Friday, August 31, 2012

The Music City Story 1950 - 75

This is another great look at a short lived, but interesting label.  Many of the artists had been resting in obscurity, so while not being essential, are incredibly fun to discover.

The variety of styles is what will keep your interest through all 3 discs.  Even the weaker material is quirky enough to deserve a listen.

ACE really are peerless when it comes to this type of release... enjoy!!!

Ray Dobard’s Music City Records of Berkeley, California, across the Bay from San Francisco, is a catalogue of mythic proportions that has been cherished for decades by a small hardcore of R&B, vocal group and, latterly, soul fanatics. Based on the available evidence – 50-odd 45 and 78rpm releases – and a lot of hearsay and rumour, many have spent hours fantasising about the purported riches in the possession of its famously protective, zealous owner.
Ace Records is thus proud to unlock the Music City vault for the edification and entertainment of the world at large with the 3CD set “The Music City Story”, an unprecedented survey of the label’s 25-year operation, and an excellent primer for Ace’s forthcoming genre- and artist-based compilations of Music City material, telling the story with many rare gems from the catalogue and a surfeit of previously unissued goodies.

Although Ray Dobard experimented with recording a variety of genres, the legend of Music City is predicated on its role as a premier exponent of black rhythm and blues styles, with a strong regional flavour. Most significantly, the sound of Music City was street. Much of what appeared on the label and lies in its voluminous cache of unreleased recordings can be said to reflect the evolution of black popular music between the early 50s and the mid-1970s. It reflects reality: this is what was heard in clubs and juke joints, at high school auditoria and rec centres, rent parties or literally out on the sidewalk, with all the dissonance and unoriginality that might imply, but matched equally by huge, invigorating dollops of innocence and exuberance, and a surprising amount of inspiration.

Amongst the set’s 78 tracks are names familiar to doo wop and blues collectors – the Crescendos, Gaylarks, Rovers, 5 Lyrics, Alvin Smith etc – while behind several others lurk famous names (James Brown, Lou Rawls) or others soon to be famous (Sugar Pie DeSanto, members of Sly & the Family Stone). From the raucous jump blues of Del Graham’s ‘Your Money Ain’t Long Enough’ to the hip street soul of Darondo, the breadth of genres represented is extensive, but the overall emphasis in “The Music City Story” is upon the black vocal group, be it 50s, 60s or 70s vintage. It is the rich seam of Bay Area groups mined by Music City that collectors most closely associate with the label. Dobard had only a couple of minor hits – the 4 Deuces’ popular ‘W-P-L-J’, Johnny Heartsman’s raucous ‘Johnny’s House Party’ – but kept the tape machine running pretty much constantly for much of his quarter-century in the business.

It has been many years since as significant a stash as Music City’s has come to light, and accompanying the tantalising musical treats is an extensive, heavily-illustrated sleeve note detailing the label’s history. Given that the late Dobard was notorious evasive, an air of mystery has always surrounded his activities in music, but this is the first time a recounting of the Music City saga has been based upon hard data, rather than supposition. Documents, letters, tape box annotations, discographical notes, session chatter, even recorded phone conversations form a considerable body of evidence, that helps bring into focus what this fiercely independent and pioneering black entrepreneur achieved. Ray was no Dootsie Williams or Jake Porter, but nevertheless, a picture emerges of a fascinatingly complex figure, whose role in the black music scene in the mid-20th century cannot be discounted. As venerable East Bay bandleader Johnny Talbot puts it, “to me, Ray Dobard was the foundation of Bay Area music. There was hardly anyone who did anything later who didn’t bump into Ray, so he had to be a foundation.”

By Alec Palao

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Carl Hall

This is something of a non-standard post as there are a mere two tracks, that is all that I have and THAT comes from a Jerry Ragovy (the Producer who also brought you Howard Tate and Garnett Mimms) set. Only two tracks but two tracks that are so powerful they rated a post for this guy!

" Carl Hall was an African-American singer, actor, and musical arranger. A member of Raymond Raspberry's eponymous gospel group "The Raspberry Singers", recording on the US Savoy Records label, he performed in theatre for three decades, beginning with Tambourines to Glory in 1963.

Beyond the Raspberry Singers, he recorded later that decade several singles for Mercury Records and cut the now much sought-after tracks, "You Don't Know Nothing About Love" / "Mean it baby" (Loma 2086, 1967) and "I don't want to be your used to be" / "The dam busted" for the Warner Brothers subsidiary label, Loma Records, produced by leading producer Jerry Ragovoy. In 1973, he released a single on Columbia 45813 called "What About You". also appeared on Broadway in the stage production of the musical The Wiz among other shows."

The only information I've found beyond this is that he died in the Aids epidemic that ravaged the New York theater community. The two songs here are You Don't Know Nothing About Love and What About You. 

Ronnie Lovejoy - Think About You All The Time

I am thankful to KingCake for the invitation to contribute to this great blog.   I decided to dedicate my first post here to Ronnie Lovejoy, who I consider to be perhaps the last true giant of classic Southern Soul.   Ronnie Lovejoy came to prominence on the Chitlin' Circuit in the 1990s and sadly left us prematurely at the end of the decade at the age of 51.  During this time, he developed a strong following in the South.  His regional smash hit, "Sho Wasn't Me," is still a staple of the Circuit, and has been covered by the likes of Tyrone Davis and Otis Clay.  Nevertheless, Ronnie Lovejoy never achieved national fame or recognition.   He was just too Old School for the 1990s, a time when Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and the like were taking the R&B charts to new territory.  
Ronnie Lovejoy left us with six albums, all of which are very worthwhile.   Almost all of them had been long out of print and unavailable since the 90s.  I just noticed, however, that his two Avanti albums are now finally available for commercial download.  That is also true for his dynamite first album, "Suddenly," and his last album, "Still Wasn't Me."  For this post, I chose the better of his two albums for Ace, which still seem to be unavailable.    

"Think About You All The Time" is as good a place as any to begin an appreciation of the artistry of Ronnie Lovejoy.   Maybe a few of the later tracks are lesser material.  But this disc is still loaded with high quality original songs that are given the unique Ronnie Lovejoy treatment and delivery.   And check out some of Lovejoy's clever lyrical hooks (“I got three people sleeping in my bed: me, my woman, and the man that’s in her head” )

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The FAME Studios Story 1961 - 1973: Home Of The Muscle Schoals Sound

This 3 disc comp is nothing short of excellent.  The story of FAME is told through the music - from the pop side all the way to the gut bucket r&b side.

A wide range of artists worked with this legendary outfit, but one thing ties them all together... success!!

