#941 (9/12/22)

MODERN RECORDS - PART FOUR (1952-1955)

Includes Audio For Thirty-Seven Songs
(Audio Restored By Dave Saviet - Images Restored By Tony Fournier)



Above: CASH BOX, September 9, 1952.
(NOTE: Coverage of Modern's subsidiary label, RPM Records, will begin in Part Five of this article.)

Part Four will pertain to Modern Records for the period 1952-1955. The artists included here are Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, Mari Jones, Frankie Ervin, Oscar McLollie And His Honey Jumpers, Young Jessie, Jimmy McCracklin, John Lee Hooker, and The Four Of Us. Also highlighted are the songs "Drifting Blues", "My Song", "C.O.D.", and "I Smell A Rat".


JOHNNY MOORE'S THREE BLAZERS:

Johnny Moore's Three Blazers originally consisted of Johnny Moore, guitar; Charles Brown, vocals & piano; and Eddie Williams, bass fiddle. Oscar Moore, Johnny's brother, joined the Blazers in 1947 as second guitarist. Oscar had been with the Nat Cole Trio from 1937 to 1947.

In 1949, Charles Brown went out on his own as a solo singer on the Aladdin label. After Brown left, there was a succession of vocalists that joined Moore's group, including Billy Valentine, Mari Jones, and Frankie Ervin. Brown returned to the group in the mid-1950s.

The Three Blazers first recorded for Atlas Records (1945) located in Hollywood, California. This label also had releases by The Four Vagabonds and The Nat King Cole Trio.

After that, they released many records on the Exclusive label (1945-1949). During their Exclusive years, they also had numerous releases on the Philo/Aladdin (1945-1946) and Modern Music labels (1946-1947). If there were any contractual obligations, it didn't seem to bother them or the record companies.

Pittsburgh Courier, July 26, 1947: Three Blazers Hot On Wax, Sales Soar
NEW YORK–Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, whose unique musical talents have made their unit one of the hottest box office attractions in the entertainment field today, may emerge this year with a new high mark for record sales, proving that their sensational success on wax last year was no mere flash in the pan.

According to an announcement from the office of Leon René, president of the Exclusive Record Company for which label the trio records exclusively, the Blazers sold a total of 2,725,000 records during the first six months of '47, with all indications pointing to a total sale of between six and seven million platters before year's end....

New York Age, June 5, 1948: The Three Blazers On Apollo Stage
NEW YORK–The Three Blazers first sprang into public favor about four years ago. Patterned somewhat along the lines of the King Cole Trio, some of their recordings exceed the latter organization in popularity. At the Apollo the Three Blazers drew larger crowds than did the King Cole Trio. The same thing happened in other major cities.

Oscar Moore, the featured guitarist with the King Cole Trio, is now one of the Three Blazers. Charlie Brown, singer and pianist, and Eddie Williams, master of the string bass, are the other two members. Each one has been featured on recordings as a star in his own right. Together they are being hailed as the nation's foremost instrumental and vocal trio.

In the field of recordings the Blazers have about a dozen remarkable hits to their credit. These include: "Johnny's Boogie", "You Taught Me To Love You", "C.O.D.", "New Orleans" and others. While none of these have as yet hit the mark attained by their recording of "Drifting Blues" it must be remembered that this last named record has sold, to date, beyond the three million mark....Statistics reveal that during their brief existence recordings made by the Three Blazers have exceeded the ten million mark.

At Right: CLEVELAND CALL AND POST, July 10, 1948. "An Atlas Attraction"
Clockwise From Top: Oscar Moore, Eddie Williams, Charles Brown, and Johnny Moore.
(Clipping provided by Richard Koloda)

Above: THE BILLBOARD COVER, October 11, 1947.
CAPTION: Currently sizzling on plenty of jukes, as well as on disk shows and dealer's shelves, are platters by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers (Moore on guitar; Charles Brown, piano and vocals; and Eddie Williams, bass fiddle).

In a happy session here with Prexy Leon René of Exclusive Records (for whom the boys record), the Blazers are counting on their current Exclusive platter of "I'm Looking For Love" and "Changeable Woman Blues" to follow the pop path set by previous discs such as "Moonrise", "New Oleans Blues", "Sunny Road", and "My Silent Love".

After a string of solid box-office dates in theaters (including RKO, Boston and Million Dollar, Los Angeles) and one-nighters, the Blazers are ready to take on other Eastern spots.

Above: Label images for both sides of Modern Records 888, released in 1952. The BMI website lists fifty-five songs titled "Lonesome Train", but none composed by "Moore". Neither could any of the shown composers be deciphered as one of the Biharis. However, BMI does give credit to "Johnny Moore" for composing "Johnny Johnny".

Vocal on both sides is by Mari Jones. Multi-track of her singing is uesd on both sides with Moore's Blazers providing vocal backing on the "Johnny Johnny" side. In addition to Modern (1952-53), Mari also had releases with Johnny Moore's Three Blazers on the Aladdin (1951-52), Rhythm & Blues (1953), Hollywood (1953), and Money (1954) labels.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Lonesome Train" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers With Mari Jones - Modern 888 - 1952.
2. "Johnny Johnny" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers With Mari Jones - Modern 888 - 1952.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Cash Box Review (11-15-52):

JOHNNY MOORE WITH MARI JONES — MODERN 888
Johnny Johnny (C+)
Mari Jones pipes a moderate tempo Latin rhythm as Johnny Moore and his Three Blazers instrumentalize in ok fashion.
Lonesome Train (C+) Flip is a slow blues plaintively sung by Miss Jones. Moore's Blazers provide a soft backing for the thrush.
(NOTE: A rating of C+ was considered as "good".)

NOTE: Cash Box reviewed the same record a second time. They were consistent with their ratings....

Cash Box Review (12-20-52):

JOHNNY MOORE WITH MARI JONES — MODERN 888
Lonesome Train (C+)
Mari Jones sings a haunting vocal romantic lament. Soft blues orking backs up the thrush.
Johnny Johnny (C+) The fem chantress belts out a moving rhumba with force. Johnny Moore's Three Blazers provide a strong musical backdrop.
(NOTE: A rating of C+ was considered as "good".)

Pittsburgh Courier, July 5, 1947: THREE BLAZERS SEEK CHIRPER
NEW YORK—Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, currently among the Nation's foremost instrumental and vocal trios, may soon become a quartet, provided the boys can come across a girl musician who can play the vibraphone and also do a spot of top-notch vocalizing.

Johnny Moore, leaderman of the rhythmic threesome, revealed that he is seriously considering the idea of adding a girl to his very popular unit to reach the ultimate in versatility. The Blazers will audition girl musicians who wish to apply for this coveted spot in all towns they play on their current one-niter tour through the Midwest.

"I want to make it very clear, however," declared Johnny, "that we will not add a girl to our outfit just for the sake of novelty. If we cannot uncover a girl whose talents are truly outstanding and original, we will forget about the whole idea."

Above Left: MACON NEWS (Georgia), June 24, 1951.

Above Right: Picture of Mari Jones taken from The Billboard magazine.

Above Left: Label image for Modern Records 881, released in 1952.

Above Right: Label image for Modern Records 910, released in 1953. The flip-side is "Dragnet Blues". This is Frankie Ervin's only record on the Modern label. However, he also had one record on Modern's subsidiary, RPM Records (1953). Frankie recorded again with Johnny Moore's Three Blazers in 1955, this time on the Hollywood label.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "My Song" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers Featuring Mari Jones - Modern 881 - 1952.
2. "Playing Numbers" - Johhny Moore's Three Blazers Featuring Frankie Ervin - Modern 910 - 1953.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Cash Box Review (8-23-52):

JOHNNY MOORE'S THREE BLAZERS — MODERN 881
My Song (B)
The Johnny Moore version of the new tune causing so much excitement in the R&B field is a good one. The slow tender blues is vocaled with warmth by thrush Mari Jones and the instrumentalists provide a soft backing.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)
Above: Photo of Frankie Ervin. In 1958, as lead singer of The Shields, Frankie had a hit record with "You Cheated".
(Photo is courtesy of Hans-Joachim Krohberger.)
Above Left: Photo of Frankie Ervin.

