Forgotten Sessions : Part Five
Macy's Records - The founders of this label was Macy and Charles Henry, and it was another Houston, Texas based R & B label from the early fifties taking on the three centers of record production in the field-L.A, Chicago, and New York. It's history very much parallels that of its area competitor during that time - Freedom Records. Lester Williams recorded the first outing for the label in December of 1949 with "Wintertime Blues" on #5000. The next year starts out with the Clarence Garlow recording "Blues As You Like It" / "She's So Fine" on #5001 and "In A Boogie Mood" and one of the many versions of his signature song "Bon Ton Rolla" on #5002. Long time blues performer Smokey Hogg recorded #5003 - "You Gotta Go" and Lester Williams returned for "All I Need Is You" / "I Know That Chick" on #5004. Hubert Robinson tried his hand on "Boogie The Joint" for #5005, and Lester Williams "Dowling Street Hop" and "Don't Treat Me So Low Down" was #5006. "Answer To Wintertime Blues" by Lester Williams on #5007, refers to the first Macy's release and #5008 was Smokey Hogg's "Change Your Ways". Lester Williams is back with "Texas Town" and "Mary Lou" on #5009, and Hubert Robinson records "Bad Luck And Trouble" and the wonderfully named "Room And Board Boogie" for #5010. In late 1950 it appears that success in the R & B field has for the most part eluded Macy's Records, but they continue to make music. Cab McMillan & His Fadeaways record "Young And Able" and "Three Women Blues" on #5011, Hubert Robinson records "High Class Woman" for #5015, and Lester Williams does "Hey Jack" and "The Folks Around The Corner" on #5016. In June of 1951 the end is at hand for Macy's as Smokey Hogg goes to Modern Records, Lester Williams to Specialty, and Clarence Garlow moves to Aladdin Records. Their three best known recording artists head for California, and so Macy's, like Freedom cease to exist in Houston and leave the field for Don Robey's Peacock/Duke combine.
Showtime Records - This Hollywood based label was founded by Peter Morgan and Austin McCoy in April of 1954. Blues singer Smokey Hogg records "No More Whiskey" and "Aint Gonna Play Second" for #1101. The Five Stars recorded "Walking And Talking" and "Where Did Caldonia Go" for #1102. June Moy and The Feathers record "Castle Of Dreams" / "Desert Winds" for Showtime #1103, and The Feathers vocal group recorded "Johnny Darling" and Nona" on #1104. They followed that up with a cover of The Jacks "Why Don't You Write Me" on #1105. The flip side of that release was "Busy As A Bumble Bee" by Johnny and Louis Staton. The Feathers return for #1106 - "Crashing The Party" and "Love Only You". In April of 1955 Showtime Records files suit against Aladdin Records concerning contract rights to Showtime's biggest sellers, The Feathers and to halt distribution of the Aladdin version of the group's song "Johnny Darling". The suit is not settled to Morgan's liking, and the end is in sight for the label. Joy Shaw's "Daddy You Lied To Me" #1110, in late 1956 is the last of the Showtime releases.
Discovery Records - Owned and operated by Albert Marx, the label is based in Hollywood and specializes in modern jazz recordings. In May of 1950 noting the increasing acceptance of Rhythm & Blues in Southern California, Marx announces that Discovery will now move into the R & B field. Marx and v.p. Dick Bock sign well known West Coast radio personality Joe Adams to head A & R for the label. Signed to Discovery are Helen Humes and Damita Jo. Humes records "Rock Me To Sleep" and "Sad Feeling" with the Marshall Royal Combo on #519 in June of 1950. Humes and Royal return for #520 - "This Love Of Mine" / "He May Be Yours". Damita Jo records a cover of Laurie Tate's "Anytime, Any Place, Anywhere" and "Until The Real Thing Comes Along" for Discovery #523 and in August Claude "Mighty Man" Maxwell with the Eddie Williams Orchestra records "Goodnight Irene" / "I Feel Like Shouting" on #524. Eddie Williams re-records his Supreme Records tune "Blues In Cuba" and "Meandering" on #526. Dizzy Gillespie does a recording date for the label in November keeping their interest in modern jazz. In December Discovery issues its very first 45 rpm release - Helen Humes "E-Baba-Le-Ba" and "One Hour Tonight" on #530. At the end of the year Discovery announces the signing of vocalist Lurlean Hunter, and will release her recording of "Home Town Chicago" and "I Get A Warm Feeling" from masters originally on the Seymour Records label. The new release will be Discovery #533. In April of 1951 Helen Humes "Helen's Advice" / "Airplane Blues" recorded with Dexter Gordon is issued as #535. Soon after this record is released, the label ceases operations and Helen Humes moves to Modern records.
