For your enjoyment, here are 12 old 78 RPM records from my early R&B record collection. Listening to some of these, you may notice a scratchy sound. This is all part of the nostalgia of playing 78s.
If you ever wondered why a CD or an old vinyl LP is sometimes called an “Album”, here is how some of us used to store and access our music:
Index to Artists In This Post
- AMOS MILBURN
- BIG CONNIE
- CLARENCE GARLOW
- COZY EGGLESTON
- CRAWFORD BROTHERS
- FREDDIE STRONG
- GUITAR GABLE
- LITTLE JUNIOR’S BLUE FLAMES
- LLOYD LAMBERT
- SHIRLEY & LEE
- SONNY THOMPSON
- WYNONIE HARRIS
With dance partner Velda Shannon, Harris formed a dance team in the early 1930s. The team performed around North Omaha’s flourishing entertainment community, and by 1934 they were a regular attraction at the Ritz Theatre. It was not until 1935, however, that Harris was able to earn his living as an entertainer. While performing at Jim Bell’s new Harlem nightclub with Velda Shannon, Harris began to sing the blues.
He also began traveling frequently to Kansas City, Kansas where he paid close attention to the blues shouters including Jimmy Rushing and Big Joe Turner. Harris became a local celebrity in Omaha during the depths of the Great Depression in 1935. Harris’ break in Los Angeles was at a nightclub owned by Curtis Mosby. It was here that Harris became known as “Mr. Blues”.
With fifteen Top 10 hits between 1946 and 1952, Harris is generally considered one of rock and roll’s forerunners. Here’s a record from 1945:
Apollo 362A (1945)
Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door
Apollo 362B (1945)
Born: Born Alphonso Thompson in Centerville, Mississippi, Aug 22, 1923
Died: Aug 11, 1989 in Chicago, IL
Bandleader and pianist Sonny Thompson was among the most prolific R&B instrumentalists of the late ’40s and early ’50s. Thompson began recording for Sultan Records in 1946, then did several sessions for Miracle, King, Federal, and Deluxe, while also backing vocalist Lula Reed from 1951 to 1961.
In Canada, the King label was carried by Quality Records. Here’s one of Sonny Thompson’s lessor known recordings released in 1959. Mellow Blues has some very nice bluesy sax work.
Mellow Blues Pt. 1
Quality 4104A (1959) Sonny Thompson
Mellow Blues Pt. 2
Quality 4104B (1959) Sonny Thompson
Born in Houston, one of thirteen children, by the age of five years Milburn was playing tunes on the piano. After serving in the Army he organized a sixteen-piece band playing in Houston clubs, and participating with the Houston jazz and blues musicians.
Amos was a polished pianist and performer and, during 1946, he attracted the attention of a woman who arranged a recording session with Aladdin Records in Los Angeles. Milburn’s relationship with Aladdin lasted eight years during which he produced more than seventy-five sides. However, none became popular until 1949 when seven of his singles got the attention of the R&B audience.
Here’s one from 1950.
Sax Shack Boogie
Aladdin 3064A (1/4/1950) Amos Milburn and his Aladdin Chicken Shackers – [9/1950, #9] RR1506=1
Aladdin 3064B (5/18/1950) Amos Milburn and his Aladdin Chicken Shackers – RR1549=4
Aladdin 3149A (1952) Freddie Strong with Fats Gains & his orchestra / SF 2001
Aladdin 3149B (1952) Freddie Strong with Fats Gains & his orchestra / SF 2002
LITTLE JUNIOR’S BLUE FLAMES
Herman Parker, Jr. (May 27, 1932 – November 18, 1971) a.k.a. Junior Parker, was a successful and influential Memphis blues singer and harmonica player.
He is best remembered for his unique voice which has been described as “honeyed,” and “velvet-smooth”. He sang in gospel groups as a child, and played on the various blues circuits beginning in his teenage years.
His biggest influence as a harmonica player was Sonny Boy Williamson, with whom he played before moving on to work for Howlin’ Wolf in 1949.
Around 1950 he was a member of Memphis’s ad hoc group, the Beale Streeters, with Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and B.B. King.
In 1951 he formed his own band, the Blue Flames, with guitarist Auburn ‘Pat’ Hare. Parker was discovered in 1952 by Ike Turner, who signed him to Modern Records. He put out one single on this record label, “You’re My Angel.” This brought him to the attention of Sam Phillips and Sun Records.
