We’re often asked why we don’t put out as many R&B compilations as we used to. In part, our extensive release schedule in the past has meant that, while the well is still by no means dry, it’s not as full as it used to be. Additionally, demand has dwindled a little, as its audience gets older and less interested in ownership of CDs. Also, the relentless onslaught of lesser quality “out of copyright” issues has eaten away at the core market for R&B and given a false perspective on the true worth of material that’s being, for want of a better term, legally bootlegged.
We still love R&B, and we will continue to support it as long as people keep calling for it. This month, we’re delighted to bring you another volume in our series of CDs devoted to the labels of the late John Grattan Dolphin.
Our previous Dolphin compilation highlighted repertoire that Lovin’ John had recorded for release on his first label, Recorded In Hollywood. This time, the repertoire is largely drawn from the stack of tapes that Dolphin produced or bought with the intention of issuing them on his later labels, Money and Cash. With one exception, all tracks come from original mastertapes that Ace acquired from Dolphin’s widow, Ruth, some years ago.
Dolphin’s scattergun approach to running his labels meant that he would be recording and releasing high profile acts like Memphis Slim, Pee Wee Crayton, Joe Houston and Jimmy Witherspoon one day, and extremely obscure ones like Vernon Anders and Al Calloway the next. For every two sides that he issued, he left two in the can. Indeed, some singers heard here, such as Ervin “Big Boy” Groves’ protégée Little Margie, recorded many sides over several sessions without so much as one finding its way onto the market.
He may not have released everything he cut, but Dolphin held onto the majority of his reels of tape. Because of this, Ace can bring you another helping of quality R&B, in the direct-from-the-studio-floor quality. (There’s plenty more where this comes from. Even as you’re reading these words, another volume is being planned for release in early 2010). As we are wont to do on these occasions, we’ve enlisted the help of top notch west coast researcher-annotator Jim Dawson to tell the story behind the songs and artists - and as ever, Jim’s left no stone unturned in his quest to uncover new facts about the most terminally obscure names on this set.
Half a century may have passed since John Dolphin really was the Toast Of the Coast, but his musical legacy has outlived him. Thanks to our being able to bring you compilations such as this one, it will continue to do so for many years to come.
By Tony Rounce