Entries tagged with “Mr. Bear”.


ARTISTSONGALBUM
Big MaybelleMy Big MistakeThe Complete OKeh Sessions
Mickey Baker Spininn’ Rock BoogieIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Louis JordanCaldonia 56'In The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Larry DaleMidnight HoursIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Sammy Price & His Bluescians Rib JointRib Joint
Mickey & SylviaNo Good LoverIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Eddie MackLast Hour BluesEddie Mack 1947-1952
Tiny KennedyCountry BoyR&B From The Radio Corporation Volumes 1
H-Bomb FergusonWork For My BabyRock H-Bomb Rock
Mickey BakerMidnight Midnight The Wildest Guitar
Nappy BrownIs It Really You?Night Time Is The Right Time
Sammy Price & His Bluescians Juke JointSammy Price & His Bluescians
Buddy JohnsonSomedayBuddy and Ella Johnson: 1953-1964
Little EstherYou Can Bet Your LifeLadies Sing The Blues
Annisteen AllenWantedAnnisteen Allen 1945-53
Larry DalePlease Tell MeHarlem Heavies
Paul WilliamsWoman Are The Root of All EvilPaul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956
Mickey Baker Bandstand StompRock With A Sock
Square WaltonPepper-Head WomanRub A Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Brownie McGhee Love's a DiseaseRub A Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Mckey BakerShake Walkin’ Rock With A Sock
Larry Dale You Better Heed My WarningIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Roy GainesWorried About You BabyGroove Jumping
Mr. BearThe Bear Hug In The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Big Red McHouston & His orchestraI’m Tired R&B From The Radio Corporation Volumes 1
Sammy Price & His Bluescians Kansas City Boogie Woogie StompRib Joint
Eddie Riff Ain’t That Lovin’ YouMickey Baker: Essential Blues Masters
Sammy Price & His Bluescians Bar-B-Q SauceRib Joint
Mickey BakerRock With A Sock Rock With A Sock
Champion Jack DupreeStumbling BlockIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Big Red McHouston & His OrchestraStranger BluesIn The '50s: Hit, Git & Split
Big MaybellePitifulThe Complete OKeh Sessions
Varetta DillardSo Many WaysLadies Sing the Blues
Sammy Price & His Bluescians LeveeRib Joint

Show Notes:

 
Mickey Baker and Sylvia Vanderpool (Mickey & Sylvia)

Mickey Baker, who has died aged 87, was one of the most versatile and prolific guitarists of his era. I was a fan of baker's guitar playing even before I knew his name. When I first seriously started buying blues records it didn't take me long to figure out that the great guitar playing on those 50's records I was buying of Big Maybelle, Nappy Brown and numerous others was the work of the prolific Mickey Baker. During the 1950s, any producer making R&B or rock'n'roll records in New York would have Baker's name in his contacts book, and he played on innumerable sessions for Atlantic, Savoy and other labels, accompanying vocal groups including the Drifters and the Coasters and blues singers such as Champion Jack Dupree, Nappy Brown, Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker. Among the many hit records to which he made original and distinctive contributions were Ruth Brown's “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean”, the Coasters' “I'm a Hog for You” and Joe Turner's “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” Today we spotlight Baker's bluesier records, as we hear him on great records by Big Maybelle, Nappy Brown, Larry Dale, Sammy Price, Champion Jack Dupree, Louis Jordan and many others.

Baker was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and spent some of his youth in institutions, from which he ran away to New York, where for a time he got by as a pool-hall hustler. "Around the age of 19," he later recalled, "I decided to make a change in my life. I was still washing dishes, but I was determined that I wanted to be a jazz musician." His preferred instrument was the trumpet but he could not afford one, so he bought a cheap guitar from a pawnshop and learned some chords from a hillbilly songbook. In time he moved on to the standard repertoire and started playing progressive jazz. Then, while on the west coast, he went to a gig by the singer and guitarist Pee Wee Crayton and encountered the blues. "I asked Pee Wee, 'You mean you can make money playing that stuff?' So I started bending strings."

Inspired by the successful model of the guitarist Les Paul and the singer Mary Ford, he formed a duo with the singer Sylvia Vanderpool (later Sylvia Robinson). Mickey & Sylvia's recording of “Love Is Strange”, a million-selling hit in 1956-57. In the wake of "Love Is Strange", he and Vanderpool opened a nightclub, started a publishing company and generally tried to take more charge of their performing lives than was usually possible for black artists. But their personal relationship was stormy and Baker was tired of playing forgettable music for teenagers. Early in the 60s, he moved to France.

