it as far as Chester, Pennsylvania, when the car crashed and Ruth wound up in hospital for months. She was still in crutches when she made her delayed recording debut in April 1949 at a session credited to Texas Johnny Brown, who was backed by Amos Milburn and his band. Ruth sang one track, "Rain Is a Bringdown" which was unreleased until it appeared many years later on a Route 66 LP.

Ruth's recording debut proper came on May 25th, 1949 when she cut "So Long," a tear-jerking ballad previously popularized by Little Miss Cornshucks. Coupled with "It's Raining," it was a hit, reaching number six in the Billboard R&B chart. This was the second hit that Atlantic had produced as earlier in the month Stick McGhee and His Buddies had stormed to number 3 in the charts with "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee O-Dee."

The follow up, another sentimental ballad, "I'll Get Along Somehow," was another success in late 1949, but in October 1950 Ruth recorded the side which really propelled Atlantic to its position as number 1 R&B label, the rocking Rudy Toombs composition, "Teardrops From My Eyes"  which was her first number 1 R&B hit. It was the second highest selling single of 1951 (behind "Sixty Minute Man" by The Dominoes). The following release, "I'll Wait For You," reached number 8 in the R&B chart in March 1951, while "Teardrops From My Eyes" was still high in the same chart at number 5.

Her next release, "I Know," reached number 7 in August 1951, then in the spring of 1952 came another massive hit, the Rudy Toombs stomper "5 - 10 - 15 Hours." Backed by the sinuous sax of her second husband, Willis Jackson, Ruth's raunchy performance was a mile and more away from her early ballad successes.

The follow-up, "Daddy Daddy" another Rudy Toombs composition, which was much more explicit in its expression of lustful longing, also featured sax by Willis Jackson but somehow lacked the appeal of  "5 - 10 - 15 Hours" and stalled at number 5 in the charts in October 1952. Thanks to the sales of records by The Clovers, Ruth Brown and Joe Turner, Atlantic was the top selling R&B label again in 1952.

In early 1953 Ruth was back at the top of the R&B chart with "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean," a disc which sparked a slew of answer discs by other artists. Ruth's next disc, the hard rocking "Wild, Wild Young Men" kept up the chart momentum, reaching number 3 at the end of June.

Ruth's autumn 1953 release, "The Tears Keep Tumbling Down" failed to chart nationally although it sold strongly in a few locations. This trend continued with Ruth's early 1954 releases - "Love Contest" sold well regionally but failed to crack the national charts, a reissue of a 1950 recording of "Sentimental Journey" with The Delta Rhythm Boys didn't do much while "Hello Little Boy" picked up some regional action in Chicago.

The second half of 1954 saw a revival in Ruth Brown's record sales, beginning with the Chuck Willis composition "Oh What A Dream" which reached number 1 in September. The follow up, "Mambo Baby" / "Somebody Touched Me" was released in October and reached number 1 in the R&B charts on November 20th, to give Ruth a successful close out to the year.

At this point, it's worth looking back over the years 1951 - 1954. In each of these years Ruth had finished in the top ten best selling R&B artist list. In 1951, '52 and '53 she was the top selling female R&B vocalist and in 1954 she came second to Faye Adams. In each of these years Atlantic was the top selling R&B label. In '51, '52 and '53 the top selling Atlantic act was The Clovers, and in '54 it was Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters, an indication that vocal groups were emerging as the most popular form of R&B. From the point of view of consistent record sales, these years were the most successful that Ruth would enjoy as the second half of the 1950's would prove to be much more uneven.

Above - Atlantic ad from January 1955. The old order changeth, giving way to the new. 1955 would bring great success to Ray Charles, LaVern Baker and Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters. Joe Turner continued to sell reasonably well, but it wasn't such a good year for Ruth Brown or for The Clovers. Ruth's January 1955 release of "Bye Bye Young Men" didn't chart but in April she had a double sided hit with "I Can See Everybody's Baby" reaching number 7 while the reverse side "As Long As I'm Moving" did even better, climbing to number 4 in the R&B chart.

She recorded some duets with Clyde McPhatter but only one of their collaborations was a good seller - "Love Has Joined Us Together" which was released in November 1955, made it to number 8 on the R&B chart. In 1956 Ruth could only scrape into the top fifty list of best selling R&B artists but 1957 brought an improvement with her recording of a jaunty Leiber - Stoller pop song, "Lucky Lips" which reached number 6 in the R&B chart and climbed to number 25 in the pop chart in March.

In 1958 a Leiber - Stoller production of the Bobby Darin penned "This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'" brought more pop success for Ruth, as it reached number 24 in the Billboard Hot 100 in October, and number 7 in the R&B chart. Ruth was now 30 years old so there was definitely something incongruous about her performance as a teenybopper telling her mama about the completion of her household chores before going out to sample the delights of rock and roll.

A Leiber - Stoller composition "Jack O'Diamonds" earned Ruth a number 23 R&B chart place in July 1959. It was essentially a pop production, with the superior (and very cynical) "I Can't Hear A Word You Say," which was reminiscent of Leiber - Stoller's material for The Coasters, relegated to the B-Side. Later in the year a fine bluesy production of "I Don't Know" reached number 5 in the R&B chart and number 64 in the Hot 100. A very convincing performance indeed

In April 1960 Ruth's recording of a Chuck Willis song "Don't Deceive Me," complete with string section and choir, made it to number 10 in the R&B chart and number 62 in the Hot 100 for Ruth's last chart hit on Atlantic.

Ruth's bluesy soulful vocals on "I Don't Know" and "Taking Care Of Business" (from September 1960) show a performer of great maturity and technique yet her career with Atlantic had stalled as far as chart action was concerned. In December 1959 Atlantic issued an LP of Ruth performing standards - "Late Date With Ruth Brown." With tasteful big band and string accompaniment, some tracks work well, while others don't. If more material like "I Don't Know" or "Taking Care Of Business" had been made available to Ruth then perhaps her Atlantic recording career wouldn't have petered out the way it did in the early '60's.

Cover shot from

In 1962 she left Atlantic and signed with Philips where she recorded "Along Came Ruth" - an album of cover versions of R&B hits such as "Sea Of Love" and "Cry Cry Cry." She also recorded an album of gospel songs but left the label sometime in 1963.

