Contains
 
Chess 1458-1459-1465-1466-1469-1472-1473-1475-1479-1485 Audio Series
 
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Jackie Brenston
"ROCKET 88" - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Jackie Brenston
Publisher: - Arc Music Corporation
Matrix number: - U-7316 - Acetate
The first rock and roll tune on the Memphis Recording Service.
Recorded: - March 5, 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single Chess 1458-A mono
ROCKET 88 / COME BACK WHERE YOU BELONG
Reissued: - 1986 Charly Records (LP) 33rpm SUNBOX 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jackie Brenston - Vocal and Baritone Sax
Raymond Hill - Tenor Sax
Eugene Fox - Tenor Sax
Ike Turner - Piano
Willie Kizart - Guitar
Jesse Knight - Bass
Willie Sims - Drums
 
Reached at number 1 at the Billboard's Rhythm and Blues charts
 
The story had become muddied in the re-telling, but a front-page article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal dated march 28, 1951 was so soon after the event that it's possible: ''B.B. King of Memphis, one of the race artists of Sam Phillips has been recording, passed the word along to Ike Turner, a negro band leader of Clarksdale, Mississippi, that the marked was open. Ike brought his band up for audition''. In one of Ike's accounts, they had only covers when they set out, but arrived with four original songs. If they'd driven across country, we might believe that, but they's driven 75 miles. That said, ''Rocket 88'' was almost a cover. Most of the melody and even some of the lyrics were lifted from Jimmy Liggins' 1947 recording of ''Cadillac Boogie''. The different lay in ''Rocket 88'' explosiveness, and for that some credit must go to Sam Phillips. Willie Kizart inadvertently created fuzz toned guitar when his amp either fell off the back of the car en route or was rain-damaged in the trunk. Turner insisted upon the latter, but the sound is more consistent with a sliced speaker cone. Phillips recalled, ''WE had no way of getting it fixed so we started playing around with the damn thing, stuffed a little paper in there and it sounded good. Sounded like a saxophone''. In a later interview with Richard Buskin, he explained how Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm became Jackie Brenston & the Delta Cats: ''I had to tell Ike that I wanted to know if he had somebody in his band who could sing. Ike was singing and of course he was a hell of a talent, but I knew his voice was not quite what I was looking for. Anyway, he told me that Jackie Brenston had a song called ''Rocket 88''. Jackie played the sax, but I put a mic in front of him and, man, as a singer he was a natural''. The distorted guitar and piano created a thunderous rhythm track, although Tuner thought nothing of it at the time: ''Man, we were just tryin' to cut a record the way we thought one was supposed to be cut. I had the boogie-woogie bass movin' on the bottom, Willie was tryin' to play guitar like Robert Nighthawk, and we were fond of Joe Liggins in those days, so that's how Jackie sang''. Brenston's vocal drips confidence and Raymond Hill's sax solo builds in momentum to a screeching climax. After the session was over and the paperwork underway, Phillips realized that Brenston was underage and the contract had to be signed by his mother, which seems wildly at variance with the carefree, hedonistic image he was projecting. 
 
The Biharis believed that they had first call on ''Rocket 88'' by virtue of their pre-existing deal with Phillips. Joe Bihari told John Broven that Leonard Chess was in town and paid spot money for ''Rocket 88'', but it's likelier that Chess had left town with a better offer on the table. The Commercial Appeal stated that Phillips sent out a lacquer to Chess by Air Express the night of the session. it was a 16-inch acetate because, as Phillips told Nadine Cohodas, ''I wanted all the little nuances to be conveyed to them''. Apparently the Chesses couldn't handle 16-inch discs and called to ask for a 12-inch, but once they heard it, they jumped on it. The Commercial Appeal article talked as if the record was already out and gaining traction. This was on March 28, just three weeks after the session. On March 30, Brenston was back at Phillips' studio to pick up an $85 advance and was back again on April 10 for another $200, suggesting that ''Rocket 88'' was already selling well. On May 7, Brenston got another $100 and the same day Phillips fronted him $165 for a PA system. ''Rocket 88'' finally charted on May 12, and hit number 1 on June 9. Five days later, a then-unknown Pennsylvania hillbilly bar band, Bill Haley and the Saddlemen, recorded what was probably the first cover version. On June 28, an entry in Phillips' logbook states that Brenston assigned all future royalties on ''Rocket 88'' to Phillips in lieu of the $910 already advanced to him, but Brenston's name is still on the song. When ''Rocket 88'' became a not-very-valuable copyright in the later 1050s and 1960s, it's conceivable that Phillips simply forgot that he owned it. Under then-existing American copyright law, the song came up for renewal in 1979, and at that point, Phillips as the songwriter could have grabbed the publishing for his company, but didn't.
 
