#939 (7/21/22)

MODERN RECORDS - PART TWO (1947-1950)

THIS ARTICLE IS IN MEMORY OF DAVID SAVIET WHO LEFT US ON OCTOBER 22, 2022.

DAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THIS WEBSITE FOR OVER SIXTEEN YEARS. HE MASTERFULLY RESTORED ALL THE 78-RPM RECORDS'S AUDIO, MAKING THEM SOUND GREAT!

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


Above: (L-R) Saul And Joe Bihari, Modern Record's Secretary/Treasurer and Vice President, respectively. The President was their brother, Jules Bihari.

Part Two of this article will pertain to the time period 1947-1950. The artists included here are Lillie Greenwood, Pee Wee Crayton, Little Esther, Smokey Hogg, George Bledsoe And The Moon Mists, and The Smith Jubilee Singers. Also included, Modern's subsidiary label, Colonial Records.

Some other artists recording for Modern Records in this time period, not already included in Part One of this article, are Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, Sam "Lightning" Hopkins, Ike Carpenter, Scat Man, Howard McGhee Orchestra....

Also Will Rowland, John Lee Hooker, Eddie Davis, P. K. Johnson, Edna Broughton, Jimmy Grissom, Hootie McShann Orchestra, Banks And His Buddies, Floyd Dixon, Sylvester Cotton....

And also Joe Luthcher Band, Jimmy Witherspoon, Wild Bill Moore, Kay Starr, Big Joe Turner, Roy Hawkins, Jimmy McCracklin, Vivienne Greene, Mickey Champion, and Helen Humes.

Some of these artists will be featured in future parts to this article.

At Right: THE BILLBOARD, March 22, 1947.
[Modern Records headquarters started in Los Angeles (1946), moved to Hollywood (1947), then to Beverly Hills (1950), and Culver City (1955).]



Above Left: CASH BOX, October 6, 1947: RUNYON SALES PLAYS HOST TO STARS
NEW YORK—Caught visiting with the Runyon Sales Company this past week was this entourage of music notables. The occasion was the initial opening in New York of Hadda Brooks and Her Trio.

Left to Right: George Hagger, president of Pleaseant Records; Charles Kenny, Hadda Brooks, Nick Kenny, radio editor of the New York Mirror; Gloria Friedman, manager of the Runyon record department; Saul Bihari, president [sic] of Modern Records; Jim Grady of the N. Y. Mirror; and Jack Mitnick of Runyon.
(NOTE: Runyon Sales Company, located in Newark, NJ, was a distributor of coin machines [which included juke boxes] on the East Coast. Saul Bihari was secretary/treasurer of Modern Records, not president as stated.)

Above Right: CASH BOX, February 21 1948.

NEW YORK AGE, September 27, 1947: HADDA BROOKS... AT THE APOLLO
A sparkling new personality will appear in next week's Apollo Theatre revue. She is Hadda Brooks—the newest and probably the most talented of the new record stars. Her name is a byword in California and in many cities on the East Coast....

Amazing as it may sound, Hadda Brooks established an attendance dance record at the Howard Theatre in Washington last week. Amazing because the Howard also persues a policy of presenting the outstanding colored bands and stars.

Miss brooks is equally at home with classical as well as popular and boogie-woogie music. She has a soft crooning voice—the kind that draws squeals from the jitterbugs and sighs from their elders....

(NOTE: Hadda Brooks was featured in Part One of this article and will be again in Part Three.)


MODERN RECORDS' SPIRITUAL GROUPS:

Modern Records did release a reasonable number of spiritual records between 1947 and 1954.

Here are some of the spiritual artists, with their starting year, that recorded for the Modern and RPM labels. In the clipping shown just below, J. L. Hines is James Earl Hines. Not sure if The Sallie Martin Singers are the same as The Martin Singers. Maybe someone can contact me with more about them.