Ruth's career continued to decline and for some years was virtually dead as she took up jobs outside the music business in order to raise her sons and put them through university. However her fortunes began to revive in the 1980's with parts in stage shows "The Amen Corner," "Staggerlee" and the original Paris production of "Black and Blue." She was Motormouth Maybelle in John Waters' 1988 movie "Hairspray" and when "Black and Blue" opened on Broadway in January 1989 her comeback was complete - a Tony and a Grammy (for the original cast recording) followed.

When a lawyer fan learned that she was receiving no royalty payments from Atlantic (they claimed SHE owed them money) he took on her case and won substantial compensation not only for Ruth but for other surviving R&B veterans. This led to the setting up of The Rhythm and Blues Foundation, an organisation dedicated to the interests and welfare of a generation of forgotten (and often cheated) R&B performers.

Ruth Brown passed away in Las Vegas in November 2006 having suffered a heart attack and stroke.

The Facts On The Tracks on "Rockin' With Ruth"

"Teardrops From My Eyes" recorded in NYC in September 1950. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocals) with: 2 unknown, trumpet; unknown, alto sax; Willis Jackson (tenor sax); probably Haywood Henry (baritone sax); unknown, piano, guitar, bass, drums; Budd Johnson (arranger).

Released in October 1950, b/w "Am I Making The Same Mistake Again" on Atlantic 919. Number 1 in the Billboard R&B chart for 11 weeks.

"5 - 10 - 15 Hours" recorded in NYC on February 13th, 1952. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocals) with: unknown, trumpet; Willis Jackson (tenor sax); 2 unknown, saxes; Harry Van Walls (piano); unknown, guitar; unknown, bass; Connie Kay (drums).

Released in March 1952, b/w "Be Anything (But Be Mine)" on Atlantic 962. Number 1 in the Billboard R&B chart for 7 weeks.

"Daddy Daddy" was recorded in NYC on July 2nd, 1952. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocals) with: Willis Jackson (tenor sax); unknown, cello; Harry Van Walls (piano); unknown, guitar; unknown, bass; unknown, drums; The James Quintet (vocal group).

Released in August 1952, b/w "Have A Good Time" on Atlantic 973. Number 5 in the Billboard R&B chart in October 1952.

"(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" was recorded in NYC on 19th December, 1952. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocal) with: Taft Jordan (trumpet); Paul Williams (alto sax); Sam "The Man" Taylor (tenor sax); Jesse Stone (piano); Mickey Baker (guitar); Lloyd Trotman (bass); Connie Kay (drums); Hal Jackson (tambourine).

Released in January 1953, b/w "R.B. Blues" on Atlantic 986.  Number 1 on the Billboard R&B charts for 5 weeks. 6th best selling R&B record of 1953.

"Wild Wild Young Men" was recorded in NYC on 10th April 1953. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocals) with: Taft Jordan (trumpet); Freddie Mitchell (tenor sax); Haywood Henry (baritone sax); Harry Van Walls (piano); Rector Bailey (guitar); George Duvivier (bass); Connie Kay (drums); Jesse Stone (arranger).

Released in April 1953, b/w "Mend Your Ways" on Atlantic 993. Number 3 in Billboard R&B chart, 27th June 1953.

"Love Contest" was recorded in NYC on 16th December 1953. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocals) with: Sam "The Man" Taylor (tenor sax); Paul Williams (baritone sax); Kelly Owens (piano); Mickey Baker (guitar); Lloyd Trotman (bass); Joe Marshall (drums); Jesse Stone (arranger).

Released in January 1954, b/w "You Don't Want Me" on Atlantic 1018.

"Hello Little Boy" was recorded at the same session as "Love Contest." Personnel as above except John Lewis replaces Kelly Owens on piano.

Released in April 1954, b/w "If I Had Any Sense" on Atlantic 1027.

"Oh What A Dream" was recorded in NYC on 7th May 1954. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocals) with: Ed "Tiger" Lewis (trumpet); Richard Harris (trombone); Arnett Cobb (tenor sax); Sylvester Thomas (baritone sax); Bu Pleasant (piano); Mickey Baker (guitar); Benny Moten (bass); Noruddin Zafer (drums); The Rhythmakers (vocal group).

Released in July 1954, b/w "Please Don't Freeze" on Atlantic 1036. Number 1 in Billboard R&B chart, first two weeks of September 1954, 16 weeks in chart in total.

"Somebody Touched Me" was recorded at the same session as "Oh What A Dream." Personnel as above (the Arnett Cobb band plus The Rhythmakers vocal group).

Released in October 1954, B-Side of "Mambo Baby" on Atlantic 1044. "Mambo Baby" reached number 1 in the Billboard best selling R&B chart on 20th November 1954.

"Bye Bye Young Men" was recorded in NYC on 11th August, 1954. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocals) with: unknown trumpet, tenor and baritone saxes, piano, bass and drums. The Rhythmakers (vocal group).

Released in January 1955 b/w "Ever Since My Baby's Been Gone" on Atlantic 1051.

"I Can See Everybody's Baby" and "As Long As I'm Moving" were recorded in NYC on 1st March 1955. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocals) with: Sam "The Man" Taylor (tenor sax); The Rhythmakers (vocal group); rest unknown.

Released in April 1955, "I Can See Everybody's Baby" / "As Long As I'm Moving" on Atlantic 1059. "I Can See Everybody's Baby" reached number 7 on the Billboard R&B chart and "As Long As I'm Moving" reached number 4.

Above: 1955 Atlantic EP "Ruth Brown Sings."

"This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'" was recorded in NYC on 30th July 1958. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocal) with: Joe Wilder, Steve Lipkin (trumpets); King Curtis (tenor sax); Mike Stoller (piano); Charles Macey, Everett Barksdale (guitars); Lloyd Trotman (bass); Joe Marshall (drums) Bradley Spirmer (percussion); unknown vocal group; Howard Biggs (arranger).

Released in August 1958, b/w "Why Me" on Atlantic 1197. Number 24 in the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, October 1958 and number 7 in the R&B chart. "Why Me" reached number 17 in the Billboard Hot R&B Sides chart in November 1958.

"I Can't Hear A Word You Say" was recorded in NYC on 7th March 1959. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocals) with: Jimmy Cleveland (trombone); King Curtis, Budd Johnson (tenor saxes); Ernie Hayes (piano); Bill Suyker, Wally Richardson (guitars); Earl Mays (bass); Sticks Evans (drums); Howard Biggs (arranger).

