|Dusty Brown||Will You Forgive Me Baby||Bandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera|
|Dusty Brown||Well You Know (I Love You)||Bandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera|
|Jimmy Lee Robinson||All My Life||Bandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera|
|Jimmy Lee Robinson||Times Is Hard||Bandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera|
|Grover Pruitt||Mean Train||Bandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera|
|Bobby Davis||Hype You Into Selling Your Head||Bandera Blues And Gospel From The Bandera|
|George & His House Rockers||You Don't Love Me||Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band|
|Sunnyland Slim||Recession Blues||Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band|
|Henry Gray||How Can You Do It||Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band|
|Eddy Clearwater||Neckbones Everyday||Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band|
|Eddy Clearwater||A Minor Cha Cha||Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band
|Morris Pejoe||Let's Get High||Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band|
|Jimmy Rogers||I'm A Lucky Lucky Man||Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band|
|Jo Jo Williams||All Pretty Woman||Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band|
|Jo Jo Williams||You Can't Live In This Big World By Yourself||Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band|
|Lonnie Brooks||Figure Head||The USA Records Blues Story|
|Mighty Joe Young||Tough Times||The USA Records Blues Story|
|Fenton Robinson||Directly From Heart||The USA Records Blues Story|
|Fenton Robinson||Say Your Leavin'||The USA Records Blues Story|
|Willie Mabon||Sometimes I Wonder||The USA Records Blues Story|
|Willie Mabon||Just Got Some||The USA Records Blues Story|
|J.B. Lenoir||I Feel So Good||The USA Records Blues Story|
|J.B. Lenoir||I Sing Um The Way I Feel||Mojo Boogie|
|Jesse Fortune||Good Things||The USA Records Blues Story|
|Jesse Fortune||Too Many Cooks||The USA Records Blues Story|
|Homesick James||Crossroads||The USA Records Blues Story|
|Hound Dog Taylor||You Don't Love Me||Chicago Blues from C.J. Records|
|Earl Hooker||Wild Moments||Chicago Blues from C.J. Records|
|Eddie Shaw||Blues For The West Side||Chicago Blues from C.J. Records|
|Big Moose Walker||The Things I Used To Do||Chicago Blues from C.J. Records|
|Little Mac Simmons||Come Back||Chicago Blues from C.J. Records|
|William Carter||Goin' Out West||Chicago Blues from C.J. Records|
|Lee Jackson||Jaunita||Chicago Blues from C.J. Records|
|Jimmy Rogers||Blues Falling||C.J.'s Roots Of Chicago Blues Vol. 2|
|Jimmy Rogers||Broken Heart||C.J.'s Roots Of Chicago Blues Vol. 2|
Today's show is the first part of our look at small Chicago blues labels in the 1950's and 1960's. Over the course of today's program we spotlight four small Chicago labels that issued some great records: Bandera, Atomic-H, C.J. and USA. Atomic-H was run by Rev. Houston. H. Harrington who operated the label between the mid-50's up until 1961. The tiny Bandera label was formed in 1958 and run on a shoestring by the mother and son team of Violet Muszynski and Bernie Harville. C.J. Records was run by singer/songwriter Carl Jones who waxed some fine sides in the early 60's. The USA label was operated by Paul Glass who cut some excellent records during the 60's. The four labels recorded singles by artists such as Detroit Junior, Hound Dog Taylor, Little Mack Simmons, Homesick James, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmie Lee Robinson and Earl Hooker – great Chicago artists who all recorded numerous singles for Chicago's small labels, few of which made any noise outside of Chicago. Many of these artists hopped from label to label, rarely staying long at one place while others were snapped up by larger labels like Chess and Vee-Jay.