Sam Phillips and Chess Records had their first hit; Brenston had his first and last. The longstanding, unenforceable claim that ''Rocket 88'' was the first rock and roll record is borne out by Little Richard, who ought to know. Richard liked it so much, he stole the intro for ''Good Golly Miss Molly''. Phillips' original acetate was auctioned in 2002. It contained ''Rocket 88'' and one of the Ike Turner songs. In recognition of its totemic status, it fetched nearly $14,000. (CE)

 
Jackie Brenston
"COME BACK WHERE YOU BELONG" - B.M.I. - 2:42
Composer: - Jackie Brenston
Publisher: - Arc Music Corporation
Matrix number: - U-7317 - Acetate
Recorded: - March 5, 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single Chess 1458-B mono
COME BACK WHERE YOU BELONG / ROCKET 88
Reissued: - 2010 Secret Records (CD) 500/200rpm SECBX025-1-2 mono digital
THAT KAT SURE COULD PLAY! - THE SINGLES 1951 - 1957 
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jackie Brenston - Vocal and Baritone Sax
Raymond Hill - Tenor Sax
Eugene Fox - Tenor Sax
Ike Turner - Piano
Willie Kizart - Guitar
Jesse Knight - Bass
Willie Sims - Drums

 
Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm
"HEARTBROKEN AND WORRIED" - B.M.I. - 3:06
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - N.M.P.C.
Matrix number: - U7324 - Acetate - Vocal Ike Turner
Recorded: - March 5, 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single Chess 1459-A mono
HEARTBROKEN AND WORRIED / I'M LONESOME BABY
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7 mono digital
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jackie Brenston - Vocal and Baritone Sax
Raymond Hill - Tenor Sax
Eugene Fox - Tenor Sax
Ike Turner - Piano
Willie Kizart - Guitar
Jesse Knight - Bass
Willie Sims - Drums
 
If you buy into the myth, then this is what it sounded like thirty minutes before rock and roll was invented. Even with Willie Kizart's distorted guitar, ''Heartbroken And Worried'' was still a mundane cocktail blues, and it's pretty evident why Sam Phillips wanted to get Ike Turner away from the mic. Ike was a middling vocalist, and his best Charles Brown impersonation simply isn't good enough. Kizart's funky tone is by far the best thing about a record that's only interesting these days because we hear what the ''Rocket 88'' session sounded like before ''Rocket 88''. (CE)

 
Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm
"I'M LONESOME BABY" - B.M.I. - 3:02
Composer: - Ike Turner
Publisher: - N.M.P.C
Matrix number: - U7325 - Acetate - Vocal Ike Turner
Recorded: - March 5, 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single Chess 1459-B mono
I'M LONESOME BABY / HEARTBROKEN AND WORRIED
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7 mono digital
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jackie Brenston - Vocal and Baritone Sax
Raymond Hill - Tenor Sax
Eugene Fox - Tenor Sax
Ike Turner - Piano
Willie Kizart - Guitar
Jesse Knight - Bass
Willie Sims - Drums
 