Many of today's tracks are longtime favorites including a batch of tough sides by the unsung Larry Dale who waxed some potent blues and R&B sides under his own name and some knockout session guitar backing a slew of New York artists. "It's kinda funny how I learned to play the guitar", Dale said in an interview. "Brownie McGhee would let me come up on his bandstand and sit in the back and playing all kind of bad notes until I learned where the changes were. And then I got so where I could play pretty good. And I could always sing good, If I could sing and leave the guitar alone I was good, but if I tried to play the guitar …Bobby Schiffman told me 'You just sing, leave the guitar alone. you'll make it'. But he didn't know I was determined to learn the guitar. So I bought B.B King records, people that played guitars; and I learned how to play. Then Mickey Baker he taught me a lot. …Well before then Mickey taught me a lot about guitar. And then it's a funny thing, after Mickey taught me then I had to teach him how to play the blues!" We hear Dale taking the vocals with Baker on guitar on tough numbers like "Midnight Hours", "Please Tell Me", "You Better Heed My Warning", all cut under Dale's name, and Dale taking the vocals on sides attributed to Big Red McHouston (alias Mickey Baker),  "I'm Tired" b/w "Where Is My Honey" cut for the Groove label.

Another favorite record of mine is the now out-of-print 2-LP set Rib Joint. Baker backed piano pounder Sam Price on a series of instrumental sides for the Savoy label in 1956 and 1959. The sides feature great session players including King Curtis, Leonard Gaskin, Panama Francis Al Casey and Kenny Burrell among others. We spin several selections from these sessions including "Rib Joint", "Kansas City Boogie Woogie Stomp", "Bar-B-Q Sauce" and "Juke Joint."

During the period covered in this show, Baker recorded only a handful of sides under his own names, fifteen sides between 1952 and 1956. In addition to the above mentioned Big Red McHouston sides, the rest of the sides  are instrumentals and today we spin several of those including "Shake Walkin'", "Bandstand Stomp" and "Rock With A Sock." In addition he cut his only full-length album from this period, 1959's The Wildest Guitar and all instrumental outing issued on Atlantic.

Among the earliest sides I heard Baker on those backing Big Maybelle, Nappy Brown and Champion Jack Dupree. Baker appears on several Big Maybelle sessions in 1954, 1955 and 1956 and backs Nappy Brown's on his 1952 debut plus sessions in 1955 and 1960. Baker backs Jack Dupree on sessions in 1953 and 1955 and the two reunited for a session in London in 1967 for the Decca label.

Baker backed a number of veteran artists who were trying to update their sound for the new rock and roll craze including Amos Milburn, Wynonie Harris, Big Joe Turner and Louis Jordan. Turner sailed into the rock and roll era rather seamlessly, scoring a big hit with “Shake, Rattle and Roll” with Baker on guitar. Although not commercially successful, Baker and Louis Jordan cut some rocking records during this period. In 1956, Mercury Records signed Jordan, releasing two LP's and a handful of singles. Jordan's first LP with Mercury, Somebody Up There Digs Me, showcased updated rock n' roll versions of previous hits such as "Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens","Choo Choo Ch'Boogie", "Salt Pork, West Virginia", "Beware!" and a scorching "Caldonia" which we feature today; its follow-up, Man, We're Wailin' (1957), featured a more laid back "late night" sound. Although Mercury intended for this to be a comeback for Jordan, the comeback did not turn out to be a success, and the label let Jordan go in 1958.

A couple of lesser known New York artists worth mentioning are Eddie Mack and Mr. Bear. Mack was part of the Brooklyn blues scene in the late 40's and early 50's but his subsequent career is a mystery. He fronted various groups by Cootie Williams & His Orchestra (he replaced Eddie Vinson), Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra and others. He cut some two-dozen sides between 1947-1952. Mickey Baker appears on Mack's final four sides for the Savoy label which are among his best.

Teddy McRae, also known as Mr. Bear, cut a few isolated titles as a leader, including two songs for King in 1945, six for Groove in 1955 and two numbers for Moonshine in 1958, and recorded with Champion Jack Dupree from 1955-56. Prior to this he was an important an arranger and tenor-saxophonist for several bands including Cab Calloway, Jimmie Lunceford, Lionel Hampton and Chick Webb's.