Released in May 1959, B-Side of "Jack O'Diamonds" on Atlantic 2026. "Jack O'Diamonds" was number 23 in the Billboard Hot R&B Sides chart in July 1959.

"Papa Daddy" was recorded at the same session as "I Can't Hear A Word You Say" with the same personnel.

Released in August 1959, B-Side of "I Don't Know" on Atlantic 2035. "I Don't Know" was number 5 in the Billboard Hot R&B Sides chart and number 64 in the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1959.

May 1959 compilation LP

"Don't Deceive Me" was recorded in NYC on 30th September 1959. Personnel: Ruth Brown (vocals) with: Sol Gubin (vibes); Mickey Baker, Mundell Lowe, Carl Lynch (guitars); Abie Baker (bass); Sticks Evans (drums); Elise Bretton, Jerome Graff, Bill Marine, Merrill Ostrus, Marcia Patterson, Nelson Starr, choir; 8 violins, 2 violas, 2 celli, Reggie Obrecht, Richard Wess, conductor.

Released in February 1960, b/w "I Burned Your Letter" on Atlantic 2052. Number 10 in the Billboard Hot R&B Sides chart and number 62 in the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1960.

Thanks to Joan K for label scans and cover scans used throughout this post. Information sources include Billboard, The Cash Box,,,, YouTube, Spotify, Bruyninckx discography, and most of all "Blue Rhythms: Six Lives In Rhythm And Blues" by Chip Deffaa, Da Capo Press, 2000 edition.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Tommy Dean: Deanie Boy Plays Hot Rhythm And Blues

Side 1:
01. Cool One - Groove Two - Tommy Dean & His Gloom Raiders
02. Lonely Monday - Tommy Dean & His Gloom Raiders
03. Hour Past Midnight - Tommy Dean & Orchestra
04. Scamon Boogie - Tommy Dean & Orchestra
05. Just About Right - Tommy Dean & Orchestra
06. Sweet And Lovely - Tommy Dean & Orchestra
07. Deanie Boy - Tommy Deans Orchestra

Side 2:
01. Eventime - Joe Buckner w Tommy Deans Orchestra
02. How Can I Let You Go - Joe Buckner w Tommy Deans Orchestra
03. Why Don't Chu - Tommy Deans Orchestra
04. The Gold Coast - Tommy "Deanie Boy" Dean
05. Straight And Ready - Tommy Deans Orchestra
06. Skid Row - Tommy "Deanie Boy" Dean
07. One More Mile - Joe Buckner with Tommy Deans Orchestra

New link for those who are having problems with WinRAR archive files:

A nice collection of sides recorded in Chicago by pianist and bandleader Tommy Deans. I picked this one up second hand about five years ago, listened to it once, wasn't too impressed, digitized it nevertheless, and then filed it away in the "ah, forget it" section. However it turns out to be one of those LP's that grow on you the more you listen to it with a slew of jazzy instrumentals for finger snappin' fun plus some vocal tracks which are somewhat mixed in quality. It was a couple of those vocal tracks which put me off the album (it won't be hard to guess which, once you've heard them) but the mid 1950's vocals by Joe Buckner on Vee Jay are very good indeed.

More information on the life of Tommy Dean has come to light since this Dave Penny compiled LP  was released in 1989. The Red Saunders Research Foundation ( a marvelous source of info on Chicago R&B) has an article which is well worth perusing here -

Tommy Dean was born in Franklin, Louisiana, in 1909. His early years were spent in Beaumont, Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana. It seems that until the late 1930's he was based in Beaumont although he traveled around Texas and the Midwest as a musician in carnivals and circuses. He joined the St. Louis based band of Eddie Randle, subsequently began to lead his own band which toured the Mid West, and made St. Louis his home base. In 1945 he appeared in Chicago clubs, then reappeared in the Windy City in 1947. However, his first recording session was back in home in St. Louis where he cut a pair of sides for the small Town & Country label in late 1947.

His band at this time included tenor sax man Gene Easton, alto sax player Chris Woods and drummer / vocalist Nathaniel "Pee Wee" Jernigan, all of whom were still present when Tommy started recording for the Chicago-based Miracle label in July / August 1949. Two of the three singles cut at that session are present on this collection. "Sweet And Lovely" featuring a Pee Wee Jernigan vocal is, shall we say, an acquired taste, but the other three tracks are good late '40's jump somewhat reminiscent of sides by better known label mate Sonny Thompson.

Tommy Dean's next recording session took place in Chicago in June 1952 for the States label. The same band was featured with the addition of singer Jewel Belle on two of the tracks. Only one of the singles is included here - a vocal (which is another acquired taste), Lonely Monday" paired with an excellent instrumental, "Cool One-Groove Two." A second session for States in November produced another single - a re-recording of "Scammon Boogie" and a "Pee Wee" Jernigan vocal on "How Can I Let You Go," which Dean would later re-record for Vee-Jay with Joe Buckner on vocal.

There was a brief stop at Chance records in March 1953 to record a single credited to Barrel House  Blott and the St. Louisians. Tommy's next label (and his last) was Vee-Jay for whom he recorded between December 1954 and May 1958. No material from his last two sessions (October 1956 and May 1958) for the label was issued, so his July 1955 Vee-Jay session (featured on this comp) was the last session  from which tracks were released. The Vee-Jay material is excellent. It features a new band in which Tommy plays both organ and piano and Joe Buckner provides strong vocals, particularly on the heartfelt "One More Mile." Mention should also be made of the tasteful alto sax performance of Oliver Nelson on these sides.

The strong Vee-Jay sides form the whole of Side Two of this LP, plus the last track on Side One, so along with the good instrumentals from Miracle and States, they make for a satisfying compilation overall.

Tommy Dean's band continued to play and tour into the early sixties but eventually he downsized to a solo act which appeared in St. Louis clubs. He died suddenly, probably from a heart attack, in 1965.

Remember, for the full Tommy Deans story go to:

These are the fax on the trax :

"Hour Past Midnight," "Scammon Boogie," "Just About Right" and "Sweet And Lovely" recorded in Chicago, July - August 1949.

Personnel: Chris Woods (alto sax); Edgar Hayes (tenor sax); Gene Easton (baritone sax); Tommy Dean (piano); unidentified (bass); Nathaniel "Pee Wee" Jernigan (drums, vocal).

"Just About Right" / "Sweet And Lovely" by Tommy Dean and Orchestra, released on Miracle 144, October 1949. Re-released on Federal 12031 in 1951.

