The second of our New Breed R&B series comes exclusively from King Records. We tested the water with the first Kent / Modern sourced CD and found it inviting - so here we are again, spinning those Rhythm and Soul records aimed at the recently converted, but bearing the long term enthusiast in mind.
For instance we feature Chicago bluesman Bobby King's 1962 stab at the pop charts with Thanks Mr Postman his reply to the Marvelettes' international hit Please Mr Postman. It would have stuck out like a sore thumb on the Ace CD, King Chicago Blues (CDCHD 717), that featured all his other sides, but on here it fits snugly into the pocket and helps Bobby King Federal completists to sleep soundly at night. Out and out fans of the record will be pleased to hear it sounding so fresh on CD and will jerk away merrily to it in the confines of their own bedrooms.
That record had the influence of producer / writer Sonny Thompson stamped all over it and his pop sensibility permeated the company in the late 50s / early 60s period when he was head of A&R. He even got to get the axe hero of so many British blues legends, Freddy King, to sing like a seasoned professional who wouldn't have been out of place in Las Vegas. His Some Other Time, Some Other Place could have been recorded by Tom Jones, (though not half as well) and that may be why it didn't feature as a track on any of the Ace blues CDs. It does have a charm of its own and R&B stalwarts should at least give it a chance, they might first find themselves singing along to it or even tapping the odd toe.
Sophisticated blues music was by no means new to King in these years, their original R&B acts had always been more big city entertainers than down home vagabonds. The company's pinnacle for this sound was reached by Little Willie John's 1956 chart topper Fever, and here we have one of his several variations on the theme with the beatier I'm Shakin'. Fever influenced the company for years to come and Pneumonia by Joe Tex, I Don't Know About You by Lloyd Nolan and She Made My Blood Run Cold by Ike Turner are all in the same groovy bag.
On this CD King's songwriters are very influential, particularly on Mike Pedicin's Burnt Toast And Black Coffee and Albert King's Had You Told It Like It Was-.-while Tiny Topsy's version of Rosco Gordon's Just A Little Bit comes from such an oblique angle that I can't fathom out which begat which. Skint collectors will welcome the inclusion of James Duncan's notoriously expensive Three Little Pigs, Mary Johnson's tough Hard Forgetting Memories and William Patton's almost non existent (it's so rare) Don't Be So Mean.
There's a link to King's illustrious past with the Five Royales', ten years ahead of its time", Think and soul fans get to groove to The Fabulous Denos, The Premieres and the ubiquitous King Pins.
The next Kent R&B CD will be a multi label sourced project, so no doubt I'll be panicking on license clearances for the next few months. In the meantime stick this silver biscuit in your aural microwave and dig King's New Breed.
By Ady Croasdell