© 2002 Ace Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDCHM2 835 mono digital
B.B. KING - THE MODERN RECORDINGS 1950 - 1951
 
2 Compact disc boxed set. An Ace Records Special Products. Yellow label. Ace logo and catalogue number  left from the center. 33-track set, which includes 8 previously unreleased sides. Each disc contains  comprehensive, track-by-track liner notes. On the front cover Ace logo left at bottom. On the back cover,  Modern, Ace and catalog number left on bottom. Also included in the boxed set, an 12-page booklet with  introduction, liner and session notes by Peter Gibbon, Bill Dahl and Roger Armstrong, plus biographical  information on B.B. King, and a detailed host of photographs and memorabilia.
 
When B.B. King went into Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Services sometime in July of 1950, he was  another relatively unknown blues singer and guitarist. He had already cut two 78s for Bullet Records that did  not register. So maybe it was not surprising that the name on the label of the first acetate was Bee Bee King.  Almost a year later he cut for the last time at Memphis Recording Service, as the Bihari brothers went into  dispute with Phillips. The final session of 1951 was cut (on new fangled tape) at the YMCA in Memphis, and  ironically produced his first hit record, ''3 O'Clock Blues''. That is just an outline of what is on this double  CD. It documents the early years of what was to become the longest running career in the blues. With the  distinct advantage of having the original acetates we have been able to piece together the original sessions. A  vast amount of research has been carried out to produce the nearest thing to a definitive understanding of  these sessions and this is very much part of the package.
 
But it is the audio that is the big surprise. Going back to the original 16 acetates where possible, our  engineers at SML have pulled out a sound that has probably never been heard before. Sure at times you have  to put up with some swish and some crackle, but the reward is that you are sucked into the original room in  which the recordings were made. The sheer openness and presence of the sound is remarkable, and detail and  even instrumentation can be heard with a clarity unmatched in previous issues. Of the Phillips' recordings all  but five sides are drawn from the original discs.
 
There are eight takes that have never been issued before in any form and many that haven't seen the light of  day since they came out in the 1970s. Finally the band is hot and the young Blues Boy is in top form, starting  were he continued with a broad understanding of the blues and all of its vagaries. An education for the mind  and body.
 
Disc 1 Contains
1 - Mistreated Woman (1982) MM1404-1
(Riley B. King-Jules Taub)
2 - Mistreated Woman (1950) MM1404-2 > RPM 304-A <
(Riley B. King-Jules Taub)
3 - B.B. Boogie (1950) MM1405-1 > RPM 304-B > 
(Riley B. King-Jules Taub)
4 - B.B. Boogie (1970) MM1405-2
(Riley B. King-Jules Taub)
5 - The Other Night Blues (1970) MM1438-1
(Riley B. King-Joe Josea)
6 - The Other Night Blues (1950) MM1438-2 > RPM 311-B <
(Riley B. King-Joe Josea)
7 - The Other Night Blues (2000) MM1438-3
(Riley B. King-Joe Josea)
8 - Walkin' And Cryin' (1950) MM1439-1 > RPM 311-A < 
(Riley B. King-Sam Ling)
9 - Walkin' And Cryin' (1982) MM1439-2
(Riley B. King-Sam Ling)
10 - Walkin' And Cryin' (2000) MM1439-3
(Riley B. King-Sam Ling)
11 - My Baby's Gone (1951) MM1469 > RPM 318-B < 
(Riley B. King-Jules Taub)
12 - Don't You Want A Man Like Me (2002) MM1470-1
(Riley B. King-Jules Taub)
13 - Don't You Want A Man Like Me (1951) MM1470-2 > RPM 318-A <
(Riley B. King-Jules Taub)
14 - Questionaire Blues (1969) MM1488
(Riley B. King-Joe Josea)
15 - B.B. Blues (Incomplete Take) (2002) MM1489-1
(Riley B. King-Jules Taub)
16 - B.B. Blues (2002) MM1499 -2
(Riley B. King-Jules Taub)
17 - B.B. Blues (1951) MM1489-3 < RPM 323-A <
(Riley B. King-Jules Taub)
Original Modern/RPM Recordings
 