"Hour Past Midnight" / "Scamon Boogie" by Tommy Dean and Orchestra released on Miracle 157, early 1950 (?) Re-released on Federal 12019.

"Lonely Monday" and "Cool One-Groove Two" recorded in Chicago on June 4th, 1952.

Personnel: Chris Woods (alto sax); Edgar Hayes (tenor sax); Gene Easton (baritone sax); Tommy Dean (piano); Eugene Thomas (bass); Nathaniel "Pee Wee" Jernigan (drums); Jewel Belle (vocals).

"Lonely Monday" / "Cool One-Groove Two" by Tommy Dean and his Gloom Raiders released on States 106 in August 1952.

"Deanie Boy," "Eventime," "How Can I Let You Go?" and "Why Don't Chu?" were recorded in Chicago on December 20th, 1954.

Personnel: Tommy Dean (piano and organ); Oliver Nelson (alto sax); Cornelius "Chuck" Tillman (tenor sax); Archie Burnside (bass); Edgar Plaes (drums); Joe Buckner (vocals).

"Deanie Boy" by Tommy Deans Orchestra / "Eventime" by Joe Buckner w Tommy Deans Orchestra was released on Vee-Jay 125 in January 1955. "Deanie Boy" was renamed "The Horse" on a 1960 release on Vee-Jay 339 (b/w "Skid Row").

"How Can I Let You Go" by Joe Buckner w Tommy Deans Orchestra / "Why Don't Chu" by Tommy Deans Orchestra released on Vee-Jay 141 in July 1955.

"The Gold Coast" was recorded in Chicago on February 17th 1955.

Personnel: Tommy Dean (piano); Oliver Nelson (alto sax); Archie Burnside (bass); Edgar Plaes (drums). Release details see below.

"Straight And Ready," "Skid Row" and "One More Mile" were recorded in Chicago on July 11th, 1955.

Personnel: Tommy Dean (piano and organ); Cornelius "Chuck" Tillman (tenor sax); Joe Whitefield (tenor sax); Archie Burnside (bass); Edgar Plaes (drums); Joe Buckner (vocals).

"One More Mile" by Joe Buckner w Tommy Deans Orchestra / "Straight And Ready" by Tommy Deans Orch. released on Vee-Jay 172 in February 1956.

"Skid Row" / "The Gold Coast" by Tommy "Deanie Boy" Dean released on Vee-Jay 218 in December 1956.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Joan's Comps - Some New Links

There have been several requests recently for updated links for six of Joan's compilations of crackly 45's (the only way to listen to R&B and Rock 'n' Roll!). The re-ups are: Joan Selects Volume 19; Joan Selects Volume 10; Joan Selects Encore Appearance; Joan Selects Encore Appearance Volume 2; Joan Spins Again Volume 2; Joan Spins Again Volume 3. New links plus tracklists below -

01 Rufus Hunter and the Masters - Purple Stew - Aladdin 45-3440
02 The Halos - Nag - 7 Arts S 709
03 Vito and the Salutations - Unchained Melody - Herald H-583
04 Andre Williams - Pass The Biscuits Please - Fortune 839X
05 The Lamplighters - Be Bop Wino - Federal 45-12152
06 The Chips - Rubber Biscuit - Josie 45-803
07 The Marcels - Friendly Loans - Colpix CP 651
08 The Marquees - Hey Little School Girl - Okeh 4-7096
09 The Pentagons - Silly Dilly - Specialty 644
10 The Imperials - Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop - End 1060
11 Richard Berry and the Pharoes - Louie, Louie - Flip 45-321
12 The Chalets - Fat - Fat - Fat! Mom - Mi - O - True-Lite 1001
13 The Chandeliers - Dancing In The Congo - Angle Tone 529-3
14 The Monotones - The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow - Argo 5321
15 The Spaniels - Play It Cool - Vee Jay VJ-1116
16 The Stereos - I Really Love You - Cub K9095
17 The Fascinators - Fried Chicken & Macaroni - Capitol 45-CL-15062
18 The Three Friends - Dedicated (To The Songs I Love) - Imperial X5763
19 The Cellos - The Be-Bop Mouse - Apollo 516-45
20 The Belmonts – Street Corner Symphony
21 Sheriff and the Revels - Shomblor - Vee Jay VJ 306
22 Rick and The Keens - Peanuts - Le Cam 721
23 12 Year Old Richard Lanham - On Your Radio - Acme 45-A-712
24 The Devotions - Rip Van Winkle - Roulette R-4541
25 Nino and The Ebb Tides - Jukebox Saturday Night - Madison M166
26 The Olympics - Western Movies - Demon FF-1508
27 The Delroys - Bermuda Shorts - Apollo 514
28 The Dandeliers - Chop Chop Boom - States 147
29 The Savoys - Yacka Hoom Boom - Combo 75
30 The Capris - Morse Code Of Love - Ambient Sound 02697
31 The Visuals - The Submarine Race - Popular #115

01 - John Brim - Gary Stomp - Parrot 799B
02 - Roosevelt Sykes - Security Blues - United 129
03 - Piano Red - Rockin' with Red - RCA Victor 50-0099
04 - Fats Domino - Korea Blues - Imperial 5099
05 - Memphis Slim - Mother Earth - Premium 867
06 - Ray Charles and the Maxim Trio - Rockin' Chair Blues
07 - Ivory Joe Hunter - All States Boogie - King
08 - Doctor Ross - Chicago Breakdown - Sun 193
09 - Slim Harpo - Rainin' In My Heart - Excello 2273
10 - J.T. Brown - Dumb Woman Blues - Meteor 5016
11 - Otis Spann - Five Spot - Checker 807
12 - James Sugarboy Crawford - She's Gotta Wobble (When She Walks) - Imperial 45x5424
13 - Big Boy Groves - I Got A New Car - Spark 114
14 - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers - Dragnet Blues - Modern 910
15 - Dr. Ross - Cat Squirrel - Fortune 857
16 - Jerry McCain - My Next Door Neighbor - Excello
17 - Cecil Gant - I Wonder - Gilt Edge 501
18 - John Lee Hooker - 609 Boogie - Chance CH-1122
19 - Wee Willie Wayne - I Remember - Imperial 5355
20 - Buddy Boy Hawkins - Voice Throwin' Blues
21 - J.T. Brown - Sax-ony Boogie - Meteor 5016
22 - Smiley Lewis - Lille Mae - Imperial 5194
23 - BB King - Miss Martha King - Bullet 309
24 - The Blues Rockers - Johnny Mae - Excello 2062
25 - Dr. Ross - Come Back Baby - Sun 193
26 - JB Lenoir - Eisenhower Blues - Parrot 802
27 - Elmore James - Country Boogie - Checker 777
28 - Little Walter - Roller Coaster - Checker 817
29 - Marie Adams - I'm Gonna Play The Honky Tonks - Peacock 1583
30 - Hal Page - Thunderbird - J & S 1601
31 - James Wayne - Tend To Your Business - Sittin In With 588
32 - Memphis Minnie - Me and my chauffeur - Checker 771
33 - Peg 'N' Whistle Red - A To Z Blues
34 - Percy Mayfield - Please Send Me Someone To Love - Specialty 375
35 - Lightning Hopkins - My California - Aladdin 3262
36 - Johnny Ace And Big Mama Thornton - Yes, Baby - Duke 118
37 - Kokomo Arnold - Milk Cow Blues
38 - Blow-Top Lynn - School Boy Blues - RCA 50-0110
39 - Little Walter Jacops - Muskadine Blues - Regal 3296
40 - Harmonica Fats - Tore Up - Darcy 5000

