Modern Records was one of the leading, and most important independent labels of the 40s and 50s, based on the American West Coast. This serves as an ace sampler for their output during the 1950's, a mighty pleasing spread of blues/r&b, rockin' r&b, some doo-wop, even rock & roll, what with Oscar McLollie's "Roll Hot Rod Roll", Young Jessie's "Hit Git And Split", Long Tall Marvin's "Have Mercy Miss Percy" and other close contenders. Some fine balladry, too. Nigel Cross offers necessarily brief but informative notes, nice sound quality, what's not to like? If you're into this kind of music, or new to it, do yourself a favour and get a copy. Now. (It's so cheap...).
Having heard and enjoyed this taster, your next job is to get a copy of the Ace Records catalogue, easily done via t'internet. Ace own the Modern masters, plus such Modern subs as RPM, Flair and Meteor and over the years, have put out LOADS of CDs devoted to the labels, all top quality sound. I counted 20 (!) Modern compilations, many artist-dedicated sets, e.g., the complete Jimmy McCracklin over two CDs, and "Complete Meteor Blues, R&B and Gospel", "Complete Meteor Rockabilly & Hillbilly"..., mmm, the list goes on. Worth every penny, of which you might end up unloading quiet a few. Sorry. For informative reading, I suggest he magnificent "Record Makers & Breakers" (2009) by John Broven, subtitled 'Voices of the Independent Rock'n'Roll Pioneers', a mighty entertaining and informative tome. Amazon still list it. Warning: it's a bit chunky!
Dating mostly from 1955 - 7, these 50 tracks provide a fantastic spread of early pop, bluesy boogies, doo-wop singalongs and soulful ballads. In fact the precursors of much of the pop explosion that was to follow. Tons of witty lyrics (OK some are pretty cheesy too), catchy tunes and some seriously good sax - impossible to listen to these songs without a smile.
Quintessential US juke-box music from the era, and for the price a no brainer!
'One Day music' should be congratulated for producing another fine affordable compilation in this series from classic American record companies. 'The Modern story' compilation includes good solid R&b from Jessie Belvin, Etta James and the Cadets, and not so well known material from the Rocketeers, Curley williams and Oscar Mclollie. There are some brilliant tracks on the Cd, which have possibly not been available before on cd, however please be aware that some of the tracks are of poor quality and have possibly been copied straight from vinyl and not the original master tapes.
This series of albums is great value if, like me, you are of a certain age and started buying singles about 1960 with your hard-earned pocket money but bought mostly British chart stuff. These 2 CDs bring a flavour of the US that was rarely heard on the BBC or Radio Luxemburg. Refreshing to hear.
I spotted the comment "... a flavour of the US that was rarely heard on the BBC or Radio Luxemburg". Yes indeed, and if one was narrowing it down to specifically this music, then it just wasn't heard on the BBC or Luxembourg at all. If you could tune your radio in with fine precision there was a half hour on Saturday night on AFN in the fifties, hosted by the legendary Alan Freed but even that only was only allotted time to skim the surface.
There are big names here but these are names that we didn't get to hear about until well into the sixties after our discovery of a marvellous thing called R&B. The Modern label was created by the Bihari Brothers specifically to sell jump blues and latterly R&B to the black buyer in LA and beyond. Given the early start they had - 1945 - they were able to establish a reputation that attracted blues and R&B artists from all over the US.
John Lee Hooker laid down plenty of tracks for the label. He's represented by a small band backed boogie affair "I'm ready" and the less boisterous and more personal, "Lookin' for a woman". Etta James is captured here before her move to Chess/Argo in Chicago. "The Wallflower (Dance with me Henry)" is her answer track to Hank Ballard's "Work with me Annie". Also present is a splendid rootin' tootin' "W-O-M-A-N" and, boy, does she mean it. Last of the big names present is Elmore James who had a tendency to scatter his wares across a confusing variety of labels. His "Wild about you" has all the glorious sonic murk we associate with the name plus THAT riff. His other contribution is more anonymous but is still good blues.
So much for the "names", what about the others? There are folk in here who have fascinated me for decades although my knowledge of them has been minimal. I managed to buy some LP's from Crown in the sixties by mail order - Crown was the budget label offering from the Modern grouping. Names like Shirley Gunter, Jesse Belvin and Young Jessie appeared on one, and they were totally alien at the time.
I've subsequently discovered that Shirley Gunter had a brush with fame in the fifties via the doo woppy "Oop Shoop" from Shirley Gunter and the Flairs. The latter were a vocal harmony group who recorded for another of the Modern set of labels, Flair Records. Shirley used to appear solo, with the Flairs and with all girl group (one of the earliest), the Queens. Both Shirley's tracks here are blues inflected and distinctive - if you removed the doo woppy backing (particularly on her second track) these performances could almost be mistaken for soul.
Jesse Belvin was another potential soul singer whose career was cut short by a fatal car crash in 1960. His voice, an attractive light tenor, not unlike Sam Cooke, probably persuaded Modern to record him on a cover of Cooke's "You send me". Also included amongst his four offerings is the ballad, "Goodnight my love" his sole major R&B Chart hit.
Young Jessie - no relation to Mr Belvin - sang solo as well as appearing with a variety of vocal groups. His cuts here are near rock'n'roll with the self-written Mary Lou getting covered by Ronnie Hawkins.
Outside of this grouping, Jimmy Beasley's efforts are noticeable due to the near Fats Domino sound. Jimmy recorded in New Orleans although he was born and brought up in Kansas City. Modern may well have been attempting to match the success that LA rivals Imperial (Domino) and Specialty (Little Richard) had with the Crescent City. The Cadets, with four nice tracks, take the prize for best vocal group but there's plenty of competition. Their Coasters like, "Stranded in the Jungle" is an absolute beaut. The R&B gets close to rock'n'roll at times - Oscar McLollie, the splendid Long Tall Marvin and the Sounds - but there's nowt wrong with that.
I should take the opportunity to thank One Day Music for this series. This is musical history we're being offered here at bargain basement prices. And most importantly, it's fun.
Rarities and Gems abound on yet another cool compilation from this relatively new Label One Day Music.Doo Wop, R'n'B, R'n'R and wilder Jumping Jive R'n'B all get an airing . From Honkin' Saxes to Honking Vocals.. to Haunting Ballads and Classic Hits. 50 great tracks at a great price..
These CD,s are really Great and l enjoy them immensley, the only thing of which l do not like is when they put them in Stereo! Then they put on the CD Cover that they are the Original Recordings, this is Rubbish! They should leave them alone! They also say Digitally Remastered, this is absolute Rubbiish! How can these be Orriginal Recordings, l have lots of these on 78rpm Records and believe you me they sound a lot Better, apart from that they,re alright to listen to!