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 19, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 194 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, August 25th, (1:00-2:30 pm).

Our plan was to work up a feature on R&B. This evolved to a full-length study of Chicago’s Mercury Records, a label which began as an independent specializing in R&B and country but was advantageously placed to become a major player in the recording industry. Our feature concentrated on the early years when, according to Berle Adams, the label’s success was based upon its R&B catalogue. We took the story from 1945 to 1952. Mercury did not remain a Chicago label for long. The label recorded in New York, New Orleans and L.A. and by the end of the fifties it was a major label, highly competitive in the pop field and with a large classical catalogue. As an R&B label, Mercury put together an impressive catalogue, including the recordings of Dinah Washington from 1946 to 1962. At different times the label had Eddie Vinson, Jay McShann, and Buddy and Ella Johnson on its roster.

On the Show:

Four Jumps of Jive – Sippie Wallace – Dinah Washington – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson – Helen Humes – Cootie Williams Orchestra – Professor Longhair – Austin McCoy Trio with Frankie Ervin – Chuck Norris – Big Jim Wynn – 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 September 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 1st)

We had to take a week off. The station played a repeat program.

cmc

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

March 29, 2014

Blues and Rhythm Show 122 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, March 11, 2014 (1:00-2:30 pm)

We failed to post for several weeks but we’re trying to catch up. Our program from March 11th will still be available to stream or download until April 7th. That program was our International Women’s Day special, delayed by several days because all CFMU programming was dedicated to fundraising the previous week. We did not organize the show around particular themes in our IWD program but we presented a selection of women’s blues, rhythm & blues and gospel. 

On the Show:

Viviane Greene – Helen Humes – Bessie Smith – Sweet Pease Spivey – Mattie Delaney – Lil Green – Mary Deloatch – Original Gospel Harmonettes – Shakura S’Aida – 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 April 7th.

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 (March 18th)

Our March 18th program included a selection of St. Louis blues recordings following up on our 1930s St. Louis blues special  of February 25th. 

cmc

September 9, 2013

Blues and Rhythm Show 96 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 (1:00-2:30 pm)

Well, we survived our live broadcast in the McMaster Student Centre and then, unaccountably, became quite ill for a few days, so we had to scramble to get a program together for this week, operating at a little less than optimum efficiency. What we’ve done is to revise a feature we did a year and a half ago on Savoy label R&B. If you happened to catch that early program, we’ve retained part of the playlist from the feature but changed several tracks. The non-feature portion will all be brand-new, including something new in The Walter Davis Project, new little Miss Higgins, Alvin Youngblood Hart–here on the 27th at Hamilton Place–and the Butanes Featuring Willie Walker. Also a track from the reissue CD, The Cry of the Wounded Jukebox. Anybody know whose CD that might be?

On the Show:

Walter Davis – Little Miss Higgins – Harrison Kennedy –  Hot Lips Page – Gatemouth Moore – Paul Williams – Helen Humes – Billy Wright – Brother Napoleon Brown – Bessie Griffin. 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 8th.

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 17th)

We’ll be fortunate to get this program to air. No idea about next week as yet.

cmc

 
 

Blog at WordPress.com.