I'm sure you guys already have alot of these tracks but they made a huge effort to include some rarities;  undoubtedly for the collector types.


Certain studios and labels occupy almost mythical stature in American musical history and FAME Studios, home of the Muscle Shoals sound, is among the elite. During the '60s and into the early '70s, the rotating crew at FAME Studios cranked out single after single, building a legacy that rivals such '60s stalwarts as Motown, Stax/Volt, and Chess, yet despite being the point of origin for such timeless 45s as Wilson Pickett's "Land of 1000 Dances," Arthur Alexander's "You Better Move On," Joe Tex's "Hold What You've Got," Etta James' "Tell Mama," Clarence Carter's "Patches," James & Bobby Purify's "I'm Your Puppet," and Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," the label and studio aren't as well known as their peers. Ace's peerless three-disc box The FAME Studios Story: 1961-1973 should go a long way in firming up the label and studio's reputation in the eyes of the mass public. Anchored on those big hits, the compilation tells the story of FAME in exhaustive yet exciting detail, digging up a wealth of rarities (ranging from an unedited acoustic version of "You Left the Water Running" by Otis Redding and a version of "Another Man's Woman, Another Woman's Man" whose singer is unknown to a bunch of singles that rarely pop up on reissues), but this is hardly something for crate-diggers. This is a big, bold set filled with surprises for even seasoned record collectors and much of that has to do with context. Expertly compiled by Alec Palao, Tony Rounce, and Dean Rudland, The FAME Studios Story doesn't shy away from the moments when the Muscle Shoals sound seeped into the mainstream: very early in the set, teen idol Tommy Roe pops up with "Everybody" and toward the end the Osmonds come in with their Jackson 5 knockoff "One Bad Apple" and the revelation is how the FAME musicians gave these teenybopper stars some real swing and funk. That turns out to be the key to the FAME sound -- while Stax/Volt always had grit on the soles of their shoes, FAME was a little lighter, able to ease into slicker crossover material, something that served them well whenever they cranked out some bubblegum or backed Bobbie Gentry or, especially, when they cut effervescent pop-soul/Northern soul singles by Spooner & the Spoons ("Wish You Didn't Have to Go") and David & the Giants ("Ten Miles High"). Which isn't to say FAME didn't get down and dirty (of course they did -- witness Wicked Wilson Pickett's "Hey Jude," complete with guitar from Duane Allman), but they were versatile, adapting to the needs of either the performer or the song. And that very versatility may be part of the reason why FAME isn't as immediately recognizable a name as Motown or Stax -- the Muscle Shoals crew could cop both of those sounds, after all -- but it's also the reason why this set is such a wildly entertaining listen, in addition to being a historically necessary document housed in a very handsome hardcover book.

- Stephen Thomas Erlewine/AMG

Johnny Ace - The Memorial Album

 Johnny Ace (June 9, 1929 – December 25, 1954), born John Marshall Alexander, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. Alexander's father was a preacher in Tennessee. After serving in the navy during the Korean War, Alexander joined Adolph Duncan's Band as a pianist. He then joined the B. B. King band. Soon King departed for Los Angeles and vocalist Bobby Bland joined the army. Alexander took over vocal duties and renamed the band The Beale Streeters, also taking over King's WDIA radio show.

Becoming "Johnny Ace", he signed to Duke Records (originally a Memphis label associated with WDIA) in 1952. Urbane 'heart-ballad' "My Song," his first recording, topped the R&B charts for nine weeks in September. ("My Song" was covered in 1968 by Aretha Franklin, on the flipside of "See Saw".)

Ace began heavy touring, often with Willa Mae "Big Mama" Thornton. In the next two years, he had eight hits in a row, including "Cross My Heart," "Please Forgive Me," "The Clock," "Yes, Baby," "Saving My Heart for You," and "Never Let Me Go." In December, 1954 he was named the Most Programmed Artist Of 1954 after a national DJ poll organized by U.S. trade weekly Cash Box.

Ace's recordings sold very well for those times. Early in 1955, Duke Records announced that the three 1954 Johnny Ace recordings, along with Thornton's "Hound Dog", had sold more than 1,750,000 records.

After touring for a year, Ace had been performing at the City Auditorium in Houston, Texas on Christmas 1954. During a break between sets, he was playing with a .22 cal revolver. Members of his band said he did this often, sometimes shooting at roadside signs from their car.

It was widely reported that Ace killed himself playing Russian roulette. Big Mama Thornton's bass player Curtis Tillman, however, who witnessed the event, said, "I will tell you exactly what happened! Johnny Ace had been drinking and he had this little pistol he was waving around the table and someone said ‘Be careful with that thing…’ and he said ‘It’s okay! Gun’s not loaded…see?’ and pointed it at himself with a smile on his face and ‘Bang!’ – sad, sad thing. Big Mama ran outta that dressing room yelling ‘Johnny Ace just killed himself!"

Thornton said in a written statement (included in the book The Late Great Johnny Ace) that Ace had been playing with the gun, but not playing Russian roulette. According to Thornton, Ace pointed the gun at his girlfriend and another woman who were sitting nearby, but did not fire. He then pointed the gun toward himself. The gun went off, shooting him in the side of the head.

According to Nick Tosches, Ace actually shot himself with a .32 pistol, not a .22, and it happened only a little more than an hour after he had bought a brand new 1955 Oldsmobile.

Ace's funeral was on January 9, 1955, at Memphis' Clayborn Temple AME church. It was attended by an estimated 5000 people.

"Pledging My Love" became a posthumous R&B #1 hit for ten weeks beginning February 12, 1955. As Billboard bluntly put it, Ace's death "created one of the biggest demands for a record that has occurred since the death of Hank Williams just over two years ago." His single sides were compiled and released as The Johnny Ace Memorial Album.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Early Black Rock 'N Roll Vol. 1 & 2

Shakey Jake
This post is born out of a couple things. 

Firstly, I took an interest in the Trikont label after KC's most unusual post of Black Country.  As a result I picked up more than a handful of incredible comps.  This is a label which select tracks meticulously and remaster them to perfection.  All have been a real joy to listen to and worth every cent.

More recently, KC and I were discussing how to incorporate some of the more rock type figures into Chitlins.  Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley were discussed and I was basically tasked with bringin these heavys to all of you followers.

Well, I thought to break the ice I would share these two amazing comps - guaranteed to have your media player on repeat.  We are revisited by more than a couple of artists which KC has profiled extensively;  Little Willie John, Howlin Wolf and Ike Turner to name a few.  But we are introduced to many seminal figures in the birth of rock like Shakey Jake, the Bill Davis Trio, Lazy Lester and Slim Harpo.