1)  The Spiedels - Dear Joan  Release:  Crosley  201 (1958)
2)  The Gems - Talk About The Weather   Release: Drexel 901 (1954)
3)  The De-Vaurs - Boy In Mexico   Release: Moon 105 (1959)
4)  Ferris and the Wheels -  He Was A Fortune Teller  Release:  United Artists 458  (1962)
5)  The Whirlwinds - Heartbeat  Release:  Phillips 40139  (1967)
6)  The Four Plaid Throats - My Inspiration  Release:  Mercury 70143
7)  The Four Buddies - Ooh-Ow  Release:  Savoy 888  (1953)
8)  The Valaquons - Teardrops  Release:  Laguna 102 (1964)
9)   Mary Edwards & The Saxons - Oh! Oh! Mama   Release: Meteor 5031 (1956)
10)  Bo Diddley and the Carnations - Don't Let It Go  Release:
11)   Joey and the Lexingtons - Tears From My Eyes  Release:  Dunes 2029  (1962)
12)   The Metrotones -  Skitter Skatter  Release:  Reserve 116  (1954)
13)   The Jets - Heaven Above Me  Release:  Gee 1020  (1956)
14)   The  Rhythm Masters - Until Now   Release: Bennett 1949
15)   The Roamers -  I'll Never Get Over You  Release:  Savoy 1147 (1955)
16)   The Videls - We Belong Together  Release: Musicnote 117  (1963)
17)   The Blue Dots - My Very Own  Release: Hurricane 104  (1959)
18)   The Marshall Brothers - Why Make A Fool Out Of Me  Release: Savoy 873 (1952)
19)    The Quarternotes - Hold Me Darling  Release: Little Star 112 (1962)
20)   The Crystals - My Heart's Desire   Release: Apollo 462  (1954) (also known as the Opals)
21)   The Mighty Dukes - Why Can't I Have You   Release: Duke 104  (1952)
22)    The Velvetones - Penalty Of Love  Release: D 1649  (1959)
23)   The Daylighters - I Love The Life I Live Release:
24)  The Nic-Nacs -  I Found Me A Sugar Daddy  Release: RPM 313  (1949)
25)   The Mixers - Casanova  Release: Bold 102 (1959)
26)   The Velvet Angels - I'm In Love  Release:  Medieval 201
27)  The Dikes - Dont Leave Me Poor  Release: Federal 12249  (1955)
28)   The Marvells - Did She Leave You  Release: Magnet 1005  (1959)
29)  The Empires - Sittin' On Top Of The World  Release:
30)   The Twigs - Lover Boy  Release:  Hollywood 1026  (1954)
31)   The Four Buddies - You Mean Everything To Me  Release: Club 51  103  (1956)
32)   The Riffs -  Little Girl  Release: Sunny 22 (1964)
33)   The Impressors - Do You Love Her  Release: Cub 9010  (1958)
34)   The Lyrics - I'm In Love  Release:  Hy-Tone  111  (1958)
35)   The Quarternotes - Hold Me Darling  Release: Little Star 112  (1962)

01 - The Velvetones - Glory Of Love - Release:  Aladdin 45-3372
02 - The Enchanters - True Love Gone - Release:  Coral 8-61756
03 - The Swans - Wedding Bells, Oh Wedding Bells - Release:  Fortune 813
04 - The Corvets - I'm Going To Cry - Release:  Moon 100
05 - The Jayhawks - Counting My Teardrops - Release: Flash 104
06 - The Esquires - Only The Angels Know - Release: Hi-Po 103
07 - The Squires - A Dream Come True - Release:  Kicks 1-F
08 - The Diablos - The Wind - Release:  Fortune 511
09 - The Ink Spots - If I Didn't Care - Release: Decca 9-23632
10 - The Medallions - The Letter - Release:  Dootone 347
11 - The Delicardos - Letter To A School Girl - Release: Elgey 1001
12 - The Tellers - Tears Fell From My Eyes - Release: Fire 1038
13 - The Supremes - Just For You and I - Release:  Ace 534
14 - The Dukes - I'll Find Her - Release: Imperial x5385
15 - The Velvitones - A Prayer At Gettysburgh - Release: Milmart 113x45
16 - The Gates -  Summer Night Love - Release: Peach 716
17 - The Five Willows - Dolores 1 - Release:  Allen 1002x45
18 - The Teardrops - Come Back To Me - Release: Sampson 634-A
19 - The Quintones - The Lonely Telephone - Release: Jordan 1601
20 - The Ink Spots - We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me) - Release:  Decca 9-23634
21 - The Equallos -  Beneath The Sun - Release: M & M
22 - The Rockaways - I'm Not Going Steady - Release: Epic 9226
23 - The El Pollos - These Four Letters - Release: Studio St. 999
24 - The Twisters - This Is The End - Release: Sunset 501
25 - The Gainors - The Secret - Release: Cameo 151
26 - The Spinners -  My Love and Your Love - Release: Rhythm 125
27 - The Blue Jays - Write Me A Letter - Release: BlueJay  1002
28 - The Esquires - My Dearest, My Darling - Release: Odyssey
29 - The Melotones - Prayer Of Love - Release: Lee Tone 700
30 - The Smoothtones - Bring Back Your Love (To Me) - Release:  Jem 412-45
31 - The Jupiters - It Takes Two - Release: Planet X  9621
32 - The Ebonaires -  Love Call - Release: Lena L-1001
33 - The Lovers - A Lonely Island - Release: Derby 1030
34 - The Execs - Walking In The Rain - Release: Fargo 1055
35 - The Velvetones -  Found My Love - Release: Aladdin 45-3391
36 - The Five Embers -  Please Come Home - Release:  Gem 224
37 - The Blenders - It Takes Time - Release:  AFO 305
38 - The Five Kids - Carolyn - Release: Maxwell 101 (2 known copies)
39 - The Whispers - Are You Sorry - Release: Gotham G-7-312
40 - The Ink Spots - When You Come To The End Of The Day - Release: King 45--1425

