sweartotellthetruth

February 2, 2016

Blues and Rhythm Show 215 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, February 2nd (1:00 to 2:30pm)

The history of classic Rhythm & Blues has been written around the narratives of the various record labels that featured the music, especially the great R&B independents.  Of course, the music existed and thrived apart from the recorded product and the studios that produced the records but few places received the kind of attention that the city of Newark did in the book Swing City, so we don’t have a broad picture of classic Rhythm & Blues apart from what took place in the recording studios. Specialist magazines have provided detailed bios of some of the performers but there are full-length biographies of only a few figures–Louis Jordan, Dinah Washington,  Wynonie Harris. 

Product Details                              Early R&B Divas- Volume Two                              Product Details

The stories of the record labels depend a great deal upon the company accounts kept by the label-owners, upon session details , correspondence and, where available the acetates and tapes that have survived.  They depend as well on the availability of the label operators and other principals, producers, arrangers, sales-people. Art Rupe provided information about his Specialty label and Ace Records gleaned information about Modern-RPM-Kent when they leased and later purchased the catalogue and assets of the label. In the case of Aladdin Records, we have the details in the blues and gospel discographies but we looked in different places for further information and came up empty.

Our survey covers the years 1945 to 1951, years in which the Aladdin flourished as an independent specializing in R&B.  We know that the label owners, Eddie, Leo and Ira Mesner, operated a record store, The Philharmonic Music store in Los Angeles. They had money to begin with and the label reported 1.5 million dollars in sales for 1945, according to John Broven. One artist described the Mesners as “gamblers” but we don’t know how to evaluate that observation. The label was originally called Philo but the Philco Company threatened legal action and the name was changed to Aladdin. The label did well into the through to 1950 but there was a slowdown at the beginning of the new decade. How well the label adapted toe changes in the record market after the early fifties is something we we can’t say at this point but Aladdin is supposed to have been the leading R&B label between the years 1948 and 1952. 

Something that was noticeable to us in putting this show together was the large role of Maxwell Davis. Davis was present as a player on many of the records we selected for the program, identified as bandleader on several, and likely the arranger and, effectively, if not in name,  the producer on much of what was produced in Aladdin’s studio.  According to Dave Penny, in 1948 he signed a contract with Aladdin that gave him the title of session musician/arranger/musical/director, roles he’d been filling informally up to then free-lancing at what looked to be every Coast  independent R&Blabel. His influence on R&B recording on the West Coast was huge because he played a similar role with just about every label, including large independents Specialty and Modern-RPM-Kent. A three-CD survey of his work, entitled Wailin’ Daddy is part of series called Architects of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Maxwell, Davis, Architect of Rhythm & Blues might be right.                     

 On the Show:

Jay McShann’s Kansas City Stompers – Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers – Helen Humes – Jo Jo Adams – Effie Smith – Jimmy “Baby Face” Lewis – The Rockets – Joe Turner – Little Miss Cornshucks – Robins – Amos Milburn – a.o.

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.msumcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until February 28th.

Image result for driftin' blues philo label photos                                 

 The Aladdin Records Story

 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 (February 9th)

Mardi Gras

September 28, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 148 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

 

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, September 23rd, (1:00-2:30 pm)

Last week’s program began as what was intended to be a representative survey of rhythm & blues from the beginning to about the mid-fifties. The i.d. “rhythm & blues” has been misapplied over the decades and we’re sure there are people who aren’t sure exactly what we are referring to when we use the term. The idea was for last week’s program to let the playlist describe the scope of classic rhythm & blues. “Rhythm & Blues” is first an industry term, used for marketing purposes, but it aptly captures the phenomenon of blues music blended with elements of jazz. Of course, it was used as a blanket term to describe all the records on the African-American charts, formerly known as “race” or, later, as “sepia”. The best-seller chart was known for a while as the Harlem Hit Parade. Thus the term embraced popular jazz records, down-home blues and popular ballads sold to African Americans, as documented by the industry publication, Billboard Magazine. The term was invented by Jerry Wexler while he was a writer for Billboard and applied retroactively to records issued in the post-World war 2 era and to a few records issued in the war years.

When we assembled the program, we wound up taking a different track from the one we had started with. We wound up concentrating on the early years of R&B, starting with a few records from the war era and proceeding barely into 1947. We’ll resume this survey with next week’s program, taking us further into the R&B era.