Disc 2 Contains
1 - A New Way Of Driving (1969) MM1490
(Riley B. King-Sam Ling)
2 - Fine Lookin' Woman (2002) MM1491-1
(Riley B. King)
3 - Fine Lookin' Woman (1952) MM1491-2 > RPM 348-A <
(Riley B. King)
4 - Fine Lookin' Woman (2002) MM1491-3
(Riley B. King)
5 - Shake It Up And Go (1952) MM1805
(Riley B. King-Jules Taub)
6 - She's Dynamite (1951) MM1563 > RPM 323-B < 
(Husdon Whitaker)
7 - She's A Mean Woman (2002) MM1604-1
(Copyright Control)
8 - She's A Mean Woman (1951) MM1604-2 > RPM 330-A <
(Copyright Control)
9 - Hard Workin' Woman (1951) MM1605-1 > RPM 330-B
(Copyright Control)
10 - Hard Workin' Woman (2002) MM1605-2
(Copyright Control)
11 - Pray For You (1982) MM1606-1
(Riley B. King)
12 - Pray For You (2002) MM1606-2
(Riley B. King)
13 - 3 O'Clock Blues (1951) MM1682 > RPM 339-A <
((Riley B. King)
14 - That Ain't The Way To Do It (1951) MM1683-1 > RPM 339-B <
(Riley B. King)
15 - That Ain't The Way To Do It (1970) MM1683-2
(Riley B. King)
16 - She Don't Move Me No More (1952) MM1752 > RPM 348-B <
(Riley B. King)
Original Modern/RPM Recordings
 
All tracks recorded at The Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
except tracks 13-16 recorded at YMCA, Memphis, Tennessee
 
For Biography of Riley B. King see: > The Sun Biographies <
B.B. King's Modern/RPM recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Compilers Note

This CD contains the (almost) complete surviving recordings by B.B. King cut for Modern Records in 1950 and 1951, apart from two run-throughs of ''You Know I Love You''' (titled '''Darling I Love You'''). One Of these is complete, but tentative to say the least, while the other is a 1 minute fragment at a different tempo. Neither could be described as finished performances, and so are not worth issuing. Although there are occasional fluffed lines and other mistakes on some of the tracks, particularly on the previously unissued takes, the performances exude a confidence and a panache that overcomes what are relatively minor flaws. I have included the previously unissued incomplete take (1) of ''B.B. Blues''. This terminates prematurely because of a technical fault, which is a shame as it was really cooking. I felt that its 2'. 11 span was well worth inclusion.

The Acetates - Fact and Speculation

In column 2 in the chart below have allocated a number to each session. Also for convenience I have allocated a number to each of the acetates within each session. As we have no way of knowing in what order the acetates were recorded on, have allocated numbers to each acetate pretty much at random. So I have allocated 1.1 to the acetate with 'Walkin' And Cryin''' b/w 'B.'B. Boogie'', but could equally have allocated 1.2 to this disc. The number after the ' - ' indicates side. Again most of these are allocated at random, however because of the overlap on discs 1.2 & 2.2 we can assume that these correctly document the recording sequence, making the assumption that multiple takes of one song were recorded in sequence.