1 - The Twilighters - Half Angel  MGM 55014 1955
2 - The Caverliers - Dynaflow   Atlas 1031 1954
3 - The Demens - The Greatest of Them All  Teenage 1008 1957
4 - The Five Bells - Please Remember My Heart   Stolper 100
5 - The Mello-Drops - I Want Your Love Imperial Unreleased
6 - The Crystals - Squeeze Me Baby   Luna 101 1954
7 - The Gazelles - Pretty Baby, Baby   Gotham 315 1956
8 - The Five Hollywood Blue Jays - So Worried  Recorded In Hollywood 185 1951
9 - The Hornets - Crying Over You   Flash 125  1957
10 - The Billy Dawn Quartet - You Will Always Find Me True Firefly 332  
11 - The Gems - The Darkest Night   Drexel 909 1956
12 - The Love Notes - Treat Me Right   
13 - The Dukes - Come On And Rock    Imperial (Unreleased)
14 - The Shadows - Bop-Alena    Delta 1509  1958
15 - The Belvederes - We Two   Baton 217 1955
16 - The True-Tones - Why Oh Why   
17 - The Bombers - Two Time Heart   Orpheus 1105  1956
18 - The Marylanders - Good Old 99   Jubilee 5114  1953

1 - The Duponts - Must Be Falling In Love  Winley 212 / Savoy 1552 (1958) (F/b Little Anthony Gourdine)
2 - The Carnations - The Angels Sent You To Me  Savoy 1172 (1955)
3 - The V-8s - Pretty Girl  Most 711 (1959)
4 - The Orients - Shouldn't I  Laurie 3232  (1964)
5 - The Hi-Liters  - Feelin' Allright This Morning Vee Jay (Unreleased) (1958)   
6 - The Centenniels - The Wayward Wind  Dot 16180  (1961)
7 - The Concords - You Can't Stay Here  Harlem 2332  (1955)
8 - The Calvaes - Anna Morcora   Checker 928  (1959) (F/b Oscar Boyd)
9 - The Five Embers - Love Tears  Gem 227  (1955)
10 - The King Odum Four - All Of Me   Derby 
11 - The Gentlemen - Baby Don't Go  Apollo 470  (1954)
12 - The Thrillers - 'Lizabeth  Herald 432  (1954)
13 - Little June and the Januarys - Hello  Salem 188  (1959)
14 - The Masterkeys - Mr. Blues Abbey 2017   
15 - The Impalas - Why  Corvet 1017  (1958)
16 - The Invictas - Gone So Long  Jack Bee 1003  (1959)
17 - The Five Stars - Sweet Names Note (1956)  
18 - The Four Buddies - Sweet Tooth For My Baby  Savoy 866  (1952)

Monday, 22 January 2018

LaVern Baker - Real Gone Gal

Side 1:
01. How Can You Leave A Man Like This?
02. Jim Dandy
03. My Happiness Forever
04. Fee Fi Fo Fum
05. Jim Dandy Got Married
06. Substitute
07. Whipper Snapper
08. Voodoo Voodoo

Side 2:
01. I Cried A Tear
02. He's A Real Gone Guy
03. I Waited Too Long
04. Tiny Tim
05. Shake A Hand
06. Bumble Bee
07. Hey Memphis
08. See See Rider

Born in Chicago in 1929, Dolores Baker did not have to look beyond her family for musical inspiration. Her aunt was Merline Johnson (The Yas Yas Girl) who recorded many blues sides in Chicago in the late 1930's and early '40's for labels such as Bluebird, Vocalion and the original OKeh. A more distant relative was major blues singer Memphis Minnie. 

Dolores' first musical experience was singing in her Baptist church choir but as early as the age of ten she was appearing in amateur nights in Chicago clubs. Upon reaching the age of seventeen she was able to sign a professional contract at one of the major clubs, the Club DeLisa where she appeared regularly in reviews.

Back in the early 1940's one of the most popular acts to appear at the DeLisa had been Little Miss Cornshucks (real name Mildred Jorman) who would take to the stage dressed as a little bitty country gal straight off the farm, barefooted, in braids and ribbons and carrying a basket. She would then wow audiences with ballads like "So Long," "Try A Little Tenderness" and "For Old Time's Sake." When Dolores arrived at the DeLisa, Little Miss Cornshucks had already left the Chicago scene and was touring nationally. The future Lavern Baker was seen as a suitable replacement and thus she became "Little Miss Sharecropper," a Cornshucks look alike.

Dolores was saddled with the "Sharecropper" image for a number of years, not only at the DeLisa, but around other Chicago venues like the Miramont Ballroom, Ralph's Place and the Crown Propeller Lounge. Her earliest recordings were made under the name of "Little Miss Sharecropper" - a couple of sides with the Eddie Penigar Orchestra for RCA in early 1949, and a session for National in late 1950 or early 1951.

In March and April 1951 she recorded some sides with Maurice King & His Wolverines, the first of which "Good Daddy" appeared on Columbia while the next two, "I Want A Lavender Cadillac" and "Make It Good" came out on the Columbia R&B subsidiary OKeh. Dolores was billed as Bea Baker on these records. The Wolverines were the house band at the Flame Show Bar in Detroit which became Dolores' base. Another regular act at the Flame was Johnnie Ray whom she befriended.

In the spring of 1952 she joined another Detroit band, that of Todd Rhodes, as vocalist and in July and October of that year she and the Rhodes band recorded sides for King - "Trying," "Pig Latin Blues," "Lost Child" and "Must I Cry Again" which were issued between September 1952 and February 1953. Dolores was now "LaVern Baker" and was billed thus on the King discs, none of which made any noise on the national charts although there was some success on the regional charts. "Trying" was number seven in the Cash Box New Orleans chart on 18th October 1952, number six in Savannah, number seven in Dallas and number ten in San Francisco. At the end of November "Trying" was number one in San Francisco.

