Forgotten Sessions-part 2 ©1999JCMarion
Selective Records - John Blackburn was the owner of this Los Angeles based R & B label. It began in mid 1949 recording local Blues and R & B singers from the lively scene along Central Avenue in the Watts area. In January of 1950 the label got more active and hired Sam Lane formerly of Hamp-Tone International to do A & R work and line up some recording sessions. The Flames recorded soon after that on Selective #113 - "Young Girl" and "Please Tell Me Now" were the results. The next release for the label was by Teddy Bunn on #114 - "Jackson's Nook" / "I've Come A Long Way". The label signs on an interesting performer on the fringe of the R & B world in February. She is Madonna Martin (yes there was a Madonna in the early 50s !), and she is from Indiana and is on tour with Louis Armstrong on the West Coast. Madonna sometimes called the "Sepia Sophie" (Tucker that is) records "Madonna's Boogie" and "We've Come A Long Way Together". In April Peppy Prince, the drummer for Joe Liggins one of the first great R & B stars of the 40s, forms his own group with Henry Bridges on tenor sax, Frank Pasley on guitar, and Jackie Glenn on piano and calls them The Sugarmen. They record #118 for the label "The Sugarman" parts one and two. Selective #119 is by Chuck Norris (no not THAT Chuck Norris) and the tunes are "Oh Little Girl" and "Chicken Neck". Selective Records in little less than a year had yet to make any dent at all in the R & B field and tries one more release, but the same fate befalls it and it is the swan song for the label. It is by Eddie Williams and His Brown Buddies with Lester Myrat and is called "Right Now" and the flip is "Unfaithful Woman". With that release, Selective passes into recording history.
Ivory Records - This label was based in New York and was operated by Dagmar Von Hauer. The Rhythm Kings recorded "Night After Night" on #751 in late 1949 and Harold Connor and the Do-Ray-Me Trio on Ivy #752 - with "I've Done No Wrong" / "When The Bridge Is Down". The group returned on #754 without featured billing to Connor on "Rhumba Blues" and "I Couldn't Help It". The next outing for the label was the vocal-instrumental combo The Rhythm Kings. They recorded "If I Can't Have The One I Love" / "How Do You Measure Love?". Ivory #756 was certainly one of the more interesting releases of their short history. It paired fabulous R & B deejay Ramon "I Am The" Bruce with Michelle (whomever she was) on the recording of "My Book" and the flip side "Moments With You". Vocalist Peggy Thomas recorded #757 "Mama Teach Me How" and "It's The River For Me". Leslie Scott with Buddy Tate and his band are on #758 for "I'm Carrying A Torch For You" and "Gone Gone Gone". The final release for the Ivory label came in late 1950 by Peggy Thomas - "Longing For You" and "Hanging Out". In January of 1951 the label was said to be in the process of "reorganizing", but they were never heard from again.
Skyscraper Records - The little known indie record company with the great name also had a great address : 1650 Broadway, the famous (and infamous) Brill Building. There were two releases in 1950 on this label, both by Buddy Hawkins and The Keynotes with Big Sam's Quintet. #1201 is "I Shouldn't Love You But I Do" and "Shake Shake Shake". This is followed by #1202 - "St. Louis Blues" / "I'm Lost". There was reported to be a third release on the Skyscraper label, this one numbered #1250 and by singer Bob Howard titled "Elephant Rock" and "I'm So In Love With Beautiful Little You" (great title !). And that is the short story of this label.
Freedom Records - A label located in Houston, Texas which seemed a hotbed of R & B activity during the early fifties. The label was owned by Sol Kahal, and the head A & R man for the company was Connie Johnson. In March of 1949 the first release by the label was #1502 by Goree Carter - "Sweet Ole Woman Blues". Lonnie Lyons recorded "Lonely Hearts Blues" on #1504, and "Far Away Blues" for #1507. Connie's Combo recorded "Shout It Out" on #1508, and Leroy 'Country' Johnson sang "Loghouse On The Hill" for release #1509. Freedom #1510 featured L.C. Williams on "That's All Right" and "Gonna Change My Love".Goree Carter folllowed that up with "I'll Send You" / "How Can You Love Me" on #1511, Lonnie Lyons "Neat And Sweet" on #1512, and Carter again on "I Just Thought Of You" on #1516. With release #1517, Freedom Records finally hits paydirt. L.C. Williams with J.C. Conney's Combo records "Ethel Mae" / "Shout Baby Shout". The recording of "Ethel Mae" is a huge R & B hit in the Southwest for the latter part of 1949 and into 1950. This response gave Kahal the boost to keep the label going. Lonnie Lyons returns again on #1519 with "Helpless", Connie MacBooker recorded "Loretta" and "Come Back Baby" for #1520, and Carl Campbell took a turn on "Between Midnight And Dawn" on #1521. L.C. Williams has two followups to his big hit - "Jelly Roll" on #1524 and "My Darkest Hour" / "Mean And Evil Blues" on #1529.
In March of 1950 the label signs blues shouter Clarence Samuels. Joe Turner who has a prolific output on many labels across the country records for Freedom in the spring of the year and #`1531 is released - "Adam Bit The Apple" / "I'm Still In The Dark". By mid 1950 Kahal gets ambitious and announces plans for his label to expand into the Country and Western field. Clarence Samuels records #1533 - "Low Top Inn" and "I Lost My Head". Julius Stewart does "Life Of A Poor Man" and "Never Trust A Woman" on #1534. Tenor sax man Joe Houston shows up with his Trio on #1535 with "Jumpin' The Blues" and "Your Little Girl Is Gone". Goree Carter records "Serenade" and "Come On Let's Boogie" for Freedom #1536, and Joe Turner returns with his often recorded "Life Is Like A Card Game" / "I'm Just A Travellin' Man" on #1537. The following release features Texas Alexander with Benton's Busy Bees (great name for an R & B combo !) on #1538 ; "Crossroads" and "Bottom's Blues".A gospel group called The Singing Sons records "In The Wilderness" and "In That Awful Hour" on Freedom #116. The final release for the record label comes out in October of 1950 and is by Joe Turner - "Feeling Happy" and "You'll Be Sorry". With the end of Freedom Records, its most famous artist Joe Turner moved to Aladdin Records in California for a short stay before moving to world wide fame at Atlantic. But now Freedom Records is just a memory but a company that provided the Houston area and its performers a worthy outlet for their talents.