  • SMITH JUBILEE SINGERS (1947)
  • PROF. JAMES EARLE HINES (1949)
  • ECHOES OF ZION (1950)
  • REV. C. C. CAMPBELL & FAITH TEMPLE CHOIR (1951)
  • SWANEE RIVER QUARTET (1951)
  • REV. GEORGE W. KILLENS (1951)
  • FLYING EAGLE SPIRITUAL SINGERS (1952)
  • SISTER CHRISTINE SYKES (1953)
  • LITTLE RUTH (1953)
  • THE MARTIN SINGERS (1954)
  • PREACHER STEPHENS (1954)


CALIFORNIA EAGLE — OCTOBER 28, 1948

THE SMITH JUBILEE SINGERS:

The Smith Jubilee Singers had three records released on the Modern label (1947-1948).

In December 1946, the members were Walter Simmons (first tenor), Ray Smith (baritone), James Barrett (second tenor), and Samuel A. Brown (bass).

Above Left: CALIFORNIA EAGLE, May 9, 1946:
THE FAMOUS SMITH JUBILEE SINGERS, who are scheduled to appear at the following (five) churches.... from May 10 through May 14. (Is that a halo in the middle of the picture?)

Above Right: Label image for Modern 20-544A, released in 1947.

Above: CALIFORNIA EAGLE, January 16, 1947:
THE SMITH JUBILEE SINGERS, the quartet with unique musical arrangements, will be appearing in various concerts over the weekend.... There will be an appreciation for W. S. Simmons, first tenor of the quartet, in behalf of his misfortunes.
(NOTE: Could not find any details about the "misfortunes".)
Above: Label images for both sides of Modern Records 20-554A/B, released in 1947.

CALIFORNIA EAGLE, December 5, 1946: SMITH JUBILEE SINGERS IN SEVERAL PROGRAMS
The Smith Jubilee Singers will be appearing at the Mt. Vernon church.... and will be heard again at the Morning Star Baptist church.... They are noted for beautiful and unique arrangements in music, being acclaimed by millions as the coming world's best quartet. (NOTE: This is the second blurb shown here that mentions their "unique arrangements".)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Blow Gabriel Blow" - Smith Jubilee Singers - Modern 20-544A - 1947.
2. "How About You" - Smith Jubilee Singers - Modern 20-554A - 1947.
3. "I've Got To Tell It" - Smith Jubilee Singers - Modern 20-554B - 1947.

ALL THREE SONGS played in sequence.


LILLIE GREENWOOD:

Lillie Greenwood, who grew up in Mobile, Alabama, before moving to California, was a rhythm and blues singer and a composer. She began her singing career with Roy Milton's band. Her first five records were released on the Modern label, all in 1950. Lillie, in October 1951, signed a contract with Specialty Records, resulting in one record released in February 1952.

Lillie then moved to Federal Records (a subsidiary of King Records) in 1952. There, as Lil Greenwood, she had two records with The Lamplighters backing her vocally, and another two backed by The Four Jacks. On one side of the Four Jacks' records, she is paired with Little Willie Littlefield, who is featured in the next section on this page.

Above: Photo of Lillie Greenwood.
[The above photo is courtesy of Hans-Joachim Krohberger.]
Above: "SAMPLE" format label images for both sides of Modern Records 20-771A/B, recorded in July 1950 and released in 1950.
Above: Photo of Lillie Greenwood, circa 1951. Inscription reads "Best Wishes, Lillie Greenwood. Vocalist with Roy Milton's Orchestra."
[The above photo is courtesy of Opal Nations and Lil Greenwood.]

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Disatisfied Blues" - Lillie Greenwood - Modern 20-771A - 1950.
2. "I'm Goin' Crazy" - Lillie Greenwood - Modern 20-771B - 1950.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.


EXTRA RECORDS — LIL GREENWOOD:

CASH BOX, June 7, 1952:
....Ralph Bass of Federal has cut his first sides on Little Willie Littlefield and Lil Greenwood and is banking on their duet "Monday Morning Blues" to do great things for the two artists and no harm to the Syd Nathan label whatsoever....

Above Left: Label image of Federal 12082-AA, recorded on April 25, 1952 and released in June 1952. "Little Willie" is Little Willie Littlefield,. They are backed vocally by The Four Jacks.

Mario DeLagarde, who appears as composer on this label, was a bass player and prolific writer of songs for Federal (and other labels). He often collaborated with Ravon Darnell.