One of the first songs he recorded with Sun in 1952 was “Feelin’ Bad” – The band was listed on the label as “Little Junior’s Blue Flames”.
[I think “Feelin’ Bad” could have been a big hit, had it been released. Parker and his band subsequently signed onto Sun Records in 1953.]
“Mystery Train” was written by Junior Parker and Sam Phillips. [I think Phillips claimed writing credit so he could get royalties. -RS]
It was recorded at Sun with Floyd Murphy (Matt “Guitar” Murphy’s brother) on guitar. Raymond Hill and Matt Murphy were in the backing band with Bill Johnson on piano, Pat Hare on guitar, and John Bowers on drums.
“Mystery Train” and “Love My Baby” were released late in 1953 on Sun #192, and from the beginning the sound and feel of “Train” gave Parker his first taste of fame and name recognition.
Sun 192A (1953) Little Junior’s Blue Flames
Love My Baby
Sun 192B (1953) Little Junior’s Blue Flames
“Mystery Train” was ultimately covered by Elvis Presley. For Presley’s version, you can hear that Scotty Moore “borrowed” the guitar riff from Parker’s “Love My Baby“.
The following lines can be found in the Carter Family’s “Worried Man Blues”, their biggest selling record of 1930.
“The train arrived sixteen coaches long, The train arrived sixteen coaches long. The girl I love is on that train and gone.”
Junior Parker sings,
“Train I ride sixteen coaches long. Train I ride sixteen coaches long. Well, that long black train carries my baby home.”
Presley’s version of “Mystery Train” was first released on August 20, 1955 as the B-side of “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” (Sun 223). His version would be ranked #77 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list in 2003. It too was produced by Sam Phillips at Sun.
(Born 27 February 1911 Welsh, La.; Died 24 July 1986, Beaumont, Texas)
Garlow was a Louisianan and a seminal figure in the Gulf Coast music scene of the late 40s and early 50s. He was an important influence on both Clifton Chenier and Johnny Winter.
He recorded the first commercially successful Zydeco record, “Bon Ton Roula“, for Macys Records in 1949. Other labels he recorded with included Aladdin, Feature, Lyric, Flair, Folk Star and Goldband in a recording career that extended into the early 60s.
In 1953, he recorded perhaps the definitive version with the Maxwell Davis Orchestra for Aladdin (3179), titled “New Bon Ton Roulay“. The song retained most of the elements of the original song, but there was no progression to the IV chord and some new lyrics were used.
New Bon Ton Roulay
Aladdin 3179A (1953) Clarence Garlow with Bartholomew – No2094
Aladdin 3179B (1953) Clarence Garlow with Bartholomew – No2096
SHIRLEY & LEE
Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee, born just ten days apart in 1936, scored three massive R&B hits before either one of them were both 20 years old: “Feel So Good,” “Let the Good Times Roll,” and “I Feel Good” were all written by the talented young couple.
They had one trait in common among their recordings; this New Orleans-based duo almost never sang in harmony, let alone together at all. Their contrasting male-female duet style was later influential on early Ska and Reggae productions from Jamaica.
Shirley & Lee recorded extensively for Eddie Messner and Leo Messner’s L.A.-based Aladdin label. The Messners — along with former NBC radio exec. Lew Chudd’s Imperial Records and Art Rupe’s Specialty — seemed to have a knack for signing talent straight out of the Crescent City.
Here’s one of their singles from 1954.
Aladdin 3258A (1954) Shirley & Lee
Aladdin 3258B (1954) Shirley & Lee
Tenor sax player C. J. “Cozy” Eggleston (born May 12, 1920) emerged during the flourishing Chicago postwar scene. An early gig (October 1946 through January 1947) was at the Macomba Lounge (39th and Cottage Grove) where for a time he worked alongside Tom Archia. His first advertised appearance as a leader was in the Cozy Cottage (4019 Indiana) in late 1946 under the name Cozy Eggleston and His Imps of Swing.
In 1947 he recorded for Columbia with a group called the Memphis Seven. For a time he played in Lil Green’s band, and used a pianist named Sonny Blount (who had likewise been in the Green band) in his own combo.
In 1949, he was appearing at the Manchester Grill (31st and Rhodes) with his wife, Marie Stone Eggleston (born March 3, 1918), who was described as a “blues singer, ace musician, and the bombshell of the alto sax.”
In August 1950 he was holding down a spot at the Victory Club, as his “indefinite” contract (accepted and filed by Musicians Union Local 208) indicates.