Vol. 1 1948 - 1958

 These two stellar mixes are mostly important for us at this juncture for the women they feature.  I'm certain KC has some greats comin down the line, so for now we get a taste of Big Maybelle, Etta James, Ruth Brown and several others.

The music here is so infectious, it's a guarantee that you'll be boppin around once you are into it.  It's easy to see why rock took off like it did, there's nothing but fun to be had listening to this stuff.  Even lyrical themes of love lost, aging and other downbeat subjects are given the uptempo, dancable treatment.

Translated from the Trikont site:

Long before Elvis had rolled his pelvis, or the Rolling Stones tapped into the Mississippi-Blues, and the legions of white bands made their electrified guitars roar, black Blues-Gospel & Jazz artists had laid the cornerstone for the musical revolution known as Rock n Roll! Besides well-known names like Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, or Bo Diddley. This comp also features many unjustly overseen musical pioneers.

Vol. 2 1949 - 1959
 From gospel singer Rosetta Tharpe, to Jimi-Hendrix-idol Johnny Guitar Watson, from Ike Turners early Rockabilly-blueprints, to the Doo-Wop-Rock of Ruth Brown. Other artists, including Magic Slim, Andre Williams, Big Maybelle, Rufus Thomas, Lazy Lester, Etta James, and Jesse Stone are featured on this release.

Big Maybelle
“Whatever you call it, it’s wonderful, spirited stuff, ranging from the primal blues spirit of Howlin’ Wolf to the rocking gospel of cover star Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the most influential female guitarist since the legendary Memphis Minnie. Fischer’s selection focuses on the seamier R&B which swept away the eunuch sentimentality of 1950s white pop “like a window being opened to let out the stale air”, as Nik Cohn characterised it: the lascivious snarls of Big Mama Thornton and Little Esther Phillips, the latter’s complaint of “Hound Dog”; the lothario charm of Johnny Guitar Watson; the automotive sex metaphors of Chuck Berry and Billy The Kid Emerson; the hypnotic-exotic rhythms of Rosco Gordon, John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley; the black rockabilly of Tarheel Slim; and the downright weird, borderline tasteless fantasies of Andre Williams and Sly Fox.”    

(4/5 Stars, The Independent, UK)

Trikont Records
US-0392 / 0412
released 2010

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sam Cooke - The Complete Specialty Recordings, vols 1-3

Good Morning! Time for some music for The Lord.

Some may wonder why Sam hasn't shown up on the Soul side of things yet; well because a) this is where Sam first comes to stardom and b) It is quite likely that Cooke is at least as influential in his gospel years as he was as a secular artist.

Cooke was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He later added an "e" onto the end of his name, though the reason for this is disputed. He was one of eight children of Annie Mae and the Reverend Charles Cook, a Baptist minister. The family moved North to Chicago in 1933 like so many black families from the Deep South  during the Great Depression.

Rev Cook landed a pulpit position at Christ Temple Church in Chicago Heights. His southern-style preaching was one attraction, but the vocal harmonies of his musical offspring also became a draw. Five of the eight were talented vocalists, and the family began performing as a religious act, Rev. Cook and His Singing Children. Sam began his career singing gospel with his siblings in the group.

Young Sam grew to idolize and emulate the Soul Stirrers' tenor, R.H. Harris, whose three-octave range and startling falsetto made him a gospel star. By the time he enrolled at Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago, Sam Cooke had been singing professionally with his family for nearly ten years. He and four other teenagers formed a gospel quintet, the Highway QCs. The group covered most of the Soul Stirrers' repertoire, with Sam copying R.H. Harris' vocal gymnastics.

During high school, serendipity had placed Cook in regular contact with R.B. Robinson, a baritone with the Soul Stirrers who had moved to Chicago. Robinson was a relative of one of the QCs, and he began attending their rehearsals when he wasn't touring, acting as coach and polishing the act.

 In 1950, R.H. Harris decided to leave the Soul Stirrers and strike out as a solo act. The group auditioned several replacement tenors before taking R.B. Robinson's advice and inviting in Sam Cooke. At 19, he was nearly a full generation younger than the others in the group, but Sam fit right in as a singer — in part because he already knew most of Harris' vocal lines. The Soul Stirrers hired young Cooke, outfitted him with five new suits, and went on the road just days later. He sang with the busy group for six years, performing more than 1,000 concerts coast to coast and making dozens of records.

 Under Cooke's leadership, the group signed with Specialty Records and recorded the hits "Peace in the Valley", "How Far Am I From Canaan?", "Jesus Paid the Debt", and "One More River", among many other gospel songs some of which he wrote himself. Cooke was often credited for bringing the attention of gospel music to a younger crowd of listeners, mainly girls who would rush to the stage when the Soul Stirrers hit the stage just to get a glimpse of Cooke.

 The fatal flaw that would, at least in some part, lead to Sam's eventual death becomes clear during this time, by age 22 he is already juggling 3 pregnant girlfriends, two in Chicago and one in Cleveland. After all three girls give birth within a span of 5 weeks, Sam gets another woman entirely!

This set has multiple versions of songs so you may enjoy it most on random shuffle. I've changed my mind on splitting this up across 3 weeks and I've added the other two volumes to the post links. see the notes.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Blowing the Fuse 1949

 Germany's Bear Family Records doesn't do anything half-assed, and the dozen or so volumes in the label's Blowing the Fuse series (which chronicles R&B sides year by year starting with this entry for 1949) are generous (each disc has well over 20 selections), fascinating and full of half-forgotten gems. This volume is no exception, as 1949 was the year that launched John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen" into the world as well as Stick McGhee's immortal "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee," just two of the enduring sides to be found here. Anyone who still needs proof that the world was rockin' long before rock & roll officially hit, look no further. ~ Steve Leggett

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Junior Parker - Mystery Train

There are a whole lot mess of white folk that would dearly love to believe that Elvis didn't learn nothin' from black folk. That Professor Longhair warble, the Roy Brown and Wynonie Harris influences in both sound and showmanship, the Junior Parker influences? "Naw, HE made ALL that shit up and THEY copied him." (this is where my eyes roll back in my head)

Now I have actually had this conversation and more than once I might add! When I pointed out that Fess, Wynonie, and Roy all pre-dated Elvis, I was, after a bit of incoherent sputtering, challenged to a fight! The last refuge of that sort of idiot. I have similar experiences with Tea Party-ers who value their ignorance so highly that they will fight for it when presented with actual facts and cogent argument.