From the same session that produced ''Rocket 88'', this is session leader Ike Turner working in the then-popular mambo groove with faint intimations of ''Rocket 88''. Phillips should have cranked up Ike's vocal in the mix. Willie Kizart's fuzztone guitar at the end adds an interesting touch. The lyrics were quite mundane, and the rolling rhythm (could Ike have heard Professor Longhair'?) is the best thing about the performance. In fact, looking back on the session, Sam Phillips remembered how Ike wanted a record out as a vocalist. ''He was desperate for that. I said, 'but man, you can't sing. You're a hell of a player, but you can't sing''. The Biharis were more forgiving, it seems, allowing Ike to appear as a featured vocalist after he jumped ship. (HD)(CE)(MH)

 
Lou Sargent (Luther Steinberg)
"RIDIN' THE BOOGIE" – B.M.I. - 2:18
Composer: - Sam Phillips-Leonard Chess
Publisher: - B.L.P.C
Matrix number: - U 64
Recorded: - Probably May 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - July 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1465-A mono
RIDIN' THE BOOGIE / SHE REALLY TREATS ME WRONG
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-10 mono digital
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Lou Sargent (Luther Steinberg) - Trumpet
Tot Randolph - Saxophone
Phineas Newborn Jr. - Piano
Les Mitchell (Wilbur Steinberg) - Vocal 1 and Bass
Phineas Newborn Sr. - Drums
 
Lou Sargent' was a pseudonym for Luther Steinberg, although, in a broader sense, the names covered the entire aggregation. Steinberg himself was unaware that he acquired a new identity until the record appeared. This could almost have been the backing track for ''Rocket 88''. Small wonder because the group was Brenston's touring band after his split from Ike Tuner. The track is driven by the piano of Phineas Newborn, Jr., whose clear preference even in this context was for refinement. The nominal leader, Luther Steinberg, is barely audible on trumpet.  (CE)(HD)

 
Lou Sargent (Luther Steinberg)
"SHE REALLY TREATS ME WRONG'' – B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - Sam Phillips-Leonard Chess
Publisher: - B.L.P.C.
Matrix number: - U 65 - Vocal Les Mitchell (Wilbur Steinberg)
Recorded: - Probably May 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - July 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1465-B mono
SHE REALLY TREATS ME WRONG / RIDIN' THE BOOGIE
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Lou Sargent (Luther Steinberg) - Trumpet
Tot Randolph - Saxophone
Phineas Newborn Jr. - Piano
Les Mitchell (Wilbur Steinberg) - Vocal and Bass
Phineas Newborn Sr. - Drums
 
Lou Sargent's brother, Wilbur, played bass and provided the vocal on this flipside under another pseudonym, Les Mitchell. The unlikely listed composers were Sam Phillips and Leonard Chess. (CE)

 
Rufus Thomas
"NIGHT WORKIN' BLUES" – B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Marty Witzel
Publisher: - B.L.P.C.
Matrix number: - U-62
Recorded: - Circa May/June 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - July 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1466-A mono
NIGHT WORKIN' BLUES / WHY DID YOU DEEGEE?
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-7 mono digital
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas – Vocal
Herman Green - Tenor Saxophone
Richard Sanders - Baritone Saxophone
Billy Love - Piano
Unknown - Guitar
Unknown – Bass
Houston Stokes - Drums
 
As far as is known, the first title Phillips recorded on this session was "Night Workin' Blues", a song Rufus had been singing for some years, although it was credited to Marty Witzel. It opens with a swinging riff from the band and Herman Green and Richard Sanders both feature throughout on tenor and baritone sax. Pianist Billy Love swoop around the tune and keeps a solid rhythm section going. The music is more rhythm than blues but Rufus forcefully gets across his tale of woe about coming off the night shift to find he's getting no attention at home. (CE)(MH)