On the Show:

Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra – Cecil Gant – Erskine Hawkins – Joe Turner – Gatemouth Moore – Helen Humes – Roy Milton – Wynonie Harris – Julia Lee – Amos Milburn

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until October 21st..

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 (September 30th)

We continue into the late 1940s with our R&B survey.

cmc

May 11, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 130 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 (1:00-2:30 pm)

We try to present a radio that is more than just aural ephemera but sometimes we’re glad that the program is something that can be heard and forgotten. Such was the case with our program of May 6th. If you tuned in and out of the show it’s within the realm of possibility that you might not have been aware of it but the program was a series of errors, proving,  we suppose, the danger that lurks beneath live broadcasting. CDs that didn’t play, songs that were not the ones announced and false starts all in ninety minutes. The plan was to present a selection of early rhythm & blues tracks. tracks made between 1940 and 1948, including a few major artists and marquee acts but also some fairly obscure performers and names that would be less easily recognized today.

We may try to present this show again as a summer repeat and try to get it right. This is one show we wish we had prepared in the production studio.

On the Show:

Earl Hines with Billy Eckstine –  Sepia Tones – The Delta Rhythm Boys – Lillette & her Escorts – Marion Abernathy – Clyde Bernhardt – Memphis Jimmy – Dinah Washington – Amos Milburn – many others

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until June 3rd.

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 13th)

Blues, gospel and probably some soul music on the program.

Errors and Omissions

On BRS 130, we could not recall the name of the bass singer for the Delta Rhythm Boys, who wrote the lyric to Ellington & Strayhorn’s “Just A-Sittin’ and A-Rockin'” for the group. We settled on Joe Gaines. Knew it wasn’t right. It was Lee Gaines.

cmc

December 23, 2013

Blues and Rhythm Show 110 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 (1:00-2:30 pm)

As well as this week’s program, we’ve been working on our Christmas show, which will air Christmas Eve. This week, in the feature portion of the show, we’re looking at Mississippi guitar Blues recorded between 1927 and 1930. Most of the musicians in our survey were born and lived in the Mississippi Delta region and all of the artists came to have some connection with the Delta region and delta blues. The question it occrs to us to ask is whether  “Delta blues” can be said to refer to one single thing, a single style.

On the Show:

Earl Hooker – Amos Milburn – Fathead –  Jack de Keyzer – Mr. Freddie Spruell – William Harris – Charley Patton – Son House – Willie Brown – Long John Baldry

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until January 14th

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 (December 24th)

Our annual christmas special

cmc

 

July 22, 2013

Blues and Rhythm Show 89 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 (1:00-2:30 pm)

We were late patching this show together. We’re going to be looking at some diverse R&B tracks but, in the middle of the program, we’ll be looking at Lightnin’ Hopkins and a few of his forerunners and contemporaries. As it happens, we finally got hold of the Alan Govenar biography of Sam Hopkins, which was published about three years ago and, since we don’t plan a Lightnin’ Hopkins feature in the near future, we thought we’d follow a few threads suggested by the book.  

On the show: 

Smiley Lewis  –  The Dixieaires  –  Amos Milburn – Earl King – Buster Pickens – J.T. “Funny Paper” Smith – Lightnin’ Hopkins – Floyd Dixon – Harrison Kennedy – Martha Bass – and others

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until August 20th.

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 (July 30th)

Louisiana Music 90 minute special on July 30th and we plan to present a repeat of the Alan Lomax Southern Journey special for August 6th.

cmc

June 24, 2013

Blues and Rhythm Show 85 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, June 25, 2013 (1:00-2:30 pm)

Part of our mandate on the Blues & Rhythm Show is to present classic Rhythm & Blues on a regular basis. This week, we present a loose survey of the R&B scene between 1944 and early 1950, with an emphasis on the blues side of Rhythm & Blues. In our survey, many of the prominent artists of the era and a few obscurities, as well.

On the show: 

Jack McVea with Rabon Tarrant, Saunders King, Buddy Johnson, King Perry, Joe Liggins, Martha Davis, Tiny Bradshaw, Earl Jackson, Little Miss Cornshucks, Dinah Washington, Amos Milburn

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until July 23rd.

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 (July 2nd)

No plan yet for next week but we’re thinking about some summer specials for July and August, including a program devoted to Louisiana traditions, including Cajun and zydeco music.

cmc

 
 

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