- THE FIRST AND THE LAST -
SUN 174 / 407

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR JACK KELLY & WALTER HORTON
AT MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1952
 
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: MONDAY FEBRUARY 25, 1952
STUDIO HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
AND/OR MARION KEISKER
 
Sam Phillips recorded the duo of harmonica player Walter Horton and jug band veteran Jack Kelly, who together had worked up two tunes. Marion Keisker wrote in her logbook: ''2/25/52, Session with Joe Hill, Jack Kelly and, cut several sides on tape''. (See session below). Best were with Jack Kelly doing vocal and Mumbles (Horton) on harmonica. Tentatively billed on these numbers as ''Little Walter'' with ''Jackie Boy''. Under Kelly's name, she wrote that two cuts were made that day, ''Sellin' My Stuff (Ain't Had A Drink)'', and ''Wanderin' Woman (Blues In My Condition)''.
 
"BLUES IN MY CONDITION" B.M.I. 
Composer: - Jack Kelly-Walter Horton
Publisher: - Copyright Control - Promotional Copies Only
Matrix number: - None - Only Acetate - SUN 174 was never issued
Recorded: - February 25, 1952
Released: - March 1, 1952
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm acetate SUN 174 mono
BLUES IN MY CONDITION / SELLIN' MY WHISKEY
 
Walter Horton and Jack Kelly were typical of the Delta bluesman who warmed to Sam Phillips' new recording climate. "Blues In My Condition, chosen from their various meanderings, was nominated as the first Sun single. However, due to an adverse reaction from area radio stations, the recording never made it past the promotional stage. Fortunately a fragment of the 'lower deck' survived, allowing the true beginnings of the Sun label to be represented, right at the moment of conception.
"SELLING MY STUFF (WHISKEY)" - B.M.I. - 1:20
Composer: - Jack Kelly-Walter Horton
Publisher: - Copyright Control - Promotional Copies Only
Matrix number: - None - Only Acetate - Sun 174 was never issued
Incomplete a fragment of the "lower deck" survived
Recorded: - February 25, 1952 - > Sun 174-180 Series <
Released: - March 1, 1952
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm acetate SUN 174 mono
SELLIN' MY WHISKEY / BLUES IN MY CONDITION
Reissued:  - 1996 Charly (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-2-7 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
Although scheduled for release as SUN 175 (and labels printed accordingly) this never made it to the final furlong, being scrapped following a lack of positive audience reaction after an acetate dub had been aired on WHHM. Sadly, neither does a complete version of this track appear to have survived - hence its inclusion here in its (only-known) fragment ed form.
 
The song itself - with its oddly bowdlerize title - harks back to Kelly's South Memphis Jug Band, with its romping rhythm and good-time lyric. Its a shame to hear only this truncated  extract, and one can only speculate what Walter Horton might have brought to the original recording. 
 
On March 5, 1952, Sam Phillips sent dubs (acetates run off the master tape) of the tunes to Chess, inquiring whether they would be interested in releasing them. Chess said they would not. On March 8, Phillips made up a new set of dubs of "Blues In My Condition" and sent one to Memphis station WHHM, asking that it be aired as the introduction to the Sun label. The response was good enough to persuade him to ship the master for processing. "Sellin' My Stuff" was retitled "Sellin' My Whiskey" in anticipation of release, and the duo was dubbed Jackie Boy and Little Walter. By the time the stampers (the metal parts used in the manufacture of records) were shipped back from Shaw Processing, however, Sam Phillips had decided that Chess Records had been correct: the wasn't strong enough for release. The first Sun record, number SUN 174, was never issued.
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jack Kelly - Vocal and Piano
Walter Horton - Vocal, Harmonica and Kazoo
Joe Hill Louis - Guitar and Drums
Probably Will Batts - Fiddle
Fiddler player Will Batts was born on January 24, 1904 in Michigan, Mississippi. A fiddler, Batts was the primary instrumentalist in Jack Kelly's South Memphis Jug Band, a popular string band whose music owed a heavy debt to the blues as well as minstrel songs, vaudeville numbers, reels and rags. Batts was working as a farm hand when he decided to pursue a career in music full-time. 
 