 
Rufus Thomas
''WHY DID YOU DEEGEE?" – B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - B.L.P.C.
Matrix number: - U 63
Recorded: - Circa May/June 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - July 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1466-B mono
WHY DID YOU DEEGEE? / NIGHT WORKIN' BLUES
Reissued: - 2008 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16695-8 mono digital
RUFUS THOMAS - THE SUN YEARS PLUS
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas – Vocal
Herman Green - Tenor Saxophone
Richard Sanders - Baritone Saxophone
Billy Love - Piano
Unknown - Guitar
Unknown – Bass
Houston Stokes - Drums
 
"I try to make her happy/But my life is misery" and the solution seems to be to "let this all night working go". We may never know how biographical the song was, and the same goes for the next song Rufus recorded. ''Why Did You Deegee?", its about a man who didn't believe his gal would leave him and its about as close to recognized blues structure as Rufus gets. A slower pace is set here by drummer Houston Stokes and is emphasized by prominent use of cymbals, while Rufus really opens up his vocal chords and sells his story of heartbreak, punctured by sax riffs, jazzy guitar figures from an unidentified guitarist, and more prominent interventions from Billy Love. "Night Workin' Blues" and "Why Did You Deegee?" were issued as Chess 1466 in the mid-summer of 1951, and at the end of July it was noted in Sam Phillips' logbook that he paid Rufus an advance on sales of fifty dollars. (CE)(MH)

 
Jackie Brenston
"MY REAL GONE ROCKET" – B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Jackie Brenston
Publisher: - B.L.P.C.
Matrix number: - U 66A
Recorded: - Probably July 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - October 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1469-A mono
MY REAL GONE ROCKET / TUCKERED OUT
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-12 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jackie Brenston - Vocal
Unknown - Trumpet and Saxophone
Ike Turner - Piano
Willie Sims - Drums
Willie Kizart – Guitar
 
If there were any doubts that Phillips' recordings with Jackie Brenston prefigured rock and roll, this should silence them. The piano is mixed way up front as Brenston continues the ''Rocket 88'' saga. It's a wild ride that almost goes out of control... as rock and roll should. Once again the pianist thunderous left hand is bolstered by an electric guitar. The identity of the group is unclear. Brenston seems to identify the saxophonist as Clint, and the presence of a trumpet suggests that we;re hearing the Steinberg outfit. The neatly executed section work similarly seems to imply skilled musicians, not honkers and screamers. The energy is contagious and some of the line are good: ''When I cruise through your town like that great Northwestern / You can tell everybody there goes mighty Jackie Brenston'', Yes, indeed. (CE)(HD)

 
Jackie Brenston
"TUCKERED OUT" – B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Larry Meeks
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - U 85
Recorded: - Probably August 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - October 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1469-B mono
TUCKERED OUT / MY REAL GONE ROCKET
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-15 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jackie Brenston - Vocal
Unknown - Saxophone
Phineas Newborn Jr. - Piano
Calvin Newborn - Guitar
Phineas Newborn Sr. - Drums
 
Songwriter Larry Meeks is a white, Colorado-based lounge pianist and tunesmith who worked at one time or another with Benny Goodman, Les Elgart, and Tennessee Ernie Ford. In 1951, he was in the Navy, based in Millington, Tennessee... just north of Memphis. ''I was a pianist with the Navy band'', Meeks said recently. ''I wrote this song for the score of a musical comedy titled, Prearie Navy'' which had only two performances at the Auditorium in Memphis. I wrote it for me to sing in the show and I made a demo recording of the song at Sun studios and later learned it was recorded at Sun with a group or performer whom I didn't know''. ''Prairie Navy'' ran in March 1951, so Phillips must have sat on the song for a few months. The riffing horns are mixed way down; in their place, the band chants the refrain. Calvil Newborn's guitar solo is jazz all the way. The often unreliable Chess matrixing system indicates that this title was recorded after ''My Real Gone Rocket''. Brenston himself recalled that it was touted as the A-side and he felt that his career lost momentum as a result. After sixty years, Meeks finally heard Brenston's record and declared that any resemblance between the way he heard the tune and Brenston's performance was accidental. We'll take that to be a negative verdict, but there's a case to be made for saying that ''Tuckered Out'' is as tight and organised as ''Real Gone Rocket'' is loose and unbridled, and together they made a fine pairing. (CE)

 
Jackie Brenston (Billy Love)
"JUICED" – B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: - Milton Morse Love
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - U 7349
Recorded: - Possibly July 24, June 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - October 1, 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1472-A mono
JUICED / ROCKET 88
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-11 mono digital
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Billy Love - Vocal and Piano
Possibly Charles Walker - Saxophone
Unknown Saxophone
Calvin Newborn - Guitar
Unknown - Bass and Drums
 
This track is most certainly deserving of more than a passing footnote in the annals of Rhythm & Blues. A cryptic entry in Phillips own session files states that Billy Love was paid $100 for the composition, session piano, and vocal, but the irony was, of course, that this track was released under Jackie Brenston's name as a follow-up to "Rocket 88". It's uproarious from start to finish. Love mimics Brenston's habit of yelling the soloist's name and wooping throughout the solos. It might even be his own nickname, Red, that he yells during the intro. Roy Brown was the godfather of this performance, but Love takes Brown a step beyond. There's prodigious energy here... Love's rock solid left hand anchors and drives the recording, playing in unison with the bass. Guitarist Calvin Newborn fills incessantly around the vocal and takes an extended solo. Charles Walker's sax is buried until the solo. Sam Phillips remembered the day vividly: ''Ike Turner took Jackie Brenston's band away from us, and so we had a problem. At that time Chess was screaming for some more top notch product so I recorded Billy Love singing ''Juiced'' and we used that as the follow up song. It was the best song around and I bought it off Billy for, release as, Jackie'' Released around October 1, 1951, ''Juiced'' was the finest record Jackie Brenston ever made. (CE)(HD)(MH)

 
Jackie Brenston
"INDEPENDENT WOMAN" – B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - Jackie Brenston
Publisher: - Unknown
Matrix number: - U7350 - Acetate
Recorded: - March 5, 195
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - October 1, 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single Chess 1472-B mono
INDEPENDENT WOMAN / JUICED
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-8 mono digital
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jackie Brenston - Vocal and Baritone Sax
Raymond Hill - Tenor Sax
Eugene Fox - Tenor Sax
Ike Turner - Piano
Willie Kizart - Guitar
Jesse Knight - Bass
Willie Sims - Drums
 
A musical clone of ''Rocket 88'' without the automotive hook. Chess coupled it with ''Juiced'' and released it as Brenston's third single. His career lost further momentum as a result. As before, he shouts encouragement to Raymond Hill during the sax solo. In fact, there's so much saxophone, it's almost a Raymond Hill record. One possibility is that dissension had already set in between Brenston and Ike Tuner's band, leading Phillips to retrieve this substandard cut and pair it with ''Juiced'', a song that didn't even have Brenston on it, even though it was credited to him. (CE)(HD)

 
Evangelist Gospel Singers of Alabama
"LEANING ON THE LORD" - B.M.I. - 2:55
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U-7351
Recorded: - Unknown Date August 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - 1953
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1473-A mono
LEANING ON THE LORD / LORD STOP THE WAR
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Evangelist Gospel Singers of Alabama
More Details Unknown
 
The Evangelists are good, no matter who recorded them. What's good here includes the highly syncopated rhythm and highly arranged and rehearsed performance. This quartet didn't walk into a studio and lay down a track after agreeing on a key, a tempo and some lyrics. In that sense they differ from many of the blues performances presented here. These guys rehearsed, and they worked the piano player into their arrangement. he's not just comping mindlessly behind them; the piano is driving and fronting the performance. The cold stop at the end and the voicing of the final vocal chord tells you that a lot of prep work went into what you're hearing. Perhaps the strongest evidence to suggest this may not have been a Phillips recording is the sheer skill that went into balancing the lead vocalist with the quartet, and the quartet as a whole with the piano. The studio at 706 Union was small and some other Phillips recordings of the era show that Sam was not always skilled at doing this kins of balancing act. This ''Leaning On The Lord'' hymn was one that the Golden Gate Quartet, the Famous Blue Jay Singers, and many others had recorded. (HD)