All-State Record Distributing head Paul Glass began the USA label in Milwaukee in 1959 in partnership with deejay Lee Rothman. By 1961 Glass had taken complete control of USA and had moved it to Chicago. Initially, most of the artists were blues performers, notably Willie Mabon, Junior Wells, Ko Ko Taylor, Ricky Allen, and Fenton Robinson. Other USA bluesmen were Andrew Brown, Eddy Clearwater, A. C. Reed, Jesse Fortune, Jimmy Burns, and Homesick James. Producers on these records included Willie Dixon, Al Perkins, Al Smith, and Mel London. Most of the artists only stuck around fo a single or two before trying their luck elsewhere. Beginning in 1966, the label began concentrating on rock acts. However, occasional blues and hard soul acts continued to be released, such as Mighty Joe Young and Bobby Jones. USA closed down in 1969. During the early 1970's, the USA label was briefly revived under different ownership, releasing singles by Lonnie Brooks and Jackie Ross, among others.
CJ. Records was owned by a black entrepreneur named Carl Jones and was essentially a boutique operation run from his home. Carl and Cadillac Baby carved out a niche for themselves by working and helping to establish homegrown talent, many who went on to build nice careers for themselves with a few like Hound Dog Taylor and Betty Everett who achieved national recognition. Jones was a musician himself (banjo and trumpet) in the 1930s, and in 1945 he recorded two sides for Mercury. In 1956 Jones founded the C.J. label, eventually followed by subsidiary imprints Colt and Firma. Although he recorded some country and some gospel, the bulk of his output was in the blues field, having recorded Earl Hooker, Mack Simmons, Hound Dog Taylor, Homesick James, Betty Everett, and Detroit Junior. Jones’s record company had no distribution during its last two decades of existence.
The tiny Bandera record label was launched in 1958 in Chicago, where it was over-shadowed by the Windy City's giant indie labels Chess and Vee-Jay. The label was run on a shoestring by the mother and son team of Violet Muszynski and Bernie Harville. They never had an office but ran the label from their home at 2437 West 34th Place. Muszynski was an ardent talent spotter and hung out in many of the clubs on the south side of Chicago where she was a well-known figure. On Chicago's 'Record Row', Violet was known as "Vi the record lady". Bernie recalls that she was a great hustler, into PR and record promotion and very good at schmoozing. Her greatest discovery was the Impressions, at the time when Jerry Butler was lead vocalist. She signed the Impressions to a recording contract and got them leased to Vee-Jay. Bernie recalls, "That got us the money to set up Bandera and paid for recording sessions at RCA in Nashville for my newest discovery, Bob Perry". Bernie hit on a name for their new label, Bandera, taking it from one of Slim Whitman's early hits "Bandera Waltz.." Many of the recording sessions for Bandera were held at small Chicago recording studios such as Hall and Balkan, while studios in Memphis and Nashville were also utilized. Vi and Bernie also set up a couple of subsidiary labels: Laredo and the gospellabel, Jerico Road.
Atomic-H Records was a tiny label that recorded blues and gospel but only issued a few 45s. It was owned and operated by Rev. Houston H. Harrington who was also Eddy Clearwater's uncle and was responsible for Eddy making his way to Chicago from Alabama. Houston began recording his fellow musicians in the 40's on a portable disc-cutting machine while living in Mississippi although none of these were issued. After he settled on Chicago's West Side in the early 1940s, and started his short-lived record label in the 1950s and revived it briefly in the early 1970s. The first Atomic single (the H came later). cut in Iate 1953 in Harrington's basement studio at 1651 S. Trumbull and likely Issued sometime in 1955, was credited to "Jick & His Trio" (actually Homesick James). Around 1958 he grew more serious about recording, cutting singles over the next few years by Jo Jo Williams, Mighty Joe Young, Jimmy Rogers, Eddy Clearwater, Morris Pejoe and others. Most of Atomic-H's singles were limited to 500 pressings making them extremely rare. Delmark’s 1972 Atomic-H collection, Chicago Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blues Band, may have been the first time any of these tracks were widely heard and has since been issued on CD with additional tracks.