Sunday, November 04, 2012

Vinyl Obscurities - the Sue label

The Sue label was THE collectors label for soul and R and B releases in the mid 60s. Launched in 1963 by Island boss Chris Blackwell, and featuring the same label design, only in yellow rather than white, it originally featured just records from the US Sue and Symbol labels, but under the guidance of Guy Stevens, who ran the great Scene club in London, it expanded into issuing records from a range of US labels, including Vee-Jay, King, Ace, Federal and Kent. Some of these had previously been issued on other UK labels such as London and Parlophone, but nearly all of them were classics. I wish I had had the sense (and the money) to buy all the releases at the time, as they are hard to get in really good condition nowadays, but here, for your delectation, are a dozen of the best.
1. Inez Foxx - Mockingbird/ He's The One You Love. Mint value £25.
This was the first release on the label in 1963 and one of six releases on Sue by Inez and her brother Charlie Foxx. The duo, from North Carolina, had their greatest success with this song in the UK six years later but their other releases on Sue - Jaybirds, Ask Me, Hurt By Love, Competition and La De Da I Love you - were all equally good.

2. Derek Martin - Daddy Rollin' Stone/ Don't Put me Down Like This. Mint value £100.
This R and B cracker was written and first recorded by Otis Blackwell in 1953 but this was the definitive version for me. Shame about Derek's name being mis-spelt on the label. Later covered by the Who.

3. The Daylighters - Oh Mom (Teach me How To Uncle Willie)/ Hard-headed Girl. Mint value £45.
Another brilliant R and B dance number, this was written by Daylighters member Chuck Colbert. Zoot Money's cover version is probably better known but this, for me, is the real deal.
4. Freddy King - Driving Sideways/ Hideaway. Mint value £40.
Freddy (or Freddie) was one of great Kings of the blues guitar, along with B B and Albert, and this is typical of his work. Hideaway, his best known record was previously released on Parlophone in 1961.  Freddy died in 1976.

5. Ike and Tina Turner - I Can't Believe What You Say/ My Baby Now. Mint value £40.
Ike and Tina were another staple of the Sue label, with four single releases. This is another R and B classic.  Check out this great live clip on Youtube.

6. Chris Kenner - Land of 1000 Dances/ That's My Girl. Mint value £35.
Chris was one of the greats of New Orleans R and B and this is his best known track, apart from his big hit I Like It Like That. It's a wonderful slow rocker recorded in 1961, but it became much more famous through Wilson Pickett's faster version in 1966 and went on to be covered by numerous other acts including Cannibal and the Headhunters. Chris died in 1976 having served time in Louisiana's notorious Angola prison. The Youtube version includes the rarely heard intro to the song.

7. James Brown - Night Train/ Why Does Everything Happen To Me. Mint value £35.
This one of James Brown's most famous records (first released on Parlophone in 1961) with its shouted list of US destinations for the train, but the song was originally recorded by Jimmy Forrest in 1952. A live version was the closing track on Brown's Live At The Apollo LP.

8. Huey 'Piano' Smith & The Clowns - If It Ain't One Thing Or Another/ Tu-ber Cu-lucas And The Sinus Blues. Mint value £25.
Another New Orleans great, pianist Huey Smith and his band recorded some of the greatest good time rock and roll of the late 50s, with various singers including Bobby Marchan and Frankie Ford. His most famous record is the classic double sider Don't You Just Know It and High Blood Pressure and the B side of this Ace single is in a similar vein to his other big hit Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.

9. Donnie Elbert - Little Piece Of Leather/ Do What'cha Wanna. Mint value £35.
This is another absolute classic by a man with a great falsetto who later became big on the Northern Soul scene when this one was re-released in 1972. An under-rated singer, Donnie first recorded for DeLuxe in the 50s and later for Vee-Jay, Parkway, Checker and Gateway, where this one was recorded. He relocated to the UK in 1966 and recorded for Polydor and Deram and later, in the 70s, for Avco-Embassy and All Platinum. He died in 1989.
10. Little Richard - Without You/  Dance What You Wanna. Mint value £40.
Little Richard's period with Vee-Jay in the mid 60s was not his finest and included some rather average re-recordings of his Specialty hits. This one is good though - a soulful version of the Danny Small song first recorded by Clyde McPhatter in 1957.
11. Thurston Harris & The Sharps - Little Bitty Pretty One/ I Hope You Won't Hold It Against Me. Mint value £30.
This reissue of Harris's 1957 hit is a rock and roll classic, first recorded by Bobby Day and later by Frankie Lymon and Clyde McPhatter, among others.
12. Shades Of Blue - Oh! Happy Day/ Little Orphan Boy. Mint value £35.
Shades of Blue were a blue eyed soul band from Michigan who had a major hit with this Edwin Starr song, which was later recorded by Edwin himself, with Blinky (withdrawn in the UK and now very collectable) and the Jackson 5.


At 6:28 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Brian Clark commented: Great Sue selection Nick, had a few of those singles back in the day, including "Mockingbird".
Bill Haynes said: Good to see the Sue label getting deserved plaudits..
In my top 10 albums I bought back in 62/63 on Sue - We Sing The Blues ( white cover blue script), still have it.
Seen the same title on different albums over the years but with various mixture of New Orleans tracks.


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