So here we have a photo that kind of gives lie to the story that racists love cite in which Elvis is purportedly quoted as saying that a black man is only fit to carry his luggage. (btw I have a whole lot of black friends who point to that and so they refuse to HEAR Elvis. The stupidity works both ways!) So to ALL these fools I offer this picture. Elvis showed up at these guys shows all the time when he could sneak away. You think he got the hair, clothes, voice and swinging hips from White Folks? PLEASE!! Elvis is known to have shown up in Chitlin Circuit bars and to have even gotten up on stage! Particularly in his early years.

All of which only has to do with the photo so let's get to the music. You will remember from the earlier bio that Parker was discovered by Ike Turner, did a pair of tracks with Ike at Modern and then was quickly snapped up by Sun. Something tells me Ike made money on every step of that process. The Sun period too, was short before he moved on to Don Robey and Duke but there are enough tracks to make this set with a little filler from James Cotton and Pat Hare. The Cotton tracks aren't all that exciting but the Hare tracks are killer, especially 'I'm Going To Kill My Baby'. Hare actually did kill his woman a year or two latter and spent the rest of his life in jail! He was a R&B guitar hero pioneer using distortion tricks unknown at the time. The Junior tracks are all first class including the oft covered (including by Elvis) 'Mystery Train'.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Elmore James - Eddie Taylor - Street Talkin'

Elmore James - Eddie Taylor - Street Talkin'
Muse 5087, 1975 (recorded 1957 James, and 1955-56 Taylor)

 A1     Elmore James –     Coming Home     2:28   
A2     Elmore James –     Take Me Where You Go     2:28   
A3     Elmore James –     Cry For Me Baby     2:47   
A4     Elmore James –     Elmore's Contribution To Jazz     2:19   
A5     Elmore James –     Knocking At Your Door     2:39   
A6     Elmore James –     It Hurts Me Too     3:12   
A7     Elmore James –     The 12 Year Old Boy     3:06   
B1     Eddie Taylor (2) –     You'll Always Have A Home     2:47   
B2     Eddie Taylor (2) –     Do You Want Me To Cry?     2:52   
B3     Eddie Taylor (2) –     Big Town Playboy     3:08   
B4     Eddie Taylor (2) –     Ride Em On Down     2:58   
B5     Eddie Taylor (2) –     Bad Boy     3:04   
B6     Eddie Taylor (2) –     I'm Sitting Here     2:52   
B7     Eddie Taylor (2) –     Don't Knock On My Door     2:52    

Drums Earl Phillips (tracks: B1 & B7), Ray Scott (track: B5), Vernell Fournier (tracks: B3 & B4) (Vernell!?! Really?! prior to Jamal obviously.), Al Duncan (tracks: B2 & B6),
Guitar Eddie Taylor (tracks: B1-B7), Jimmy Lee Robinson* (tracks: B1 & B7)
Harmonica George Maywether* (tracks: B1 & B7)
Harmonica, Guitar Jimmy Reed (tracks: B2 to B6)
Vocals Eddie Taylor (tracks: B1 to B7)
Piano Johnny Jones* (A1-A7)
Tenor Saxophone J.T. Brown* (tracks: A1 to A7)
Bass Homesick James  (A1-A7), Drums Odie Payne  (A1-A7)
Vocals, Guitar Elmore James (tracks: A1 to A7)
Guitar Eddie Taylor, Syl Johnson or Wayne Bennett (A1-A7)
**A1-A7 originally released on VeeJay, B1-B7 released on Chief**

Eddie Taylor, a well-respected guitarist and singer, should rightfully share feature billing with bottleneck guitar nonpareil James on this amplified Chicago blues collection. Taylor and a truculent outfit are heard on his signature song "Big Town Playboy" and on six more good tracks from 1955 to 1956. Jimmy Reed plays wobbly harmonica on five songs; George Mayweather takes over for him on two. On the other half of the program James and his Broomdusters (including Taylor) wrestle emotion from every blue note of "It Hurts Me Too," the instrumental "Elmore's Contribution to Jazz," and five more 1957 tracks, making them musical hand grenades that could explode at any instant -- © Frank John Hadley 1993

Hmmm, I can't say I have ever heard a band labeled "truculent" before. I was initially afraid that this overlapped our earlier Elmore post but it does not appear to be the case.

  Born Edward Taylor in Benoit, Mississippi, United States, as a boy Taylor taught himself to play the guitar. He spent his early years playing at venues around Leland, Mississippi, where he taught his friend Jimmy Reed to play guitar. With a guitar style deeply rooted in the Mississippi Delta tradition, in 1949 Taylor moved to Chicago, Illinois.

While Taylor never achieved the stardom of some of his compatriots in the Chicago blues scene, he nevertheless was an integral part of that era. He is especially noted as a main accompanist for Jimmy Reed, as well as working with John Lee Hooker, Big Walter Horton, Sam Lay and others. Taylor's own records "Big Town Playboy" and "Bad Boy" on Vee Jay Records became local hits in the 1950s.

Taylor's son Eddie Taylor Jr. is a blues guitarist in Chicago, his stepson Larry Taylor is a blues drummer and vocalist, and his daughter Demetria is a blues vocalist in Chicago. Taylor's wife Vera was the niece of bluesmen Eddie "Guitar" Burns and Jimmy Burns.

Taylor died on Christmas Day in 1985 in Chicago, at age 62, and was interred in an unmarked grave in the Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1987.


A James bio will appear later. This is the only solo Eddie Taylor I have.

Junior Parker - Driving Wheel

I had intended to begin with the two volumes of Duke singles that MCA/Universal issued prior to abandoning their complete Junior Parker on Duke set, but frankly the remastering is so hideous I'm going to start with this far better sounding MCA Canada set while I see if anything can be done for the 2 US discs. 

Junior Parker (May 27, 1932 – November 18, 1971) was an American Memphis blues singer and musician. He is best remembered for his unique voice which has been described as "honeyed," and "velvet-smooth". He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001. One music journalist noted, "For years Junior Parker deserted down home harmonica blues for uptown blues-soul music"

Junior Parker was born West Memphis, Arkansas.

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 worked 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 the guitarist 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 he and his band signed onto Sun Records in 1953. There they produced three successful songs: "Feelin' Good" (which reached # 5 on the US Billboard R&B chart), "Love My Baby," and "Mystery Train", later covered by Elvis Presley. For Presley's version of "Mystery Train", Scotty Moore borrowed the guitar riff from Parker's "Love My Baby", played by Pat Hare. "Love My Baby" and "Mystery Train" are considered important contributions to the rockabilly genre.