 
Evangelist Gospel Singers of Alabama
"LORD STOP THE WAR" - B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: - Traditional
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U-7352
Recorded: - Unknown Date August 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - 1953
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1473-B mono
LORD STOP THE WAR / LEANING ON THE LORD
 
Name (Or. No.Of Instruments)
Evangelist Gospel Singers of Alabama
More Details Unknown
 
Before we get into the music, we want to remind everyone near and far that, while there are discographical reasons to believe these may be recordings made by Sam Phillips, we remain sceptical on aural evidence alone. The record labels offer no clues: no composer and no publisher. Now the music. Originally appearing on one side of Chess 1473, this ''Lord Stop The War'' might have competed for radio airtime because of its content. The Korean War loomed large over the black community and dragged its tendrils into the repertoire of gospel quartets and their recording session. The content was clear: Let our boys come home from this senseless war being fought god knows where over issues none of us understands. Just make our families and community whole again. That message, sung to a familiar 8-bar structure is what you get here for 2:46 sec. What it lacks in originality, it more than gains in topicality. A lot of P's get popped, but that's what happens when you're singing about ''everybody Praying''. The topicality is hammered home in the final line when the group asks God not to stop the War, but to Stop This War. Amen. (HD)

 
Harmonica Frank
"STEP IT UP AND GO" – B.M.I. - 2:13
Composer: - Frank Floyd
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - U 82
Recorded: - July 15, 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - August 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1475-C mono
STEP IT UP A ND GO / GOIN' AWAY WALKIN'
Reissued: - 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Harmonica Frank Floyd - Vocal, Guitar and Harmonica
 
When the first incarnation of Chess 1475A was snatched off the market after a few weeks, it was replaced by ''Step It Up And Go'' as a new partner for ''Swamp Root''. Like many blues songs, its lineage begins with the first recorded version, even if the original wasn't necessarily by the original writer. Charlie Burse recorded an unissued song called ''Oil It Up And Go'' on July 8, 1939. Blind Boy Fuller was almost certainly around when that song was cut, on March 5, 1940, recorded ''Step It Up And Go''. In between, on November 22, 1939, Tommy McClennan recorded ''Bottle It Up And Go''. The first hillbilly version was by Blue Friday & His Daniel Boone Ramblers on Rich-R-Tone in 1949. Big Jeff's Dot recording appeared at rougly the same time as the Maddox Brothers and Rose's ''New Step It Up And Go'', and both became juke box favorites. The Maddoxes' record was notified to Billboard in April 1951 and Big Jeff's in May. Frank recorded it in July. His version features some spirited interchanges between the guitar and harmonica and possesses a wonderful drive. Frank Floyd was a tight little rhythm section. He sounds like both Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee rolled into one.

 
Harmonica Frank
"SWAMP ROOT" – B.M.I. - 3:34
Composer: - Frank Floyd
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - U 80
Recorded: - July 15, 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - August 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1475-B mono
SWAMP ROOT / GOIN' AWAY WALKIN'
Reissued: - 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Harmonica Frank Floyd - Vocal, Guitar and Harmonica
 
After hearing ''Swamp Root'', it is impossible to imagine how record collectors could ever have thought that Harmonica Frank was black. This song bears some similarity to Buddy Jones' 1937 recording ''Hunting Blues'' *reworked in 1950 by Joe Stewart on Star Talent), although it was probably a medicine show or vaudeville routine dating back much further. Chris Bouchillon was the first to record in this talking blues style, but that doesn't mean he originated it. Frank was the master of pastiche. A bit from here, a bit from there; some definitely from Bouchillon. Water from an ancient well perhaps, but it was idiosyncratically his own. The title comes from a patent medicine: Dr. Kilmer's Swamproot: Kidnet, Liver, and Bladder Cure. Frank probably sold it somewhere along the way. And along that way, he picked up couplets like ''The wine goes in, the truth comes out / Two more shots and I'll tell it all...'' Every verse has noises that most of us renounced at the age of five, but no matter, it adds to the sloppy drunk charm of the tune.

