If you've been searching for a comprehensive Johnnie & Joe compilation and are wavering between the two volumes offered by Collectables, and this one from Ace, waver no longer. Anything from Ace is heads and shoulders above anything from Collectables, both in terms of sound quality and background information, not to mention completeness. Where Collectables is concerned, they have two volumes out containing 45 tracks for a duo which had all of three hit singles - and they omit one legitimate hit and its B-side!
Johnnie Louise Richardson (born June 29, 1935 in Montgomery, Alabama) and Joe Rivers (born in 1937 in Charleston, South Carolina) got together in 1956, the same year Richardson's mother , Zelma "Zell" Sanders (once a member of the girl-group The Hearts), became one of the first female record company owners when she launched J&S Records in New York. These two events dovetailed when Johnnie & Joe recorded I'll Be Spinning and Feel Alright at the J&S studios late that year, with the masters immediately leased by Sanders to the much larger Chess Records (home of Chuck Berry among others) for distribution. In January 1957, the A-side made it to # 10 R&B on Chess 1641 (the two sides missing from the Collectables volumes).
With that modest toe in the door, they then cut a tune written by the pianist and musical director of The Hearts, Rex Garvin, called Over The Mountain, Across The Sea (on which Garvin also did some background vocal). Pressed on J&S 1664 (with My Baby's Gone, On, On) as the flip, it too was leased to Chess, and by early summer the A-side had risen to # 3 R&B and # 8 Billboard Pop Top 100 while the flip scored at # 15 R&B. A re-release by Chess in September 1960 would see the A-side re-chart at # 89 Billboard Pop Hot 100.
Although there would be several more single releases distributed by Chess, that would be it insofar as hits were concerned. The following four singles are all here: I Was Son Lonely/If You Tell Me You're Mine (Chess 1677 in 1957), Why Did She Go?/Why Oh Why? (Chess 1693 in 1958), My Baby's Gone (And Left Me)/Darling (Chess 1706 in 1958) and Across The Sea/You Said It, And Don't Forget It (Chess 1769 in 1960).
The duo reformed in the 1970s to perform at the highly popular oldies concerts then sprining up and, in 1982, cut a well-received album called Kingdom Of Love (Ambient Sounds 38345).
Zel Sanders passed away in 1978, followed a decade later by her daughter, Johnnie, who left us on October 25, 1988 following complications from a stroke.
They simply don't get any better than this Ace product.