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ARTISTSONGALBUM
Champion Jack DupreeStumbling Block Blues Early Cuts
Champion Jack DupreeShake Baby ShakeEarly Cuts
Eddie MackSeven Days Blues Eddie Mack 1947-1952
Eddie MackLast Hour Blues Eddie Mack 1947-1952
Paul Williams w/ Larry DaleShame Shame Shame Paul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956
Paul Williams w/ Larry DaleThe Woman I Love Is DyingPaul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956
Paul Williams w/ Larry DaleWomen Are The Root Of All Evil Paul Williams Vol. 3 1952-1956
Allen BunnToo Much CompetitionBobby's Boogie: Red Robin Records
Big MaybelleI'm Getting 'Long Alright Blues Masters Vol. 13 New York City Blues
Larry Dale You Better Heed My Warning Still Groove Jumping
Mickey Baker w/ Larry Dale Stranger BluesRock With A Sock
Mr. BearI'm Gonna Keep My Good Eye on YouStill Groove Jumping
Larry DaleLet The Doorbell RingOld Town Blues Vol. 1
Alonzo Scales Left My Home BluesRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Alonzo Scales Hard Luck ChildRub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Champion Jack DupreeStory Of My LifeShake Baby Shake!
Bob Gaddy Operator Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Mr. Bear Hold Out BabyHarlem Heavies
Cousin Leroy Up the River Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Cousin Leroy Goin' Back Home Rub a Little Boogie: New York Blues 1945-56
Buddy & Ella Johnson Don't Be Messin' With My ManOld Town Blues Vol. 2
Buddy & Ella Johnson You'll Get Them BluesBuddy and Ella Johnson 1953-1964
Hal Paige & His Wailers After Hours BluesHarlem Rock 'n' Blues Vol. 2
Dr. HorseJack, That Cat Was CleanFire/Fury Records Story
Jimmy SpruillHard GrindHarlem Rock 'n' Blues Vol. 1
Buster Brown Don't Dog Your WomanThe New King Of The Blues
Jimmy SpruillKansas City MarchHarlem Rock 'n' Blues Vol. 2
Bob GaddyStormy Monday BluesHarlem blues Operator
Riff Ruffin All My LifeHarlem Rock 'n' Blues Vol. 2
Noble "Thin Man" WattsJookin Fire/Fury Records Story
Tarheel Slim & Little Ann You Got My Nose Wide OpenOld Town Blues Vol. 2
June BatemanGo Away Mr. Blues Fire/Fury Records Story
Sammy PriceRib JointRib Joint

Show Notes:

We've done a couple of shows on the New York blues scene including last year's show on ace session man Larry Dale and more recently a show devoted to recordings revolving around Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry's New York recording activities. New York City has never had a big reputation as a blues town, compared to Chicago and L.A. It did however have a very lively postwar R&B scene. The R&B scene had its peak between 1945 and 1960 and has always been closely associated with the local jazz scene. There were nationally important clubs like the Apollo and Savoy and numerous other spots for live entertainment. The recording scene was dominated by a group of small but enterprising independent companies like Apollo, DeLuxe, Fire/Fury, Herald, Baton, Joe Davis, Old Town and in particular, Atlantic and Savoy. There was also out of town companies that recorded local talent like Federal and RCA’s Groove and Vik subsidiaries. Literally hundreds and hundreds of R&B recordings were made, aimed at the black market with occasional cross over success. Today's show spans the early 50's through the early 60's spotlighting a slew of great lesser known blues artists as well as bigger names like Big Maybelle, Paul Williams and Champion Jack Dupree. We also spotlight the contributions of trio of sizzling session guitarists: Larry Dale, Mickey Baker and Jimmy Spruill.

Larry DAle: Let The Doorbell RingBorn in Texas, Larry Dale had moved to New York City in 1949 and quickly fell into the local blues scene. Dale made his start with Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams’ band in the early 50’s. Dale was much in-demand on the New York blues scene during this period working with Bob Gaddy, Mickey Baker (as a vocalist), Champion Jack Dupree, Cootie Williams and others. He also cut scattered sides under his own name for several New York labels.