 
Harmonica Frank
"GOIN' AWAY WALKIN'" – B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - Frank Floyd
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - U 81
Recorded: - July 15, 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - August 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1475-Alternate B mono
GOIN' AWAY WALKIN' / SWAMP ROOT
Reissued: - 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Harmonica Frank Floyd - Vocal, Guitar and Harmonica
 
On ''Goin' Away Walkin'' out comes the harmonica, and here comes the blues. Now this could have fooled some folks into thinking they were hearing a black guy. ''Goin' Away Walkin''' is basically a crazy-quilt of blues cliches, but it proves that Frank had a genuine feel for blues cadences and rhythms. Probably no more than a few lines were freshly minted for the recording but Frank delivers it all with real conviction. It is not hard to see the delight that Phillips must have taken in recording the man because there is a real intuitive musically underlying every performance.

 
Howlin' Wolf
"MOANIN' AT MIDNIGHT" – B.M.I. - 2:55
Composer: - Chester Burnett- Carl Germany
Publisher: - Arc Music Incorporated 
Matrix number: - U-84 - Take 1
Recorded: - July 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - August 15, 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single Chess 1479-A mono
MOANIN' AT MIDNIGHT / HOW MANY MORE YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15500 AH-3 mono digital
MEMPHIS DAYS - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION - VOLUME 2
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Howlin' Wolf - Vocal and Harmonica
Willie Johnson - Guitar
Willie Steele - Drums
James Cotton - Harmonica
 
Many words have been devoted to unraveling just how and why this is among the truly seminal recordings in the almost 100-year history of recorded blues. Some have written elegantly about it, some inelegantly, but all have been transfixed by the emotional impact of the eerie, wordless moan and the one chord vamp over which Wolf sing his song. The sub-par recording quality only enhances the enigma. It's as if you're hearing voices of the dead rising through a miasma of sound. Musicologist Ted Giola made a detailed analysis of the song, exploring Wolf's uncertain tonality and guitarist Willie Johnson's ability to shuttle between ''a predictable rhythmic figure and acerbic inter actions that push and prod Wolf in his bristly vocal''. Even parsed and analyzed, it retains its inscrutability.
 
Later in life, Sam Phillips would sometimes place a retrospective spin on what he'd done, but he was clearly high on Howlin' Wolf from the beginning. Writing to Nashville disc jockey Gene Nobles on September 2, 1951... three days after this record was released, Phillips said, ''Moanin' At Midnight'' is the side - I know I'm partial, but it is the most different record I ever heard''. Wolf still had his radio show on KWEM and was probably plugging the record heavily. Phillips told Nobless that it was already the top-selling blues record in Memphis. On November 10, it entered the national Rhythm And Blues Charts, the first of Wolf's six charted hits. (CE)

 
Howlin' Wolf
"HOW MANY MORE YEARS" – B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Chester Burnett- Carl Germany
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - U-84
Recorded: - July 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - August 15, 1951
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm standard single Chess 1479-B mono
HOW MANY MORE YEARS / MOANIN' AT MIDNIGHT
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15500 AH-2 mono digital
MEMPHIS DAYS - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION - VOLUME 2
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Howlin' Wolf - Vocal and Harmonica
Willie Johnson - Guitar
Willie Steele - Drums
Possible Albert Williams - Piano
James Cotton - Harmonica
 