Spire Records - This is a real obscure R & B label which was owned by Chester Lew and was located in that recording way station, Fresno, California. In 1949 the label got some airplay and some publicity with their release of "Smooth Evening" and "Caldonia's Blues" by Gene Morris & His Hamp-Tones with vocal by Sonny Parker. This was record #11-004. In early 1950 the label went with veteran blues performer Mercy Dee with "Evil And Hungry" / "Traveling Alone Blues". A month later local singer Larry Staton recorded "How Deep Is The Ocean" and "Jungle Drums". Neither record made any noise on the sales or airplay fronts and Chester Lew called it quits. But it was this type of gambler that tried, and some of them succeeded to our everlasting debt.
Rockin' Records - In December of 1952, it is announced that longtime songwriter and arranger Andy Razaf, and record producer and arranger Henry Stone have begun Rockin' Records in Miami to feature R & B, and an affiliated label Glory, to feature gospel music. The Leroy Lang Combo records "A Tenor Wails The Blues" and "Combo Boogie" as the label's first outing. In February of 1953, the Manzy Harris Orchestra with vocalist Harold Young record "You're Gonna Know" and "Crawlin'" on Rockin' #506. Blues singer Roosevelt Wardell sings "I Lost My Woman" and "So Undecided" for #508. In June George Lawson records #510 - "Blue Memphis" / "Rockin' The Blues". Soon after, Harold Young records "I Love You For Myself" and "You're Gonna Miss Me" for #511, and Little Sam Davis weighs in with "1958 Blues" bw "Going Home To Mother". In the fall of 1953, the King-Federal-DeLuxe combine of Syd Nathan in Cincinnati takes interest in the struggling label. The last release on Rockin' is by the vocal group The Charms (with Otis Williams) who sing "Heaven Only Knows" and "Loving Baby" on #516. Soon after it's release, DeLuxe takes over and the record is re-released on that label. By December, King Records has taken over and moved all Rockin' masters to their DeLuxe subsidiary.
Supreme Records - Another of the labels based in Los Angeles (the home of the indie label), Supreme was owned by Al Patrick. The company began recording in mid 1948 and made very little headway in the expanding field of R & B music in southern California. All that changed in late 1948 with Paula Watson's great tune "A Little Bird Told Me" which was a huge hit on the coast for the singer-pianist. The next year Supreme stuck again when the label recorded a singer-songwriter who was making the rounds of the nightclubs in L.A.'s south central area. He was Percy Mayfield and the song was "Two Years Of Torture". It was a huge hit and the label was on its way, or so they thought. "Torture" and its flip side "Half Awake" with the Monroe Tucker band was a sure seller for months. Eddie Williams & The Brown Buddies recorded "Blues For Cuba" for the label on #1528 and was getting decent airplay. He followed that up with "Red Head 'n' Cadillac" on #1535, and two more releases - "Saturday Night Fish Fry" on #1542 and "I Saw Stars" on #1547. Then the label was involved in two lengthy and costly lawsuits. The first was for non payment of royalties by writer and arranger Leroy White who claimed he was involved on recordings that had sales of three million records dating back to 1947. The second suit was brought by the label against Decca Records for its cover of Paula Watson's "A Little Bird Told Me". Supreme sued for copyright infringement because of the note by note copy of the arrangement of their original used in Decca's version of the song by Evelyn Knight and The Stardusters which became a number one pop hit and a million seller. Supreme lost the suit in court and this decision was the basis for a similar ruling five years later in the Lavern Baker claim against Mercury and Georgia Gibbs for the exact cover of "Tweedle Dee". The financial effects of the two lawsuits put a stranglehold on the label and the end was near. John Dolphin, R & B radio personality, record store owner, and label owner, takes over the rights to Mayfield's "Two Years Of Torture" and re-releases it on his Recorded In Hollywood label. By the end of the year, another area independent label, Swing Time, purchases more than eighty masters from the vaults of Supreme, and ending its chapter in the history of Rhythm & Blues music.
Bayou Records - This little remembered label was founded in the spring of 1953 by record producer Franklin Kort, who recently was with the Recorded In Hollywood label. Noted West Coast session man Red Callender had the first two releases for the new label - "The Honey Jump" parts one and two on #001 and backed up Duke Upshaw on vocals on "Soldier's Blues" and "In The Meantime". Famous blues personality Mercy Dee recorded "Please Understand" and "Anything In This World" for Bayou #003 and sax man Joe Houston performed "Sabre Jet" and "Moody" for #004. Clarence Samuels recorded "Lowtop Inn" on #010 in mid 1953, but by the late summer of that year it was apparent that Bayou Records would not survive on its own, and so was absorbed into Lew Chudd's Imperial label.
Haven Records - A very obscure label out of Chicago in 1954, it was operated by Joe DeJohnette and had one documented release - #511 by The Emperors : "I May be Wrong" / "Come Back Come Back". There were two other sides supposedly put out by the label but their release numbers and other information has been lost over time. "Low Down Love" / "Going On Down The Road" by Leon Ketchum with The Orlando Trio, and "Danny Boy" and "Harpin' The Blues" by The Orlando Trio.
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