Forgotten Sessions - part four ©1999JCMarion
Torch Records - Located in Dallas, Texas and owned by Bob Sutton, there seems to be only two releases documented for this label in early 1952 with one having a great name for a tune, and a performer - Zuzu Bollin on #6910 - "Why Don't You Eat Where You Slept Last Night?" / "Headlight Blues". Zuzu returned with #6912 on "Cry Cry Cry" and "Stavin' Chain".
Theron Records - Located in Chicago and headed by Connie Toole, this label's first outing was by Billye Williams with Joe Johnson's Music Mechanics featuring Lloyd Smith on #101 : "Hangover Blues" / "Salty Simple Fool" in March of 1952. Not until two years later was #103 released by the Leon washington Orchestra - "Baby I Don't Love You Anymore" / "I'm So Lucky" with vocals by the newly renamed Byllye Jet Williams. The Sheppards recorded #112 for the label in late summer of 1955 - "Cool Mambo" and "Love". Earl Washington followed with "Baia" and "Remainder" on #113 and Connee Allen on #114 recorded "Don't" and "I Haven't Got The Heart" with the Leon Washington Orchestra. The Marvellos released #117 - "You're The Dream" / "Calypso Mama". Toole's hopes for the Marvellos record to break big did not come to pass, and the January, 1956 release was the last for Theron Records.
Big Wheel Records - In April of 1952 Big Wheel #100 was released by Marie Bell with Jimmy Hayney on "Blue Ridge Jump" and "Bill Bailey". The company was owned by Spencer Rackley and Doug Dalton was sales and promotion for the Charlotte, North Carolina based company. Late in the year the label signs singer Ethel Davenport recently on Imperial records. The label reportedly had seven records released in 1952, but further info on this little known label is hard to find.
Par Records - New York based and affiliated with Prestige Records established in October of 1951. Heading the label was Sam Green under Prestige president Bob Weinstock, and Ben DeCosta is the A & R man. In October of 1952 Par #1301 is released - Brownie McGhee's "Operator Long Distance" and "Heart And Sorrow". John Bennings was featured on #1302 - "Walking All Night" and "I Want You Baby". Par #1303 is by Bob Kent - "Oh Baby"/ "Korea Korea" #1304 features Bobby Harris on "Heavyweight Mama Blues" / "Total Stranger", and #1305 is by longtime blues singer Piney Brown on "My Heart Is Aching Baby". The Mellowmoods vocal group featuring lead singer Ray Wooten move from Red Robin to the Par label. Ralph Wills Country Boys featuring Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee record "It's Too Late" and "I'll Never Love Again" on Par #1306. With release #1306 Par Records ceases to exist and the Mellowmoods move to parent label, Prestige Records.
J-B Records - In late 1952, established record producer Jim Bulleit of Nashville announces plans to form a new label to be called J-B Records. Bulleit formerly ran Bullet Records also out of Nashville in the post war years and had two major hits with pianist and band leader Francis Craig - "Near You" and "Beg Your Pardon" with vocals by Bob Lamm. Bullet also featured tunes by Cecil Gant. The first releases are #1500 "Contented " / "Me For You, You For Me" by country singer Jimmy Mathis, #600 - Jimmy Smith with the Red Calhoun Orchestra - "My Love For You" / "Well", #601 - Jack Dixon with Red Calhoun - "Move Over Baby" / "My Blues And Me" and #602 "Pay Day Lover" / "I Want To Know" by R & B duo Vivian Verson and Jimmy Smith. J-B release #603 is by budding R & B superstar Eddie "Guitar Slim" Jones - "Feelin' Sad" / "Certainly All". At the end of the year Bulleit joins forces with Sam Phillips to form a new label to be based in Memphis called Sun Records, and because of this important new endeavor, the days of J-B Records are over.
Ping Records - Ping was located in Chicago and the head was Frank Evans. In October of 1956 Ping launched #1000 by The De'Bonaires - "Lanky Linda" / "Mother's Son" , #1001 - again by The De'Bonaires - "Crackerjack Daddy" and "Say A Prayer For Me", #1002 - Andrew Hill Trio - "Mal's Blues" / "Dot" and #1003 - The Andrew Hill Combo - "Down Pat" and "After Dark". These four releases are the complete known output of this short lived label.
Spin Records - This label was launched in the fall of 1952 as a joint effort between songwriter Otis Rene ("When It's Sleepy Time Down South") and R & B performer and music arranger Preston Love. The first two releases for the label are "Strange Land Blues" and "Crying For My Baby" by The Four Flames with the Preston Love Orchestra on #101, and "Kissin' Boogie" / "Jumping For Charles" by the Preston Love Orchestra on #102. Whether because of cold feet, cold economic reality, or any one of many other reasons, these were the only two records to carry the Spin label.
