Driving around in the car it was still business as usual: “radio tuned to rock’n’roll.” At home newly discovered music via LP was beginning to supplant the blastings of the little tabletop radio perched on a homemade desk. Harbingers of a sea change in listening habits and musical interests were records like Detroit Blues: The Early 1950s on Blues Classics, the first (and only at the time) Robert Johnson album King of the Delta Blues Singers, and 1965’s Big Mama Thornton In Europe which inspired an ultimately unsuccessful trip up the coast to see and hear her live at a small blues festival. Another year or so and this “new” music had almost completely overtaken the “old.” Roll over, John Lennon and tell Mick Jagger the news!
Here’s a June Cheeks bonus . . . sort of. This 1960s clip from TV Gospel Time begins with Mme Emily Bram’s introduction, “And now, friends, we bring to you The Sensational Nightingales singing ‘Somewhere to Lay My Head.’” The lead singer here, Charles Johnson, was known as “Little June Cheeks” before joining the Nightingales after Rev. Julius Cheeks’ 1959 departure. Johnson certainly has no trouble filling Cheeks’ shoes on this smoking performance. The ’Gales here are JoJo Wallace on guitar, along with Bill Woodruff, Carl Coates, and a young Otis Clay.
The Rev. Julius Cheeks, on hiatus from The Sensational Nightingales, sang with The Soul Stirrers for about five minutes one time around 1954. He recorded several takes of “All Right Now,” sharing fiery leads with Sam Cooke; none were originally issued, all are good enough to have been. This is take 4.
The Soul Stirrers • All Right Now (Take 4 Alternate) • 1954
Photo: “The Sensational Nightingales, New York, 1958” (detail). Left to right, Dewey Young, Julius Cheeks, Jo Jo Wallace. Photo by Lloyd Yearwood from The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times by Tony Heilbut, Simon and Schuster, 1971.
Here is a fantastic clip of Josephine Baker from the 1927 silent filmLa Sirène des Tropiques. Check out the source post, on Dangerous Minds, for a brief bio on the piece. And thanks to Lou Curtiss of Folk Arts Rare Records for pointing the way to this. . . .
In January 1950 a trio of young Chicago blues musicians made a handful of now legendary recordings for the small Parkway label. The trio was made up of Muddy Waters on guitar, Leroy Foster on drums, and Little Walter on harmonica with vocals contributed by all three. The records were issued as by the Baby Face Leroy Trio or the Little Walter Trio as Muddy was under contract to Aristocrat (soon to become Chess). This group recorded eight terrific sides, most of them issued on Parkway, but also leased to Regal, Herald, and Savoy. What was not known until recently was that there were alternate takes of a couple of the songs. I’m rather taken with Baby Face Leroy’s more mannered vocal on the alternate of “Boll Weevil,” (posted below), contrasted against a slightly wilder accompaniment by Muddy and Walter. Two alternate takes (one by Leroy, one by Walter) were issued legally as a 45 by Louis Records a couple of years ago, along with “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” Part One of which is heard in its complete form for the first time. The Louis Records issue of the two 45s is a limited edition and hopefully there are still some left if anyone’s interested*. They have also recently put out a rare unissued Big Boy Crudup 45 from a previously unknown Ace recording session.
*Louis Records website/blog. NOTE: Just read today (1-22-14) that there's only a handful of copies left of each 45 so if you fancy getting one or both, better hop on over to Louis Records and get to gettin’.
By the time of this August 1949 session, Jimmy Rogers had recorded as a singer/leader three times previously with only one tune released (on the Harlem label and that not under his own name). His other two sessions, for Ora Nelle and Regal, were not issued at the time. This Sunnyland Slim session for Apollo was no different. Jimmy would have to wait another year to start with Chess as a recording artist on his own (he was a month away from his first recordings as Muddy Waters’ guitarist). This, his initial recording of “That’s All Right,” has its own merits, with Jimmy’s assured vocal and solid guitar playing; he’s accompanied by yelps of encouragement from pianist Sunnyland Slim (including at one point a “Glory Hallelujah!”). History in the making.