When LaVern started recording for Atlantic in June 1953, her career entered a new phase with not only hits on the national R&B charts, but also appearances in the national pop charts. I like to think of LaVern Baker as being part of the "Third Wave" of Atlantic artists. The first wave, if you like, would be Tiny Grimes, Joe Morris and Frank Culley, whose jazzy jump helped give the label a solid start in the late 1940's. In the first half of the 1950's a "second wave" including Ruth Brown, The Clovers, Joe Turner and The Drifters established Atlantic as the top selling R&B label in the USA. The third wave of artists including Ray Charles, The Coasters, LaVern Baker, Chuck Willis and Clyde McPhatter, not only kept Atlantic as the pre-eminent R&B label in the second half of the 1950's they also made serious inroads into the much more lucrative pop market.

As  you can hear on this collection Atlantic started using more pop oriented material and arrangements on many of their records in a conscious attempt to break into the top forty. LaVern's first big pop hit was "Tweedlee Dee" which reached number 14 in early 1955 but which was outsold by a cover version by Georgia Gibbs which reached number two.

In October 1956 "I Can't Love You Enough" made it to number 22 in the Billboard pop chart. Two months later LaVern was back in the top twenty with a rock and roll / R&B classic - "Jim Dandy" which was originally the B Side of "Tra La La," a trite pop confection in the vein of "Tweedlee Dee." In December 1958 LaVern had her biggest hit with a big beat ballad (in waltz time!) - "I Cried A Tear" which reached number six. Another big production weepie "I Waited Too Long" reached number thirty-three in January 1959. LaVern had two more records which scraped into the top forty in the early sixties - "Saved" (number thirty-seven in January 1961) and "See See Rider" (number thirty-four in May 1963.)

Above: LaVern in the Alan Freed film "Rock, Rock, Rock!"

This collection is not a "greatest hits" or even "best of" collection. Missing are "Tweedlee Dee," "Bop-Ting-A-Ling," "Play It Fair" and the classic R&B torch song "Soul On Fire." As I've indicated already there are lots of pop type numbers, from the juvenile "Tweedlee Dee" type (as in "Fee Fee Fi Fo Fum") to big beat ballads such as "My Happiness Forever" and "I Cried a Tear" with a few hard rockers thrown in with the two "Jim Dandy" numbers and the raucous-in-the-extreme "Voodoo Voodoo." The revivals of "Shake A Hand" and "See See Rider" are also very listenable, so all in all this is an LP that has grown on me over the years despite my initial disappointment at the "poppiness" of many of the tracks.

Many years after these recordings were made Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler wrote to author Charlie Gillett on the subject of the use of vocal group choruses on records by Chuck Willis, Clyde McPhatter and LaVern Baker - "I could kick my ass every time I hear those tunes; attribute it to insecurity and fright, trying to survive in the land of the Hilltoppers and Pat Boone." (Making Tracks: The Story of Atlantic Records by Charlie Gillett). 

Way, way back Joan K sent in some cover scans and label shots of LaVern Baker records. Here are some of the big records that aren't on this collection!

There are more of Joan's scans in the "The Story Behind The Tracks" section below.

LaVern's last Atlantic session was in April 1964. From 1965 through to 1969 she recorded for Brunswick. In 1970 LaVern toured US bases in Vietnam where she contracted a heart and lung condition which required medication for the rest of her life. The condition reached critical point while LaVern was performing in Hong Kong where she was hospitalised. Taking the advice of one of the doctors, she went to the warmer climate of the Philippines to recuperate and take up performing again. She stayed for 20 years, performing in US forces clubs and becoming entertainment director at the Marine Staff NCO Club for the Seventh Fleet. Visits to the US were rare but in 1990 she returned to take over from Ruth Brown in the hit musical "Black And Blue" in New York.

Once back in the USA she started recording again, bringing out a live album titled "Live In Hollywood" and a studio album "Woke Up This Morning." However, her health problems became worse, necessitating the amputation of both legs in 1994 (she kept on performing) and in 1997 she succumbed to the effects of her long standing cardiovascular disease, passing away on March 10th.

The story behind the tracks on "Real Gone Gal"

How Can You Leave A Man Like This? - recorded in New York on June 19th 1953. Personnel: Lavern Baker (vocal) with Freddie Mitchell (tenor sax); Ernest "Pinky" Williams (baritone sax); Hank Jones (piano); Jimmy Lewis (guitar); Lloyd Trotman (bass;) Sylvester Payne (drums); Gene Redd (arranger).

Released on Atlantic 1004, B-Side of "Soul On Fire" in August 1953.

Jim Dandy, My Happiness Forever, Fee Fee Fi Fo Fum, were recorded in New York on December 21st 1955. Personnel: LaVern Baker (vocals) with unknown band and The Gliders (vocal group).

My Happiness Forever released on Atlantic 1087, B-Side of "Get Up Get Up (You Sleepy Head)" in February 1956.

Fee Fee Fi Fo Fum released on Atlantic 1093, b/w "I'll Do The Same For You" in May 1956.

Jim Dandy released on Atlantic 1116, b/w "Tra La La" in November 1956.

Jim Dandy Got Married - recorded in Los Angeles (?) on March 15th 1957. Personnel: LaVern Baker (vocals) with Ernie Freeman's Orchestra - Harry "Sweets" Edison, John Anderson (trumpets); Billy Johnson (alto sax); Plas Johnson (tenor sax); Ernie Freeman (piano); Irving Ashby (guitar); Joe Comfort (bass); Ray Martinez (drums); unknown vocal group.

Released on Atlantic 1136, b/w "The Game Of Love (A-One and A-Two)" in April 1957.

Substitute and Whipper Snapper recorded in New York on December 18th 1957. Personnel: LaVern Baker (vocals) with Howard Biggs' Orchestra - Taft Jordan, Melvin "Red" Solomon (trumpets); Sam "The Man" Taylor (tenor sax); Harry Breuer (xylophone); Mike Stoller, Moe Wechsler (piano); Allen Hanlon (guitar); Wendell Marshall (bass); Joe Marshall (drums); The Cookies (vocal group); Howard Biggs (arranger, director).

Substitute released on Atlantic 1176, b/w "Learning To Love" in February 1958.