Asa Records - Established early in 1950 in New York by Arthur Seger. The house band for recordings is the Freddy Washington combo featuring Walter Dennis on sax, Carl Lynch on guitar, Art Mitchell on bass, and John Casey on drums with the leader on piano. Asa #1001 is "Freddie's Hysterical Boogie" / "Jennie Mae Blues" with vocal by John Casey. Cousin Ida with the Freddy Washington Quintet records "A Rough And Ready Man" and "Woogie Boo" on # 1002. Little Joe Medlin is featured on vocals with the Washington combo on #1003 - "Afternoon Of A Dream" and "You Thrill Me". Night club m.c. and vocalist Manhattan Paul records #1004 with the Freddie Washington band - "After Midnight" / "What Makes You Look So Good This Evening". Asa #1005 released in July of 1950 features Cousin Ida with "Bunker Hill Blues" and "About 4 A.M. Blues". Manhattan Paul with the vocal group The Dayton-Aires record "When Tomorrow Comes" and "For You My baby" on #1006, and (Cousin) Ida James with The Dayton-Aires record Asa #1007 - "Don't Cha Know" and "Sleepless Nights". By the end of the year Asa Records had ceased operations. (thanx to Richard Hynes for some Asa info)
Melford Records - A little known and hard to document label that recorded R & B from their base in New York City. The label had a moderate hit in late 1949 with "Sparrow's Flight" by Johnny Sparrow on #253. The label released a gospel record numbered #500 by The Angel Voices in February of 1950 : "I've Got An Interest Over There". Blues shouter Roosevelt Wardell records "She Drinks Too Much Wine" and "Berniece" for #256. The vocal-instrumental group The Paupers record "Blue Sunday Morning" and "Prettiest Gal In Town" for #258. The Ray Chambers Trio records "Last Train From Mississippi" on #259 and the last record release for the Melford label is #260 by Brunetta Evans - "Idle Tears" / "At Last". Singer Cecilia Cox recorded some sides for the label with the Ray Chambers Trio, but those were never released. By the end of 1950 Melford Records is no more.
Treat Records - A New York based label started in March of 1955 by Murray Katz and included Larry Newton formerly of Derby records as the general manager. Originally under contract to the label are Terry Lee, The Five Diamonds, The Inspirators, Sonny Benton, and The Hen Gates Combo. The Five Diamonds record "The Ten Commandments of Love" / "I Cried And Cried" on #501. Treat #502 is "If Loving You Is Wrong" / "Three Sixty" by The Inspirators. The label signs blues singer Blind Boy Fuller (a pseudonym for Brownie McGhee) and The Five Stars vocal group. "Let's Fall In Love" and "We Danced In The Moonlight" by The Five Stars was released as Treat #505. Reportedly, there were two further releases for the label, but they are just as low profile as those that were listed and Treat records faded into the mist in mid 1955.
Ballad Records - A very obscure R & B independent label based in St. Louis and headed by Oscar Washington. The first release in mid 1953 is Ballad #1000 by The Swans "For Dreams Come True". This was followed by "My True Love" also by The Swans on #1001. The Swans then recorded "It's A Must" and "Night Train" for #1003, which was re-released as #1006. The pop standard "How Sentimental Can I Be" by The Swans was issued on #1004, and the seasonal "Santa Claus Boogie" was released as Ballad #1007. Joe Alexander & The Cubans recorded "Oh Maria" on #1008. Also issued on Ballad was #1012 by Fred Green & The Mellards "My Sweetheart", and #1016 "That's Life" and "Love Me Crazy" by The Mellards. Art Lassiter was featured on #1020 - "Just Another Day In The Life Of A Fool" and "Bermuda", and on #1024 - "Too Late For Tears" paired with a re-release of "Fool" from #1020. Other reported releases by this label are "Cassandra" by Danny Knight and Areena Allen's "Big Blue Teardrops". The label was in existence from 1953-1955, and then returned briefly in 1958.
Original Records - located in Little Ferry, New Jersey, and owned by Frank Natko. Original #1000 was recorded by Pauline Rogers - "Spinning The Blues" / "But Good". The Majors recorded "Big Eyes" and "Go Away" on Original #1003. A combination release was #1005 - "That's What I Like" by The Allen Trio / "Teach Me Tonight" by The Five Dips. Former Duke Ellington vocalist Al Hibbler was featured on Original #1006 - "When The Lights Go Down Low" and "Tell Me". Pauline Rogers returned with "Look Who The Fool Is Now" and "You're All I Want" on #1007. The last release for the label was #1008 by Al Hibbler called "Autumn Winds". How fortunes are turned is realized in the Original Records version of Hibbler's "When The Lights Go Down Low". This like all other releases for the label did next to nothing on the sales charts. But executives of Decca heard the tune and on this basis offered Hibbler a recording contract with them and so recut the song for Decca. It turned into a huge hit, made Hibbler into a national star with more hits forthcoming ("Unchained Melody", "He", "The Eleventh Hour", ) and left Natko wondering what if.
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