Above Right: Photo of Johnny Moore's Three Blazers (L-R) Johnny Moore, Eddie Williams, and Oscar Moore).

Click HERE for an article about FRANKIE ERVIN by Marv Goldberg. (Will open in a separate window)


EXTRA RECORDS — JOHNNY MOORE'S THREE BLAZERS:
Above Left: Label image for Exclusive 214 A, released in 1946.

Above Right: CALIFORNIA EAGLE, July 6, 1947: JOHNNY MOORE'S THREE BLAZERS
One of the top small combos of the nation is composed of the three healthy looking gentlemen above. Front row, left to right: Johnny Moore, guitarist and leader, and Eddie Williams, bass. Charles Brown, pianist and vocalist, is standing in the rear.

The Three Blazers have just returned from San Francisco where they appeared at the Trianon Ballroom. On Feb. 21 they open at Chicago's Rhumboogie.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"C.O.D." - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers (Vocal Group) - Exclusive 214 A - 1946.

Above Left: THE BILLBOARD, September 30, 1946: HERE'S "HOT" WAX
HOLLYWOOD, CALIF.—"Where there's smoke there's fire", says Leon René (left), president of Exclusive Records, to Johnny Moore, leader of the Three Blazers. Leon holds one of Johnny Moore's Three Blazers' latest platters, "My Silent Love", listed among those "Burning The Jukes In Harlem" in this issue of The Cash Box.

Above Right: THE BILLBOARD, November 11, 1946: AN OLD STORY...
NEW YORK—In bitter (but posed and very friendly) struggle for possession of a new Johnny Moore record is a couple of record retailers and, representing the trade, Ben Linn (second from right), of the Regal Music Company, a leading music operating firm in this city.

Handing the platter to Ben is Johnny Moore, himself, who was a recent visitor at Runyan Sales Company offices here, local distributors for Exclusive Records.
NOTE: (TOP) Johnny Moore (2nd from left), Charles Brown (3rd from left), and (BOTTOM) Eddie Williams.

Above Left: THE BILLBOARD, April 13, 1946.

Above Right: THE BILLBOARD, October 12, 1946.

Above: Label images for both sides of Philo P112A/B, released in 1946. Philo was the forerunner of Aladdin Records. The labels, helpfully, give the personnel on the recording and their corresponding musical instrument.

"Drifting Blues" was a big hit for Johnny Moore's Three Blazers.

Other artists who had records of "Drifting Blues" include Amos Milburn, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Floyd Dixon, Jay McShann, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Lowell Fulson, Lightning Hopkins, Johnny Otis, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, and Chuck Berry.

Above Left: Amos Milburn, from Houston, was a singer, pianist, and band leader. Joining Aladdin Records in 1946, he had many records for them until leaving in 1957.

Above Right: CASH BOX, November 19, 1949.

Above Left: Label image for Aladdin 3038 B, released in 1949. This record also was released on a "red label" Aladdin. The song "Drifting Blues" also came out on Modern Records in 1949 by both Hootie McShann (Modern 20-646) and the Floyd Dixon Trio (Modern 20-700).

Above Right: Label image for Aladdin 3139, released in 1950. Composers are Johnny Moore and Lou Baxter.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Drifting Blues" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers - Philo P112A - 1946.
2. "Groovy" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers (Vocal Group) - Philo P112B - 1946.
3. "Drifting Blues" - Amos Milburn And His Aladdin Chicken Shackers - Aladdin 3038 B - 1949.
4. "How Could You Be So Mean" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers Featuring Mari Jones - Aladdin 3139 - 1950.

ALL FOUR SONGS played in sequence.

The Billboard Review (11-26-49):

AMOS MILBURN — ALADDIN 3038
Drifting Blues (83)
Heartfelt, telling warbling of the great Three Blazers' blues.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 80-89 considered as "very good".)
Above Left: THE BILLBOARD, March 23, 1946.
NOTE: The "Aladdin" shown in the above is the initial format that was used on their labels.

Above Right: THE BILLBOARD, October 10, 1946.


ANOTHER VERSION OF THE SONG "C.O.D.":
Above: Photo of Skeets Tolbert And His Gentlemen Of Swing. Campbell "Skeets" Tolbert is second from left (playing the clarinet).
Above Left: Label image for Decca 8641 B, recorded on July 25, 1942 and released in 1942. Vocal is by the band ensemble.

The personnel on this recording are Skeets Tolbert (clarinet, alto sax), Robert Hicks (trumpet), Otis Hicks (tenor sax), Herbert Goodwin (piano), John Drummond (bass fiddle), and Larry Hinton (drums).

Above Right: Photo of Skeets Tolbert. Skeets was a singer, saxophonist, clarinetist, songwriter, and band leader. He grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, before moving to New York City in the early 1930s. The entire recorded output of Skeets And His Gentlemen Of Swing seems to be on the Decca label.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"C.O.D." - Skeets Tolbert And His Gentlemen Of Swing - Decca 8641 B - 1942.

Above Left: ASBURY PARK PRESS (New Jersey), August 31, 1941.

Above Right: DAILY RECORD (Long Branch, New Jersey), June 15, 1945.


THE SONG "MY SONG":

"My Song" was composed by David J. Mattis and John Alexander (aka Johnny Ace). Mattis was owner and president of Duke Records in Memphis, Tennessee. The labels for most versions of the song, including Duke, show "James" as the sole composer. "James" is actually Mattis using his middle name.

The versions of "My Song" featured here are by Johnny Ace (Duke), Marie Adams (Peacock), Herb Kenny With The Rockets (M-G-M), and Dinah Washington (Mercury). The rendition by The Three Blazers Featuring Mari Jones is included further up on this page. Hadda Brooks also had the song released on the OKeh label. Hadda's label shows "D. James" as composer. All of the above mentioned records were released in 1952.

The Marie Adams' Peacock label credits both "James" and "Ace" as composers. Interesting, as Peacock took over Duke Records soon after Ace's "My Song" was released.

CASH BOX, August 16, 1952: NAMM CONVENTION
Still rocking from the dizzy impact made on them by the sleeper that crept into the meet unknown and emerged the most talked about tune of the year, record companies and music publishers spent a tumultous week tracing down the origin of the tune and who held the publishing rights.

Stories were flying thick and fast. It is no secret that several diskeries will cut "My Song". Several topdrawer pop artists, according to the rumor factory will record the number.

Peacock Records picked up the original etching by Johnny Ace when they took over the Duke label and the release looks like it will be the biggest rhythm & blues item in many months.


MY SONG — JOHNNY ACE:
Above Left: Label image for Duke R-102-A, released in 1952.

Above Right: Photo of Johnny Ace.

Click HERE for THE JOHNNY ACE WEBPAGE by Tony Fournier. (Will open in a separate window)

Above Left: CASH BOX, August 16, 1952.

Above Right: CASH BOX, August 9, 1952.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"My Song" - Johnny Ace - Duke R-102-A - 1952.

Cash Box Review (6-21-52):

JOHNNY ACE — DUKE 102
My Song (B)
The slow tempo beat receives a smooth and pleasant reading by Ace. The chanter does a great job with the melodic piece and sentimental lyrics.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)
Above: CASH BOX AWARD O' THE WEEK, August 16, 1952.
NOTE: Cash Box also reviewed this record on June 21 giving it a "B" rating (very good). See further above.