One year later, Jack Bergman plans to release jazz records on the Discovery label, after he and his partner Saul Bolton buy the name and assets of the Albert Marx owned label. In October of that year Discovery #1202 is released - Monte Easter & His Orchestra "Casablanca Boogie" and "Pastel" with vocal by Pat Reed. Jessie Mae Robinson records with the Monte Easter Orchestra on #1203 - "Jessie Mae's Blues" / "That's The Secret". In April of 1953 the label announces the signing of singer Joan Shaw, but her records are released on a subsidiary label, Gem Records. Discovery Records now joins the list of labels in the history of R & B music as a minor player, but one that was present at the time.
R and B Records - The Hollywood based label was founded by Al Schlesinger and Larry Goldberg in July of 1954. The first release for the label was the epic "Hearts Of Stone" by The Jewels. The flip side was "Runnin'" and was release #1301. "Hearts" took the R & B world by storm and the fledgling label with the oh so appropriate name was off and, well, Runnin'. An instrumental group, The Oscar Saldand Orchestra records "Mambo Hop" and "The Bop Hop" for #1302. The Jewels riding the crest of their big hit (even though it was covered successfully by The Charms) return for "A Fool In Paradise" and "Oh Yes I Know" for #1303. The label signs an up and coming West Coast vocal group Earl Curry and The Blenders, and they soon record for the label with "Late Rising Moon" / "I Want To Be With You" on #1304. Johnny Torrence steps out in front on lead with The Jewels for "Roasalie" on #1306 and the vocal instrumental group The Rockin' Brothers record "Rock It" and "Behind The Sun" on #1307. By now the label was realizing that duplicating the success of their very first release was no easy task. Distribution and airplay was also a problem with the ever expanding presence of R & B all over the country the heavy players were now getting involved. It was no easy task for the small independent to keep going, and so R and B Records ended its short but exciting run. There was one last release in February of 1955 by Earl Curry - "Dream" / "Try And Get Me" on #1313. So ends the story of R and B Records-one of the very first rock records I ever bought, a black and yellow 78 rpm copy of "Hearts Of Stone". What a record, and what a memory.
Timely Records - This New York City label was founded by Herman (Hy) Siegel in September of 1953. Siegel had been part of the founding of Apollo Records. The label immediately signs two vocal groups - The Ambassadors and The Gaytunes. The Ambassadors record the first release for the label #1001 - "I'm Sorry I Made You Cry" and "Willa-Bea".Timely #1002 is "Why Leave Me This Way" / "The Thrill Of Romance" by The Gay Tunes. #1003 is by Otis Hinton - "Emmaline" and "Walking Down Hill". Release #1004 is the notorious "Baptize Me In Wine" by Jalacy (soon to be 'Screamin' Jay) Hawkins. The flip side is "No Not Anymore". The gospel music group The Colemanaires have two sides recorded for Timely. #101 is the classic "Old Ship Of Zion" parts 1 and 2 with Cynthia Coleman on vocals, and #102 is "Somebody Save Me" / "Joy In The Prayer Room". Jalacy Hawkins goes at it again on "I Found My way To Wine" and "Please Try To Understand" on #1005, and new artist Ann Cole records "Danny Boy" / "Smiling Through" on #1006. More gospel sides come out as The Sweet Tones Of Israel record "All On The Altar" on #104 and The Colemanaires on "Out On The Ocean sailing" / "Be Ready When He Comes" on #105. Ann Cole returns for "Oh Love Of Mine" / "I'll Find A Way" on #1007. Charlie (Little Jazz) Ferguson records the interesting double - "Low Lights" and "High Beam Mambo" on #1008. The vocal group The Charmers formerly on Central Records, sign with Timely and record "I Was Wrong" / "The Mambo" for Timely #1009, and Ann Cole records #1010l in late 1954, "I'm So Proud Of You" and "Down In The Valley". There is one last release by The Charmers - "The Church On The Hill" / "Battle Axe" on #1011. During the summer Apollo Records buys out Timely and its masters and assets. One last release is the gospel release #106 by The Willet Sisters - "Lay Down Your Heavy Load" / "Don't Take Everyone To Be Your Friend". So ends the short story of an interesting independent label remembered most for its vocal group sides and a sound that captured the moment that R & B music started its move toward the American mainstream.
Drexel Records - The Chicago based recording company was founded by Les Caldwell formerly with King Records, and Paul King in early 1954. The vocal group The Gems record "Let's talk About The Weather" and "Deed I Do" on Drexel #901 in July of 1954. Singer Dorothy Logan records "Small Town Man" and the pop and R & B classic "Since I Fell For You" on #902. The Gems return with #903 - "I Thought You'd Care" and "Kitty From New York City". The next release is "Old Man River" and "You're Tired Of Love" by The Gems on #904. A new vocal group The Gay Notes records "For Only A Moment" and "Pu Pu Pa Doo" on #905. Singer Dave Turner records "Atlantic City Boardwalk" and "I'm All Yours Sugar" on #906. The Gems recorded two more sides for Drexel - "The Darkest Night" and "One Woman Man" on #909, and "Till The Day I Die" on #915 in 1957. As with Timely Records, Drexel is mostly remembered for the vocal group sides that endure. This local Chicago indie made its mark and provided precious moments in the history of the music we all recall so fondly.
Allen Records - Based in New York, the company is run by Victor Allen. The general manager is Peter Doraine former head of Abbey Records. The first masters purchased by the label are by singer Bill Harrington. The vocal group The Five Willows record "My Dear Dearest Darling" on Allen #1000. The flip side is the uniquely named "Rock Little Francis". Allen #1001 is by Bill Harrington - "Wedding Day" / "Give Me Love". In July the label signs singer-pianist Hazel Scott formerly of Decca and Capitol Records. In September The Five Willows record #1002 - "All Night Long" and "Delores". The next release #1003 also by The Five Willows is a cover of Eddie Fisher's pop music hit "With These Hands" and the flip side is the group standard "White Cliffs Of Dover". Jimmy Newsome records "I'm Gonna Chuck You Down" on #1005. By the years end, the end had also come to the Allen record company. The top attraction of the label, The Five Willows signed with Herald and in two years would find great success on Melba records. Allen went out of business at the end of 1954, another name to remember when.
Cool Records - This Chicago label founded in April of 1953 by Charlie Bennett was a product of the Co-Ben Recording Company. Cool #101 is by Hubert Beard with the Bob Carter Orchestra and featured "Gal You Need A Whipping" (this would never survive the pc concious milennium - especially the trade mag ads for this record !) bw "One Half Hour". This is the only documented release, but there were reportedly two other records cut for the label - "Half Past" by Brother Brown and Hubert Beard on "Luxury Tax Blues" / "Oh That Rhythm".
Authentic Records - This label from Los Angeles was an offshoot of the Dootone label. Dootsie Williams felt at the time that he could benefit from an additional outlet for some of the local R & B talent in the L.A. area. In June of 1956 the first release #701 was by Fats Gaines & His Orchestra - "Katy Lee" voc by Mac Burney, and "You're With Me Baby" voc by Nap Henry. The next Authentic release was by the gospel group The Friendly Five which paired "Stand Up For The Lord" and "Jesus Will Answer Your Prayer". In July Willie Headen & The Five Birds recorded "Back Home Again" bw "I Wanna Know" on #703. Now Authentic changed their numbering system to the 400s and the next release documented is #403 by Fats Gaines & His Orchestra with vocals by Rebecca Williams on "My Man Is Gone" and "It's Tragic". The last release for the label appears to be #410 by Willie Headen & The Five Birds - "Let Me Cry" and "The Skinny Woman Story". Shortly after its release, it was re-released as Dootone #410, and that spelled the end for the Authentic Records label.
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