Batts sooned joined Kelly's band, a fixture of the Beale Street area, and in 1933 they made their first recordings, followed in 1939 by a second and final session. Batts also backed a variety of other Memphis performers, including minstrel singer Frank Stokes. This 1952 session with Walter Horton was his last known recording date.  Will Batts continued to work in Memphis, Tennessee until his death in Memphis on February 18, 1956.
 
According to Robert Henry,  owner and Beale street connoisseur,  ''Well one of the jug band players is still livin' right in the rear of my place of business here; that's Son Brimmer. His name's Will Shade but we called him Son Brimmer. It was a joke - one time I had some people out of New York come to listen to the jug men. So they tol' me, the jug band did, ''All right, but all we need now is for us to have a few drinks so we be feelin' good.''. So they did and we went along to hear the jug men start makin' records. Well, but the boys were so drunk that they wasn't able to stand. The people out of New York lauged and said, ''Well, they wanted to feel good, but they feel too good. Well we have to leave you; this ain't the people we was lookin' for''! But since then Son Brimmer has made several records of the old timers. So it is not many of them is living yet of the original jug bands. We lost one about two years ago - Willie Batts. He had one of the biggest jug bands - and they usually carry from four to five pieces in the band. Made some records with Jack Kelly once; he was a blues man come up from Mississippi. Willie Batts that was. Most of them uses the can for the bass, there's hardly nothing else left in there for them! Some of them do use a jug. There's not much left of them now, but they was mostly men play for parties, picnics and things; elections, for people won a race, and parties of the kind''.
 
''People who drink and have a good time - mostly the jug band plays for that, they don't play for dances. So that's why the jug band is made for the people, understand me, to have a good time, people who is havin' parties. At one time Batts' Jug Band used to play for conventions at Peabody Hotel. That's our biggest hotel. So we had a jubilee... to entertain the people. Most of the people - it was a hardware convention - was out of the East. So I went downstairs to send the people home in a taxi and when I got back upstairs the jug band had a hat down in the middle of the Peabody Hotel ballroom. But the money was piled in the hat, so I said, 'Well you-all ain't gettin' paid tonight for your act, I'm cuttin' in with you. Because you've got to much money in that hat there. You expect to draw ten dollars for your work'! Aw, it was fun. They played the Peabody for a night or so at a time. I used to book the jug bands on the jobs, but I'd always notify the people who they were workin' for, to be particular about them drinkin' because if they showed they'd got a bottle of whiskey they'd have a bunch of drunken people on they hands. Now they like to play but they sure like to get drunk. So you watch for the jug bands. When they don't get drunk, there's not much pep in them. But they really likes to drink that hooch''.
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

END 1967

The Sun record, issued with little fanfare in January 1968, was by a group dubbed Load of Mischief. One side featured riffs copped from the Stax catalog and the other from Motown. It was a lamentable finale.

Sam Phillips has admitted that Sun Records perished because of his diminishing commitment to the record business. ''The basic reason that Sun did not become a major label'', Sam Phillips said, ''was that I preferred to invest my time in other things. I didn't want to hook up with a major corporation because I knew I couldn't do the job the way I wanted to do it as part of a big company, even though I had several offers''. ''In the 1960s, things were changing rapidly and drastically as far as distribution was concerned. Most top-selling artists were lured away from the small companies during the latter part of the 1950s, and a number of the indie labels themselves were bought out. I could see what was coming and I wanted no part of it. It is not my way to work for somebody''.

Sam Phillips also saw that the days when you could get some cuts on tape, mastered, pressed, and promoted for a few hundred dollars were long gone. Modern sessions called for more musicians, most of whom demanded union scale. In fact, every facet of the industry, from the technical to the promotional, was becoming more expensive.

In the changing climate, albums were a necessity, and singles were increasingly seen as trailers or loss leaders for LPs. Phillips never truly believed in the album market; in fact, Shelby Singleton issued more albums of Sun product in the first year after he bought the catalog than Phillips had issued in fifteen years. Some have seen Phillips' lack of interest in the album market as evidence of his parsimony, but for him it was a much more complex issue: ''Albums weren't selling that much, but beyond that, I was always very cautious about not putting out a lot of product on my artists simply to ensure a certain level of income. I think that opportunity has always been abused by the major record companies. You only have to look at some of the crap they put out on Elvis Presley, with no regard for the man's great abilities''.

