Bandleader, record man and entrepreneur Dootsie Williams is best known for the string of doo wop records that he made in the mid-50s, 1954’s Earth Angel by the Penguins being by far the most successful. But before Dootone Records, there was the Blue label, formed in May 1949, so it is appropriate that we are making these sides available for the first time 57 years to the month since the launch of the label. Initially Blue was formed to cut risqué songs, but as soon as the Petrillo ban waned Williams was in the studio cutting blues sides.
This CD covers the best of those blues sides, or at least the best that we could find. Take my word for it, Blue 78s are not easy to locate. We have a few of the original metal stampers used to press the original 78s, so we had these cleaned up as best possible and stamped out 78s onto 12” vinyl, from which we made dubs. The unissued Stormy Herman sides existed on tape alongside a few others, but in the main we had to dub from disc.
This project has been four years in the making, and much of the hold-up was in trying to get hold of those last few missing 78s. One of the elusive ones was Ressie Mae Jones rendition of Automatic Daddy – from the title alone a ‘must have’ for the CD. One theory even developed that this was a plant in the discography and that the record didn’t exist, but then, just as we were giving up on it, one turned up for auction. There were two other lost causes, but one of these, White Keys Jackson’s New Lease Blues / Wild Woman Blues (Blue 108 )may not have come out. The 108 number was also used on a Billy Mitchell risqué side, so it is possible that the WKJ side was not in fact issued – pity, good titles. That just leaves Blue 106 Bruce Collins’ I’m Gonna Sing And Shout / I Done Got Ready as the great lost record from the Blue label.
Never mind, much of this CD will be new to even some of the heaviest collector’s ears. Apart from the super-rare Blue blues sides by Johnny Taylor (no, neither of them), early Bobby Nunn and great Joe Turner, there are some delightful boogie woogie cuts, with a risqué side from Cleo Brown. Added to the Blue sides are most of the blues recordings made for Dootone and Authentic, including four down home blues from Stormy Herman and some later uptown cuts to round the whole thing off. Altogether I hope you find this as entertaining a package to listen to as I did in putting it together.
OK which smart Alec has Blue 106?
By Roger Armstrong