CASH BOX, August 9, 1952:
...."My Song" by Johnny Ace on the Duke label. Duke has just been taken over by Peacock Records. This rhythm and blues number was causing so much commotion that Don Robey and Irv Marcus of Peacock had to fight off distributors who were demanding the record....

CASH BOX, August 16, 1952:
....There was much bidding by publishers around town this week for a tune called "My Song". It's recorded by Johnny Ace on the Duke label, which was recently bought by Peacock, and it looks like the hottest thing to hit the R & B market in months. Several pop versions are in the planning stage....


MY SONG — MARIE ADAMS:

Marie Adams recorded for Peacock Records with seven records released on that label starting in 1952. Her 1955 Peacock release "In Memory (A Tribute To Johnny Ace)", backed by the Johnny Otis Orchestra, was her last on that label. She later joined The Johnny Otis Show as a member of the Three Tons Of Joy, recording for Capitol Records in 1957.

Above Left: Label image for Peacock 1610, released in 1952.

Above Right: Photo of Johnny Otis And Marie Adams.

Above: CASH BOX, August 23, 1952.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"My Song" - Marie Adams - Peacock 1610 - 1952.

Cash Box Review (9-6-52):

MARIE ADAMS — PEACOCK 1610
My Song (B+)
Johnny Ace started a race to cover this slow beat blues when his release turned into an instantaneous hit, and the diskerie, in an attempt to corner the market, waxed its number one gal singer on the item. Marie Adams lives up to expectations as she smashes through with a top flight deck that we think could establish her in the pop field.

Marie gives a colorful, passionate reading with Cherokee Conyers and orchestra providing a soft back- drop in the mood of the piece.

(NOTE: A rating of B+ was considered as "excellent".)

(Notice that Marie's version of the song received a higher rating than that given to Johnny Ace's.)


MY SONG — HERB KENNY AND THE ROCKETS:

Herb Kenny had five releases with The Rockets on M-G-M (1952-53) and, with The Comets, just one record on Federal (1952). He had a great singing range, doing tenor lead and talking bass on these records.

Herb, who was the twin brother of Bill Kenny, lead tenor of The Ink Spots, sang bass and the talking recitations for them from 1945 to 1951. In 1950 he "moonlighted" for the Aladdin label resulting in one record.

Above Left: Label image for M-G-M 11332-A, released in 1952. This is Herb Kenny's first record for M-G-M. The Rockets (same group as The Comets) were purportedly a white group that did backup work for Perry Como on his TV show.

Above Right: Photo of Herb Kenny.

Above: THE BILLBOARD, September 20, 1952.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"My Song" - Herb Kenny With The Rockets - M-G-M 11332-A - 1952.

Cash Box Review (9-20-52):

HERB KENNY — MGM 11332
My Song (B)
Kenny's smooth and colorful voice sounds grand as he does a pop rendition of a top number in the rhythm and blues field. The Rockets come up with soft vocal support for the artist as Fred Norman's boys back instrumentally.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)

The Billboard Review (9-27-52):

HERB KENNY — MGM 11332
My Song (73)
Backed by a vocal group Kenny reads off the ballad with a smooth, intimate style. Tune is now a hit in the r.&b. field.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good".)

MY SONG — DINAH WASHINGTON:

Dinah Washington, "Queen Of The Blues", was a singer, pianist, and songwriter. Her recording career began in the mid-1940s with a couple of minor hits on the Keynote label.

This was followed by a series of records on Apollo Records. In 1946, she started her long stay with the Mercury label. Between 1948 and 1955, Dinah had twenty-seven top ten rhythm and blues hits.

Many of her records had vocal group backing, usually uncredited on the label. These included "Journey's End", "It's Too Soon To Know", "Such A Night", "Dream", and many more. The Ravens did get label credit for their 1951 Mercury record with Dinah, "Hey, Good Lookin'" (not the Hank Williams' song).

Her 1959 record on Mercury, "What A Diff'rence A Day Makes", again with uncredited vocal group backing, made the top ten popular song chart. This was followed in 1960 by two back-to-back hits when paired with Brook Benton.

Dinah Washington was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1993.

Above Left: Label image for Mercury 8294, released in 1952. There is no vocal group backing Dinah on this side. Jimmy Cobb gets orchestra credit on the label, but was actually a drummer in Dinah Washington's band.

Above Right: Photo of Dinah Washington.

Above Left: Photo of Dinah Washington.

Above Middle: CASH BOX, October 4, 1952.

Above Right: Photo of Jimmy Cobb

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"My Song" - Dinah Washington - Mercury 8294 - 1952.

CASH BOX, March 8, 1952:
....Dinah Washington is reported about to do it again, this time with James Cobb of Washington, D. C. ....

CASH BOX, May 17, 1952:
....Dinah Washington and drummer man Jimmy Cobb will middle-aisle it any day now....

CASH BOX, July 5, 1952: DINAH WASHINGTON NAMED "QUEEN OF JUKE BOXES"
NEW YORK-Singing star Dinah Washington was the recipient of several awards Friday night, June 27, at New York's Club Birdland.

Bob Austin, of The Cash Box, presented the songstress with a scroll designating Miss Washington as "Queen Of The Juke Boxes". This distinguished award is the result of a national survey conducted by a poll of 168 leading Negro newspapers' weekly rating, coast to coast.

Leonard Feather also presented a trophy for the ballad singer's outstanding performance in the field of entertainment.

Cash Box Review (9-6-52):

DINAH WASHINGTON — MERCURY 8294
My Song (B+)
DinahWashington throws her hat into the ring with her stylized reading of the exciting slow blues and comes through with a version that is bound to please her legion of fans. Orking is strong and the potent arrangement spots them to advantage.
(NOTE: A rating of B+ was considered as "excellent".)

NOTE: Cash Box gave a "B+" rating (excellent) to Marie Adams' and Dinah Washington's versions of "My Song". A "B" rating (very good) was given to Mari Jones With Johnny Moore's Blazers, Johnny Ace, and Herb Kenny With The Rockets.

LISTEN TO ALL FIVE VERSIONS (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "My Song" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers Featuring Mari Jones - Modern 881 - 1952.
2. "My Song" - Johnny Ace - Duke R-102-A - 1952.
3. "My Song" - Marie Adams - Peacock 1610 - 1952.
4. "My Song" - Herb Kenny With The Rockets - M-G-M 11332-A - 1952.
5. "My Song" - Dinah Washington - Mercury 8294 - 1952.

ALL FIVE SONGS played in sequence.


OSCAR McLOLLIE:

Oscar McLollie was a singer, composer, and orchestra leader. His first records were on the Mercury label in 1951.

Oscar moved to Leon René's Class label in 1952 and had the hit "The Honey Jump". This song was written by Leon René and his son, Rafael (also known as "Googie"). Leon René became Oscar's manager, producer, and main song-writer thoughout his recording career.

Some of the songs that Leon René wrote (or co-wrote) for Oscar McLollie, in addition to "The Honey Jump", are "Convicted", "Be Cool My Heart", "Love Me Tonight", "Hey Lolly Lolly", "Pretty Girl", "God Gave Us Christmas", "Dig That Crazy Santa Claus", and "Pagliacci (With A Broken Heart)".

In 1953, Oscar went to Modern Records. From then until 1955, he had ten records released on the Modern label.

After that, Oscar returned to Class Records resulting in several records released between 1955 and 1960, including some duets with Jeanette Baker.

Above: Photo of Oscar McLollie. This picture is from a Modern Records publicity photo noting that Oscar is their "Exclusive Recording Artist".

THE BILLBOARD, March 28, 1953: MODERN BUYS 8 MASTERS
HOLLYWOOD—Modern Records shelled out $5,000 this week for eight masters from Class Records, new r.&b. diskery recently started by Leon René.

