The Legends of the Rocking Dutchman - episode 223

The Black & White label

This transcript of the radio show is an approximation of what I said in the show. The real spoken parts may differ slightly.

And in today's show I'm gonna take you to the years 1944 and '45 with releases of the Black & White label in the 100 series and the New York series. I'll tell you later about that, first the start-off of the Los Angeles sessions with release number 101 - a cover of Sammy Franklin of that immensely popular Honeydripper tune originally by Joe Liggins. The Liggins version holds the record of having the longest stay on number one in the Rhythm & Blues hitlist, but that was on another label and Sammy Franklin had nothing to do anymore with Liggins.

Not anymore, cause Liggins used to be singer and pianist in the band of Sammy Franklin's California Rhythm Rascals and while with him, Liggins had written the Honeydripper. But Franklin didn't like it and he didn't want to have it in the band's repertoire. When Liggins quit and started a band for himself he recorded the Honeydripper with the Exclusive label - and got himself that epic monster hit. It's ironic that Franklin recorded the tune when about everyone decided to cover that hit, and his version commercially got nowhere. This is taken straight from a very rare 78 - Black & White number 101 - and that's owned by a good friend who offered me the soundfile. Here is Sammy Franklin and his Atomics with The Honeydripper.

00 - 101 - Sammy Franklin and his Atomics - The Honeydripper
00 - 103 - Alton Redd - You're a No Good Woman

Alton Redd and his Low Down Blues Band with You're A Good Woman and that was on number 103 of the Black & White label that I feature today here on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman. The 100 series is the start of the California-based label - but its history started on the other coast, in New York, in 1943. Les Schreiber was the founder and had chosen the name to have it a racially integrated jazz label. And on the New York sessions both white and black combos were found.

In '45 Schreiber sold the company to Paul and Lilian Reiner and they moved it to Los Angeles. It still recorded both black and white artists - but the catalog had numbers series for Rhythm & Blues separately from other genres. The Los Angeles Black & White releases have that typcial ying and yang design that became so iconic for the label.

The next one is an oddity in the catalog. There's just one released side for St. Louis Jimmy Oden on Black & White - the flip was for Alton Redd. Document Records made it available for re-release from a somewhat worn out 78. Here is a re-recording of the great hit he had in '41 for Bluebird - the New Going Down Slow.

00 - 106 - St. Louis Jimmy - New Going Down Slow
00 - 109 - Helen Humes - Married Man Blues


00 - 110 - T-bone Walker - I'm Gonna Find My Baby
00 - 111 - T-Bone Walker - Don't Leave Me Baby

Black & White was the home for T-Bone Walker and for Helen Humes after her short stay with Philo - the forerunner of Aladdin records. With that you got two major assets of the label - and especially T-Bone Walker was very active for the label with twenty sides - ten released singles - about a third of the 100 series.

I won't be able to play all of them - simply because some of the radio stations that air the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman have a limitation on the number of tracks of one artist played in the hour. I'll make that up with some great releases from the New York sessions at the end of the show.

Now I still haven't told you what I played from these two - well the T-Bone Walker tracks were I'm Gonna Find My Baby on Black & White number 110 and Don't Leave Me Baby on 111. From Helen Humes I played number 108 in the catalog, the Married Man Blues. And the next one is also Helen Humes - here is Drive Me Daddy.

00 - 112 - Helen Humes - Drive Me Daddy
00 - 113 - Maggie Hathaway and her Bluesmen - Too Late To Be Good Blues

Maggie Hathaway was that with the Too Late To Be Good Blues. She's most remembered - that is, if remembered at all - for her appearances on the silver screen, mostly as a dancer, in the Marx Brothers' At The Circus, in Cabin In The Sky and in the famous movie Stormy Weather. Her biographer at the Internet Movie Database portrays her as a sassy, witty and sexy lady with an always magnetic presence. Later she got involved in the Civil Rights movement - where she fought against exclusion from sports. For that, there's a golf course in Los Angeles named after her.

The vocal group backing her remains obscure I'm afraid and for Hathaway, four sides for Black & White and four for the Recorded In Hollywood label - these were backed by the Robins - and that's it.

Next one's one more for Helen Humes, on number 114 in the catalog - I Don't Know His Name.

00 - 114 - Helen Humes - I Don't Know His Name
00 - 115 - T-Bone Walker - Low Down Dirty Shame

A Low Down Dirty Shame - that was T-Bone Walker and he was by far the most prolific artist for the label. Before his Black & White sessions came some recordings on the Chicago-based Rhumboogie label, taken during his long-time stints at the club with the same name.

The next one I play is Jack McVea and his Allstars. McVea later would do the smash hit Open The Door Richard for the Black & White label. On this one drummer Rabon Tarrant does the vocals. Here is Blues With A Feeling.

00 - 119 - Rabon Tarrant & Jack McVea's Allstars - Blues With A Feeling
00 - 124 - Maggie Hathaway & Her Bluesmen - Nobody Business What I Do

And one more for Maggie Hathaway. Her version of Ain't Nobody Business What I Do was well-received in Billboard Magazine - the flip couldn't move the critic, it got a mere 40 points and that means it's far below average.

The label credits Teddy Bunn for the guitar, Ramon Larue on the piano, Samuel Joshua on drums and bassman Julius Gilmore.

Now I told you, most of the releases on the 100 series of Black & White have been for T-Bone Walker. I could do some more of him, but the license of some of the radio stations broadcasting my show have restrictions on the number of tracks I play from one artist.

So instead, I will get you a few highlights from the New York period of the label. Black & White was established in New York, but in '45 the owner sold it to Paul and Lilian Reiner and they moved the whole operation to Los Angeles. Now already in the New York time, some of the recordings have been done in Hollywood. This series is somewhat more jazz-oriented and it had much more white artists. But there are some great blues recordings on it, and I start with number 10 of the series. It has the band of Barney Bigard fronted by Etta Jones. This is one of my all-time favorite blues, it's about the definition of bluesy. Here is the Long Long Journey.

01 - 010 - Etta Jones - Long Long Journey
01 - 013 - Barney Bigard - Sweet Marijuana Brown


01 - 022 - George 'The Blues Man' Vann - Last Call Blues
01 - 023 - Spirits Of Rhythm - Scattin' The Blues

And these four from the New York series end this special on the Black & White label. After Etta Jones you got on Black & White number 13 Sweet Marijuana Brown of Barney Bigard, and the title of course is a play on the classic Sweet Georgia Brown. Now many have sung about the joys of marijuana and most of these records are from the thirties. There was no legislation yet on this drug, and it was quite popular. There are numerous compilations out there on the reefer songs, so it's easy to find blues like these.

The last two were from a combo called the Spirits of Rhythm - and that consisted of Teddy Bunn and Ulysses Livingston on guitar, Red Callender on bass, drummer and singer George Vann and Leonard Feather on the piano. Leonard Feather was an Englishman, but he very well understood the idiom of jazz and blues. This Last Call Blues that I played is his composition, but so was the Long Long Journey of Etta Jones. The last one was titled Scattin' The Blues and that was the last one I can play today.

The Black & White label had some great Rhythm & Blues and for sure I'll do a follow up show later on this label. I hope you liked it - and of course you can let me know and e-mail me at Feedback is greatly appreciated.

And all of today's story, you can find it on my web site and easiest way to find that is to type in Legends of the Rocking Dutchman in Google - or any other search engine. They all know me and they'll get you my show on top of the search results. This was show 223 in that list of episodes.

Time's up for now, so I wish you a rocking day and I hope to see you back here, on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman!