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The Modern Recordings 1948-50, CD (£11.50)
During six decades in music, Jimmy McCracklin has recorded for many labels, including Chess, his own Art-Tone label, Imperial, Minit and Stax. In the early days, he performed gutbucket blues influenced by his hereos Memphis Slim and Walter Davis. By the 50s he was flirting with rock'n'roll and appeared on American Bandstand singing his hit The Walk. A decade later he returned to mainstream R&B, constantly up-dating his style to fit with the current trend. And in the mid-60s, he dabbled with and influenced the style that later became better known as the new soul music. McCracklin is certainly no stranger to the music scene and his forays with the Modern label in the late 40s, as a blues singer and pianist, are the subject of this 25-tracker.
McCracklin, and his band the Blues Blasters, had already recorded sides for Globe and Excelsior, which were constrained by local-only distribution, when he met the Bihari brothers of Modern Records in Los Angeles in 1948. They worked out a deal with national distribution and Jimmy immediately recorded his first session for Modern, accompanied by Roy Hawkins and Maxwell Davis. Davis played tenor sax, beefing up the sound. Before the session, however, the Biharis held a series of audition sessions, with McCracklin playing and singing solo. Both demos are included here: Mistreating Me and Bad Health Blues. The finished recording of Bad Health Blues was given a four star review by Billboard when it was released.
Most of the recordings from the 1949 session were not released straight away. Modern preferred to take tracks and work them as singles. Other sides were released at a later date but many remained in the vaults. The line-up here offers 10 previously unreleased sides.
McCracklin left Modern in 1950 and was briefly signed to Swingtime Records and Peacock before returning to the label with the newly reformed Blues Blasters in 1954. His later recordings for Modern will be covered in Volume Two, currently in the pipeline. Watch this space.