Tuesday, 22 July 2014

New Download Links

I've added a new page at the top of the sidebar: "Updated Links." This is the place to check for new links to downloads which had their previous links pulled by Rapidshare. All Megaupload links are long dead and I have a feeling that the remaining Rapidshare links may soon vanish.

I have had requests for new links to albums which I thought I had lost when my old PC went up in smoke but the good news is that today I found a folder on a back up disc with most of the material which I had given up on.

So here are the covers of the first 3 albums to receive new links. Click on the "Updated Links" page to download and also to go to the original posts where you can get the lowdown on these fine slabs of vinyl!

Use 'em or lose 'em! The links will expire if not used for 30 days. Keep checking the new page for further new links.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Vido Musso - Teen Age Dance Party (Crown LP 5029)

Side 1
1 Honky Tonk
2 Speak Easy
3 Blues For Two
4 Oh Yes
5 Oh Marie

1 Sorrento
2 Intermission Riff
3 You Feel It
4 Rockin' Time
5 Sweet Sue

Ripped from vinyl at 128 kbps.

Download from here (no password):


Many thanks to El Enmascarado who salvaged this 1957 Crown LP for an eye watering outlay of 50 cents. As you can see from the above scans the cover was rather trashed, especially the back which made me feel nauseous every time I looked at it. I've included a cleaned up version in the download but I'm afraid my limited graphic skills don't run to reinstating the damaged front cover. The disc itself was in pretty good condition so the sound quality on these mp3s is fine, with just an occasional thump and click.

As for the content, there are similarities with the Bill Ramal LP "Screamin' Saxes" which I posted back in December 2012. Both albums feature a veteran former swing era big band tenor sax player attempting to appeal to the teen market. On "Screamin' Saxes" it was Georgie Auld who honked away gamely on a series of R&B cover versions, including "Honky Tonk" which is also on "Teen Age Dance Party."

Sicilian born Vido Musso was well into his 40s when he cut this LP for the Bihari owned Crown budget label. In the mid 1930s he had joined the Benny Goodman band and was on their recording of "Sing, Sing, Sing." He had spells in the bands of Gene Krupa, Harry James and Woody Herman among others, and after the war he had a successful stay with the Stan Kenton band.

Vido Musso on sax with Benny Goodman and Big Sid Catlett.
William Gottlieb collection, Library of Congress
By the early 1950s Vido was established on the West Coast working with small jazz groups. He recorded singles for Trilon in 1947, Arco in 1951 and Galaxy in 1952. In 1953 he joined the Bihari's Modern / RPM group of labels, recording two singles in 1953-4, "Blue Night" / "Vido's Boogie" and "Vido's Drive"/ "Frosty", which were released on RPM. These singles were followed by the jazz album "The Swingn'st" which was released on Modern and then on Crown.

"Teen Age Dance Party" was released in 1957 on Crown which was by that time the Bihari's budget label. Cynics might say that this is a fine example of exploitation, an attempt to leap aboard the current rock and roll craze, and they would be right. We've had a few examples of "exploitation" LPs on the blog before, such as the aforementioned "Screamin' Saxes" and "rock and roll" albums attributed to "Hen Gates" which turned out to be recycled Freddie Mitchell and Lockjaw Davis tracks. And of course there was the Crown LP of "twist" tunes by Jimmy McCracklin which had nothing whatsoever to do with the dance craze but turned out to be an excellent blues album.

But whatever the motive behind the making of this LP, the music stands up quite well. The version of Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk" is especially good and the three tracks on the playlist below rock along nicely.

Ace Records in the UK own the Modern masters and they have released a CD which includes just about all of Vido's recordings for Modern/ RPM / Crown. Ace CDCHD1035 uses the artwork of the original "The Swingin'st" LP.

There is an interesting article by Peter Gibbon on Vido Musso on the Ace website here.

With thanks to El Enmascarado.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Hey Lawdy Mama / Groovin' The Blues - Miss Rhapsody (Savoy 5511)

From: Swing City - Newark Nightlife, 1925-50

Recorded in New York, July 6th, 1944. Personnel: Miss Rhapsody (vocal) with Reuben Cole's Orchestra : Emmett Berry (trumpet); Walter "Foots" Thomas (tenor sax); Reuben "June" Cole (piano); Harold Underhill (guitar); Billy Taylor (bass); Cozy Cole (drums).

