I Pity The Fool THE DUKE RECORDS STORY 1952-1962 has 60 original hits by the original artists over 3 CDs.
These sets really are a steal at this price.
The simple reason that these sets are as cheap as chips is that the tracks are public domain.
That means the rights to the music has gone and any old Dick or Harry can release them.
The bad news for the previous rights holders means good news for us, the buyers for if the price is too high we will not buy. So the sets are at a more than reasonable price. Next year the law changes to fall in line with the Americans and the 50 year rule will be finished.
Now these sets really are a mixed bag.
Some tracks and artists you will know- others not.
But that is the real joy- you just might discover some tracks you have never heard and enjoy if not then the FF feature is just for you.
1. I Pity The Fool - Bobby "Blue" Bland
2. Dance With Me - The El Torros
3. Pledging My Love - Johnny Ace
4. Crazy Crazy Loving - Fention Robinson
5. Let Tt Be Now - Little Buck
6. Snake Hips - Johnny Brown
7. Angel Child - Peppermint Harris
8. Sleeping In An Ocean Of Tears - Brooks & Brown
9. This Little Love Of Mine - Buddy Ace
10. Dilly Bop - Rosco Gordon
11. How Long Can This Go On - Little Junior Parker
12. I gotta Find My baby - Little Sonny
13. Searching In Vain - Joe Medwick
14. Homework - Otis Rush
15. If I could Tell - The Sultans
16. Stop These Teardrops - Miss LaVell
17. Now Darling - John Littleton & The Capistranos
18. I'm Gonna Tell It On You - James Davis
19. Hold Me Tight - Ted Taylor
20. Baby Don't Put Me Down - The Sultans
1. Annie Get Your Yo-Yo - Little Junior Parker
2. Cry, Cry, Cry - Bobby Blue Bland
3. T-model Boogie - Rosco Gordon
4. Doop Doop A Walla Walla - The El Torros
5. As the Years Go Passing By - Fenton Robinson
6. I'll Make It Up To You - Jo Ann Mitchell
7. Lead Us On - Mr 'Google Eyes' August
8. How Can You Be So Mean - Johnny Ace
9. Morning Train - Chuck Edwards
10. Since You're Home - Ted Taylor
11. Better Stop - Junior Ryder
12. What Can I Do - Buddy Ace
13. Angels In Houston - Larry Davis
14. Tide Of Love - Miss LaVell
15. Keep On Doggin' - Rosco Gordon
16. Boppin' With The Mambo - The Sultans
17. Teenage Romeo - Paul Perryman
18. Seven Days - Little Junior Parker
19. The Freeze - Fention & The Castle Rockers
20. Crying In The Chapel - The 4 Dukes
1. Screaming Please - Buddy Ace
2. Satellite Fever, Asiatic 'Flu - Paul Perryman
3. Turn On Your Love Light - Bobby "Blue" Bland
4. Texas Flood - Larry Davis
5. Sittin' Drinkin' And Thinkin' - Little Junior Parker
6. Mama's Cookin' - The El Torros
7. Count The Stars - Ted Taylor
8. Rock The Bottle - Earl Forest
9. Rock And Roll Molly - The Five Jades
10. Don't You Know - Johnny Ace & Johnny Board & His Orchestra
I'm usually wary of this kind of compilation as they often contain duff stuff mixed in with a few interesting tracks. Have no fear - this is excellent throughout. Good 1950s, early 60s R&B, driving horn arrangements and great singers. Maybe because it was a small label selling mostly to an African American audience, the music has an integrity which is lacking in more popular music of the period.
One Day Music and parent company Not Now Music, are two of the more recent companies attempting to make money out of the retro / nostalgia public domain music market. Initially their approach seemed to be characterised by a pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap strategy - generous helping of tracks per CD or set, coupled with low prices. With One Day's London American Story series they put themselves in direct competition with Ace Records UK, a label long revered by "serious" music collectors for the scrupulous attention given to releases by the highly experienced music experts working for the company. Albums from Ace have never been cheap (apart from samplers) but were and are, competitive with the majors which is to be admired considering that a significant portion of the product is not PD sourced.
One Day and Ace could be seen as operating at extremes of the market for retro product. However that's a simplification as I argued in my review of the first of One Day's London series, the set for 1956. The subsequent expansion into the field of US independent labels (and some British ones like Oriole), further muddies the water. It's also indicative of some courage from the label. Was it clear that there would be a market for such stuff? The bigger indies - Sun, Chess Atlantic and, to a lesser extent, Modern - had already seen ample coverage in the UK well before much of the content had come freely available under public domain legislation. One Day's selection of labels like Colpix, Federal, Everest, etc., labels which were unknown to casual UK purchasers was potentially of much more interest to the "serious" record buyer than sets entitled "Heartbeats & Heartaches" and "The Girl Groups of the 60's" (both of which are also in One Day's listing!). But could this potential be realised?