Reached at number 4 at the Billboard's Rhythm and Blues charts
 
''I was totally blinded by the sound of his voice'', Sam Phillips told Peter Guralnick many years later. ''I'm not sure I heard anything in the way of instrumentation''. Those are the words of someone attuned to every aspect of recording, and that alone speaks to Howlin' Wolf authority. Even a list of all Wolf's obvious and not-so-obvious influences, like Tommy Johnson, Charley Patton, and Jimmy Rodgers, doesn't half-way explain the ageless wonder of his debut. He was so much more than the sum of those parts. This is one of those records that could have come from nowhere but Mississippi. There's a piano on ''How Many More Years'', suggesting that it might have been recorded at a different time from ''Moanin' At Midnight''. And there were earlier versions of ''How Many More Years'', suggesting that it was the presumed A-side until Wolf suddenly cut loose with ''Moanin' At Midnight''. One possibility is that the pianist though ''Moanin'' was a run-through and sat it out. The identity of the pianist has never been nailed beyond doubt, but there seems to be common assent that it's Ike Turner, even though Phillips didn't recall Turner ever working with Wolf. Guitarist Willie Johnson later insisted that he had a hand in writing the song on the way to the studio. ''I'm the one (who)... printed it and put the words in his mouth'', he said. Wolf disputed that claim, but it was a moot point at first because the putative composer of both sides was Carl Germany, who was also credited with writing several other songs on Chess, including some of Sax Mallard's records and one of Jackie Brenston's song, ''Hi Ho Baby''. It wasn't unknown for Chess to use composer credits to repay favors. Alan Freed was often thus rewarded, and Russ Fratto, who ran a Chicago stationary company, received one third of Chuck Berry's ''Maybellene'' in return for who knows what. Rufus Thomas's first single, ''Night Walkin' Blues'', was credited to Marty Witzel, who'd introduced Leonard Chess to his wife. Carl Germany, a mid-western dance promoter and Chicago disc jockey, was similarly blessed. These days, though, the composer credit read as it always should: Chester Burnett. (CE)

 
The Spiritual Stars
''GOOD RELIGION'' - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U 7374
Recorded: - Probably 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: 1951
First appearance: Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1485-A mono
GOOD RELIGION / I'LL SEARCH HEAVEN
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310 JK-10-23 mono digital
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1959
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
The Spiritual Stars
Unidentified Group Members
 
The Spiritual Stars were good! You heard it here. This time they turn their hands and voices to the oft-recorded tune ''So Glad I Got Good Religion'' (check out the Blind Boys of Alabama for a definitive version). just listen to this record and hear great harmonic variants of what would in lesser hands be simple 4-square chords. Not on this record, though. Nothing is ordinary here. If Sam Phillips truly had recorded this music in his tiny studio back in 1951, maybe he fallen on his knees, poured his Jack Daniels down the drain, trashed his little black book on the spot, and gone into the gospel music business. Of course that would mean the history of American popular culture as we know it would never have been written. Maybe that's too steep a price to pay. But one way or the other, he would have known, as you do, that this is really a hell of a record. (HD)

 
The Spiritual Stars
''I"LL SEARCH HEAVEN'' - B.M.I. - 3:04
Composer: - Mae Glover-Beatrice Brown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U 7373
Recorded: - Probably 1951
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: 1951
First appearance: Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1485-B mono
I'LL SEARCH HEAVEN / GOOD RELIGION
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310 JK-10-22 mono digital
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1959
 
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
The Spiritual Stars
Unidentified Group Members
 
This is a very good record. There is no real evidence that these guys ever saw the inside of 706 Union Avenue, but it's nice to think that they might have. Again, the record label offers no clue. The only subscript is ''Spiritual Series'', and we could have guessed that. The group holds more harmonic interest and greater dynamic range than the Evangelist Gospel Singers and comes across as slightly more ''modern'' because of it. The 16-bar structure and melodic line of this song bear more than a passing similarity to the classic ''Peace In The valley'', but it was a loose adaption of Mae Glover and Beatrice Brown's 1945 song, ''I'll Search Heaven For You'', recorded by the Mill Brothers among others. (HD)

 

 

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