Later in 1953, Parker toured with Bobby Bland and Johnny Ace, and also joined Duke Records. Parker and Bland headed the highly successful Blues Consolidated Revue, which became a staple part of the southern blues circuit. He continued to have a string of hits on the R&B chart, including the smooth "Next Time You See Me" (1957); re-makes of Roosevelt Sykes' song "Driving Wheel" (1961), Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago", Guitar Slim's "The Things That I Used to Do" (1963), and Don Robey's "Mother-in-Law Blues" (1956); plus his own "Stand by Me" (1961).

His success was limited after he left Duke in 1966. He recorded for various labels, including Mercury, Blue Rock, Minit, and Capitol.

Parker died on November 18, 1971, at age 39, in Blue Island, Illinois, during surgery for a brain tumor.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

James Brown - The Singles, Volume 2 (King, 2 discs)

Yup, here we go! The next two disc entry into what you NEED to know about JB. (brace yourself chubby!) So that last Federal set? Yeah, well this is, if anything, better!

There is still a wonderful variety of sounds here, still casting about for a signature sound but certain things are clearly evolving. Brown has chosen to focus the band on Jazz and Jump Blues in their sound and approach. Most of the band solo space is the sax players. No question either that you can hear that Little Willie John has left an impression on James during the time he was opening for him. His phrasing, inflection and delivery have grown immensely. I'm really impressed with the whole package. The bottom line is that he a distinctly superior singer to the guy you heard on the first set and we all seemed to like THAT guy quite a bit!

The longer you listen you will hear the development of a 'sound' that carries across the different 'orientations' of the songs. JB is achieving an amazing synthesis of all those different earlier influences and has gotten his band "Ike Turner" tight. Extended instrumental breaks are regular and are dripping with Bill Dogget and Jimmy Forrest and the Johnny Otis 'show' influence is showing there as well. Quite simply, THIS IS SOME UTTERLY BRILLIANT SHIT!! One thing for damn sure, JB is given many modern major props as the Father of Funk and the Godfather of Soul but the undeniable genius is even more POTENT for me right here in these earlier recordings.

Footnotes: You guys are going to LOVE the disc 2 instrumental stuff like Devil's Den.
              And to my old buddy Wouter I would point out that in the early 60's EVERYBODY, JB, Wes Montgomery, Ben Webster, Little Willie John, I mean almost everyone had strings and cheesy backup singers. I guess I have developed a 'filter' of sorts, but yes, I asked for it!

Clarence Carter - I Found What I Wanted Unissued and Rare Fame Masters (2012)

Clarence Carter - I Found What I Wanted Unissued and Rare Fame Masters (2012)

For those of you who think I will be coming back with the second half of Carter's Fame singles any time soon: Ummm...News Flash, they have not been issued yet. I DO, however, have a little lagniappe post of four rare tracks that may or may not be on that set when it is eventually issued but I suspect this modern EP is Kent's way of priming folks for Volume Two.

I don't guess I need to say much here; it's CC and you almost certainly do not have it. I can't say that any of the four is an overlooked hit but none of them suck either. I've come to believe you are supposed to read the title to mean some tracks are unreleased and some are just rare since track 3 was clearly sourced from a 45 and I'd guess that track four was the b side.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ike And Tina Turner - Am I A Fool In Love

This album was released by Kent in 1984, reissued to CD, so it's easy to understand why Tina's name and image are getting so much real estate.  As many of you recall, the 80's held much fortune for those long and strong legs of Tina's, so Kent quite wisely cashed in.

Am I A Fool In Love, as an album, is without a doubt my favorite from the duo of Ike and Tina.  All the songs are original, written by Ike, and A Fool In Love was their first big hit which helped to expose Tina to the world.  As most people know, it was a fluke which put Tina on the mic, and she never looked back.

Unlike some of thier more obnoxious hits, this album is wall to wall, 100%, unadalterated real deal music.  There's no end to the enjoyment of these tunes and in my opinion, this is a game changer for those with pre-formed ideas about Tina Turner and most certainly Ike.  So fan or not, check this one out and prepare to groove and boogie with one of the best the genre had to offer.

This was ripped from my Kent CD using EAC, and dithered to 16/44.1 FLAC using Trader's Little Helper.  Wonderful fidelity...enjoy!!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Little Willie John - The King Years

 Believe it or not by this time LWJ is so big that James Brown is his opening act! That also tells you JB hasn't gotten huge yet either.

Anyway by most measuring sticks this is the 'Sweet Spot'. I'm listening while writing and there is no question you are hearing a more mature artist. Willie is such an expressive singer I'm betting he was a blast to see live.

One thing I'm noticing here is that is seemingly a little more 'designed' to show off John's stunning vocal capabilities. An understandable move for the producers but I'm not sure I don't find the earlier disc a tad more exciting because it is less produced.

That all expressed it does not at all mean this isn't incredible stuff, I'm sure many a LWJ fan would say I was crazy and that THIS is the SHIT. At the end of the day I would say that ANY Little Willie John is better than 90% of what else is out there.
A word to all you fellahs: if you can't figure out a Little Willie John play list to make the girls weak in the knees then you just ain't trying Buddy, because Willie is dealin' and that girl should be in your arms dancin' in the living room! (you are welcome Lady G!)

So here ya go, Volume 2 (of 4) of one of the greatest soul singers ever. Sam Cooke seems to get all the credit these days and no doubt much of it is deserved but as you can see over and over again with so many guys, the story is WAY deeper than that.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Blowing the Fuse 1948

Blowing the Fuse is a killer series of compilation CDs issued by Germany's premier archivist label, Bear Family. Subtitled "R&B Classics That Rocked the Jukebox," each volume is compiled by year. 1948 was a boom year for jukeboxes across the United States. This volume, like most of the others, contains 28 affirmed classics of the early postwar years though some of these titles have been obscured a bit by history. Assembled by Dave "Daddy Cool" Booth, the sequencing of these tracks has proved invaluable in this series. With the Ravens "Write Me a Letter" opening it all up, Julia Lee files in with "King Size Papa" and gets trailed by T-Bone Walker's monster "They Call It Stormy Monday," which is tailed by the Paul Williams's "Thirty-Five Thirty" and Crown Prince Waterford's risqué "Move Your Hand, Baby." Is this six tracks of pure gold or what? But it gets better, with Bull Moose Jackson's "I Love You, Yes I Do," Nellie Lutcher's "Fine Brown Frame," and a host of others including Mabel Scott's "Elevator Baby," and Lonnie Johnson's awesome "Tomorrow Night." Other artists featured here are Paul Watson, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Liggins, Amos Milburn and Roy Brown, among many others. Colin Escott has written authoritative liner notes -- there is a small set for each cut -- and the package is full of killer photos and housed in a handsome digipack. Sound quality is consistently fine throughout. Thom Jurek

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Little Willie John - The Early King Sessions

Before there was a Howard Tate or a Little Johnny Taylor, hell even before James Brown hits it big, there is the amazing Little Willie John. He was a soul singer before the term was coined and his talent was as gigantic as his stature was small. He was a tragically flawed man, however, with an evil streak when drinking that belied his baby face.

