May 19, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 180 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, May 19th, (1:00-2:30 pm)

We went over our database of playtracks last week in preparation for our Specialty label gospel feature and noticed that we’ve never done a feature on Specialty label R&B although we have announced our intention to present such a feature. That changes this week.

When the world at large discovered classic R&B and interest grew in this genre of music, people often learned first about Specialty Records, the label that issued records by Roy Milton and Joe Liggins, not to mention, in later years, Lloyd Price and Little Richard.

Specialty emerged from a gaggle of post-war indie startup record labels in LA. It was actually not founded until 1946 as owner Art Rupe shut down his first label, Juke Box, founded in 1944, and sold off most of the Juke Box masters. Rupe ran Specialty himself, without partners, and he ran a tight ship. He established a roster of name artists and didn’t try to maintain a large and diverse catalogue. For as long as he could he declined to engage in payola, or radio pay-for-play. When he sensed the industry had shifted and his small indie could no longer get by, like Sam Phillips, he wound down the business.

Rupe began from an interest in “race music”, especially gospel. He attributed his success with Specialty to his ability as a producer, part of which would have meant the confidence to identify the acts that could make records he would be able to sell and leave the rest to other labels.

Unlike Sam Phillips, Art Rupe held onto his masters and was able to see them reissued in a comprehensive series of albums, which only enhanced the reputation of Specialty’s catalogue. Two early album\ reissues that surveyed the Specialty catalogue were titled This Is Where it All Began.

Our survey begins in 1944 with the Juke Box label recordings and ends in 1954.

On the Show:

Camille Howard – Sepia Tones – Roy Milton & HIs Solid Senders – Joe Lutcher – Jimmy Liggins & His Drops of Joy – Nelson Alexander Trio – Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers – Percy Mayfield – Willard McDaniel – Lloyd Price – Chuck Higgins with Daddy Cleanhead

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.msu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until Jun 16th.

Contact Us

To reach us with comments or queries, write us at sweartotellthetruth@gmail.com.

You can also follow the program at sweartotellthetruth@nosignifying on Twitter.

Next week (May 26th)

B.B. King special


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