Above Right: Label image of Federal 12158, released in November 1953. Lil Greenwood's "Quartet" is The Lamplighters.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Monday Morning Blues" - Lil Greenwood And Little Willie And The Four Jacks - Federal 12082-AA - 1952.
2. "I'll Go" - Lil Greenwood (And The Lamplighters) - Federal 12158 - 1953.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Above Left: AKRON BEACON, December 9, 1960.

Above Right: EBONY MAGAZINE, April 1960.
NOTE: In August of 2002, Lil Greenwood was honored with induction into the Gulf Coast Ethnic and Heritage Festival's Hall of Fame in Mobile. She continued to perform and record until 2006. Thanks go to Todd Baptista for this biographical information.


LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD:

Little Willie Littlefield, from Houston, Texas, was a singer, pianist, composer, and band leader. His first record was released in 1948 on Eddie's Records, a label formed by Eddie Henry, a Houston record shop owner. As a result, Modern Records signed him to a contract. Little Willie's first two records for Modern, both released in 1949, were hits. He had a total of at least a dozen records on the Modern label from 1949 to 1951.

In 1952, Little Willie moved to Federal Records, a subsidiary of King Records. That year he recorded "K. C. Loving" on Federal. This is the song, composed by Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber, that later became a big 1959 hit for Wilbert Harrison as "Kansas City".

Above: Photo of Little Willie Littlefield.
Above: Label images for both sides of Eddie's Records 1202-A/B, released in 1948.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Little Willie's Boogie (Instrumental)" - Little Willie Littlefield - Eddie's Records 1202-A - 1948.
2. "My Best Wishes" - Little Willie Littlefield - Eddie's Records 1202-B - 1948.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

CASH BOX, July 16, 1949:
....Mike Kurlan and Jack Allison really talked up Jules Bihariís new 19-year-old Houston find, Little Willie Littlefield, whose first release of "Itís Midnight" on the Modern label sounds like No. 1 chart material....
(NOTE: Mike Kurlan was a Manager of the Modern Distributing Company. Jack Allison was a Sales Manager for Modern Records.)

CASH BOX, December 3, 1949:
....Over at Modern plant, Jules Bihari and brother Saul, just in off the road, played us a coming release of Little Willie Littlefield called "Frightened," which shows promise of being another "Bewildered"....

Above: Label images for both sides of Modern Records 20-726A/B, recorded in October/December 1949 and released in 1949.

Here we go again! Who is L. Simon, the composer credited on the label for "Frightened"? No clue! But BMI credits Little Willie Littlefield and Joe Josea as the composers of the song. And it's already known from Part One of this article that "Joe Josea" is actually Joe Bihari, vice president of Modern Records.


CASH BOX AWARD O' THE WEEK — DECEMBER 24, 1949

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "The Moon Is Risin'" - Little Willie Littlefield - Modern 20-726A - 1949.
2. "Frightened" - Little Willie Littlefield - Modern 20-726B - 1949.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Above: Label images for both sides of Modern Records 20-729A/B, released in early 1950. Little Willie Littlefield is credited on the label as composer for both sides.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Rockin' Chair Mama" - Little Willie Littlefield - Modern 20-729A - 1950.
2. "Your Love Wasn't So" - Little Willie Littlefield - Modern 20-729B - 1950.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Above: Photo of Little Willie Littlefield at the piano.

EXTRA RECORD — LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD:
Above: Label images for both sides of Federal 12110, released in 1952. Regarding the "K. C. Loving" side, see the introduction to this Little Willie Littlefield section for more information.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "K. C. Loving" - Little Willie Littlefield - Federal 12110 - 1952.
2. "Pleading At Midnight" - Little Willie Littlefield - Federal 12110 - 1952.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.



Above: CASH BOX COVER, October 29, 1949:
(INSCRIPTION) The hot spirit of the above photo aptly describes the way those Modern Records winners have been going lately, as Little Willie Littlefield and Pee Wee Crayton team up during a recent recording session.

Little Willieís "Itís Midnight" and "Drinking Hadacol" are currently featured platters in the nationís juke boxes, while Craytonís recordings of "1 Love You So" and "Farewell" are top numbers for the Bihari waxing clan.

Both artists are currently engaged in a lengthy series of personal appearances and theater dates. Little Willie Littlefield and Pee Wee Crayton are exclusively featured on Modern Records.


At Left: CASH BOX, November 5, 1949.

Directly Above: CASH BOX, December 24, 1949.





PEE WEE CRAYTON:

Pee Wee Crayton, from the Los Angeles area, was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and band leader. He joined Modern Records in 1948 and soon thereafter had a big hit with the instrumental, "Blues After Hours".

With Modern Records, Pee Wee had at least thirteen releases between 1948 and 1952. While on contract with Modern, he had at least one release on the Four Star label (1949).

After leaving Modern, he had records on the Aladdin (1951), Recorded In Hollywood (1953), Imperial (1954-1955), and Vee-Jay (1957) labels.

Above: Photo of Pee Wee Crayton.
Above: Label images for both sides of Modern Records 20-707A/B, released in 1949. Anyone want to venture who the label credited composer "Taub" actually was? You are correct in saying "one of the Bihari's". For this record, BMI credits "Joe Bihari". Composer credits on many of Pee Wee's Modern releases were shared with either "Joe Bihari" or "Jules Bihari".

CALIFORNIA EAGLE, March 10, 1949: RECORD CO. AND PEE WEE CRAYTON FACE LAW SUIT
Jonas Williams, owner of Oakland's Wolfe Record Shop, has filed suit in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County against Pee Wee Crayton, popular guitar playing recording artist, and Modern Records asking $100,000 in damages and an accounting.

In the complaint, filed by Averill C. Pasaron and Thomas L. Berkley, his attorneys, Williams alleges that he had an exclusive recording contract with Crayton at the time that "Texas Hop", "Blues After Hours", and other tunes were recorded for Modern Records and that Modern Records was aware of the existence of his contract and induced a breach.

Williams asks $50,000 for lost profits, an equal amount as punitive damages, an injunction restraining the defendents from releasing any additional records, and an accounting of profits.

PITTSBURGH COURIER, December 4, 1948:
....Questioned by The Courier as to the reason for Crayton's subsequent recording for Modern Records after he had already signed with Wolf Records, Berkley [Wolfe's Jonas Williams' attorney) stated that Crayton said he "forgot" about the previous contract. (NOTE: Was not able to determine how this conflict was finally resolved.)

The Billboard Review (10-15-49):

PEE WEE CRAYTON — MODERN 20-707
Long After Hours (85)
Crayton's prayerful guitar preaches a mean blues in a likely follow up to his "After Hours" click.
Brand New Woman (67) Vocal blues in jump doesn't wallop like instrumental on flipover.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 60-69 considered as "satisfactory" and 80-89 as "excellent".)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Long After Hours (Instrumental)" - Pee Wee Crayton - Modern 20-707A - 1949.
2. "Brand New Woman" - Pee Wee Crayton - Modern 20-707B - 1949.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Above: PITTSBURGH COURIER, November 8, 1949: HIGH PRICED BASSMAN
World's heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles took time out from his ring endeavors on the West Coast last week to sit in with Pee Wee Crayton's band at an East Side nitery in Los Angeles.

The champ is pictured (center) at the bass fiddle with maestro Crayton and his guitar. Shifty Henry, the regular bassist and arranger, is pictured between the two. Henry and Charles were schoolmates and are fast friends.

Above: Label images for both sides of Modern Records 20-774A/B, recorded in April 1950 and released in 1950. Again Crayton's co-composer is shown as "Taub" (aka Joe or Jules Bihari).

The Billboard Review (11-4-50):

PEE WEE CRAYTON — MODERN 20-774
Dedicating the Blues (81)
Slow, slinky blues, with Crayton's intimate chanting and moody guitaring setting a lowdown mood.
Good Little Woman (72) Change of pace here to a medium jump boogie woogie, rocker with a tenor sax co-spotted with Crayton's singing and plucking.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good" and 80-89 as "excellent".)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Dedicating The Blues" - Pee Wee Crayton - Modern 20-774A - 1950.
2. "Good Little Woman" - Pee Wee Crayton - Modern 20-774B - 1950.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.


EXTRA RECORDS — PEE WEE CRAYTON:
Above: Label image of both sides for Imperial 5338, recorded on January 28, 1955 and released in 1955.

Cash Box Review (2-26-55):

PEE WEE CRAYTON — IMPERIAL 5338
I Got News For You (B+)
Crayton tells a powerful story set to a slow blues and a torrid instrumental backing. He waited for a long time to pay her off. Now heís got plenty of money to spend on someone else. Story and presentation could make this a big one.
My Idea About You (B) Crayton sings another slow blues on the flip that comes off ok. However, if one breaks it will be "I Got News For You".
(NOTE: A rating of B was considered as "very good" and B+ as "excellent".)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): "Alan Freed - WINS 101 AM - March 1955 - Rock 'n' Roll Party - My Idea About You - Pee Wee Crayton". It seems that Alan Freed favored the "My Idea About You" side, unlike the above Billboard review. Alan pounds out the beat and sings along during the song.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "I Got News For You" - Pee Wee Crayton - Imperial 5338 - 1955.
2. "My Idea About You" - Pee Wee Crayton - Imperial 5338 - 1955.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Above: CALIFORNIA EAGLE, November 17, 1949: PEE WEE CRAYTON
Pee Wee Crayton will be the maestro of the groovy little band that will play the dance at the Avadon Ballroom tomorrow night. Little Miss Cornshucks will also lend her blues vocalizing, making a doubleheader attraction.
Above Left: CALIFORNIA EAGLE, October 20, 1955.

Above Right: Label image for Vee-Jay VJ 252, released in 1957. The flip-side is "I Don't Care". Both sides recorded on February 5, 1957. A vocal group backs Pee Wee Crayton's lead singing on both sides. Per the BMI listing, E. Crayton is Esther Rose Crayton.

CASH BOX, August 31, 1957:
....Pee Wee Crayton, whose most recent release "I Found My Peace Of Mind" is hitting big in Detroit on a test sales campaign....

Cash Box Review (10-19-57):

PEE WEE CRAYTON — VEE-JAY 252
I Don't Care (B)
Crayton wails a slow beat item that comes off the better deck. It has warmth and a sincere blues mood. Ok deck that should get a good reception.
I Found My Piece Of Mind (C+) Pee Wee Crayton offers a slow beat shuffle with a routine riff and gives it an ok reading. Swingy ditty.
(NOTE: A rating of C+ was considered as "good" and B as "very good".)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "I Found My Peace Of Mind" - Pee Wee Crayton (And Vocal Group) - Vee-Jay VJ 252 - 1957.
2. "I Don't Care" - Pee Wee Crayton (And Vocal Group) - Vee-Jay VJ 252 - 1957.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.



Above: CASH BOX, August 14, 1948.
NOTE: 686 North Robertson Boulevard is the same address as Modern Records.

LITTLE ESTHER:

Modern Records had issued I Gotta Gal by Johnny Otis And His Orchestra with vocal by Esther Jones in late 1949. Esther Jones was also known as Esther Phillips and Little Esther. She moved to Savoy Records in November 1949, producing a big hit with her first record for that label, Double Crossing Blues, released in January 1950.

Modern decided to re-issue I Gotta Gal in March 1950, most likely because of Esther's big Savoy hit. But this time the title of the song was corrected to I Gotta Guy. Also, the label now showed the artist as "Little" Esther With Johnny Otis And His Orchestra, Vocal "Little" Esther. The matrix number, "1203-2", and record number, "20-715B", remained the same.

The flip-side of the record is Thursday Night Blues, an instrumental by Johnny Otis And His Orchestra.

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

The Billboard Review (12-3-49):

JOHNNY OTIS ORK — MODERN 20-715
I Gotta Gal (73)
Thrush Esther Jones leaves hardly a note unbent as she weaves her way appealingly thru a bluesy ballad.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 considered as "good".)
Above Left: CASH BOX, March 11, 1950.
(NOTE: Little Esther rated only the third position. More important is that Modern Records announced their entry into the "modern" 45-rpm record speed/size, including an example of the label design.)

Above Right: Label image for Modern Records 20-715B, released in 1950. Modern Records followed up with one more record by "Little" Esther and Johnny Otis later in 1950.

Above Left: NEW YORK AGE, September 9, 1950.
NOTE: Little Esther's first appearance at The Apollo was in April 1950 (with Johnny Otis).