If the record business is a lottery, Sam Phillips accomplished one of the most difficult feats a gambler can: he had the good fortune to win the big money, and the good sense to reinvest his winnings broadly, instead of risking them all on the chance of an bigger payback. As Sun Records wound down, he bought radio stations, Holiday Inn stock (he was one of the first investors in the chain), properties with mineral rights, and so on. Though it's easy to lament his eventual departure from the recording industry, it's clear that financially he made the right choice. Knox Phillips explains his father's thinking: ''Sam wasn't going to gamble his money promoting records any more. He had seen some of his friends go broke, such as the people who ran Vee-Jay, and he became very conservative. We still had some records that sold well on a regional level, but there wasn't a commitment of spirit''.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

A milestone of sorts. The last Sun record. The label that began by recording backporch music, primitive rhythm and blues, heartrending hillbilly, and then gave birth to rockabilly and a string of cultural icons, finally ended in January 1968 with Load Of Mischief. The 230 or so releases in the Sun catalog neatly encapsulate one of the great cultural upheavals in the 20th century. Sun started with black music and told the story of its assimilation over a 15 year period. That makes it fitting in a way that the last Sun record should be by a white band working in a style that owned much to then-current black music.

STUDIO SESSION FOR LOAD OF MISCHIEF
FOR SUN RECORDS 1967

SAM PHILLIPS RECORDING STUDIO
639 MADISON AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE LATE 1967
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER – SAM PHILLIPS
AND/OR KNOX PHILLIPS

01 - "I'M A LOVER" - B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: - Mike Houseal
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 377 Master - > Sun 401-407 Series <
Recorded: - Unknown Date Late 1967
Released: - January 1968
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm standard single SUN 407-B mono
I'M A LOVER / BACK IN MY ARMS AGAIN
Reissued: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15805-2-25 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 5

Lead singer Davis Mayo was born in Memphis, and in 1965 he was leading a band called the Coachmen in Little Rock, Arkansas. He made his first recordings at Roland Janes' Sonic Studios on Madison Avenue. ''I met all the other guys in different bands'', says Mayo. ''Ken Woodley played keyboards, Ray Sanders was in a band called the Jokers, Mike Houseal played guitar, but the star was Larry Wall who played bass 'cause he'd come over from the Gentrys.

I knew the Coachmen were going to stay in Little Rock so I talked to all these guys and we rehearsed at Ken Woodley's house, and it clicked. I knew Knox and he signed us to Sun''.

The record hadn't been out long when Sam Phillips folded Sun to become president of Holiday Inn Records. He transferred the Load Of Mischief master to Holiday Inn, remixing it for its re-release, adding Charlie Chalmers' horn section. ''We weren't happy about that'', notes Mayo.

''I remember arguing with Sam about it. I told him that Columbia Records wasn't in the hotel business, so what was Holiday Inn doing in the record business? I took the unissued Sun masters over to Estelle Axton at Stax, and she signed us to their Hip label. We recorded as ''Paris Pilot'' for Hip. Don Nix was our producer''.

Mayo went on to work with Steve Cropper at his TMI Records, and then recorded with a band called Zuider Zee for Columbia (who were not in the motel business). By then he was under the aegis of British producer Gordon Mills (Tom Jones, Gilbert O'Sullivan, etc.) Ken Woodley and Mike Gardner hung around Don Nix's camp during the booze and pill-fueled 1970s and, until recently (1998), Ray Sanders was the house bass player at the restored Sun Studio on 706 Union Avenue.

02 – "BACK IN MY ARMS AGAIN'' - B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - Brian Holland-Lamont Dozier-Edward Holland
Publisher: - Jobete Music Publishing
Matrix number: - U 376 Master - > Sun 401-407 Series <
Recorded: - Unknown Date Late 1967
Released: - January 1968
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 45rpm standard single SUN 407-A mono
BACK IN MY ARMS AGAIN / I'M A LOVER
Reissued: - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15805-2-26 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 5

03 – "BABY, YOU'VE GOT IT'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Late 1967
Released: - 1987
First appearance: - P-Vine Records (LP) 33rpm PLP-343-A-7 mono
EARLY MEMPHIS SOUNDS - DEEP SOUL CLASSICS VOLUME 6

04 – "NOWHERE TO RUN''
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date Late 1967

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Load Of Mischief consisting of
David Mayo – Vocal
Mike Houseal – Guitar
Ken Woodley – Organ
Ray Sanders – Bass
Larry Wall - Drums

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ®