Monday, July 02, 2012

Vinyl Obscurities - Vocalion label

The Vocalion label dates back to 1916 and in the US issued many classic 'race records', including the  78s by Robert Johnson. In the UK the label made a comeback in the mid sixties, replacing the Vogue label, and was part of the Decca group, despite bearing the Vogue name on its labels. Many of Vocalion's UK releases were classic soul and blues records from the Duke/Peacock/Sure-Shot/Back Beat stable in Houston, although it also released rock and soul orientated singles on labels such as GNP Crescendo, Fat Fish and Vault. Other releases included an early 45 by a certain Davie Jones and the King Bees worth a cool £1000 (sadly I don't own a copy!).
1. The Olympics - The Stomp/ Mash Them Taters. Mint value £20.
This is listed in the Rare Record Guide as being on the Vogue label with the same label number but as you can see it also came out on Vocalion shortly after the change from Vogue to Vocalion. It's a typical up tempo dance number by this LA based doowop group who had a smash with the novelty Western Movies and went on to have mid sixties soul numbers such as Baby Do The Philly Dog.
2. Joe Hinton - Funny How Time Slips Away/ You Gotta Have Love. Mint value £30.
It's a close run thing whether Jimmy Elledge or Joe Hinton did the best version of 'Funny'. Both of them sold a million with this Willie Nelson song and Joe's version is certainly more soulful and contains a fantastic high note at the end. Joe started off singing gospel before being signed by Don Robey but sadly he died of skin cancer in 1968 aged just 38.
3. Lisa Richards - Mean Old World/ Take A Chance. Mint value £70.
Very little appears to be known about Lisa Richards except that this was apparently recorded in New York and somehow ended up being issued on Sure-Shot. It's a mid tempo soul styled song with a certain charm I think, but a one-off recording by Ms Richards.
4. Roy Head - Apple Of My Eye/ I Pass The Day. Mint value £50.
Texas wild man Roy Head scored Vocalion's biggest hit with Treat Her Right. This follow up didn't quite match it in terms of excitement but has a great guitar break midway through. Roy has performed in various musical styles over the years, including rockabilly, R and B and country. He's still performing today and remains a real showman on stage.
5. O V Wright - Poor Boy/ I'm In Your Corner. Mint value £20.
Overton Vertis Wright had one of the greatest soul voices of all time and released a string of superb singles, initially on Goldwax (That's How Strong My Love Is) and then on Back Beat when Don Robey claimed he had him on contract. Most of his records were produced by Willie Mitchell and his death in 1980 deprived the world of a great talent.
6. Miss Lavell - Everybody's Got Somebody/ The Best Part Of Me. Mint value £30.
Miss Lavell (Lavelle White) recorded extensively for Duke but only had one single released in the UK. It's a bluesy number which shows her exciting, raw voice off well. Lavelle is still performing and put on a great show at last year's Ponderosa Stomp.
7. Junior Parker - These Kind of Blues part 1 and 2. Mint value £40.
(Little) Junior Parker was a giant of the blues, having been a member of the Beale Streeters in 1950 with Bobby Bland (another staple of Vocalion in the UK) and B B King. He recorded for Sun (including Mystery Train, later covered by Elvis) and produced a string of classic soul/blues records on Duke. He died aged just 39 in 1971.
8. The Challengers - Walk With Me/ How Could I? Mint value £10.
The Challengers were a surf music band famous mainly for instrumentals such as Torquay and The Man From UNCLE and LPs including Surfbeat and Wipe Out. Walk With Me is a vocal track and I couldn't locate it on YouTube, so here's something they recorded earlier.
9. Leon Haywood - Ain't No Use/ Hey Hey Hey. Mint value £30.
Leon is best known for his funk/soul records of the 70s such as I want To Do Something Freaky To You, but he started his career backing Guitar Slim and Big Jay McNeely and was later keyboardist with Sam Cooke. This mid sixties soul side on Fat Fish showed signs of the success he was to enjoy later and is popular with Northern soul fans.
10. Tommy Neal - Goin' To A Happening/ Tee Ta. Mint value £50.
This is something of a Northern soul anthem and was popular in the Manchester clubs of the late 60s and 70s. Written and produced by Richard 'Popcorn' Wylie and Tony Hestor it was recorded for the Vault label in the US, but I know nothing about Tommy Neal.


At 9:16 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nick. Nice listing of Vocalion 45's. i don't have any of them; in fact I don't think I've got any records on vocalion at all. There does seem to be a fair bit of crossover / reissue-ing on vogue / Vocalion as I've seen 3 or 4 of the Bobby Blands on both labels with same release numbers. Will check all of the youtube links now.
John S


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home