At least two of these acetates have not survived the ravages of time and Modern Records' owner Jules Bihari. When Ray Topping and Ted Carroll were copying acetates in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, the irascible Jules removed some acetates before they had been transferred. However Ray had already made some annotations and from those notes we can say that there was a third acetate from the session cut at Memphis Recording and Sound Service. have listed it as here and it apparently contained two takes of ''Don't You Want A Man Like Me\ ' and one of ''My Baby's Gone''. It seems likely that one of the takes of ''Don't You Want A Man Like Me'' is the master, though which one we do not know (hence the query as to which take was the issued one). We have sourced the track for this package from a 78 disc dub. One could speculate that there were further cuts on this acetate or that it was the last thing recorded on the session and so there was some dead land lets on it. It is possible that ''Shake It Up And Go'' and maybe even another take of ''My Baby's Gone'' were on this acetate, We may never know as we do not have this disc from this second Memphis Recording ans Sound session. If anyone knows differently, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Ray also noted that Jules removed a disc with two cuts of ''She's Dynamite''. However from the annotation ''more highs on second cut'', it would be fair to assume that these were mastering cuts of the same take with different eqs, and not two versions of the song. The original disc for this session is missing, but given the anecdotal evidence it would be sate to assume that It was a one song session, though there is a possibility that '; 'Shake It Up And Go'' was cut with it, rather than on the second session, According to Joe Bihari (co- owner of Modern), B.B.'s version of 'She's Dynamite'' (cut on May 27, 1951) was in response to the Tampa Red recording which was cut on April 27, 1951. The matrix number 1563 was allocated on release shortly after it was recorded.

As you might have gathered by now, the mystery track is 'Shake It Up And Go'' ', which was logged in Leslie Fancourt's B.B. King discography as part of the Tuff Green session in early 1952. However the other three cuts from the Tuff Green session have vibes heavily featured and the sound and style of these tracks is very different to ''Shake It Up And Go''. It really is not possible to come to any scientific conclusion as to the provenance of this cut, however it was almost certainly cut at Memphis Recording And Sound Services. Was it in response to Harmonica Frank's ''Step It Up And Go'', cut sometime in the first halt of 1951 at the same studio. If it was connected to this it might well militate on the side of it being part of the Dynamite' session cut in May 1951. The 20/ 20 ears of Ace Records' Ted Carroll are convinced however that it is part of the January session,

The Tapes – Mainly a Mystery

Original session master tapes never been found for ''3 O'Clock Blues'', ''That Ain't The Way To Do It'', and ''She Don't Move Me No More''. These sides were cut at the YMCA in Memphis after the Biharis' dispute with Sam Phillips in the summer of 1951.

- Roger Armstrong, 2002

With acknowledgement to Ray Topping, Peter Gibbon, Colin Escott, John Broven, and Ted Carroll.  

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

This is not a collection for the casual B.B. King fan in search of the man's greatest hits. On the other hand, for those desiring to dig deeper into the earliest Memphis recordings by the King of the Blues, this anthology represents true nirvana. Ace's comprehensive four-CD box set surveying B.B.'s lengthy tenure on the Bihari brothers' RPM and Kent labels contains the issued versions of these classic 1950-1951 performances, but here they're joined by a bevy of priceless alternate takes. They provide the most revealing look yet at the creative process behind his primordial Memphis waxings, many of them roduced by the equally legendary Sam Phillips.

When he first ventured into Sam's fledgling studio at 706 Union Avenue, B.B. was a raw young talent with a local radio program and a load of potential. By the time he left behind Memphis as his primary recording base, King was a fast-rising blues star boasting a busy touring itinerary and a number 1 rhythm and blues hit, ''3O'CIock Blues''.

Born 16 September 1925 in the heart of the Delta not far from the village of Itta Bena, Mississippi, Riley B. King didn't have it easy as a lad. "B.B. King's parents died when he was quite young, and the people that he worked for just kind of adopted him like he was their child'', said Purvis Henson (tenor saxophonist with Buddy Johnson's Band) whose uncle, Luther H. Henson was one of King's childhood teachers. "B,B. has always been very, very bright. And for a long time B.B. kind ff stayed by himself, they provided a place for him to stay. He used to go up to milk the cows, do whatever thing else around needed to be done, but he lived by himself. Yeah, he came up rather tough, kinda rough''.

B.B. was entranced by gospel music at an early age, But the blues made an equally indelible impression, thanks to his aunt's collection of 78s by Blind Lemon Jefferson and the exquisite Lonnie Johnson. T-bone Walker eventually became B.B.'s principal influence as an electric guitarist, and he came to love jazz virtuosos Charlie Christian and Diango Reinhardt. Even hillbilly music played a supporting role in Kings musical maturation.

"When I was trying to learn to read music, the books that I would buy had country songs in them,'', said B.B. in 1985. "I learned to read music by learning songs like 'You Are My Sunshine''' and 'My Darling Clementine''' These were the songs that they had the musical notation on for you to learn to read. So I knew that long before could even write a note of ''3 O'Clock Blues'''.

Not all of Kings mentors derived from shellac. Slide guitar master Bukka White was his mothers first cousin and the first gent he hooked up with when he hit Memphis in 1945. After retreating to Indianola, Mississippi for a time, he returned to the Bluff City in late 1948, ready to make his musical mark. Pioneering Memphis radio station WDIA would be B.B.'s ticket to success.

"I needed a job playing at one of the clubs'', said King in a 1979 interview, "And the club owners kind of forced me into radio, because they said if I was on the air, I would be able to advertise the place where I was playing, like some of the local dudes was doing. So when I went and applied for a job at the station, just as a musician playing, they gave me a job that very day, playing by myself - kind of folk guitar style. About two months later, my programme was very, very popular. so I started a trio then. And at that time, one of the disc jockeys left the station. And when the disc jockey left the station, they started training me to be a disc jockey''. Sponsored by an alcohol-based elixir called Pep-Ti- Kon, King picked up a lifelong nickname while manning the radio microphone daily at WDIA. He was billed as the Beale Street Blues Boy, then Blues Boy, Bee Bee, and ultimately B.B. In 1949, he made his first two 78s at the station for Jim Bulleit's Bullet logo.

The next year, B.B. signed with the Bihari brothers' Los Angeles-based RPM label, a new subsidiary of their Modern imprint. The association would endure for more than a decade. King's first RPM session ensued around July of 1950 at Memphis Recording Service under Phillips' supervision. Sun Records was still some 18 months from commencing operations, and Phillips was independently producing groundbreaking masters for Modern and Chess. "He recorded many of the people like Howling Wolf and many other guys for different labels, because he was the only person that had a studio'', noted King. "In fact, his studio was one of the first that I ever saw that was an actual studio''.

'Mistreated Woman', B.B.'s first RPM biscuit, is a languid outing anchored by Ford Nelsons 88s (inspired by Sonny Thompson's 'Long Gone'') and sporting a crisp high-neck guitar solo from the youthful-sounding King. But it's the opposite side, ''B.B. Boogie'', that's the dazzler, distinguished by several choruses of high- flying fretwork (the second take, first issued on a ,1969 Kent LP, is taken at a hotter tempo, B.B.'s axe sailing fast and free over Nelson's furiously pounding ivories). There are three takes of each side of B.B. 's RPM encore: ''The Other Night Blues'' and ''Walkin' And Cryin" are both after-hours odes, King's vocals clearly growing more confident.

Both sides of RPM 318 served as intriguing tuneups for subsequent King gems. ''My Baby's Gone'', cut on January 8, 1951 , is his first crack at what would morph into his horn-leavened early 1953 smash ''Woke Up This Morning''. The bubbly Latin rhythmic pulse is already in twidence and the lyrics are nearly identical, but the innovative tempo switch into full-blown jump mode that made ''Woke Up This Morning'' so distinctive isn't. King takes ''Don't You Want A Man Like Me'' at a more deliberate pace than the sprightly south-of-the-border tempo of his '54 L.A. treatment, concentrating on his vocal to the total abandonment of Lucille.

Solomon Hardy's squealing tenor sax wails throughout the mid-tempo ''B.B. Blues'', King shouting the blues full-throttle. The patriotic Korean War epic ''Ouestionnaire Blues'' and the double-entendre boogie ''A New Way Of Driving'' stem from the same session as ''B.B. Blues'' but had to wait a couple ot decades to see light of day on that same historic Kent LP. Rounding out the session was the easy-swinging ''Fine Lookin' Woman'', issued as RPM 348 with Hardy squawking up a storm and is also on offer here in an alternate rendition.

Hudson Whittaker - better known as kazoo-blowing Chicago blues patriarch Tampa Red - had just cut the rollicking original ''She's Dynamite'' for RCA Victor in March of 1951. Then B.B. grabbed hold of it two months later for RPM, hiking its energy level in the esteemed company ot two generations ot Newborns (Phineas Sr. on drums and Phineas Jr. on piano). Two takes of the mournful ''She's A Mean Woman'', cut June 18, 1951, convincingly spotlight B.B. the blues singer, with a noticeable nod to the melismatic innovations of Roy Brown - whose open- throated delivery also echoes through two renditions of B.B.'s rocking ''Hard Workin' Woman''. Why the Biharis chose to bury both takes of the driving ''Pray For You'' is anyone's guess - punchy horns push the proceedings hard (Richard Sanders probably handles the sax solo), and B.B.'s stinging solo attractively complements his roaring vocal.

As a result of a feud between Phillips and Modern over Sam handing Jackie Brenston's ''Rocket '88" to Chess, the Biharis eschewed the use of Phillips' studio that September to cut what would be King's national breakthrough, ''3 O'Clock Blues''. "When they would come in town, usually they would bring portable equipment like Ampex 600s, things like that'', said King, whose backing cast for the session included ill-fated pianist Johnny Ace, Sanders and Billy Duncan on saxes, and drummer Earl Forest. "And they would set them up in any vacant place that we could find. In tact, when we made ''3 O'Clock Blues'', we made it at the YMCA''.

B.B. picked up ''3 0'Clock Blues'' from fellow blues guitar master Lowell Fulson, who scored his own first national hit with it in late 1948. B.B.'s did even better, topping Billboard's rhythm and blues listings for live weeks in February and March of 1952. Its flip, ''That Ain't The Way To Do It'', is a playful romp highly reminiscent of Louis Jordan's ''Ain't That Just Like A Woman'' (the ebullient alto saxman was another primary King influence). Despite a large gap in the matrices, the bone- chilling ''She Don't Move Me No More'' apparently dates from the same session.

King had assembled a splendid crew of up-and-coming musicians for local gigs that he dubbed the Blues Boys. "The group first was mine, and then it was called the Beale Streeters after that'', he explained. "The Beale Streeters, at that time, consisted of Richard Sanders, Johnny Ace was the piano player - his name was John Alexander, but he later started making records under his own name with the Beale Streeters. In tact, the whole group was the group that I put together whan we made ''3 0'Clock Blues''. But when ''3 O'Clock Blues'' became a hit and I started to work out of a hooking agency called Shaw Artists Corporation, and Universal (Attractions), they didnt want me to have a band. They wanted me alone. So I left the band, and when did, gave it to Johnny Ace. And that's when he changed it. Instead of calling it the Blues Boys as it had been, he started calling it, the Beale Streeters''.

Memphis could hold B.B. King no longer. His vital recordings of the 1950s and early 1960s for the Bihari brothers, that inaugurated an open-ended regal reign, are fully revealed in his Ace box set, "The Vintage Years".