Sides purchased include "Honey Jump", a tune penned by René and his son Rafael with the Oscar McLollie ork, and "That's All", "The Boomerang", "Rain", and "You Can't Bring Me Down", all with the McLollie crew and a Jimmy Lunceford ork cutting of "When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano", which was taken from a ballroom tape.

Modern also took over the contract of the McLollie band with the acquisition of the masters.

CASH BOX, April 11, 1953: MODERN ACQUIRES CLASS RECORDS HIT
LOS ANGELES—Saul Bihari, president of Modern Records this city, jumped on the hit bandwagon via a disk release that reportedly has many of the nation's distributors literally begging for records. Cause of the furor is an etching tagged "The Honey Jump"." Originally recorded on Class Records by the Oscar McLollie ork and released via veteran disk man Leon René, Modern acquired the sides and is handling them through their distribution channels.

Modern paid René a reported $5,000 for the masters and signed the McLollie group to an exclusive recording contract. Comment in the trade is that not since "The Honeydripper" on Exclusive Records some years back has there been a recording ala the current McLollie disk.

The Modern plattery has already increased its production capacity for this record, and has an estimated 25,000 backlog in orders.

CASH BOX, April 11, 1953:
....One of the greatest pieces of wax we've had the pleasure of hearing in many a moon turns up as a thing called "The Honey Jump" by Oscar McLollie on Modern Records. Firm released the disk only a short week ago, and already they've been swamped with orders to the tune of more than 25,000 back ordered. Reaction from all distribs is unanimous we learn—it's another "Honeydripper"....

Above: Label images for both sides of Modern Records 915, recorded on September 11, 1953 and released in 1953. The Modern labels for some of Oscar's songs show "And His Honeyjumpers", while others show "And His Honey Jumpers"... take your pick. Not much information could be found about Berdell Forrest, who does the tenor lead vocal on "Be Cool My Heart".

Both sides were composed by Leon René, owner and president of Class Records.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Be Cool My Heart" - Oscar McLollie And His Honeyjumpers (Vocal Group) - Modern 915 - 1953.
2. "All That Oil In Texas" - Oscar McLollie And His Honeyjumpers (Vocal Group) - Modern 915 - 1953.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, October 3, 1953:
....The Bihari Brothers recently released "All That Oil In Texas" with Oscar McLollie and the Honeyjumpers on the Modern label. This tune was originally recorded as R&B, but almost instantly jumped into the pop field. Indications that it could be a big number. The ops have already put it on many of their boxes....

Cash Box Review (10-10-53):

OSCAR McLOLLIE — MODERN 915
All That Oil In Texas (B)
A quick mover is bounced through gaily by Oscar McLollie and his Honey Jumpers. The boys perform zestfully in back of McLollie's vocal.
Be Cool My Heart (B) Berdell Forrest handles the vocal on this end and does a lush job. The etching is feathery. The group dishes up the slow love ballad prettily.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)
Above Left: CASH BOX, February 6, 1954.

Above Right: Label image for Modern 920, released in 1953. Rafael René is the son of Leon René, Class Record's owner. Vocal is by The Honey Jumpers.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"Lolly Pop" - Oscar McLollie And His Honey Jumpers (Vocal By The Honey Jumpers) - Modern 920 - 1953.

The Billboard Review (11-28-53):

OSCAR McLOLLIE — MODERN 920
Lolly Pop (79)
The McLollie ork turn in a solid performance on a bright new jump effort, showing the same bright precision work that grabbed attention on the "Honey Jump". The novelty vocal by the sidemen adds to the platter. It's a good one and it could get both spins and coins.
God Gave Us Christmas (65) The Honey Jumpers sing about Christmas Day on this new platter. Backed quietly by the McLollie ork. It's pleasant and listenable, and it could grab spins come the holidays.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 60-69 considered as "satisfactory" and 70-79 as "good".)

Cash Box Review (12-19-53):

OSCAR McLOLLIE — MODERN 920
Lolly Pop (C+)
A fast moving lively piece performed solidly by the ork.
God Gave Us Christmas (B+) A lovely yuletide offering is tenderly presented by a sweet bit of vocalizing and a lilting-chorus backing. Sincere and lightly religious.
(NOTE: A rating of C+ was considered as "good" and B+ as "excellent".)
Above Left: Label image for Modern 943, released in 1954. "God Gave Us Christmas" was first released on the flip-side of the further above "Lolly Pop" (Modern 920). It was re-issued here for the upcoming holiday season. Composers are Albert Johnson and Leon René.

Above Right: Label image for Modern 950, recorded on September 2, 1954 and released in 1955. Oscar is backed by the ubiquitous Maxwell Davis And his orchestra. The Renés again had a hand in composing the song.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "God Gave Us Christmas" - Oscar McLollie And His Honey Jumpers (Vocal Group) - Modern 943 - 1954.
2. "Pretty Girl" - Oscar McLollie And His Honey Jumpers (Vocal Group) - Modern 950 - 1955.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, November 28, 1953:
....The BihariBrothers recently released "God Gave Us Christmas" on the Modern label. This beautiful offering is ably done by Oscar McLollie and his Honey Jumpers. Leon René wrote the tune and his professional manager, Parker Prescott, came in from New York for conferences and to help arrange the recording sessions. Initial reaction to the tune has been good and everyone thinks it can can be a big number....

CASH BOX, December 5, 1953:
....The Bihari brothers are all excited over Oscar McLollie's "God Gave us Christmas" on the Modern Label. They are working hard to get complete distribution set up before the Holiday season....

CASH BOX, February 19, 1955:
....Oscar McLollie and his band is one of the few groups that can boast about having one of the longest single engagements in history. They have appeared continuously at the Trade Winds in Inglewood for almost two years. Oscar is mighty happy over his latest Modern release "Pretty Girl" and "Lolly Lolly"....

The Billboard Review (11-20-54):

OSCAR McLOLLIE — MODERN 943
God Gave Us Christmas (71)
Okay Christmas ballad which could get some Yuletide action.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good".)

The Billboard Review (2-19-55):

OSCAR McLOLLIE — MODERN 950
Pretty Girl (69)
A pleasing vocal on a catchy ditty.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 60-69 considered as "satisfactory".)

Cash Box Review (2-26-55):

OSCAR McLOLLIE — MODERN 950
Pretty Girl (B)
Another fast beat jump item for the dancing teeners. McLollie ork provides a sharp and effective reading.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)

EXTRA RECORD — OSCAR McLOLLIE:
Above Left: Label image for Class 503, released in 1953.

Above Right: Photo of Oscar McLollie.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"Rain" - Oscar McLollie And His Orchestra (Vocal Group) - Class 503 - 1953.



Above Left: THE BILLBOARD, December 4, 1954.
NOTE: The 1954 re-issue of "God Gave Us Christmas" had "Dig That Crazy Santa Claus" on the flip-side in place of "Lolly Pop".

Right Top: WESTWOOD HILLS PRESS (Los Angeles, California), January 23, 1958.
NOTE: At this point in Oscar's career, he was back recording for Class Records, having a hit, "Hey Girl - Hey Boy", paired with Jeanette Baker.

Right Bottom: VALLEY TIMES (North Hollywood, California), December 29, 1955.
NOTE: In 1955, Gene Norman was a disk jockey on KLAC radio and had a show on KHJ-TV. Dolly Cooper, who recorded for Modern Records in 1955, will be included in Part Five of this article.


THE FOUR OF US:

From Judy Cota Jones (daughter of Charles Cota): My dad would talk about how many other groups used to come and listen to their harmony. The Four Of Us inspired groups such as the Four Freshmen, the Hi-Lo's, the Ames Brothers, and others. Besides their unique harmony, they also did comedy singing by changing words to popular songs. They worked with Peggy Lee, Kay Starr, Nat King Cole, and I can remember when they went on tour all through Canada with Mark Stevens, an actor/singer.