We first hear Dale in the company of Paul Williams on three sides from 1953 and 1954. Williams moved with his family from the south to Detroit where he began playing sax professionally after high school. His song "The Hucklebuck" stayed on the charts for 32 weeks in 1949. Nothing else matched this success the fame form that hit kept Williams busy recording and performing live for years. He led the house band at Harlem's Apollo Theater  in the mid-50's and later directed the bands of Lloyd Price and James Brown. He retired from music in 1964. Our selections find Williams laying down some tough R&B with New york Larry Dale taking the vocals and playing guitar on the blistering 'Shame Shame Shame" and "The Woman I Love Is Dying" and playing guitar on the jumping "Women Are The Root Of All Evil" featuring Jimmy Brown on vocals.

We also hear Dales' playing behind Champion Jack Dupree, Mr. Bear, Cousin Leroy, Bob Gaddy, Mickey Baker as well as sides cut under his own name.  Dale played on all four of Dupree's 1956-58 sessions for RCA's Groove and Vik subsidiaries, and on the best known Dupree LP, 1958's Blues from the Gutter, for Atlantic. Today we hear Dale backing Dupree on the rocking  "Shake Baby Shake" from 1952 and 1956's "The Story of my Life." Teddy McRae also known as Mr. Bear cut a few isolated titles as a leader, including two songs for King in 1945, six for Groove in 1955 and two numbers for Moonshine in 1958, and recorded with Champion Jack Dupree from 1955-56. Prior to this he was an important an arranger and tenor-saxophonist for several bands including Cab Calloway, Jimmie Lunceford, Lionel Hampton and Chick Webb's. In 1955 and 1957, Cousin Leroy recorded eight tough tracks that had a little something extra that drove blues fans crazy when they came out on unauthorized records in the 60s. Nothing is known about his background. Both as a session man and featured recording artist, pianist Bob Gaddy made his presence known on the New York blues scene during the 1950's. He arrived in New York in 1946. Gaddy gigged with Brownie McGhee and guitarist Larry Dale around town, McGhee often playing on Gaddy's waxings for Jackson, Jax, Dot, Harlem, and from 1955 on, Hy Weiss' Old Town label. There Gaddy stayed the longest into 1960. Both Gaddy and Dale remained active on the New York scene for decades after. Larry Dale is featured on guitar. We hear Dale backed by Mickey Baker on "Stranger Blues" and the menacing "You Better Heed My Warning." In 1960, Dale did another vocal session, for the Old Town subsidiary Glover in New York City, resulting in two fine singles, "Big Muddy" and the song that gives today's show its title, the scorching party number "Let the Door Bell Ring" which hit the R&B charts.

In the early and mid-'50s, Mickey Baker did countless sessions for Atlantic, King, RCA, Decca, and OKeh, playing on such classics as the Drifters' "Money Honey" and "Such a Night," Joe Turner's "Shake Rattle & Roll," Ruth Brown's "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean," and Big Maybelle's "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On." He also released a few singles under his own name. Baker was also recorded as half of the duo Mickey & Sylvia. We hear Baker on several numbers today, including those already mentioned backing Larry Dale, such as Champion Jack Dupree's "Stumbling Block Blues", Big Maybelle's "I'm Getting 'Long Alright" and a pair of sides by blues shouter Eddie Mack. Mack was part of the Brooklyn blues scene in the late 40's and early 50's but his subsequent career is a mystery. He fronted various groups by Cootie Williams & His Orchestra (he replaced Eddie Vinson), Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra and others. He cut some two-dozen sides between 1947-1952. Baker also  appeared on a series of instrumental sides by piano pounder Sam Price cut for the Savoy label in the late 50's such as "Bar-B-Q Sauce", "Chicken Out" and our selection, "Rib Joint." All these sessions were collected on the now out-of-print 2-LP set Rib Joint. He also cut several instrumentals under his own name during this period.