William Edward John (November 15, 1937 - May 26, 1968), better known by his stage name Little Willie John, was an American R&B singer who performed in the 1950s and early 1960s. Many sources erroneously give his middle name as Edgar. He is best known for his popular music chart successes with songs such as, "All Around the World" (1955), "Need Your Love So Bad" (1956) and "Fever" the same year, the latter covered in 1958 by Peggy Lee.

He was born in Cullendale, Arkansas, one of ten children, his family moving to Detroit, Michigan when he was four so that his father could pursue factory work. In the late 1940s, the eldest children, including Willie, formed a gospel singing group, and Willie also performed in talent shows, which brought him to the notice of Johnny Otis and, later, musician and producer Henry Glover. After seeing him sing with the Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams orchestra, Glover signed him to a recording contract with King Records in 1955. He was nicknamed "Little Willie" John for his short stature.

His first recording, a version of Titus Turner's "All Around the World", was a hit, reaching # 5 on the Billboard R&B chart. He followed up with a string of R&B hits, including the original version of "Need Your Love So Bad", written by his elder brother Mertis John Jr. One of his biggest hits, "Fever" (1956) (Pop #24), was more famously covered by Peggy Lee in 1958. However, John's version alone sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Another song, "Talk to Me, Talk to Me" recorded in 1958, reached #5 in the R&B chart and #20 in the Pop chart, and also sold over one million. A few years later it was a hit once again by Sunny & the Sunglows. He also recorded "I'm Shakin'" by Rudy Toombs, "Suffering With The Blues", and "Sleep" (1960) (Pop #13). In all, John made the Billboard Hot 100 a total of fourteen times. A cover version of "Need Your Love So Bad" by Fleetwood Mac was also a hit in Europe. Another of his songs to be covered was "Leave My Kitten Alone", (1959). The Beatles recorded a version in 1964, intended for their Beatles for Sale album, but it went unreleased until 1995.

Willie John was known for his short temper and propensity to abuse alcohol, and was dropped by his record company in 1963. In 1966, he was convicted of manslaughter and sent to Washington State Penitentiary for a fatal knifing incident following a show in Seattle. He appealed against his conviction and was released while the case was reconsidered, during which time he recorded what was intended to be his comeback album, but owing to contractual wrangling and the decline of his appeal, it was not released until 2008 (as Nineteen Sixty Six). Little Willie John died in 1968 at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington. Despite counter claims, the official cause of death was listed in his death certificate as a heart attack.

His interment was in Warren, Michigan's Detroit Memorial Park East.

Little Willie John was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

He was the brother of singer Mable John, who recorded for Motown and Stax, and the father of Keith John, a long time backing vocalist for Stevie Wonder.

James Brown, who early in his career had opened shows for John, recorded a tribute album, Thinking about Little Willie John... and a Few Nice Things.

Robbie Robertson, former lead guitarist for The Band, referenced John in a song on his 1987 self-titled album titled "Somewhere Down the Crazy River." He was also referenced in Tom Russell's "Blue Wing."

A biography, Fever: Little Willie John; A Fast Life, Mysterious Death and the Birth of Soul, written by Susan Whitall with Kevin John (another son of Little Willie John) was released in 2011 by Titan Books.

I've got all the King material and the comeback album from 1966 so we will see a few more posts of LWJ.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

James Brown - The Federal Years

If you have never heard this early material I think you will be fascinated like I was. James is obviously casting about in many directions looking for his 'sound'. His earliest version of Please, Please, Please shows that he idolized Little Richard at the time but the next track he is in a more Amos Milburn or Charles Brown mood. On track 3 he sounds a bit like Billy Wright as well. I'd definitely put him in that line from Wright thru Esquerita and Little Richard but he is adding pieces from all over. The fourth track is very much in the Roy Brown/Wynonie Harris mode and he handles that really well too. Later on there are even a few Doo Wop songs. In fact the one thing that really stands out on this material is what a fine singer Brown was, so much of his later material required so little actual singing that it is easy to forget what a dynamic voice he had. There are two discs to this first part and to each of the sets to follow as well.

"James Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and recording artist. He is the originator of funk music and is a major figure of 20th century popular music and dance.

In a career that spanned six decades, Brown profoundly influenced the development of many different musical genres. Brown moved on a continuum of blues and gospel-based forms and styles to a profoundly "Africanized" approach to music making. Brown performed in concerts, first making his rounds across the Chitlin' Circuit, and then across the country and later around the world, along with appearing in shows on television and in movies. Although he contributed much to the music world through his hitmaking, Brown holds the record as the artist who charted the most singles on the Billboard Hot 100 without ever hitting number one on that chart.

For many years, Brown's touring show was one of the most extravagant productions in American popular music. At the time of Brown's death, his band included three guitarists, two bass guitar players, two drummers, three horns and a percussionist. The bands that he maintained during the late 1960s and 1970s were of comparable size, and the bands also included a three-piece amplified string section that played during ballads. Brown employed between 40 and 50 people for the James Brown Revue, and members of the revue traveled with him in a bus to cities and towns all over the country, performing upwards of 330 shows a year with almost all of the shows as one-nighters. In 1986, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2000 into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Brown died on Christmas Day 2006 from heart failure after becoming ill two days earlier and being hospitalized for hours. James Brown is buried in Beech Island, South Carolina.

James Brown was born in Barnwell, South Carolina on May 3, 1933 to Susie (née Behlings) Brown (August 8, 1916 - February 26, 2004) and Joseph ("Joe") Gardner (March 29, 1911 - July 10, 1993) (who changed his surname to Brown after Mattie Brown who raised him). Although Brown was to be named after his father Joseph, his first and middle names were mistakenly reversed on his birth certificate. He therefore became James Joseph Brown, Jr. As a young child, Brown was called Junior. When he later lived with his aunt and cousin, he was called Little Junior since his cousin's nickname was also Junior. Later as an adult, Brown legally changed his name to remove the "Jr." designation. He was of African American and Native American (Apache) descent through his father, and had Asian ancestry through his mother, who was also half African American.