THE BILLBOARD, November 24, 1951:
....Mark Stevens, signed to personal management deal with Arena Stars, will work personals with an instrumental and vocal group labeled The Four Of Us....

(NOTE: Mark Stevens acted in various films in the 1940's and 1950's. Among other TV stints, he played the lead role in the NBC series "Martin Kane, Private Eye" from 1953 to 1954.)

BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN, April 22, 1950:
HOLLYWOOD—We've "discovered" a new combo which is so outstanding that its four members have remained in comparative obscurity while lesser aggregations are dragging down a multitude of nightclub, radio, and record shekels [money]. This outfit isn't a new one either. In fact, it actually outdates most of the big-name combos, starting as it did back in 1937. Peggy Lee got her start with the foursome...so did Ella Mae Morse.

The combo's name is "The Four Of Us." The boys are known as Don, Lou, Jack, and Charlie (guitar, drums, clarinet, piano, and bass with one of the boys doubling on guitar and drums) and they're playing at present at Lindy's on Wilshire Boulevard. Not only do they play sweet music and sing harmonious ballads, but they also specialize in humorous selections. Their success may be seen in the crowds which frequent the eatery just to hear the boys....

We're going all out and make one of our few predictions (none of which has failed to come true as long as we've been conducting this column) and say that "The Four Of Us" will become one of the nation's top combos within a year.

The reason for bringing this up is that the combo is about to come into its own, speaking of such fields as the movies and television. The noted film producer, Joe Pasternak, dropped into Lindy's the other night and stayed to "close up the place," he was that interested. Bullets Durgom, the well-known actor's agent, also was there and is reported to be very interested in the combo's future—if he can handle their affairs! And for television, plans are under way to pair the combo with 13-year-old radio actress Anne Whitfield in the first show of its kind whereby a youngster acts as a major emcee.

We're going all out and make one of our few predictions (none of which has failed to come true as long as we've been conducting this column) and say that "The Four Of Us" will become one of the nation's top combos within a year.

(NOTE: The clipping at right also mentions "Filmdom" and "TV Shows". However, no movie or television credits for The Four Of Us was found at IMDB.com.)


Above: FRESNO BEE, September 23, 1952.

[Above photo provided by Judy Cota Jones.]
Above: Photo of The Four Of Us (Top L-R) Don Worth (violin), Charles Cota (bass fiddle), (Bottom L-R) Lou Chambliss (guitar), and Jack Monan (piano). They all were both musicians and vocalists.
Above: Label image for Modern Records 222, released in 1951.

The composers on the above "Lift Up The Latch" label are shown as "Spina-Elliot". The composers shown on the flip "Be Mine" label are "Lucraft-Jacobson". However, in actuality, Howard Lucraft and Lew Jacobson composed "Lift Up The Latch" copyrighted in 1951 and Harold Spina and Jack Elliott composed "Be Mine" copyrighted in 1950. Modern Records had the credits backwards. As the songs were copyrighted in 1950-1951, it's reasonable to conclude these sides were recorded in 1951.

Regarding the reference to Indio pizza in "Lift Up The Latch", Indio is a small city just southeast of Palm Springs, CA. "Well, it ain't Richard" refers to the "Open The Door, Richard" craze, even though that had occurred about four years earlier.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Lift Up The Latch" - The Four Of Us - Modern 222 - 1951.
2. "Be Mine" - The Four Of Us - Modern 222 - 1951.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Above: THE DESERT SUN, February 14, 1941: POPULAR QUARTET OF ENTERTAINERS
Able musicians and clever entertainers are The Four Of Us, the nice-looking quartet of lads which has been giving patrons at the Royal Palms Rainbow Room a good deal of pleasure during the past weeks....

ANOTHER VERSION OF THE SONG "LIFT UP THE LATCH":

At Left: Label image for Columbia 39084, released in 1950.

Above: The Mellomen (L-R) Bob Stevens, Bill Lee, Thurl Ravenscroft, and Max Smith.
Thurl was the voice of "Tony, The Tiger" in the Kellog's Frosted Flakes TV commercials.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"Lift Up The Latch" - Ray Noble Orchestra (Vocal By The Mellomen) - Columbia 39084 - 1950.

The Billboard Review (2-17-51):

Ray Noble (The Mellomen) — COLUMBIA 1-941
Lift Up The Latch (68)
The impeccable taste and excellent performance, standard with Noble, is wasted on a featherweight rhythm novelty. Mellomen shine in vocal chore.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 60-69 considered as "satisfactory".)

JOHN LEE HOOKER:

John Lee Hooker, from Detroit, was a blues singer, guitar player, and songwriter. He had his own unique style. He recorded prolifically for many different labels, often at the same time using fictitious names.

Hooker first recorded for Sensation Records, located in Detroit, in 1948, and soon therafter for Modern Records. Between 1948 and 1956, he had twenty-nine releases on Modern. His biggest hit for Modern was his first record for them, "Boogie Chillen'" (Modern 20-627).

Above: Photo of John Lee Hooker.
Above Left: Label image for Modern Records 901, released in 1953. Labels for both sides give composer credit to "Hooker".

Above Right: Label image for Modern Records 958, released in 1955. Composer "Taub", also known as Joe or Jules Bihari, is credited by himself alone on both sides of this record.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "It's Stormin' And Rainin'" - John Lee Hooker - Modern 901 - 1953.
2. "Taxi Driver" - John Lee Hooker - Modern 958 - 1955.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Cash Box Review (5-21-55):

JOHN LEE HOOKER — MODERN 958
Taxi Driver (B)
John Lee Hooker wails a low down country blues moaning over the loss of his girl. Hooker's sad chant is potent Southern market fare.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)
Above Left: Photo of John Lee Hooker in the recording studio.

Above Right: LEXINGTON HERALD (Lexington, Kentucky), February 28, 1952.

Above: Label images for both sides of Sensation 21, released in 1949. In the same year, Hooker composed a somewhat similar song, "Sally May", which was released on Modern 20-627.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Burnin' Hell" - John Lee Hooker - Sensation 21 - 1949.
2. "Miss Sadie Mae" - John Lee Hooker - Sensation 21 - 1949.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

At Right: THE BILLBOARD, October 1, 1949.

Cash Box Review (11-19-49):

JOHN LEE HOOKER — SENSATION 21 Burnin' Hell/Miss Sadie Mae
Low down country blues by John Lee Hooker on this pair should earn some lively juke box play. This duo, titled "Burnin' Hell" and "Miss Sadie Mae", show John at his best, with some terrific guitar work highlighting the platter.

It's wax that can be used to extremely good advantage by music operators, and should prove to be a nickel nabber in those spots that go for this brand.

The Billboard Review (11-19-49):

JOHN LEE HOOKER — SENSATION 21
Burnin' Hell (83)
A sure-shot for the southern trade. Hooker's primitive chanting and percussive guttering, and a harmonica on echo in back add to an impressive, authentic blues sermon.
Miss Sadie Mae (76) A slow, quiet, effective undersung torch blues in the cotton-belt tradition.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good" and 80-89 as "excellent".)

THE BILLBOARD, October 7, 1950:
SENSATION SUSPENDS PRESSING, LEASES OUT

DETROIT—A combination of conditions resulted in a decision by John S. Kaplan and Bernard Besman, owners of the Sensation Record label, to discontinue pressing and lease out their masters. Sensation, with a heavy specialty in the blues and rhythm field, was one of the biggest of the twenty or so independent labels in this area and is quitting the field in good shape, as a sound business move.

Pressing may be resumed at a later date if conditions warrant, Besman said, but the owners will meanwhile, concentrate on their other activity, Pan-American Distributors. The principal reasons for the stoppage were the growing scarity of both shellac and vinylite and the increasingly poor credit risk presented by record dealers.

About 400 masters of race numbers owned by Sensation are to be leased out for pressing to Regal and Modern Records, with each firm taking about three masters weekly under the present preliminary arrangement, which goes into effect this week for immediate pressings.


JIMMY McCRACKLIN:

Jimmy McCracklin was a blues singer, pianist, orchestra leader, and composer. He had releases on many different record labels starting with Globe and Courtney in 1945 and continuing on to Mercury in 1959. In between were Preview, Excelsior, Aladdin, Cava-Tone, JMC, Swing Time, Peacock, Modern, Hollywood, Irma, and Checker. Although not confirmed, it would seem that "JMC" is derived from "Jimmy McCracklin", and perhaps the label was owned by him.

He had eight records released on the Modern label from 1949 to 1955. His biggest hit was "The Walk" on Checker 885 in 1958.

Jimmy was a prolific song-writer. BMI credits "Jimmy McCracklin" with 278 different work titles (compositions).

JACKSON ADVOCATE, October 11, 1958: FROM FIGHTER TO SINGER
LOS ANGELES—But for an auto accident nine years ago, singer Jimmy McCracklin might have been a champion boxer. He was on the road to fistic fame having been crowned the Navy All-American light-heavyweight champ while overseas.

Returning to the States, he turned pro and had won 23 fights, 19 by KOs, when a car accident knocked his shoulder out of place and damaged his eyes. Medics advised him then to give up the ring and concentrate on a new career.

While recuperating in a Los Angeles hospital, McCracklin started fooling around with the piano that was in the corner of the recreation room. Before he knew it he found that, without any training, he could peck out a few tunes he had heard on the radio with ease.

Soon he became a favorite patient when others would crowd around him and ask him to sing this and that song. Upon his discharge, he started getting bookings for local cafes.

Two years later Don Robey, owner of the Peacock record label, heard him and signed him to a big contract. His first tune, "My Days Are Limited", which he also composed, caught on and hit the 500,000 sales mark.

A consistent money-maker on one-night tours, the St. Louis-born McCracklin is an avid fight fan and spends thousands of dollars yearly on fight tickets and flying to the big title matches.

(NOTE: Believe what you will in the above write-up, but with caution.)


At Right: THE BILLBOARD, November 17, 1945.

Above Left: Photo of Jimmy McCracklin.

Above Right: THE BILLBOARD, April 24, 1954.

Above Left: Label image for Modern Records 926, released in 1954. The flip-side is "Blues Blasters Boogie", an instrumental, composer credit shown as "McCracklin".

Above Right: Photo of Jimmy McCracklin in what seems to be a standard pose for him.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"The Panic's On" - Jimmy McCracklin And His Blues Blasters - Modern 926 - 1954.

Cash Box Review (4-10-54):

JIMMY McCRACKLIN — MODERN 926
The Panic's On (B)
McCracklin chants a slow southern blues with timely lyrics. With unemployment growing, McCracklin tells of his having lost his job, compares it to 1932 and mulls over what will happen. Item reflecting the current period could catch on with a worried people.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)

(NOTE: There was a relatively mild economic recession following the Korean War from about July 1953 to May 1954.)


EXTRA RECORDS — JIMMY McCRACKLIN:
Above Left: Label image for JMC 209-B, released in 1951. That "JMC" is derived from "Jimmy McCracklin" is a pretty sure bet.

Above Right: Label image for Swing Time 270 A, released in 1951. This is the same version of the song as on the JMC label, possibly purchased from JMC.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"I Am Tired" - Jimmy McCracklin And His Blues Blasters - JMC 209-B - 1951.

The Billboard Review (12-8-51):

JIMMY McCRACKLIN — SWING TIME 270
I Am Tired (79)
McCracklin warbles a routine slow blues to an unusual orking which makes use of concerted voices as well as brief ensemble vocal passages. The odd sound could capture the action.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good".)
Above Left: CASH BOX, July 21, 1951.

Above Middle: Photo of Jimmy McCracklin from 1950.

Above Right: THE BILLBOARD, September 13, 1952. The fourth new release down is the Jimmy McCracklin record featured next, just below. Peacock Records (Houstin, Texas) had bought out Duke Records (Memphis, Tennessee) earlier in 1952.

Above: Label images for both sides of Peacock 1605, released in 1952. The Peacock advertisement (further down on this page) credits "...And His Blues Blasters" rather than "Jimmy McCracklin Orchestra" as shown on the labels.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "My Days Are Limited" - Jimmy McCracklin - Peacock 1605 - 1952.
2. "She's Gone" - Jimmy McCracklin - Peacock 1605 - 1952.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, October 1, 1952:
....Jimmy McCracklin, the Peacock label shouter, is back in the state of Texas and booked through November. His latest is "My Days Are Limited".

CASH BOX, October 11, 1952:
....Promoters looking for a good aggregation to play the southern spots might do well for themselves to take a good look, and listen, to Jimmy McCracklin and his Blues Blasters. The boys are doing well for all concerned, especially since their "My Days Are Limited" has been out on Peacock....

Cash Box Review (8-16-52):

JIMMY McCRACKLIN — PEACOCK 1605
My Days Are Limited (C+)
The vocalist and ork leader expressively pounds out a low down blues piece in slick style. Delivery is attractive.
(NOTE: A rating of C+ was considered as "good".)
Above: THE BILLBOARD, August 2, 1952. Apparently Peacock did think this record had two "A" sides. The top side listed here is shown as the bottom side in the advertisement further above.
Above: DURHAM MORNING HERALD (North Carolina), June 6, 1958.
(The Man Who Created "The Walk".)

YOUNG JESSIE:

Young Jessie, real name Obediah "Obie" Jessie, was a singer and composer. He moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1946.

His first record was with a vocal group, The Hollywood Blue Jays, released on Recorded In Hollywwod in 1953. When this group moved to Modern's subsidiary label, Flair Records, later in 1953, their name was changed to The Flairs.
(NOTE: Flair Records will be covered in a future part of this article.)

As a "solo" artist, Young Jessie had three records on the Modern label (1954-1955). In actuality, four of these sides are with an uncredited vocal group. Mike Sweeney, in his book, "Single Artist Groups", shows the groups to be The Flairs on Modern 921 and The Cadets on Modern 961.

Above: Photos of Young Jessie.
Above: Label images for both sides of Modern Records 921, released in 1954. Per Mike Sweeney's book,"Single Artist Groups", the vocal group on this record is The Flairs. "I Smell A Rat" was written by the prolific and famous composer pair, Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "I Smell A Rat" - Young Jessie - Modern 921 - 1954.
2. "Lonesome Desert" - Young Jessie (With Vocal Group) - Modern 921 - 1954.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, May 8, 1954:
LOS ANGELES—Many great new releases are now hitting the market. Tremendous reaction has been reported on the new Peacock release of "I Smell A Rat" with Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton.

The tune has also been covered on the Modern label with "Young" Jessie. This lad is the lead vocalist with The Flairs, a young high school group who have become very popular here on the Coast through their personal appearances and recordings on the Flair label. The Flairs recently played a teen-age benefit at St. John's church.
(NOTE: "Flair" was a subsidiary label of Modern Records.)

Cash Box Review (5-8-54):

YOUNG JESSIE — MODERN 921
I Smell A Rat (B+)
Young Jessie drives through this novelty item for an exciting side. Jessie does a good job on a record that moves. The shouter belts it from the shoetops.
Lonesome Desert (C+) Jessie sings a slow blues. Lyrics on the bloody side. The man killed his wife and is on the lam. Stronger deck is the "Rat" side.
(NOTE: A rating of C+ was considered as "good" and B+ as "excellent".)