- Bill Dahl

Sources
B.B. King interview by Bill Dahl, Chicago, December 1979
B.B. King interview by Bill Dahl, Chicago, September 1985
Purvis Henson interview by John Braven & Richard Tapp, New York, 1989 (Unpubished)

Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B. B. King, by B.B. King with David Ritz
(New York Avon Books, 1996) 

Good Rockin' Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock And Roll,
by Colin Escott with Martin Hawkins (New York: St. Martins press, 1991) 

Blues Records, 1943-70: A Selective Discography, Volume 1, A K, by Mike Leadbitter and Neil Slaven (London: Record Information Services, 1987) 

Joel Whitburn's Top Singles 1942-1988, by Joel Whitburn (Menomonee Falls,
WI: Record Research Inc., 1988)

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

MODERN NUMEROLOGY - a short guide on dating Modern recordings and releases

Mike Rowe used the term numerology for his long-running feature in Blues Unlimited dealing with post war blues discographical matters, including various numbering and recording conundrums. In the same spirit, here is an attempt to explain how the Modern Records Group mastering system worked and to what extent it can be used to identify either the recording or release date of a particular performance. But first, a disclaimer is in order. This is more of a science than a black art, although some of the latter is needed from time to time, given the disappearance of vital documents over the years and the fact that the information they contained was, at times, self-contradictory or misleading!

To begin with Modern, like many small independent labels, didn't specifically discriminate between master numbers and release numbers. They tried to make do with one series with -A and -B suffices distinguishing one side of a record from another. If necessary, such as when a recording was released more than once, a suffix was added to the master number to distinguish it from a release number. This led to complications during the 100 series of releases and, after a few false starts, a proper master series was set up using an MM prefix that was independent of the record release number. The main master series commenced in February 1946 at MM200 and was used for both the Modern 500 series and the RPM label until the end of their runs. Other contemporary Modern group labels such as Flair and Crown used their own systems, and later labels such as Kent reverted to the -A and -B suffix system for reasons explained below.

Starting in early 1946, performances recorded on acetate by Modern artists under the Bihari brothers' (who owned Modern) supervision were allocated MM prefix master numbers generally at the time of recording. Recordings done elsewhere and then bought-in by Modern such as those from Bill Quinn's Gold Star, Herb Rippa's Blue Bonnet or Bernie Besman's labels tended to keep the master number from their original recordings. Those that were allocated MM numbers at their time of recording can thus be dated quite accurately based on the dates written or sometimes stamped on the original acetate. Moreover, in a particular session, the take chosen as the one to be used for release of a given song was reproduced as a suffix to the master number and appeared on the released disc. Thus, for example, we know that ''Milky White Way'' by the Floyd Dixon Trio was recorded on October 19, 1949, and that take 3 was used for the master that was released as Modern 724. This system worked well until tape came along... With the advent of magnetic tape recording, the output of a session was now typically a reel or two of tape rather than acetates. The real time allocation of master and take numbers and laborious transcription of these on to the acetates was now no longer strictly necessary as the tape contained all the output of the session, in chronological order, and, in contrast to acetates, could be played over and over again. Professional studios that were available for hire and always had a resident engineer continued to document the tape boxes with the same degree of precision, as they would have marked up acetates. Thus sessions recorded, for example, at Universal Recorders, Radio Recorders and at Capitol Studios in Hollywood would have full information on the tape box label, Takes and their status (e.g. incomplete take, hold or master) together with date of recording would thus be preserved. However, when smaller independent labels did their own recordings, that discipline tended to disappear. An engineer didn't need to be closely involved in each and every take and the owners, such as the Bihari brothers, could operate the tape machine themselves. Under these circumstances the temptation to reduce the tape box information to a quick scrawl of the artist's name on the box together with a few tentative titles tended to become the usual method of operation. Allocation of master numbers and take identification was left as a later task.