Miss Rhapsody, real name Viola Wells, was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1902. She was already a veteran performer when she recorded three sessions for Savoy in 1944 - 1945. Like many of the artists that Savoy were picking up on at this time she was a regular fixture on the New York club scene, especially at Kelly's Stable on 52nd Street where she performed with Art Tatum, Benny Carter and Billy Daniels. She also appeared in Washington DC, Cleveland and Detroit, appearing with such prominenti as Coleman Hawkins and Nat "King" Cole. Despite regular radio broadcasts and several triumphant appearances at the Apollo (her signature tune, "Brown Gal" being a special favourite of audiences), her Savoy discs are the only records she issued at this successful time in her long career.

We are lucky that "Swing City: Newark Nightlife, 1925-50" by Barbara J. Kukla (Rutgers University Press, 2002)  includes a chapter on the fascinating life and career of Miss Rhapsody. We are even luckier that this particular chapter can be read on Google Books - just click on the link and you can read about her falling out with Ida Cox, her 14 month stay in Kansas City back in the mid 1930s when it was a wild and wide open city where jazz and swing and blues and boogie were blasting away in the all night joints, her comeback in the 1960s and 1970s, including tours to Europe and more recordings, and movingly, her struggle to overcome the partial loss of a leg and her determination to keep performing almost right up to her death in her beloved Newark in 1984.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Dance Of The Tambourine / I Keep Rollin' On - Hot Lips Page (Savoy 521)

William Gottlieb Collection - Library of Congress

Recorded in New York City on June 14th, 1944. Personnel: Hot Lips Page (trumpet, vocals); Floyd "Horsecollar" Williams (alto saxophone); Don Byas, George Johnson (tenor saxophones); Clyde Hart (piano;) John Simmons (bass); Sidney Catlett (drums)

A great jazz trumpeter and blues singer, Oran "Hot Lips" Page was born in Dallas, Texas in 1908. As a young man he was part of classic blues singer Ma Rainey's backing band. In the late 1920s - mid 1930s he was in the Kansas City band scene, playing with Walter Page's Blue Devils, Bennie Moten and Count Basie. He left the Basie outfit before it broke big, for a solo career which somehow never fulfilled its potential. Although he spent some time with the Artie Shaw big band, Hot Lips' forte was working with small groups in the New York jazz scene and taking part in after hours jam sessions at venues like Minton's Playhouse.

Savoy Records, founded in 1942, recorded many artists who featured in the small bands which were part of the NYC jazz club scene. An advert in Billboard from the 4th November 1944 lists releases on Savoy by Pete Brown, Tiny Grimes, Don Byas, Ben Webster, Cozy Cole, Johnny Guarnieri and Miss Rhapsody. On the same page, the "Harlem Hit Parade" was topped by "Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You" by the King Cole Trio, with other notable discs being "Hamp's Boogie Woogie" by Lionel Hampton, "Cherry Red Blues" and "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" by Cootie Williams, "I Wonder" by Cecil Gant, and "No One Else Will Do" by The Five Red Caps. Small independent labels occupied 6 of the 10 positions, having taken advantage of the major labels losing ground due to a musicians' strike which started in 1942 but rumbled on into 1944 with majors RCA and Columbia holding out to the last.

Hot Lips Page's background of Kansas City jazz, small group Harlem jump and blues shouting meant that most of his subsequent recordings were in the R&B field although he did make several tours to Europe as a jazz musician. His career ended prematurely in 1954 with his early death due to the hard work and hard living commensurate with the life of a jazz musician.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

"Hot Jazz" and "Race" Records

I originally meant to make this post solely about a Leo Parker December 1947 single release on Savoy - "Wild Leo" / "El Sino" but while browsing online through the Billboard issues of the period (available free via Google Books) I found myself reading up on the reviews of other releases. That's how this post "growed and growed" as I found myself wandering down the highways and byways of  late 1940s jazz and R&B.
So let's start with "Wild Leo" / "El Sino" (Savoy 912):

Recorded in Detroit, October 4th, 1947. Personnel: Howard McGhee (trumpet); Gene Ammons (tenor sax); Leo Parker (baritone sax); Junior Mance (piano); Gene Wright (bass); Chuck Williams (drums).

The disc was reviewed in the Billboard issue of December 13th, 1947. Of "Wild Leo" Billboard said: "Showcase for the bary horn of Leo Parker with boppish backgrounds." As for "El Sino": "Medium tempoed be-bop riffer with top notch Parker bary, Navarro trumpet solos." The trumpet player was in fact Howard McGhee, but Fats Navarro performs on a track further down this post.

The Leo Parker platter was reviewed in the "Hot Jazz" section. On the same page were reviews under the heading "Race" which was the term used by Billboard at the time for what would later (from June 1949 onwards) be called "Rhythm and Blues" in the trade journal. The platter in this section which caught my eye was the Bull Moose Jackson release on King 4181, "I Love You, Yes I Do" / "Sneaky Pete":

Recorded in New York City, August 1947. Personnel, largely unknown, except Bull Moose Jackson (vocals, tenor sax). This disc went on to become the fourth largest rhythm seller of 1948, behind "Tomorrow Night" by Lonnie Johnson, "King Size Papa" by Julia Lee and "Long Gone, parts 1 and 2" by Sonny Thompson. Bull Moose was the top selling rhythm artist of 1948, easily outselling Louis Jordan thanks to big hits like "I Love You, Yes I Do", "All My Love Belongs To You", "I Can't Go On Without You" and "Love Me Tonight".

Many Bull Moose discs featured a ballad on one side and a jump tune on the other side. Collections of his material which were released from the 1980s onwards tended to feature the latter, often featuring "lee-rics" such as "Big Ten Inch" and "I Want A Bow Legged Woman." His ballads were generally consigned to the dustbin of musical history. However, I managed to resurrect "I Love You, Yes I Do" from a 1979 "Old King Gold" LP, hence the dodgy sound quality despite some TLC on my conversion software.

Continuing my Billboard search on Leo Parker, I came across this Savoy advert in the issue of 20th November, 1948:

What Billboard rather condescendingly labelled "race" records are advertised by Savoy under "Tops in Pops" and "Tops in Bop" is used for jazz releases, which is preferable to the rather archaic sounding "hot jazz." In the late 1940s, Savoy was a big backer of both be-bop and sax-driven r&b. The biggest seller of the discs advertised above was Hal Singer's storming "Corn Bread" which was the 9th biggest selling rhythm platter of 1948 and the second biggest selling  rhythm instrumental on the charts, behind Sonny Thompson's "Long Gone" (Miracle 126) which featured Eddie Chamblee on tenor sax.

Baritone sax man Paul Williams' "Waxie Maxie" was also a good seller, although his "Thirty-Five Thirty" was an even bigger success. Other sax instros on Savoy that year included "September Song" by Don Byas and two from Wild Bill Moore: "Bubbles" and "We're Gonna Rock." Other labels were in on the sax action too - King / Gotham with "Temptation" by Earl Bostic, and Atlantic with "Blue Harlem" and "Midnight Special" by the Tiny Grimes band featuring Red Prysock.

Enough from me, it's time to rock and bop to four of the tracks from the above advert: "Waxie Maxie" by Paul Williams; "Spinal" by Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and his Be-Boppers (with Fats Navarro); "Cornbread" by Hal Singer; and "Barbados" by Charlie Parker.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

"Too Tired" - Johnny "Guitar" Watson

This is an alternate take of the B side of RPM 431, the A side being "I'm Gonna Hit That Highway" aka "Don't Touch Me Baby."

Both sides were recorded in Los Angeles in January 1955. Johnny "Guitar" Watson (guitar, vocals) was accompanied by the Maxwell Davis Orchestra featuring James Parr (trumpet); Maxwell Davis (tenor sax); Big Jim Wynn (baritone sax); Willard McDaniel (piano); Billy Hadnott (bass); Jesse Price (drums). Just about all of these names will be familiar to long time followers of this blog.

The reason I chose this particular track as the headline of this post is that the title sums up the reason why I haven't posted since last September. I can only apologise to everyone for dropping out of sight for so long. Ever increasing pressure of work has kept me away from blogging. On top of that (or perhaps because of that) I lost my enthusiasm for music - months went by during which I listened to no music at all. Every evening I was coming home from work and finding myself too tired to do anything much other than fall asleep in front of the TV. Not a good situation to be in.

Faced with this dilemma - working or enjoying a reasonable quality of life - there was only one thing to do. Yes, you've guessed it - give up work. I'll be retiring from drudgery in a few months time (end of August) and so I'll be able to devote time to keeping Be Bop Wino up and running.

The good news is that during the first half of my absence I ripped a bunch of vinyl discs to mp3, including the tracks on this post, and so there is a stockpile of material to post.

The bad news concerns Rapidshare. I was able to maintain a large back catalogue of links by taking out a Rapidshare premium account which cost around £8 per month. Unfortunately Rapidshare have decided to increase the cost to around £50 per month which is a total rip off, so many of these links will die as I refuse to stump up that amount of cash. If anyone has any advice on alternative file sharing sites, please get in touch.

Anyway, back to Johnny "Guitar" Watson. In late 1952 he made his recording debut on piano and vocals on the Chuck Higgins and his Mellotones single "Pachuko Hop" / "Motor Head Baby" (Combo 12) and I've featured these tracks on the playlist below. In 1953, billed as "Young John Watson", he was signed by Ralph Bass for Federal where he recorded the astonishing "Space Guitar" in amongst pretty standard R&B fare which included a re-recording of "Motor Head Baby."

In 1955 he was signed to the Bihari Brothers' RPM label. I've included a further 3 tracks from his RPM output on the playlist, all recorded around 1955 in Los Angeles. The RPM sides are all alternate takes to the original released versions - "I'm Gonna Hit That Highway" (RPM 431), "Those Lonely, Lonely Nights" (RPM 436) and "She Moves Me" (RPM 471). "Those Lonely, Lonely Nights" was originally recorded by Earl King. Johnny's cover version was his most successful release on RPM.

Here's a short playlist of some of Johnny's RPM work - all alternate takes to the released versions, plus Chuck Higgins and his Mellotones on Combo. Fans of swing and jump will recognise the "Pachuko Hop" riff - it's Lucky Millinder's "Apollo Jump."

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Roy Brown - Hard Luck Blues

Volume One
Side One
1. Hard Luck Blues
2. Good Rockin' Man
3. Ain't It A Shame
4. Love Don't Love Nobody
5. I've Got The Last Laugh Now
6. Trouble At Midnight
Side Two
1. Boogie At Midnight
2. Travelin' Man
3. Ain't Got No Blues Today
4. Wrong Woman Blues
5. Queen Of Diamonds
6. Worried Life Blues
Volume Two
Side One
1. Ain't No Rockin' No More
2. Letter From Home
3. Beautician Blues
4. Long About Sundown
5. Bar Room Blues
Side Two
1. Train Time Blues
2. Sweet Peach
3. Double Crossin' Woman
4. Lonesome Lover
5. Big Town
Ripped from vinyl @ 320 kbps. No Password
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It's time to post another of those Gusto double LP sets which I used to pick up cheaply in a Glasgow department store way back around 1978 or 9. And it’s also time to pay tribute to one of the major figures of vintage R&B, Roy Brown. He was the original good rockin’ man, being the composer of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” which he pitched unsuccessfully to Wynonie Harris in 1947. Roy was signed by DeLuxe Records of New Jersey and recorded the song himself, achieving a substantial R&B hit in 1948. However a cover version by Harris outsold the original and to add insult to injury Harris had another R&B hit with a cover of the B side of Roy’s disc, “Lolly Pop Mama.”
Roy’s singing style was very different from that of Harris and the other blues shouters of the time. His vocals were much more overtly influenced by gospel, indeed Roy’s earliest musical performances had been with a gospel group, and he was more of a blues “crier” than a shouter. His passionate, torridly emotional delivery was a big influence on B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Clyde McPhatter and any number of singers whose style is retrospectively considered to be an early manifestation of soul singing.
He was also a big influence on Elvis Presley who recorded a version of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” for Sun Records. I’ve always found it interesting to compare “Hard Luck Blues” with “Heartbreak Hotel.” The songs are similarly structured and surely Elvis’ emotional delivery of a tale of woe is largely inspired by Roy’s overwrought performance on the even more desolate “Hard Luck Blues.”
Roy had a string of big R&B hits between 1948 and 1951 and it should be remembered that not only did he sing on the mix of poignant blues and wild rockers which constituted his chart topping oeuvre, he wrote them too. He was backed by some of the best jump bands around, including his own Mighty Mighty Men and the Tiny Bradshaw and Griffin Brothers outfits. But from 1952 onwards there were no more hits on the DeLuxe label which had been bought out by King Records in 1948.
It has been said that Roy’s successful lawsuit which he took out against King over royalty payments had something to do with the situation, but despite the dispute King continued to record and release very strong material by Roy. It may be that like many of his contemporaries, Roy was a victim of changing fashions within the R&B world, with a younger generation preferring vocal groups to aging blues singers.
His last hits were for Imperial Records in 1957 with covers of Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll” and Fats Domino’s “Let The Four Winds Blow.” There was a brief and fruitless return to King and Roy’s singing career gradually faded. He continued to record and perform intermittently throughout the 60’s and 70’s and unlike so many other performers of post war rhythm and blues he was able to take advantage of the revival of interest in vintage R&B which started to take hold in the late 1970s /early 1980s. Tragically he died at the young age of 55 in 1981. Had he lived longer he would assuredly have spent many years touring the blues and rock’n’roll festivals where he would have received the acclaim of new generations of fans.
Listen to some highlights from “Hard Luck Blues”:

The tracks, recording dates and original release numbers:
1. Hard Luck Blues – Recorded in Cincinnati, April 19th, 1950. DeLuxe 3304 (no. 1 R&B 1950)

2. Good Rockin' Man – Recorded in Cincinnati, January 16th, 1951. DeLuxe 3319

3. Ain't It A Shame – Recorded in New Orleans, May 27th, 1954. King 4731

4. Love Don't Love Nobody – Recorded in Cincinnatti, June 15th, 1950. DeLuxe 3306 (no. 2 R&B 1950)

5. I've Got The Last Laugh Now – Recorded in Cincinnati, January 16th, 1951. DeLuxe 3323

6. Trouble At Midnight – Recorded in Miami, December 15th, 1953. King 4704

7. Boogie At Midnight - Recorded in Dallas, September 20th, 1949. DeLuxe 3300 (no. 3 R&B 1949)

8. Travelin' Man – Recorded in New Orleans, December  18th, 1952. King 4602

9. Ain't Got No Blues Today – Recorded in Cincinnati, May 7th, 1959. King 5333

10. Wrong Woman Blues – Recorded in Cincinnati, January 16th, 1951. DeLuxe 3313

11. Queen Of Diamonds – Recorded in New Orleans, May 27th, 1954. King 4761

12. Worried Life Blues – Recorded in New Orleans, September 2nd, 1954. King 4743

13. Ain't No Rockin' No More – Recorded in New Orleans, May 27th, 1954. King 5247

14. Letter From Home – Recorded in New Orleans, December 19th, 1952. King 4684

15. Beautician Blues – Recorded in Cincinnati, June 23nd, 1950. DeLuxe 3313

16. Long About Sundown – Recorded in Cincinnati, June 22nd, 1950. DeLuxe 3308 (no. 8 R&B 1950)

17. Bar Room Blues – Recorded in Cincinnati, June 22nd, 1950. DeLuxe 3319 (no. 6 R&B 1951)

18. Train Time Blues – Recorded in Cincinnati, June 22nd, 1950. DeLuxe 3318

19. Sweet Peach - Recorded in Cincinnati, April 19th, 1950. DeLuxe 3312

20. Double Crossin' Woman – Recorded in Cincinnati, June 23nd, 1950. DeLuxe 3311

21. Lonesome Lover – Recorded in Cincinnati, September 27th, 1951. King 4689

22. Big Town – Recorded in Cincinnati, January 16th, 1951. DeLuxe 3318 (no. 8 R&B 1951)

The musicians:

Roy Brown vocal on all tracks, accompanied by -

Teddy Riley (tp) Johnny Fontenette (ts) Edward Santineo (p) Louis Sargent (g) Tommy Shelvin (b) Frank Parker (d) September 1949