The Billboard Review (5-8-54):

YOUNG JESSIE— MODERN 921
I Smell A Rat (84)
This could break out for a real big hit. The ork and chanting are both of the driving, hectic school. A big rhumba-blues beat and some first-rate lyrics total up to a fine hunk of wax by the new singer. Potent disk.
Lonesome Desert (74) Good blues item on this side makes for a strong two-sided disk. Jessie gets backing from a vocal group, too.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good" and 80-89 as "very good".)



Above: Label images for both sides of Modern Records 961, recorded on April 10, 1955 and released in 1955. Per Mike Sweeney's book, "Single Artist Groups", the vocal group on this record is The Cadets.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Mary Lou" - Young Jessie (With Vocal Group) - Modern 961 - 1955.
2. "Don't Think I Will" - Young Jessie (With Vocal Group) - Modern 961 - 1955.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Cash Box Review (7-2-55):

YOUNG JESSIE — MODERN 961
Mary Lou (B)
Mary Lou takes Young Jesse to the cleaners on this middle beat jump item. Jessie sings an infectious ditty in good style and the country market should like it.
Don't Think I Will (B) Young Jessie shouts out a jump ditty with plenty of enthusiasm on this deck. Another side for the country market.
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good".)

The Billboard Review (7-23-55):

YOUNG JESSIE— MODERN 961
Mary Lou (79)
This side has a driving beat and a colorful lyric. A choir joins young Jessie to chant the choruses. Good for the boxes.
Don't Think I Will (70) Young Jessie chants a blues with a wild lyric. "Should I hit in the ear so he can't hear" is the general theme.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good".)
Above: THE BILLBOARD, September 24, 1952.
(NOTE: B.B. King recorded for Modern's subsidiary label, RPM Records, which will be covered in the next part of this article.

CASH BOX, November 5, 1955:
....Modern's Young Jessie is really coming up fast. He was a big hit on Hunter Hancock's first TV show and is following up his first very successful record of "Mary Lou" with a new Modern release of "Will You Love Me"....

CASH BOX, August 25, 1956:
....Personality Productions have set The Platters, Young Jessie, Shirley Gunter and The Flairs, Dolly Cooper, and Joe Huston's band for a week at the Casino Theatre in Toronto. Young Jessie goes to New York first, where Buck Ram will record him for the Modern label....

(NOTE: Both The Flairs and Shirley Gunter recorded for Modern's subsidiary label, Flair Records, which will be covered in a future part of this article.)

Above Left: CALIFORNIA EAGLE, October 20, 1955: YOUNG JESSIE
....Awaiting your approval, Mr. and Mrs. L.A., will be a very promising young singer called Young Jessie. Although he has cut a side called "Mary Lou", Jessie is still a relative newcomer to the bright lights. Go see what you think.

Above Right: Label image for Modern 973, released in 1955.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"Nothing Seems Right" - Young Jessie - Modern 973 - 1955.

The Billboard Review (12-3-55):

YOUNG JESSIE— MODERN 973
Nothing Seems Right (75)
Jessie stands out here on a great low down blues job. Lots of big tears shed, and the backing gives it proper support.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good".)

CASH BOX, July 20, 1957:
....Young Jessie signed to an exclusive contract by Atlantic Records. Jessie is currently appearing in Hawaii with Billy Ward and His Dominos on the show sent over by Mike Kasino and Harry Golub....


ANOTHER VERSION OF THE SONG "I SMELL A RAT":
Above: Photo of Johnny Otis, Willie Mae Thornton, and Unknown.
Above Left: Label image for Peacock 1632, released in 1954. Willie Mae Thornton is backed by the Johnny Otis Band, a regular with Peacock and subsidiary label, Duke, at the time. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller also composed Willie Mae's previous hit, "Hound Dog".

Above Right: Photo of Willie Mae Thornton.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"I Smell A Rat" - Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton - Peacock 1632 - 1954.

Above: CASH BOX, May 15, 1954.
(NOTE: Wonder if the two pictures of Willie Mae were posed? It does look like she's getting a good whiff of a despicable rodent.)
Above Left: CASH BOX, July 3, 1954.

Above Right: TENNESSEAN, March 8, 1953: BLUES AT BIJOU
Willie Mae Thornton, vocalist, headlines Johnny Ace's package show at the Bijou Theater Tuesday night.

Ace, a native Tennessian, is making his Nashville debut with the show, which also features Atomic Takella, dancer; Willie and Vicki Lewis, comedy; Bobby Ephram, tap; and Frankie Que.

Shows are at 3:30, 8, 10 p.m., and midnight.

(NOTE: Frankie Que was a tap dancer, comedian, and singer, but because these acts were already on the bill, he probably acted as master of ceremonies here.)

CASH BOX, May 1, 1954:
....An excited Irv Marcus, Peacock and Duke pepperpot sales manager, called in from L.A. to tell us the new Willie Mae Thornton "I Smell A Rat" is taking off like Willie Mae's "Hound Dog". Irv is making immediate plans to work his way across the country and make New York his headquarters for what he expects will be another biggie....

CASH BOX, May 1, 1954: MARCUS KICKS OFF NEW THORNTON DISK
Before leaving on a tour that will take him through the South and on into New York, Irv Marcus, national sales manager of Duke and Peacock Records, kicked off the diskery's latest Peacock release here on the Coast.

The tune "I Smell A Rat" features Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton and Johnny Otis and his band. Marcus spent several days introducing this new release to deejays and distributors all along the West Coast.

Tremendous reaction was reported and critics say the tune could be a sequel to the smash "Hound Dog". "The whole country has been waiting for this one", Marcus reported, "And we expect it to be the record of the year", he added.

CASH BOX, May 1, 1954:
....Songwriters Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber have come up with another tune that could be another "Hound Dog" for them. Title is "I Smell A Rat" and has been waxed on the Peacock label by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton. Irv Marcus, Peacock sales manager, introduced the tune to deejays and distributors along the West Coast and reports tremendous reaction.... Other labels are expected to cover the tune.

THE BILLBOARD, May 1954: REVIEW SPOTLIGHT ON ... RECORDS
I Smell a Rat (Lion, BMI) - Peacock 1632—This is the original version of the tune and with the sensational way Willie Mae Thornton sings it on this disk it could be one of the strongest records of the season. Flip is "I've Searched the Whole World Over".


MODERN RECORDS — GENERAL:

Above Left: Modern Records 78 RPM Record Sleeve circa 1948-1949. "Hollywood"

Above Right: Modern Records 78 RPM Record Sleeve circa 1954-1956. "Culver City"
RPM, Flair, and Crown Records will be included in future parts of this article.

THE BILLBOARD, November 7, 1953:
....Joe Bihari of Modern Records recently announced the signing of a new group called the "Four Squares" with Thomas Buell as lead tenor....
(NOTE: No releases on the Modern or RPM labels could be found for either "The Four Squares" or "Thomas Buell". There was a "Buell Thomas" that sang tenor with The Four Jacks on Federal Records in 1952.)

THE BILLBOARD, February 9, 1952: DIAMOND RECORDS STARTS SUIT AGAINST MODERN
JACKSON, MISS.—The Diamond Record Company, with headquarters in this city, instituted suit on January 28 against Modern Records and Jules and Joe Bihari, for allegedly inducing artists who were under exclusive contract to Diamond to break their contract. Diamond is asking $1,000,000 damages.

It is charged by Diamond that the Biharis persuaded Lonnie Holmes and his Darktown Boys, a group which consists of J. W. Walker, Willie Dotson, Billie Wallace, Otis Green, Jr., T. L. Green, and Lonnie Holmes, to violate their exclusive contract with Diamond and to make records for Modern.

The complaint also alleges that other artists under contract to Diamond have been approached by the defendants to break their agreements.