Above Right: Photo of Johnny Otis and Little Esther. [Photo provided by Hans-Joachim Krohberger.]

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
"I Gotta Guy" - Little Esther With Johnny Otis And His Orchestra - Modern 20-715B - 1949.


COLONIAL RECORDS (MODERN RECORDS' SUBSIDIARY LABEL):

Colonial Records was a short-lived subsidiary label of Modern Records. It formed in 1948 and existed into 1949. RPM Records, a new Modern subsidiary label that started in 1950, was essentially it's replacement. RPM will be included in an upcoming part of this article.

It would seem that "Colonial" (of the British colonies) and "Modern" (recent times as opposed to the remote past) would be direct opposites. The Colonial label was intended to be a "pop" music subsidiary, thus allowing Modern to concentrate on "race" records. But, before long, as shown in the selections below, it migrated into rhythm and blues.

THE BILLBOARD, August 28, 1948: MODERN STARTS TWO SUBSID LABELS
HOLLYWOOD—Modern Records will launch two subsidiary labels within a month, diskery topper Jules Bihari disclosed this week. Firm will press pop tunes for a new Colonial label, with race ditties to be distributed under an Apex banner. Special distribution set-ups are being organized to handle the new products.

First Colonial releases will be California Waltz and Cucomonga, waxed by the Meltones vocal group with ork backing. Distribution will begin in 10 days. The Apex label will premier late in September.

Bihari said he would begin waxing a capella or harmonica versions of pop faves for Colonial shortly. Race tunes will be culled from a heavy backlog of masters waxed pre-ban. Plattery has heretofore specialized in race disks almost exclusively.

THE BILLBOARD, January 8, 1949: MODERN WOOS RACE ARTISTS
HOLLYWOOD—Modern Records this week signed a group of race artists to long-term exclusive pacts, disclosing that plattery would henceforth concentrate solely on race records.

Inked were Jimmy Grisson, Floyd Dickson, Buddy Floyd, and Jimmy Witherspoon. Line-up is in addition to plattery's featured race disker, Hadda Brooks, and Pee Wee Crayton, whose current Blues After Hours is high on the present list of race hits.

Plattery heretofore attempted to cover both pop and race waxings on the Modern label. Because of increased buying interest in race sides, plattery topper Jules Bihari decided to shift all pop material to newly formed Colonial label, a Modern subsidiary, and place stronger emphasis on Modern's race waxings.

THE BILLBOARD, April 23, 1949: COLONIAL HOPS INTO RACE, FOLK, GOSPEL
HOLLYWOOD—Colonial Records, subsidiary of Modern Records, will be revamped with the release of ten platters this week-end, marking the diskery's entry into the hillbilly, race, and spiritual field.

Distribution will be divorced from Modern distribution set-up and farmed out to thirty indie distributors. Sales and promotion will be taken over by Les Bihari, with brothers Joe and Jules Bihari supervising production and distribution set-up.

Above: Label images for both sides of Colonial 114A/B, released in 1949. Both sides are instrumental. This record is heavy rhythm and blues in the "Race Record" category (as described by Cash Box magazine at the time).

Cash Box Review (5-28-49):

PAUL MADISON ORCHESTRA — COLONIAL 114 P. M. Blues/Madison Square
Hereís an instrumental platter to latch right onto. And watch this boy Paul Madison from now on in. With "P. M. Blues", Paul simply cuts away out and gone to produce one of the hottest hunks of wax with beat and rhythm thatís ever yet been cut.

On the flip, Paul speeds the tempo and with some of the most heated melody heard in many a month, seems to spin this cutting right off the turntable to make it sound like a surefire clickeroo.
(NOTE: Wow! What a great review for Paul Madison! "...that's ever been cut"; "...surefire clickeroo".)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "P. M. Blues (Instrumental)" - Paul Madison And Orchestra - Colonial 114A - 1949.
2. "Madison Square (Instrumental)" - Paul Madison And Orchestra - Colonial 114B - 1949.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Above: Label images for both sides of Colonial 117-A/B, released in 1949. The "A" side was recorded in May 1949, the "B" side in February 1949.

MORE EBONAIRES WILL BE FOUND IN PART THREE OF THIS ARTICLE

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Thinkin' And Thinkin'" - The Ebonaires - Colonial 117-A - 1949.
2. "We're In Love" - The Ebonaires - Colonial 117-B - 1949.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.