Boogie At Midnight

The Griffin Brothers Orchestra: Wilbur Harden (tp) Jimmy Griffin (tb) Johnny Fontenette (ts) Harry Porter (bar) Edward "Buddy" Griffin (p) Willie Gaddy (g) Ike Isaacs (b) Emmett "Nab" Shields (d) April 1950

Hard Luck Blues
Sweet Peach

Wilbur Harden (tp) Johnny Fontenette (ts) Leroy Rankins (bar) Edward Santineo (p) Edgar Blanchard (g) Ike Isaacs (b) Emmett "Nab" Shields (d) June 1950

Love Don’t Love Nobody

George Jenkins replaces Nab Shields (d), rest the same, June 1950

Train Time Blues
Bar Room Blues
‘Long About Sundown
Beautician Blues
Double Crossin’ Woman
The Tiny Bradshaw Orchestra: Leslie Ayers (tp) Red Prysock (ts) Orrington Hall (ts,bar) James Robinson (p) Edgar Blanchard (g) Clarence Mack (b) Calvin Shields (d) January 1951

Wrong Woman Blues
Good Rockin’ Man
I’ve Got The Last Laugh Now
Big Town

Teddy Riley (tp) Johnny Fontenette (ts) Alexander Nelson (bar) Charlie Nelson (p) Peter "Chuck" Badie (b) Wilbert Smith (d) September 1951

Lonesome Lover

Teddy Riley (tp) Victor Thomas, Sammy Parker (ts) Frank Campbell (bar) Jimmy Williams (p) Jimmy Davis (g) Tommy Shelvin (b) Ray Miller (d) December 1952

Travelin’ Man
Letter From Home

Joe Bridgewater (tp) Sammy Parker, Victor Thomas (ts) Jimmy C. Harris (p) Jimmy Davis (g) Clarence Jones (b) Albert "June" Gardner (d) December 1953

Trouble At Midnight

Philip Scott (ts) James H. Thomas (p) Edgar Blanchard (g) Tommy Shelvin (b) Frank Parker (d) May 1954

Ain’t It A Shame
Ain’t No Rockin’ No More
Queen Of Diamonds

Melvin Lastie (tp) Sammy Parker, Johnny Fontenette (ts) Salvador Doucette (p) Jimmy Davis (g) Tommy Shelvin (b) Placide Adams (d) September 1954

Worried Life Blues

Johnny Griffin, Ray Felder (ts) unknown (bar) Jon Thomas (p) John Faire, Fred Jordan (g) Edwyn Conley (b) Ron McCurdy (d) May 1959
Ain’t Got No Blues Today

Buying Roy.

His peak years are well covered by 3 Chronological Roy Brown CDs on the Classics label:


Ace has two good CDs of Roy’s sides. "Good Rockin' Brown" is an in-depth look at his earliest sides and is mastered from the original acetates:

"Mighty Mighty Man!" covers his later King material after his hit making days had passed. There’s plenty of good stuff on it!

Sources: Bruyninckx Discography, sleevenotes to the Route 66 LPs "Good Rocking Tonight", "Laughing But Crying", "I Feel That Young Man's Rhythm." Wikipedia article on Roy Brown.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Riffin’ With The Griffin Brothers Orchestra

Side A
1. Little Red Rooster
2. Weepin' And Cryin'
3. Griff's Boogie
4. Blues All Alone
5. The Teaser
6. Pretty Baby
7. Blues With A Beat
8. Stubborn As A Mule
Side B
1. I Wanna Go Back
2. I'm Gonna Jump In The River
3. Comin' Home
4. Tra-La-La
5. Shuffle Bug
6. Ace In The Hole
7. Hot Pepper
8. It'd Surprise You

Here’s a cracking little collection released on UK Ace in 1985. There’s enough jumpin’ and jivin’ and bluesin’ chantoosin’ and weepin’ and cryin’ to keep any R&B fan happy. Not only do you get a tight jump combo, you also get star vocalists Margie Day and Tommy Brown and bootin’ tenor sax from Noble “Thin Man” Watts. You have probably concluded that I quite like this LP.
Trombonist James Griffin and his pianist and occasional vocalist brother Edward “Buddy” Griffin hailed from Norfolk, Virginia. In the late 1940s they formed a jump combo which became prominent on the Washington DC rhythm and blues scene. The band was taken under the managerial wing of local music entrepreneur Lillian Claiborne who in 1950 fixed them up with Dot Records, a recently founded label out of Gallatin, Tennessee.