As a young child, Brown and his family lived in extreme poverty in nearby Elko, South Carolina, which at the time was an impoverished town in Barnwell County. When Brown was two years old, his parents separated after his mother left his father for another man. After his mother abandoned the family, Brown continued to live with his father and his father's live-in girlfriends until he was six years old. His father then sent him to live with an aunt, who ran a house of prostitution. Even though Brown lived with relatives, he spent long stretches of time on his own, hanging out on the streets and hustling to get by. Brown managed to stay in school until he dropped out in the seventh grade. During his childhood, Brown earned money shining shoes, sweeping out stores, selling and trading in old stamps, washing cars and dishes and singing in talent contests. Brown also performed buck dances for change to entertain troops from Camp Gordon at the start of World War II as their convoys traveled over a canal bridge near his aunt's home. Between earning money from these adventures, Brown taught himself to play a harmonica given to him by his father. He learned to play some guitar from Tampa Red, in addition to learning to play piano and drums from others he met during this time. Brown was inspired to become an entertainer after watching Louis Jordan, a popular jazz and R&B performer during the 1940s, and Jordan's Tympany Five performing "Caldonia" in a short film.

Brown began his performing career at the age of 12, forming his first vocal group, the Cremona Trio in 1945, where they won local talent shows at Augusta concert halls such as the Lenox and Harlem theaters. As a result of this success, the group would later gig at several high schools and local army bases.  At the age of sixteen, he was convicted of armed robbery and sent to a juvenile detention center upstate in Toccoa in 1949. While in prison, he formed a gospel quartet with fellow cell mates Johnny Terry, "Hucklebuck" Davis and a person named "Shag", and made homemade instruments - a comb and paper, a washtub bass, a drum kit made from lard tubs and for Brown, what he called "a sort of mandolin [made] out of a wooden box." Due to the latter instrument, Brown was given his first nickname, "Music Box". In 1952, while still in reform school, Brown met future R&B legend Bobby Byrd, who was there playing baseball against the reform school team. Byrd saw Brown perform there and admired his singing and performing talent. As a result of this friendship, Byrd's family helped Brown secure an early release on June 14, 1952 after serving three years of his sentence. The authorities agreed to release Brown on the condition that he would get a job and not return to Augusta or Richmond County and also under the condition he find a decent job and sing for the Lord as he had promised in his parole letter. After stints as a boxer and baseball pitcher in semi-professional baseball (a career move ended by a leg injury), Brown turned his energy toward music.

By 1954, Brown had tried to get a deal with his gospel group, the Ever Ready Gospel Singers after recording a version of "His Eye Is on the Sparrow", but returned to Toccoa when they failed to get a deal. Returning, his friend Bobby Byrd asked Brown to join his R&B group, the Avons, who had went under the previous name, the Gospel Starlighters to avoid controversy with church leaders. Brown replaced another vocalist, Troy Collins, who died in a car crash. The group, which included alongside Byrd and Brown; Sylvester Keels, Doyle Oglesby, Fred Pulliam and Johnny Terry, modeled themselves after the R&B groups of the day including The Orioles, The Five Keys and Billy Ward and His Dominoes. Gigging through Georgia and South Carolina, they again changed their name to the Toccoa Band to avoid confusion with two other groups who shared the Avons moniker. Under this name, Brown recruited guitarist Nafloyd Scott and, under their manager Barry Tremier, added assorted percussion.

While performing in Macon, Georgia having now changed their name to the Flames, a club promoter, Clint Brantley (then agent of one of Brown's idols, Little Richard, suggested the band add "Famous" in front of their name to draw more people to his club. The group began composing their own songs during this time and performing them too including a Brown composition called "Goin' Back to Rome" and a ballad Brown co-wrote with Terry titled "Please, Please, Please". After Little Richard left Macon for Los Angeles after the release of "Tutti Frutti", Brantley included the band at every venue Richard had performed, leading to the growth of the group's success. Before Christmas 1955, Brantley had the group record a demo of "Please, Please, Please" for a local Macon radio station. Different accounts on how "Please, Please, Please" came together vary, one story from Etta James stated that during her first meeting with Brown in Macon, Brown "used to carry around an old tattered napkin with him, because Little Richard had written the words, 'please, please, please' on it and James was determined to make a song out of it...". Another story came the group had gotten inspiration for writing the song after hearing The Orioles' rock'n'roll version of Big Joe Williams' hit, "Baby Please Don't Go", taking its melody from the song.

Federal Records president Ralph Bass signed the Famous Flames to his label in February 1956 and had them record the song in Cincinnati's King Studios. Released the following March, the song became the Famous Flames' first R&B hit, selling over a million copies. Despite the song's success, other songs such as "I Don't Know", "No No No", "Just Won't Do Right" and "Chonnie-On-Chon" failed to chart. By March of 1957 after the release of "Please, Please, Please", most members of the Famous Flames walked out on Brown after the group's new manager, Universal Attractions Agency Chief Ben Bart insisted on the group's billing officially be "James Brown and The Famous Flames". After Little Richard left show business for the ministry, Brown was asked to fill in leftover dates, which led to an increase in his concert success in which afterwards, he recruited members of the vocal group the Dominions to be his replacement Famous Flames. The first single under this new lineup, "That Dood It", failed to chart. In late 1958, Brown financed the demo of the ballad, "Try Me". Released that October, it returned the Famous Flames to the charts, reaching #1 on the R&B chart, the first time it reached that position, in February of 1959, becoming the first of 17 chart-topping hits on the R&B chart, credited to Brown over the next decade and a half, with six of them crediting the Famous Flames.

Bolstered by this success, Brown recruited a new band, consisted of saxophonist J. C. Davis, guitarist Bobby Roach, bassist Bernard Odum, trumpeter Roscoe Patrick, saxophonist Albert Corley, drummer Nat Kendrick and his old band mate Bobby Byrd, who had rejoined Brown's band on organ. This resulted in the next Brown hit, "I Want You So Bad", which peaked at the Billboard R&B top twenty. The newly hailed "James Brown Band" debuted at the Apollo Theater on April 24, 1959, opening for Little Willie John. Following his dismissal of the 1957-58 Famous Flames lineup, he hired "Baby" Lloyd Stallworth, Bobby Bennett as replacements with Byrd and Johnny Terry returning as members. The confusion of the band was that for years, the Famous Flames were often mistaken for Brown's backing band; fellow Famous Flame Byrd was also a member of the backing band at one point. Initially a vocal and instrumental group, the group focused primarily as a vocal act after signing with Federal. In early 1960, Brown's band recorded the top ten R&B hit, "(Do the) Mashed Potatoes" on Dade Records, owned by Henry Stone, under the pseudonym "Nat Kendrick & The Swans" because Brown's label refused to release it. As a result of this, Syd Nathan decided to shift Brown's contract from Federal to Federal's parent label, King Records.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blowing the Fuse 1947