A second count of the complaint charges that the Biharis conspired with Lonnie Holmes and his group for the purpose of appropriating songs which were written by members of the group at a time when they were under contract to Diamond, songs, which under the terms of the contract, Diamond Records claims it owns. For the charged infringements in this count, Diamond is asking $500,000.

(NOTE: No releases on the Modern or RPM labels could be found for either "Lonnie Holmes", "Leroy Holmes", or the "Darktown Boys".)

THE BILLBOARD, February 16, 1952: JULES BIHARI DEFENDENT IN $1 MIL ACTION
HOLLYWOOD—Jules Bihari, of Modern Records, Inc., was served with notice of a $1,001,000 damages suit instituted by Mrs. W. F. McMurray, owner of Diamond Records, Jackson, Miss.

Mrs.McMurray alleges that Jules Bihari infringed upon her artist's agreement with Leroy Holmes and His Darktown Boys. She asks for $1,000, alleging that this amount has been spent in promoting and cutting the ork, which she had signed previously, and asks for the $1,000,000 alleging damages done to the group by Bihari, which she claims will make it impossible for her to utilize the group in the future.

Bihari told The Billboard that he recorded J.W. Walker, a member of the group, as soloist whith another band eight months ago and has had Walker under contract since that time. The suit by Mrs. McMurray was filed in U.S. Distrcit Court in Mississippi.

(NOTE: No releases on the Modern or RPM labels could be found for "J.W. Walker", although he could have been a member of an orchestra, name unknown. Also, Walker may have been "Johnny Walker", a piano player, who was once a member of Ike Turner's band. Ike was with Modern Records in 1952.)

Above: CASH BOX, August 25, 1955: "OKEY DOKEY" DAY
NEW ORLEANS—On August 11 the City of New Orleans, celebrating the opening of the new Lincoln Amusement Beach, proclaimed the day "Okey Dokey" Day.

Among the awards to "Okey Dokey" was a gold key to the city, presented by Councilman James E. Fitzmorris Jr., and a gold record commemorating his fifth anniversary as a disk jockey on WBOK-New Orleans, by Saul and Joe Bihari of Modern and RPM Records.

Seen above are, from left to right, Okey Dokey, Dick Sturgil, RPM's A-1 Record Distributor, Joe Bihari, and Ed Roberson of Roberson Sales Co., Modern and Flair Distributor.

(NOTE: That's James "Okey Dokey" Smith at left. No mention about the kid at the microphone.)

Above: DECEMBER 1951.
(NOTE: RPM Records will be included in the next part of this article.)
Above Left-Right: JUNE 1952, SEPTEMBER 1952, and JULY 1953.

MODERN RECORDS - PART ONE FEATURES HADDA BROOKS, PEARL TRAYLER, THE THREE BITS OF RHYTHM, GENE PHILLIPS, LITTLE WILLIE JACKSON, THE COMMANDERS, THE SCAMPS, AND THE SONGS "ROMANCE IN THE DARK", "I'LL BE TRUE", "LONESOME ROAD", AND "I'M FALLING FOR YOU".

MODERN RECORDS - PART TWO FEATURES LILLIE GREENWOOD, LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD, PEE WEE CRAYTON, LITTLE ESTHER, SMOKEY HOG, GEORGE BLEDSOE AND THE MOON MISTS, THE SMITH JUBILEE SINGERS, AND MODERN RECORDS' COLONIAL LABEL.

MODERN RECORDS - PART THREE FEATURES HADDA BROOKS, THE EBONAIRES, JIMMY WITHERSPOON, HELEN HUMES, THE SONGS "BEWILDERED", "BE-BABA-LEBA", AND "THEY RAIDED THE JOINT", PLUS MISCELLANEOUS MODERN RECORDS' BLUES ARTISTS (ROY HAWKINS, CHARLEY BOOKER, ROBERT BLAND, MARY SUE).


Listen to all of this article's audio selections using Windows Media Player:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

          1. "Lonesome Train" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers With Mari Jones - Modern 888 - 1952.
          2. "Johnny Johnny" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers With Mari Jones - Modern 888 - 1952.
          3. "My Song" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers Featuring Mari Jones - Modern 881 - 1952.
          4. "Playing Numbers" - Johhny Moore's Three Blazers Featuring Frankie Ervin - Modern 910 - 1953.
          5. "C.O.D." - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers (Vocal Group) - Exclusive 214 A - 1946.
          6. "Drifting Blues" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers - Philo P112A - 1946.
          7. "Groovy" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers (Vocal Group) - Philo P112B - 1946.
          8. "Drifting Blues" - Amos Milburn And His Aladdin Chicken Shackers - Aladdin 3038 B - 1949.
          9. "How Could You Be So Mean" - Johnny Moore's Three Blazers Featuring Mari Jones - Aladdin 3139 - 1950.
        10. "C.O.D." - Skeets Tolbert And His Gentlemen Of Swing - Decca 8641 B - 1942.
        11. "My Song" - Johnny Ace - Duke R-102-A - 1952.
        12. "My Song" - Marie Adams - Peacock 1610 - 1952.
        13. "My Song" - Herb Kenny With The Rockets - M-G-M 11332-A - 1952.
        14. "My Song" - Dinah Washington - Mercury 8294 - 1952.
        15. "Be Cool My Heart" - Oscar McLollie And His Honeyjumpers (Vocal Group) - Modern 915 - 1953.
        16. "All That Oil In Texas" - Oscar McLollie And His Honeyjumpers (Vocal Group) - Modern 915 - 1953.
        17. "Lolly Pop" - Oscar McLollie And His Honey Jumpers (Vocal By The Honey Jumpers) - Modern 920 - 1953.
        18. "God Gave Us Christmas" - Oscar McLollie And His Honey Jumpers (Vocal Group) - Modern 943 - 1954.
        19. "Pretty Girl" - Oscar McLollie And His Honey Jumpers (Vocal Group) - Modern 950 - 1955.
        20. "Rain" - Oscar McLollie And His Orchestra (Vocal Group) - Class 503 - 1953.
        21. "Lift Up The Latch" - The Four Of Us - Modern 222 - 1951.
        22. "Be Mine" - The Four Of Us - Modern 222 - 1951.
        23. "Lift Up The Latch" - Ray Noble Orchestra (Vocal By The Mellomen) - Columbia 39084 - 1950.
        24. "It's Stormin' And Rainin'" - John Lee Hooker - Modern 901 - 1953.
        25. "Taxi Driver" - John Lee Hooker - Modern 958 - 1955.
        26. "Burnin' Hell" - John Lee Hooker - Sensation 21 - 1949.
        27. "Miss Sadie Mae" - John Lee Hooker - Sensation 21 - 1949.
        28. "The Panic's On" - Jimmy McCracklin And His Blues Blasters - Modern 926 - 1954.
        29. "I Am Tired" - Jimmy McCracklin And His Blues Blasters - JMC 209-B - 1951.
        30. "My Days Are Limited" - Jimmy McCracklin - Peacock 1605 - 1952.
        31. "She's Gone" - Jimmy McCracklin - Peacock 1605 - 1952.
        32. "I Smell A Rat" - Young Jessie - Modern 921 - 1954.
        33. "Lonesome Desert" - Young Jessie (With Vocal Group) - Modern 921 - 1954.
        34. "Mary Lou" - Young Jessie (With Vocal Group) - Modern 961 - 1955.
        35. "Don't Think I Will" - Young Jessie (With Vocal Group) - Modern 961 - 1955.
        36. "Nothing Seems Right" - Young Jessie - Modern 973 - 1955.
        37. "I Smell A Rat" - Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton - Peacock 1632 - 1954.
 
          ALL THIRTY-SEVEN ABOVE SONGS played in sequence.

          ALL NINETEEN ABOVE MODERN LABEL SONGS played in sequence.


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