I don't know the answer to the question but did decide to put my own toe in the water via the purchase of this set. I selected it because the Duke / Peacock label was one that only ever had limited visibility in the UK even after the blues cum R&B boom in the sixties encouraged UK labels to dig into lesser known US indies for product to aim at the new UK R&B audience. It was also a label with few big names so there was potential for loads of little known stuff to be discovered.
At this juncture perhaps I should address this "serious" adjective. I buy music to enjoy rather than to collect due to rarity value / significance. Yes I'm serious in that I'd like to feel that someone has put some thought into what I, and others, would want to hear under the heading "Duke Records Story" rather than just tossing together a random sample under a come-on-and-buy-me heading.
Whether this lot is random or not, and I'm strongly inclined to the not, it does succeed in giving a fascinating view of the music coming out of those record studios in Houston during the years in question. Much of it is blues or blues related. However it's sax and brass section blues mainly rather than the harmonica and guitar sounds that emanated from Chicago. I said "mainly", Little Sonny's "I gotta find my baby" could easily have come from Chess or, more likely, the Louisiana side of Excello.
Tracks from the big names are present but thankfully not in overwhelming numbers; otherwise there might have been too much overlap with my existing collection. Bobby Bland gets four, all excellent (but all known to me). As an aside, if you don't have anything from Bobby Bland I'd strongly advise investing in a Duke collection; his best work was on that label. Otis Rush gets one track, the driving "Homework". (Little) Junior Parker gets four tracks, again, all good and I didn't have any of these. Johnny Ace gets two tracks but he was at Duke for a relatively short period before his death. One of the pair is his posthumous hit "Pledging my love", a track that is far better known in the US than here.
And that's about it for the names that are likely to be known. Within the rest there are some absolute stunners that should have been hits at the time if they'd received better marketing:
- A guitar rock instro (with Texan flavour) called "Snake Hips" from a guy called Johnny Brown who apparently was a regular on sessions for the better known names (like Bland) at Duke. This one should appeal to all rock instro fans. - Larry Davis's original version of "Texas Flood", a slow blues that will be known to many due to the cover version by Stevie Ray Vaughan. Listening to this you can see why Stevie Ray picked up on it - Larry is no slouch on the guitar either. - A beautiful slow rendition of "How deep is the ocean" from a short-lived vocal group called the Sultans (though more than one vocal group adopted that moniker). My understanding is that these guys morphed into the Admirals. - A fabulous slab of gospel underpinned by organ and entitled "Time is winding up" from Clara Ward, leader of the Ward Singers. - Two great early soul tracks from unknown diva, Miss LaVell, who I've subsequently learned was christened Lavelle White.
Elsewhere there's loads of solid R&B from names you might have heard of like Rosco Gordon, Fention Robinson, Ted Taylor and Peppermint Harris, plus some from names you're rather less likely to have heard of like Buddy Ace - no relation to Johnny, Chuck Edwards, the superbly named Joe "Mr Google Eyes" August and more. Sometimes the music veers towards blues, sometimes to vocal harmony group and sometimes to early soul. Much of the time there's a glorious hotch potch.
Don Robey, the man who founded Peacock Records and bought out Duke Records (originally based in Memphis) is credited as being the first black record label owner of any significance. He also had a reputation of being something of a rogue and not necessarily of the loveable variety. These facts may well be inter-related. To exist in the cutthroat indie label world in those days probably called for certain survival traits. Whatever, Duke and Peacock between them made mighty fine music and this set is an excellent sample of its output.
normally I would steer clear of stuff like this, having been warned "it might be a bit too bluesy for you" by a trusted friend (after i bought it) he who knows my taste, I was a little slow in listening to it. I glad I did, it is really good, solid RnB (that's proper RnB not today's stuff masquerading as music). a little too "bluesy" in places but makes up for it with plenty of up tempo and ballads that most 50's aficionados would like....and its cheap!
I listed several of this series when my wife asked for suggestions for Christmas presents .Only had time to play the Argo set. However, I am giving them all 5 star because they are well put together with excellent sleeve notes and I intend to buy all the others in the series.
A lot of little known recordings gathered together as an example of 1950s R&B. Great music that takes one back to one's youth. Would that today's artists would listen to ,and learn from, these pieces of history.