SMOKEY HOGG:
Smokey Hogg, from Texas, was a blues singer, guitar player, and composer. His first recordings were for the Decca label in 1937, followed by a ten year break from any recording. Modern Records became interested in him after some masters were sent to them in 1947.

Smokey had at least 22 records released on the Modern label from 1947 to 1954. There also was at least one release in 1952 on Modern's subsidiary RPM label. In 1955, he had one record released on Lester Bihari's Meteor Records.

Smokey had two hits on Modern with "Long Tall Mama" in 1948 and "Little School Girl" in 1949.

However, during his time with Modern, Smokey also prolifically recorded for other record companies. One wonders how Modern allowed this to happen, as Smokey did not use assumed names. Here is a list of some of those labels and when the records were released.

  • Bullet (1947)
  • Exclusive (1949)
  • Specialty (1949-1950)
  • Recorded In Hollywood (1950-1951)
  • Imperial (1950-1954)
  • Independent (1950)
  • Macy's Recordings (1950)
  • Sittin' in with (1950)
  • Jade (1950)
  • Colony (1951)
  • Mercury (1951)
  • Combo (1951)
  • Top Hat (1952)
  • Jax (1952)
  • Fidelity (1952)
  • Federal (1952-1953)
  • Show Time (1954)


CASH BOX — OCTOBER 20, 1951

Above: Photo of Smokey Hogg.
Above: Label images for both sides of Modern 20-556A/B, released in 1948.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Unemployment Blues" - Smokey Hogg - Modern 20-556A - 1948.
2. "Skinny Leg'd Woman" - Smokey Hogg - Modern 20-556B - 1948.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Above: Label images for both sides of Modern 20-667A/B, released in 1949.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "I'm Gonna Find Your Trick" - Smokey Hogg - Modern 20-667A - 1949.
2. "Who's Heah" - Smokey Hogg - Modern 20-667B - 1949.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Above: Two photos of Smokey Hogg,

EXTRA RECORDS — SMOKEY HOGG:
Above: Label images for both sides of Colony C103, released in 1951. Colony was affiliated with Imperial Records. The label's output was derived from masters recorded by Imperial. Note Imperial's "Commodore Music Corp" publishing company and the "IM-" Imperial matrix numbers shown on the labels.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "In This World Alone" - Smokey Hogg - Colony C103 - 1951.
2. "Need My Help" - Smokey Hogg - Colony C103 - 1951.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.

Above: Label images for both sides of Combo 9A/B, released in 1952. Co-composer "V. Haven" shown on the labels is Vernon Haven (Jake) Porter, owner and president of Combo Records. This "shared" composer credit by record company executives was a common practise by the independent labels.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "Hello Little Girl" - Smokey Hogg - Combo 9A - 1952.
2. "My Woman" - Smokey Hogg - Combo 9B - 1952.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.


GEORGE BLEDSOE:

George Bledsoe, born in Kansas City, was a vocalist, guitarist, bass fiddle player, pianist, and band leader, who began his career in the mid-1940s. He was with the Slim Gaillard Trio in 1948 doing vocals, playing the piano and, at times, the bass fiddle.

In 1950, George recorded the record featured here as by "George Bledsoe And His Metrotones" with vocal group backing by The Moon Mists . In the early 1950s, he was singer-bassist with the Johnny Anderson orchestra. After which he joined Gerald Wiggins and His Trio on the bass fiddle.

He performed with the George Bledsoe Trio (also named as the Oscar Moore Trio) in the mid-1950s, featuring George on bass fiddle, Oscar on guitar, and Carl Perkins (not the "Blue Suede Shoes" guy) on piano.

In the 1960s and beyond, George joined several different "Ink Spots" vocal groups as a singer and bass fiddle player.

If anyone can provide a good early photo of George Bledsoe, please contact me.

THE MOON MISTS:

FROM ANDY BOHAN:

The Moon Mists were John Ackerman, Frank Howren, David O'Hearn, Marilyn Sullivan, and Gordon Thorin, students from Los Angeles City College. They were managed by Sid Fields, who was a writer and supporting actor for Abbott And Costello.