Late 1950 saw Cozy and Marie at the Club Evergreen (1322 Clybourn), where they would “leave the stand and come down to blow among the guests,” according to the caption of a December 30 Chicago Defender photo.
The lady in the picture blowing the sax was Marie, who changed her name to Marie Stone to tour with Cozy and his band on his gigs. Back in those days, people frowned on married couples working in the same band.
Now, the States label was into recording a whole gamut of African-American popular music styles of the day: blues, jazz, vocal groups, rhythm and blues jumps, and gospel. The operation recorded its jazz artists for the R&B singles marketplace, which meant beat-driven hook-laden jumps and smooth renditions of ballad standards.
By the time of his States recording session on August 23, 1952, Eggleston had one hot and popular band. The group on this session featured Cozy and Marie Eggleston, Jimmy Boyd on piano, Ellis Hunter on guitar, Curtis Ferguson on bass, and Chuck Williams on drums. Cozy himself played the smoking sax solo.
Despite holding off the release of “Big Heavy” to the public, it became somewhat of a hit when it was used by Alan Freed as his legendary theme on WINS in New York.
“The Hound’s Around!” – The year 1955 saw this recording used further as a radio show theme tune by George “Hound Dog” Lorenz’s each weeknight from 7-10PM and 9PM-3AM on Saturday nights over WKBW in Buffalo, NY, serving the entire Eastern seaboard.
States 133A (1955) Cozy Eggleston
States 133B (1955) Cozy Eggleston
The melody for “Big Heavy “came from Louis Jordan. Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five recorded “Blue Light Boogie” and it became a popular single, reaching #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, staying there for seven weeks in September and October 1950.
Born: Jun 4, 1928 in Thibodaux, Louisiana
Died: Oct 31, 1995 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Lloyd Lambert was an American bandleader and bass player in the genres of R&B and Jazz. He pioneered the use of the electric bass. His band consisted of himself on bass, Lawrence Cotton on piano, Joe Tillman, Gus Font Cute and Clarence Ford on saxophones, Oscar Moore on drums and John Gerald on the trumpet. They played at the Dew Drop Inn, a major music club in New Orleans.
One of Lambert’s most important relationships was with Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones, who used the Lloyd Lambert Orchestra for all his recordings on the Specialty label. Guitar Slim, was an American blues guitarist whose Hit, “The Things That I Used to Do” (1953 SP-482) made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s top 500, with a young Ray Charles as guest pianist for the session.
Lambert’s band became the session backup group for all Specialty recordings, accompanied by Guitar Slim, for other artists of the label, including Little Richard.
As a very talented studio musician, Lloyd got to work with some of the leading writers and artists of the day such as Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, , Richard Penniman, Moms Mableyand Nappy Brown.
Under his own name, Lloyd Lambert also produced a few of his own recordings. One of them was a single November 1955 with two instrumental tracks, “King Cotton” and “Heavy Sugar”.
Specialty XSP-553 (1955) Lloyd Lambert
Specialty SP-553 (1955) Lloyd Lambert
Born Gabriel Perrodin, 17 August 1937, Bellevue, Louisiana. Learning guitar in his teens, Gable was influenced by the ringing, melodic style of Guitar Slim. He recorded for Jay Miller with his band the Musical Kings in 1956/7, and several successful singles were issued on Excello Records. The music was very much in the south Louisiana R&B mould, with a touch of New Orleans rock ‘n’ roll.
His first record was “Congo Mombo” (Excello 2082), a fast-paced percussive instrumental, which took off in southern territories. Even better, the record became a two-sided regional hit when Gable’s vocalist King Karl (Bernard Jolivette) sang “Life Problem“, a bluesy ballad which is now a Louisiana swamp-pop standard.
Excello 2082A (1956) Guitar Gable & the Musical Kings
Excello 2082B (1956) Guitar Gable & the Musical Kings
Big Connie LABL Groove REC# 4g-0142 YEAR 1956
Wait Til Next Week Baby
Big Connie LABL Groove REC# 4g-0142 YEAR 1956
Paul Crawford & James E. Crawford recorded this very cool instrumental R&B in December 1957. It was used as a theme song for a while by The Hound (George Lorenz). Both sides are excellent grinding music.
Midnight Mover Groover
Aladdin 3375A (1957) Crawford Brothers
Aladdin 3375B (1957) Crawford Brothers
I hope you enjoyed listening to some of my old R&B records.
Your comments would be appreciated.