These developments led to the situation where it became the practice to allocate 'master' numbers only when a couple of performances were chosen for release on a given disc. The next two free numbers in the ''master'' series were taken and these were allocated to the particular release, irrespective of the session that gave rise to the recording. Thus the MM series became more of a control number series for lacquers and metalwork, rather than relating to the date of recording. However, since they were allocated more or less consecutively, they are still very valuable for dating a disc, but now they relate to the date of mastering/release rather than the recording date. Like most systems that undergo substantial change, there was a cut over period at Modern, during the 1951/52 time frame. In general, acetate was in use below about MM1700 and thus those numbers bear a general relationship to recording date. This is not a hard and fast rule and there are some anomalies, as we shall see. By contrast, those above MM1800 are control numbers and are closely related to record release dates. Because of this tact, above MM1800, with very few exceptions, the control numbers were used on released records, right through to the last one in the series - MM3188 - ''Can't Keep From Loving You'' by Van Robinson on Modern 1028 in December 1957. Thus unlike the session-by-session system, unreleased recordings in the later system were never allocated a number. As a consequence, later releases almost always used the next two numbers in the series. As the same distinction could be gained by reverting to the use of -A/ -B or -1/-2 suffixes to the record release number, that is exactly what was done for the later Modern 1000 series and other labels such as Kent. In tact it became the general industry practice by the mid-60s.

So it's all quite clear then as to how to date Modern releases - provided that the recording didn't come along in the muddy changeover period from acetate to tape, the MM number gives a good guide to either the recording or the release date, doesn't it? Well not quite! The system worked well enough provided that the artist was recording at home rather than away. When recordings were done on the road or in a remote studio such as Memphis Recording And Sound Service at 706 Union in Memphis, there were basically four choices for master numbering that could be used. They were:

a) allocate a block of numbers before travel (thus making them appear slightly early in the chronological sequence) b) allocate a block of numbers after travel (making them appear slightly later in the chronological sequence) c) allocate the numbers at the time of remote recording (running the risk of duplicated master numbers which, in Modern's case, occurred on a number of occasions) d) wait until a particular recording was about to be issued and then allocate a master number (this was effectively a forerunner Of the control system and also meant that there was no clear method of Identifying the individual takes involved)

Based on Modem archive research, looks as if all four methods were utilised and that at least methods b) and d) above were used for B,B. King. For the first three RPM releases that were recorded at 706 Union, method d) was certainly used. The master numbers were allocated when the corresponding RPM singles were being readied for release. From the first session, cuts for ''Mistreated Woman'' (MM1404) are to be found on the same physical acetate as ones for ''The Other Night Blues'' (MM1438). Likewise, takes of ''Walkin' And Cryin''' (MM1439) are on the same acetate as those of ''B.B. Boogie'' (MM1405), so all these four numbers can reasonably be traced to the same session in the middle of 1950. B.B. King researchers have put this as July 1950 although it's interesting to note that cuts of the unissued Gospel Travelers ''I've Been Changed'' appear at the end of the ''The Other Night Blues'' acetate and the excellent Gospel Records Discography by Cedric Hayes and Bob Laughton date their Modern recordings as June 1950. For the second session we again have cross-coupling acetate evidence that the performances used on RPM 318 were recorded at the same session as ''B.B. Blues'' (MM1489) and ''Fine Lookin' Woman'' (MM1491) and this has been estimated to be on or close to 8 January 1951. Master numbers were allocated for RPM 318's release, but, by contrast, the other recordings from this session were assigned the consecutive numbers MM1488-91 (method b).

In each case, the master numbers were subsequently hand-written on the typed Memphis Recording And Sound Service labels (see illustrations). For the third session, the sides used on RPM 330 seem to have been allocated their numbers on return from Memphis (method b) along with ''Pray For You'' and the incomplete ''Darling I Love You''. This session has been traced from Memphis paperwork to be on or about June 18, 1951. By the time ''3 O'Clock Blues'' needed a master number the next available was MM1682, immediately after the numbers used for a Roy Hawkins session recorded on September 14, 1951. This fits in with the YMCA session being in September 1951. Using method d) again, the follow-up single to ''3 O'Clock Blues'' needed just one ''new'' master number. ''Fine Lookin' Woman'' had already been allocated MM1491 from the second 706 Union session, so the next free (MM1752) appears to have been allocated to \ 'She Don't Move Me No More''. This is why the master number is somewhat adrift from the other YMCA session recordings.

Would that all discographical nightmares were this simple!

- Peter Gibbon, January 2002

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© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©