Jimmy Spruill landed in new York in 1955 where he worked steadily as a session sideman, appearing on records by King Curtis, Little Anthony and the Imperials, the Shirelles, Tarheel Slim and Elmore James, in addition to putting out singles under his own name. He most frequently worked for the record producers Danny and Bobby Robinson, who ran record labels called Fire, Fury, Everlast, Enjoy and VIM out of Bobby's Happy House of Hits record store in Harlem. In May 1959, "The Happy Organ" by Dave "Baby" Cortez reached #1 on the Billboard chart, before giving way only one week later to Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City", both of which featured guitar solos by Spruill. He almost duplicated this feat in 1961 when Bobby Lewis's "Tossin' and Turnin'", featuring Spruill's guitar solo, hit #1 was followed up the charts by the Shirelles' "Dedicated To The One I Love", which peaked at #3. Another well-known recording on which Spruill plays is "Fannie Mae" by Buster Brown. His rhythm work in the background of some of Elmore James' last records is also notable. In 1957 Bobby Robisnon began issuing  Jimmy Spruill's solo 45's, on Fire and its subsidiary labels Enjoy, Vest, and VIM where cut tough instrumentals like "Hard Grind", "Scratchin'", "Slow Draggin'", "Scratch 'n Twist" and "Cut and Dried."  Those tracks and more are available on the Night Train CD Wild Jimmy Spruill: Scratch & Twist (Released and  Unreleased Recordings 1956-1962). We hear Sprull today ripping it up on a couple of his own killer instrumentals, "Hard Grind" and "Kansas City March", as well as backing Bob Gaddy, Buster Brown, Noble "Thin Man" Watts' and Hal Paige.

A few other artists worth mentioning are Buddy & Ella Johnson, Buster Brown, Noble "Thin Man" Watts and Tarheel Slim. In 1939, Buddy Johnson waxed his first 78 for Decca and shortly thereafter, Ella joined her older brother. Buddy had assembled a nine-piece orchestra by 1941 and visited the R&B charts often for Decca during the mid-40's. The Johnson band barnstormed the country to sellout crowds throughout the '40s. Buddy moved over to Mercury Records in 1953 and scored several R&B hits. Buddy kept recording for Mercury through 1958, switched to Roulette the next year, and bowed out with a last session for Hy Weiss' Old Town label in 1964.

Buster Brown played harmonica at local clubs and made a few recordings, including ‘I’m Gonna Make You Happy’ in 1943. Brown moved to New York in 1956 where he was discovered by Fire Records owner Bobby Robinson while working in a chicken and barbecue joint. In 1959, he recorded the "Fannie Mae", whose tough harmonica riffs took it into the US Top 40. In later years he recorded for Checker Records and for numerous small labels including Serock, Gwenn and Astroscope.

The Griffin Brothers, one of Dot Records' most popular touring R&B acts, hired Noble Watts right after he finished college, and he toured with them for a time. In 1952, he joined famed baritone saxophonist Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams as a member of the house band for the groundbreaking TV show “Showtime At The Apollo.” Later on, he had a stint playing with Lionel Hampton's big band. He also played on late '50s tour packages behind the likes of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. Watts first recording came in 1954 on DeLuxe Records. A 1956 single for VeeJay Records preceded his two-year association with New York's Baton label. The song “Hard Times (The Slop)” brought Watts to the pop charts in 1957. Countless tours and performances – as well as a string of singles for various labels – kept Watts busy through the 1960s and into the 1970s. We hear Watts today on the fine instrumental "Jookin."

As Tarheel Slim, Allen Bunn,  encored on Bobby Robinson's Red Robin logo in 1953. He also sang with  R&B vocal groups, the Wheels and the Lovers. As Tarheel Slim he made his debut in 1958 with his wife, Little Ann, in a duet format for Robinson's Fire imprint. He cut a pair of rockabilly raveups of his own, "Wilcat Tamer" and "No. 9 Train" (both featuring Jimmy Spruill). After a few years off the scene, Tarheel Slim made a bit of a comeback during the early 1970's, with an album for Trix, his last recording. He died in 1977.

In January of this year the hard working Bobby Robinson passed away and pay a sort of mini tribute to him, playing several records he produced and issued. He was the owner of Harlem's most successful record store, Bobby's Happy House of Hits, he worked as an amateur talent scout and, as well as advising major blues record companies, he ran his own now legendary labels Red Robin, Whirlin' Disc, Fire and Fury. n 1951, he launched Robin Records (which later became Red Robin Records), and began recording doo wop. He claimed that being stuck in traffic at the New Jersey turnpike cost him the chance to sign Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. In 1956, he formed Whirlin' Disc Records, but after falling out with his business partner formed Fury Records in 1957.Passing blues musicians would often offer to record for Robinson. The most spectacular result in his career was when he gave Harrison studio time in 1959. The resulting single, "Kansas City", went on to sell more than 3m copies, topping both the R&B and pop charts. Other blues artists he recorded included Bobby Marchan, Lee Dorsey, Lightnin' Hopkins, Elmore James, Arthur Crudup, Champion Jack Dupree, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee among numerous others.

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