A few months before signing with Dot, the Griffin Brothers band had been augmented by singer Margaret Hoffler, another native of Norfolk, who had moved to New York in the mid 1940s to pursue a singing career and had performed vocal duties with a group called “Four Bars And a Melody”.

In 1947 they had released a single “Near You” / “It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dream” on Savoy. The platter had been mercilessly panned in a Billboard review, with Margaret’s song stylings receiving some especially cutting remarks – “thin and listless”, “straining uncomfortably in her chant.” As you can hear on the featured LP Margaret would prove to be a dynamic and earthy blues singer when she recorded with the Griffin Brothers.

Marriage, pregnancy and a subsequent marital breakup brought Margaret’s musical career to a halt and she moved back to Norfolk in 1950. The Griffin Brothers asked her to join their band and after the Dot signing, she changed her name to Margie Day at the suggestion of label owner Randy Wood.

The band’s first release “Street Walkin’ Daddy” / “Riffin’ With Griffin” sold well, and their next release, with both sides featuring Margie, “Little Red Rooster” / “Blues All Alone”, was a bigger hit, reaching number 5 in the R&B charts in 1951.

In early 1951, the Griffin Brothers recruited Atlanta based blues singer Tommy Brown as another vocalist. Brown had recorded some raucous sides for Savoy in January 1951, including “Atlanta Boogie” which featured a chorus of “Let’s rock and roll till the break of day.” It’s possible that the backing band on the session was the Griffin Brothers outfit, but this has never been confirmed.

The band recorded a cover version of Dave Bartholomew’s “Tra La La” with Tommy on vocals, achieving another R&B top ten hit in the summer of 1951 and then gained even more success with a Margie Day double sider, “Pretty Baby” / ”Stubborn As A Mule” which reached number 10 in the R&B charts.

Tommy Brown’s “Weepin’ And Cryin’” which was released late in 1951 became the band’s biggest chart hit, reaching number 3 but by then Brown was already in the process of leaving, having been called up for military service after which he pursued a solo career.

Margie Day left the band in August 1952, toured and recorded with Paul Williams on Dot and Decca, and made further R&B and jazz recordings on various labels, eventually returning to Norfolk where she organised a community project to help children wishing to develop careers in the performing arts.

The Griffin Brothers Orchestra continued to record for Dot into 1954 when the band split with Buddy joining Chess Records.


Sleevenotes to “Riffin’ With The Griffin Brothers Orchestra” by Ray Topping

Notes to Acrobat CD “The Griffin Brothers: Blues With A Beat” by Dave Penny

Article on Margie Day in “Dancing On The Edge” Vol 1 No 3 by ‘Fessa John Hook

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1. Little Red Rooster – vocal: Margie Day (December 1950, Dot 1019)

2. Weepin' And Cryin' – vocal: Tommy Brown (February 1951, Dot 1071)

3. Griff's Boogie – instrumental (December 1950, Dot 1020)

4. Blues All Alone - vocal: Margie Day (December 1950, Dot 1019)

5. The Teaser – instrumental (February 1952, Dot 1095)

6. Pretty Baby – vocal: Margie Day and Tommy Brown (February 1951, Dot 1070)

7. Blues With A Beat – instrumental (December 1950, Dot 1020)

8. Stubborn As A Mule - vocal: Margie Day (February 1951, Dot 1070)

9. I Wanna Go Back – vocal: Buddy Griffin (mid 1952, Dot 1117)

10. I'm Gonna Jump In The River – vocal: Margie Day (mid 1952, Dot 1104)

11. Comin' Home – instrumental (mid 1952, Dot 1105)

12. Tra-La-La – vocal: Tommy Brown (February 1951, Dot 1060)

13. Shuffle Bug – instrumental (February 1951, Dot 1071)

14. Ace In The Hole – vocal: Margie Day (mid 1952, Dot 1108)

15. Hot Pepper – instrumental (December 1950, Dot 1024)

16. It'd Surprise You – vocal: Margie Day (February 1952, Dot 1094)
All sides recorded in Washington DC.
Band personnel in 1950: Jimmy Griffin (tb); Wilbur Dyer (as); Virgil Wilson (ts); Buddy Griffin (p); Jimmy Reeves (b) Emmett "Nab" Shields (d); Margie Day (vcl).
Band personnel in 1951-52: Jimmy Griffin (tb); Wilbur Dyer (as); Noble Watts (ts); Buddy Griffin (p,vcl); Wilbur Little (b); Belton Evans (d); Margie Day (vcl); Tommy Brown (vcl).
Listen Up! Griffins, Margie and Tommy on streaming media player:

Buying The Griffin Brothers – 2 CDs were released on Acrobat about 10 years ago – “Blues With A Beat” Volumes 1 and 2. Volume 1 includes some of Tommy Brown's sides recorded on Savoy before he joined the Griffin Brothers. Volume 2 includes some tracks recorded by Buddy Griffin with his wife Claudia Swann after the band broke up.


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Lowdown Baby – Joe Morris And His Orchestra

Side A
1. Lowdown Baby
2. Jump Everybody Jump
3. You're My Darling
4. Ghost Train
5. I Hope You're Satisfied
6. Pack Up All Your Rags
7. Midnight Grinder
8. Can't Stop My Crying

Side B
1. Bald Head Woman
2. Love Fever Blues
3. That's What Makes My Baby Fat
4. I Had A Notion
5. Who's Gonna Cry For Me
6. Take Your Time
7. Crazy Mixed Up World
8. Going Going Gone

We continue our jump season with the second Joe Morris LP issued by Jonas Bernholm, this time on his Jukebox Lil label. This collection of sides recorded between 1949 and 1957 looks at the “second stage” of his band, when bop influences were abandoned in favour of out and out R&B. For a while the band was billed as the “Joe Morris Blues Cavalcade” and featured a number of vocalists, including Laurie Tate whose “Any Time, Any Place, Any Where” was a huge hit in 1950/51, Billy Mitchell who later became a member of The Clovers, and a certain Fay Scruggs who changed her name to Faye Adams and went on to have to big hits on Herald with “Shake A Hand” and “I’ll Be True To You” with Joe’s band backing her on both of those smashes.

This LP has a nice mix of sides by the various vocalists as well as a couple of strong instrumentals. My favourite tracks are the atmospheric “Ghost Train”, the rousing “Jump Everybody Jump” and the amusing “That’s What Makes My Baby Fat” sung by Joe and the future Faye Adams. It’s a response to all those R&B songs about large women as Miss Adams upbraids Joe about his increasing rotundity.

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps. No password.

Download from here:

Or here:

 1. Lowdown Baby (vocal – Joe Morris) Decca 48126

 2. Jump Everybody Jump (vocal - Joe Morris) Atlantic 931

 3. You're My Darling (vocal – Laurie Tate) Atlantic 942

 4. Ghost Train (instrumental) Atlantic 974

 5. I Hope You're Satisfied (vocal – Laurie Tate) Atlantic 942

 6. Pack Up All Your Rags (vocal – Billy Mitchell) Atlantic 933

 7. Midnight Grinder (instrumental) Atlantic 940

 8. Can't Stop My Crying (vocal – Laurie Tate) Atlantic 965

 9. Bald Head Woman (vocal – Billy Mitchell) Atlantic 974

10. Love Fever Blues (vocal – Jimmy Lewis) Atlantic 940

11. That's What Makes My Baby Fat (vocal – Joe Morris & Faye Adams) Atlantic 985

12. I Had A Notion (vocal – Al Savage) Herald 417

13. Who's Gonna Cry For Me (vocal – Mr Stringbean) Herald 418

14. Take Your Time (vocal – Al Savage) Herald 430

15. Crazy Mixed Up World (vocal – Faye Adams) Herald 429

16. Going Going Gone (vocal – Louis Madison) Atlantic 1160

Here’s a short streaming playlist with some highlights from the LP:

Buying Joe:

This 26 track CD came out on Acrobat in 2003. It features lots of the early jazzy sides with Johnny Griffin plus some of the later R&B material. Still available on Amazon.

You can usually rely on the Classics label from France to come up with the goods and sure enough they’ve two Joe Morris discs. Both are available through Amazon.

And lastly Johnny Griffin’s debut album for Blue Note is a monster. Get hip and get it!