Joe Brown and James Oden aka St. Louis Jimmy founded the J.O.B. label in August 1949. The name of the label was a combination of their two names. J.O.B. would hold on until 1974, but its main period of sustained activity ran from late 1950 through the middle of 1954. The company's one chart hit, "Five Long Years" by Eddie Boyd, was released in July 1952. Always a "mom and pop" scale business with erratic publicity and distribution, after 1954 JOB became more of a hobby for its owner than a serious business venture. J.O.B consistently elicited great performances from notable blues artists such as Johnny Shines, Robert Lockwood, Leroy Foster, Sunnyland Slim, J.B. Lenoir and Snooky Pryor among others. The bulk of today’s tracks come from the 2-CD, 54 track collection, Rough Treatment – The J.O.B. Records Story, on the Westside label. An exhaustive history of the label can be found at the Red Saunders Research Foundation website. Below is some background on today's featured artists.
Johnny Shines had first met Robert Johnson in Memphis in 1934, and he began accompanying Johnson on his wanderings around the Southern juke-joint circuit with the twp playing together for three years. The two split up in Arkansas in 1937, and never saw each other again before Johnson's death in 1938. He made his way to Chicago in the 1940's making the rounds of the local blues clubs, and in 1946 he made his first-ever recordings; four tracks for Columbia that the label declined to release. In 1950, he resurfaced on Chess, cutting sides that were rarely released (and, when they were, often appeared under the name "Shoe Shine Johnny"). Meanwhile, Shines was finding work supporting other artists at live shows and recording sessions. From 1952-1953, he laid down some storming sides for the JOB label, which constitute some of his finest work ever.
Robert Lockwood, Jr., learned his blues firsthand from Robert Johnson. When Lockwood's mother became romantically involved with Johnson in Helena, AR, Lockwood gained a role model and a close friend — so close that Lockwood considered himself Johnson's stepson. Settling in Chicago in 1950, Lockwood swiftly gained a reputation as a versatile in-demand studio sideman, recording behind harp genius Little Walter, piano masters Sunnyland Slim and Eddie Boyd, and plenty more. Solo recording opportunities were scarce, though Lockwood did cut fine singles in 1951 for Mercury and in 1955 for JOB ("Sweet Woman From Maine", "Aw Aw Baby", "Dust My Broom", Pearly B").
Bassist Moody Jones, who recorded regularly for JOB between 1950 and 1953, retired from playing blues shortly after his last session for the label.
Snooky Pryor hit Chicago for the first time in 1940. Armed with a primitive amp, he dazzled the folks on Maxwell Street in late 1945 with his massively amplified harp. Pryor made some groundbreaking 78's during the immediate postwar Chicago blues era. Teaming with guitarist Moody Jones, he waxed "Telephone Blues" and "Boogie" for Planet Records in 1948, encoring the next year with "Boogy Fool"/"Raisin' Sand" for JOB with Jones on bass and guitarist Baby Face Leroy Foster in support. Pryor made more classic sides for JOB (1950-1953 and 1962 or 1963), Parrot (1953), and Vee-Jay ("Someone to Love Me"/"Judgment Day") in 1956, but commercial success never materialized. He wound down his playing in the early '60s, finally chucking it all and moving to downstate Illinois, in 1967. h e recorded an LP for Bluesway in 1973 (Do It If You Want), but did not become a hit on the blues revival circuit until a Blind Pig release in 1987 (Snooky). He continued to record into the 1990s for such labels as Antone's and Discovery. Snooky Pryor died on October 18, 2006. He was 85 years old.
Between 1948 and 1952 Baby Face Leroy Foster waxed a handful absolutely terrific sides under his own name for a number fledgling Chicago labels aided by some of the windy city's best blues musicians. In addition his vocals, drumming, and guitar playing can be found backing some of the greatest Chicago blues records of the era. His death in 1958, at the age of 38, robbed the blues world of a singular, memorable talent and likely did much to hasten his unwarranted obscurity. Foster's recorded twice for J.O.B.: First in 1949 with "My Head Can't Rest Anymore" b/w "Take A Little Walk With Me" backed by Snooky Pryor on harmonica and Alfred Elkins on bass and once more in 1952 with "Pet Rabbit" b/w Louella" backed by Robert Lockwood and Sunnyland Slim.
J.B. Lenoir spent time in New Orleans before arriving in Chicago in the late '40s. He cut his first single for Chess in 1951, "Korea Blues." From late 1951 to 1953, he waxed several dates for JOB in the company of pianist Sunnyland Slim, drummer Alfred Wallace, and J.T. Brown.
The four side for J.O.B. Memphis Minnie cut were her last commercial recordings. Her husband, Little Son Joe (Ernest Lawlars) plays guitar and cut two sides under his own name for the label.
Guitarist John Brim was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on April 10, 1922. He moved to Indianapolis in 1941 and Chicago in 1945; in the early 1950s he lived in Gary, Indiana. Along with his wife Grace (on harmonica and drums), Brim made recordings for Detroit-based Fortune (1950) and St. Louis-based Random (1951), before hooking up with J.O.B. in 1953 cutting four sides.
Blues singer/guitarist Hudson Shower was born September 6, 1919, in Aguilla, Mississippi. At age 12 he took up guitar. In 1939 Shower came to Chicago, but it was not until 1946 that he entered the city's burgeoning deep blues scene, despite having played guitar for 15 years. He first followed some of the older musicians, such as Big Bill Broonzy, Big Maceo, and Tampa Red, before forming his own group, the Red Devil Trio, in 1950. With this trio he cut four sides for J.O.B. in 1953.
Eddie Boyd's first formal session for J.O.B. took place on June 30, 1951, when four tracks were laid down. Boyd's first release, on JOB 1005, didn't sell much. A second session was booked on May 30, 1952, at which two tracks were laid. Promptly released on JOB 1007, "Five Long Years" was a huge hit. In consequence, Joe Brown quickly called Ernest Cotton into the studio to overdub his tenor sax on three of the tracks recorded in 1951, and a few months later reissued overdubbed versions of both sides of JOB 1005 on JOB 1009.
Floyd Jones cut six sides for J.O.B. at sessions in 1951 and 1953. Jones came to Chicago in the mid-'40s, working for tips on Maxwell Street with his cousin Moody Jones and Baby Face Leroy Foster and playing local clubs on a regular basis. Floyd was right there when the postwar "Chicago blues" movement first took flight, recording with harpist Snooky Pryor for Marvel in 1947; pianist Sunnyland Slim for Tempo Tone the next year, JOB and Chess in 1952-53, and Vee-Jay in 1955.Jones remained active on the Chicago scene until shortly before his 1989 death.
John Lee Henley recorded as John Lee, and should not be confused with the John Lee who recorded for Federal. He worked for a time in Big Boy Spires' band, the Rocket Four. He cut two sides for the label: "Rythm Rockin' Boogie" and "Knockin' on Lula Mae's Door" in 1952 for J.O.B. Henley recorded on three unissued sessions with guitarist Honeyboy Edwards during 1965 and 1966, so the JOB release is the full extent of his issued discography.
Mississippi born John T. Brown was a member of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels down south before arriving in the Windy City. By 1945, Brown was recording behind pianist Roosevelt Sykes and singer St. Louis Jimmy Oden, later backing Eddie Boyd and Washboard Sam for RCA Victor. He debuted on wax as a bandleader in 1950 on the Harlem label, subsequently cutting sessions in 1951 and 1952 for Chicago's United logo as well as JOB. Brown backed Elmore James on records for Meteor and Flair in 1952 and 1953 and Meteor issued a couple of singles under Brown's own name. After a final 1956 date for United that laid unissued at the time, Brown's studio activities were limited to sideman roles. In January of 1969, he was part of Fleetwood Mac's Blues Jam at Chess album, even singing a tune for the project, but he died before the close of that year.
Sunnyland Slim cut a handful of sides under his own name for the label in 1951 and 1954 and many artists on the label including Floyd Jones, Robert Lockwood, Leroy Foster, John Brim J.B. Lenoir, Snooky Pryor.