Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pye International's R & B Series

Another blog posting for record label nerds, following on from the last one about EMI's Soul Supply series.
Predating the Soul Supply series by a couple of years, Pye International's R and B series ran during 1963 and 1964 on its red and yellow label. The idea was to badge the blues and R and B releases on the label, most of which were recorded for the Chess stable, at a time when R and B was really taking off in the UK. I'm not sure which was the first 45 to be branded in this way (no doubt someone can tell me) but it must have happened shortly after the change from the dark blue design of the label to the more easily legible red and yellow. It came to an end with the launch of the UK Chess label in early 1965.
Singles by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson carried the R & B badge, although Howlin' Wolf's final release on the red and yellow label, Love Me Darling, didn't have it. Other Chess/Checker/Aristocrat singles were more hit and miss, with the first release by Sugar Pie DeSanto, Soulful Dress, not having the R & B branding, but the follow up, I Don't Wanna Fuss, being part of the series. Similarly Hi Heel Sneakers by Tommy Tucker was logo-less, while the follow up Long Tall Shorty was included. Other more soul flavoured Chess artists were excluded, including singles by Billy Stewart, Mitty Collier, Etta James and Little Luther. But the R & B badge wasn't exclusive to Chess artists as both 45s by the UK's own Cyril Davies were included, as was Alvin Robinson's Something You Got, which was recorded for Tiger.
The R & B branding was extended to EPs from Chess artists such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Tommy Tucker and Howlin' Wolf and to LPs by the same set of artists, although Chuck's New Juke Box Hits album missed out, presumably because it came out in 1962, before the series started.
Pictured below are examples of Tommy Tucker 45s with, and without, the badge, and one by Cyril Davies.

I look forward to someone providing a full listing of records in the R & B series and any other anomalies. There's a challenge!


At 6:54 pm , Blogger john marriott said...

Great posting. Not actually the R&B series but have you got Jan Bradleys Mama didn't lie on Pye Int?. Got a copy myself but never seen another either in the flesh or on a list. Was told once it is the rarest Pye Int soul/r&b single and could well be the case.

At 9:44 pm , Blogger Nick said...

No, don't have a copy on Pye Int, just US Chess. One I always look out for.


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