Whipper Snapper released on Atlantic 1189, B-Side of "Harbor Lights" in June 1958.

Voodoo Voodoo and I Cried A Tear recorded in New York on September 11th 1958. Personnel: LaVern Baker (vocals) with Reggie Obrecht's Orchestra -Urbie Green (trombone); Leon Cohen (alto sax); King Curtis (tenor sax); unknown (vibes); Ernie Hayes (piano); Everett Barksdale, Al Caiola (guitars); Milt Hinton (bass); Panama Francis (drums); Bill Marine, Marcia Neil, Jerry Parker, Mike Stewart (choir); Reggie Obrecht (arranger, director).

I Cried A Tear released on Atlantic 2007, b/w "Dix-A-Billy" in November 1958.

Voodoo Voodoo released on Atlantic 2119, B-Side of Hey Memphis in September 1961.

He's A Real Gone Guy recorded in New York on December 18th 1958. Personnel: LaVern Baker (vocals) with King Curtis (tenor sax); Ernie Hayes (piano); Everett Barksdale, Billy Mure (guitars); Wendell Marshall (bass); Belton Evans (drums); unknown (vocal group); Phil Moore (arranger, director).

Released on Atlantic LP 8071 "See See Rider" in March 1963.

I Waited Too Long recorded in New York on March 12th 1959. Personnel: LaVern Baker (vocals) with Budd Johnson (alto sax); King Curtis (tenor sax); Phil Kraus (xylophone); Howard Biggs (piano); Mickey Baker, Wally Richardson, Neil Sedaka (guitars); Wendell Marshall (bass); Sticks Evans (drums); Elise Bretton, Gene Cowell, Leon Hurst, Marylin Palmer, Maria-Neil Patterson, Gene Steck, Dick Williams (chorus); Chuck Sagle (arranger, director).

Released on Atlantic 2021, b/w "You're Teasing Me" in March 1959.

Tiny Tim recorded in New York on May 14th 1959. Personnel: LaVern Baker (vocals) with 2 unknown (trumpets); Budd Johnson (tenor, baritone sax); unknown (piano); Mickey Baker, Bill Suyker (guitars); Milt Hinton (bass); Sticks Evans (drums); unknown (vocal group); Chuck Sagle (arranger, director).

Released on Atlantic 2041, b/w "For Love Of You"  in October 1959.

Shake a Hand recorded in New York, December 11th, 1959. Personnel: LaVern Baker (vocals) with Doc Severinsen (trumpet); Phil Bodner, Romeo Penque (reeds); Moe Wechsler (piano); Mundell Lowe, Bucky Pizzarelli (guitars); Abie Baker (bass); Sticks Evans (drums); Jose Martinez (congas); Stephen Berrios (percussion); Elise Bretton, Jerome Graff, Don McLeod, Gretchen Rhodes, Alan Sokoloff, David Vogel (choir); Richard Wess (arranger, director).

Released on Atlantic 2048, b/w "Manana" in January 1960.

Bumble Bee recorded in New York on August 17th 1960. Personnel: LaVern Baker (vocals) with Haywood Henry (baritone sax); Al Sears (tenor sax); Bert Keyes (piano); Ernie Hayes (organ); Mickey Baker, Carl Lynch (guitars); Abie Baker (bass); Shep Shepherd (drums); Ed Barnes, Malcolm Dodds, Winfield Scott, Nat Smith (vocal group); Jesse Stone (arranger, director).

Released on Atlantic 2077, b/w "My Time Will Come" in October 1960.

Hey Memphis recorded in New York on September 1st 1961. Personnel: LaVern Baker (vocals) with Joe Venuto (vibes); Mike Spencer (piano); Mickey Baker, Bucky Pizzarelli, Richard Ziegler (guitars); Leonard Gaskin (bass); Gary Chester (drums); unknown (vocal chorus); Fred Norman (arranger, director).

Released on Atlantic 2119, b/w Voodoo Voodoo in September 1961.

See See Rider recorded in New York on September 26th 1962. Personnel: LaVern Baker (vocals) with Buddy Lucas (tenor sax); Paul Griffin (piano); Ernie Hayes (organ); Everett Barksdale, Carl Lynch, Joe Richardson (guitars); Russ Saunders (bass); Sticks Evans (drums); unknown (washboard); unknown (vocal group); Ray Ellis (arranger, director).

Released on Atlantic 2167, b/w "The Story Of My Love (I Had A Dream)" in November 1962.

Above: Atlantic LP 8007 from July 1957


Online sources: Billboard (via Google Books) and Cash Box provide original release information, reviews and chart data. More issue information can be found on and - these two websites have thousands of original label shots and LP cover scans. Session information for certain artists and labels (including Savoy and Atlantic) is available on

Marv Goldberg has a short article on LaVern Baker which includes an excellent discography here:

Printed scources; session and release information is on the Bruyninckx discography.

R&B sales information can be found in "Big Al Pavlow's The R & B Book." My copy is disintegrating through repeated use.

Pop chart information is from "The Billboard Book of USA Top 40 Hits" by Joel Whitburn.

I also consulted "Making Tracks: The Story Of Atlantic Records" by Charlie Gillett (Souvenir Press 1988).

The best account I found of LaVern Baker's life was in "Blue Rhythms: Six Lives In Rhythm And Blues" by Chip Deffa (Da Capo Press, 2000).

"Blue Rhythms" has profiles of six R&B artists interviewed by Chip Deffaa in the late 1980's and 1990's - Ruth Brown, LaVern Baker, Little Jimmy Scott, Charles Brown, Floyd Dixon and Jimmy Witherspoon. At the time of publication 5 out of the 6 were still performing. Sadly all are now deceased. A highly recommended book, R&B fans.

As for recommended listening, well, there's a multiplicity of compilations of LaVern Baker's work. A quick look at a certain website named after a South American river and you're spoiled for choice. I must confess to being intrigued by the Avid R&B issue "LaVern Baker - Four Classic Albums" which contains her four 1950's Atlantic LP's on 2 CD's.: "La Vern," "Rock & Roll," "Sings Bessie Smith" and "Blues Ballads." It's available at a budget price and looks like one to watch out for. Jasmine Records have one of their usual "Complete Singles A's & B's" issues - "It's So Fine" covers 1953 - 1959, so not quite the complete Atlantic oeuvre. There are plenty of other compilations of her Atlantic tracks around, so happy hunting!