Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blues and gospel on 78

Before vinyl there was shellac: heavy, extremely fragile and difficult to transport. Early rock and roll records were released on ten inch 78s and many of them today are quite collectable, although early Elvis and Bill Haley 78s turn up at car boots often. In most cases, if a record was issued on both 45 and 78 it is the the 45 that is more valuable, the exceptions being those 78s issued at the very end of their era, in 1959 and 1960. Elvis's The Girl of My Best Friend is valued at £750 on 78 but I've never seen a copy, and it's rumoured that 78s of It's Now or Never might exist.
I've got quite a few 78s in my collection, although several have been accidentally smashed over the years. I daren't sell them on Ebay as I don't trust sending them through the post, no matter how well packaged they may be. But then again, I probably wouldn't want to sell some of them anyway.
I'm featuring a few American and early UK issues this time, including some great 1950s gospel, with Youtube links where available. Enjoy!
1. Marvin Phllips & the Men From Mars - Wine Woogie/ Old Man's Blues. Specialty 445.
Released in 1952, this was the first release by the man who was the 'Marvin' of Marvin and Johnny. There were several Johnny's but only one Marvin. Great jump blues.
2. Little Esther & Junior with Johnny Otis Orch - Get Together Blues/ Johnny Otis Orch with the Vocaleers - Chitlin' Switch. Savoy 824. Excellent early R and B track by Little Esther Phillips with Johnny Otis. Discovered by Otis, Esther had one of the greatest voices of all time and went on to have a successful career after recovering from heroin addiction in the late 50s. Junior was apparently Junior Ryder but I don't have any solid info on him. Sadly I can't find Get Together Blues on Youtube so here's Esther's Double Crossing Blues from around the same period (1949).   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYT0U9lzHkI
3. Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry - Carolina Blues Blues/ Watch-Out. Savoy 826.  Brownie and Sonny were among the first blues men to make an impact in the UK and I remember seeing them on one of the Folk Blues shows of the early sixties. Sonny's whooping and smooth harmonica style are in evidence on this track.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVcHDpcc-HA
4. The Gospel Clefs - Rock Me To Sleep/ Book Of Revelations. Savoy 4108.   Savoy was one of the leading American gospel labels and this excellent interpretation of a well known poem by Elizabeth (Akers) Allen is a gem. It's one of several gospel 78s that I brought back from the States on one of my trips.     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flAfX7Om8vE
5. The Gay Sisters - Oh Lord, Somebody Touched Me/ He Knows How Much We Can Bear. Savoy 4037. Another excellent gospel record by a trio who were big in the fifties and performed with Mahalia Jackson in 1954. Would a gospel group choose this name today I wonder?   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVGGv6X5qUo
6. The Banks Brothers - I've Got The Witness/ For My Sake. Savoy 4050. The Banks Brothers, Charles and Jeff, from Pittsburgh, were another leading gospel group of the fifties and sixties. Here, on Youtube, is the B side.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUtCIm_qJ-w
7. The Famous Ward Singers - Packin' Up/ Draw Me nearer. Savoy 4080. One of the best known and successful gospel groups, the Famous Ward Singers were led by Clara Ward and also featured Marion Williams. Great soulful voices.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ladx4FfoOLY
8. The Orioles - In The Mission of St Augustine/ Write and Tell Me Why. London HL8001. Moving to the UK, this is the first London release in the 8000 series, featuring a soft doowop group led by Sonny Til who were pioneers of the doowop genre and influenced many later groups, as well as starting the trend for bird names. Best known for their original versionof Crying In the Chapel, this 1954 release was 78 only.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEpHDy8VrfQ
9. Muddy Waters - Rollin' Stone Blues/ Walkin' Blues. Vogue V2101. This was the record that inspired Mick Jagger and the boys to name their group after it and was Muddy's first UK release in 1953. B side is another blues classic.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T2hygHu8CI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PzoqIJXZ5s
10. Wynonie Harris - Lovin' Machine/ Luscious Woman. Vogue V2111. Lastly here's a record that can claim to be one of the first rock and roll records, by the great Wynonie Harris. B side is a great slow blues which is also worth a listen.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy-_RHT_jgc   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FwN6ARhbrE


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