Blowing the Fuse is a killer series of compilation CDs issued by Germany's premier archivist label, Bear Family. Subtitled "R&B Classics That Rocked the Jukebox," each volume is compiled by year. 1947 was a boom year for jukeboxes across the United States. This volume, like most of the others, contains 28 affirmed classics of the early postwar years. Louis Jordan was at the height of his powers in '47 and his "Let the Good Times Roll" opens the set and is followed by Albert Ammons' "Swamp River Boogie," a burning boogie-woogie piano jumper. Sequencing is key in a collection like this, and the folks at Bear Family understand this implicitly. Here, Jack McVea's "Open the Door Richard" is just ahead of Amos Milburn's "Down the Road Apiece," which is followed by Savannah Churchill's "I Want to Be Loved Only by You." Elsewhere the Ravens, the Five Blazes, Julia Lee and Walter Brown make appearances, as do Joe Turner, Hadda Brooks and Roy Milton. In some, the more well-known tunes of the era are given great balance by some nearly forgotten gems. The package is beautiful with Colin Escott's liner notes detailing every cut, accompanied by photographs and a lovely digipack. Sound quality is as good as it can be for archival material making this, and would prove a fine introduction to postwar R&B for the novice, and a killer chronological listen for the connoisseur.

Ike Turner - Before Tina, Parts 2 & 3

There are two links here, the first covers the session material from 1954-56, the second focuses on the reformed Kings of Rhythm with front men Billy Gales and later Tommy Hodge. I've run out of pictures so I've included the covers of some of the sources for this material.

 After recording Rocket 88, Turner became a session musician and production assistant for Sam Philips and the Bihari Brothers, commuting to Memphis from Clarksdale. He began by contributing piano to a B. B. King track "You Know I Love You", which brought him to the attention of Modern Records' Joe Bihari, who requested Turner's services on another King track 3 O'Clock Blues. It became King's first hit.

Wishing to utilize Turner's Delta music connections, Bihari contracted him as a talent scout, paying him to search out southern musicians who might be worth recording. Turner also wrote new material for the artists to perform, which, unknown to him the Bihari Brothers registered the copyright on. Turner estimated he "wrote 78 hit records for the Biharis." Artists Turner sourced for Modern included Bobby Bland, Howlin' Wolf and Rosco Gordon. He played piano on sessions with them and other lesser known artists such as The Prisonaires, Ben Burton Orchestra, Little Milton, Matt Cockrell and Dennis Binder. Turner was contracted to the Bihari Brothers, but he continued to work for Sam Phillips at Sun Studios, where he was effectively the in-house producer. This sometimes created conflicts of interest. Turner cut two Howlin' Wolf tracks, "How Many More Years" and "Moanin' at Midnight," which Phillips sent to Chess Records. Turner then took Wolf across the state border, re-recorded the tracks without Phillips' or Chess's knowledge, and sent the results to Modern/RPM. Turner also attempted to poach Elmore James from Trumpet Records and record him for Modern. Trumpet found out and Modern had to cancel the record. However James did eventually sign for Modern, with Turner playing piano on a recording of James at Club Desire in Canton.

In 1956, Turner took a reformed version of the Kings of Rhythm north to St. Louis, including Kizart, Sims, O'Neal, Jessie Knight Jr and Turner's third wife Annie Mae Wilson Turner on piano and vocals. It was at this time that Turner moved over to playing guitar to accommodate Annie Mae, taking lessons from Willie Kizart to improve.

Turner maintained strict discipline over the band, insisting they lived in a large house with him so he could conduct early morning rehearsals at a moment's notice. Up until the age of 30, Turner was teetotal and had never taken drugs. He insisted all members of his band also adopt this policy, and would fire anyone he even suspected of breaking the rules. He would also fine or physically assault band-members if they played a wrong note and controlled everything from the arrangements down to the suits the band wore onstage. Starting off playing at a club called Kingsbury's in Madison, Illinois, within a year Turner had built up a full gig schedule, establishing his group as one of the most highly rated on the St. Louis club circuit, vying for popularity with their main competition, Sir John's Trio featuring Chuck Berry. The bands would play all-nighters in St. Louis, then cross the river to the clubs of East St. Louis, Illinois, and continue playing until dawn. In St. Louis for the first time Turner, was exposed to a developing white teenage audience who were excited by R&B. Clubs Turner played in St. Louis included Club Imperial, which was popular with white teenagers, The Dynaflow, The Moonlight Lounge, Club Riviera and the West End Walters. In East St. Louis, his group played Kingsbury's, Club Manhattan and The Sportsman.

In between live dates, Turner took the band to Cincinnati to record for Federal in 1956 and Chicago for Cobra/Artistic in 1958, as well as fulfilling his contract as a session musician back at Sun. He befriended St. Louis R&B fan Bill Stevens, who in 1958 set up the short-lived record label, Stevens, financed by his father Fred. Turner recorded numerous sessions for Stevens with various vocalists and musician lineups, of which seven singles were released (these are collected on the Red Lightnin' compilation "Hey Hey- The Legendary Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm"/RL0047). Turner was not credited on any of the Stevens releases as he still had months to run on his Sun contract and did not want to cause friction with Sam Philips. He recorded a solo rockabilly country single under the anagrammatical name Icky Renrut. None of the Stevens records had wide distribution and the operation ceased after a year.

In 1959 Turner was charged with what he described as "interstate transportation of forged cheques and conspiracy", and was forced to stand trial in St. Louis. At the first trial the jury failed to reach verdict, and at the retrial a year later Turner was found not guilty.

It is kind of amazing how much there is to Ike long before that girl whom he christens "Tina Turner" (he made up the name and owned the rights to it) ever enters the picture, eh? People in the modern world tend to believe the ridiculous Disney fiction of her book and movie which even Tina has acknowledged is utter trash. Ike did indeed run his band with an iron fist, it is in large part why they were so much better than the competition and more successful. I have no doubt that when he began using Cocaine and alcohol that he became an abusive personality, as nearly EVERYONE does behind that powerful pair of personality twisting drugs. The picture of him as some sort of parasite ridding her coat-tail, however, is FAR from the truth. He made her as an artist after she badgered him for months on end to let her sing and even then he did not want her in the band. Only her dogged insistence eventually broke him down.