They appeared on the Burns And Allen unaired TV pilot in 1950 and were guests on Frank Sinatra's TV show in December 1950. The Moon Mists and Axel Stordahl's orchestra backed Frank on "Meet Me at the Copa", found on his 1950 Columbia LP "Swing and Dance with Frank Sinatra".

THE BILLBOARD FLOOR SHOW REVIEW, October 8, 1949: LARRY POTTER'S SUPPER CLUB
....The newly formed Moon Mists come up winners.... The Moon Mists, four lads and a gal, a vocal corps formed five months ago at City College by a frat foursome and a girl friend. The kids caught the eye of agents Mitch Hamilton and Sid Fields, who are handling them.

The group has freshness and youth in its favor, which win the crowd from the start. The kid's eagerness and energy make up for what they lack in polish. Mists' song diet is well-balanced.... and includes current faves....

At Right: LOS ANGELES TIMES, September 24, 1949. (Same floor show as above blurb.)



Above Left: Label image for Modern Records 201A , released in 1950. Notice that this is a somewhat different label design than Modern's standard. It has an added "star" and it's own "PRESENTS" 200 series of numbering. It's also a black label instead of Modern's normal blue or red.

The flip-side of this record is "Didn't You Get The Letter I Wrote", composed by George Bledsoe. While the flip-side label also credits The Moon Mists, they are nowhere to be heard on it.

Above Right: CALIFORNIA EAGLE, January 20, 1955.

Above: Two still shots of The Moon Mists taken from the 1950 Burns And Allen TV Pilot.

THE BILLBOARD FLOOR SHOW REVIEW, May 29, 1948: SLIM GAILLARD TRIO
....George Bledsoe is outstanding on vocals. Lad possesses a Nat Cole quality in his voice, while retaining a song style of his own....

PITTSBURGH COURIER, May 6, 1950:
....On the show at the Oasis with Ella Fitzgerald is the sparkling new singing group fresh from L.A.C.C. [Los Angeles City College], the "Moon Mists" and Lee Young's orchestra....

THE BILLBOARD, October 7, 1950:
....due in the cast of Frank Sinatra's forthcoming CBS-TV show is a new vocal group from the west coast, The Moon Mists....

CALIFORNIA EAGLE, February 2, 1950:
....On Modern: "Didn't You Get That Letter I Wrote" [sic]... A lovely torchant, with the very capable "George Bledsoe" handling the vocal, backed up by the Moon Mists. This we think you'll enjoy....

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. "When Did You Leave Heaven" - George Bledsoe And His Metrotones With The Moon Mists - Modern 201A - 1950.
2. "Didn't You Get The Letter I Wrote" - George Bledsoe And His Metrotones With The Moon Mists - Modern 201B - 1950.

BOTH SONGS played in sequence.


At Right: SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, April 4, 1946..
(Judy Carol had been with Lucky Millinder's orchestra in the early 1940s and recorded with him on Decca Records. In 1946, she was backed vocally by The Basin Street Boys on the Exclusive label.)

Above Top: PRESS AND SUN BULLETIN (Binghamton, NY), December 9, 1950.

Above Middle: VALLEY TIMES (North Hollywood, CA), June 25, 1954.

Above Bottom: VAN NUYS NEWS AND VALLEY GREEN SHEET, August 19, 1954.
("16-Oz. Filet Mignon Steak Dinner $2.95" - might want to eat there every night! Oscar Moore had been the guitarist with the King Cole Trio for many years until 1947 when he joined his brother's group, Johnny Moore's Three Blazers.)


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 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).

MODERN RECORDS - PART FOUR FEATURES JOHNNY MOORE'S THREE BLAZERS, MARI JONES, FRANKIE ERVIN, OSCAR McLOLLIE, YOUNG JESSIE, JIMMY McCRACKLIN, JOHN LEE HOOKER, AND THE FOUR OF US. ALSO, THE SONGS "DRIFTING BLUES", "MY SONG", "C.O.D.", AND "I SMELL A RAT".

MODERN RECORDS - PART FIVE FEATURES JESSE BELVIN, THE CLIQUES, JIMMY BEASLEY, THE CADETS/JACKS, DOLLY COOPER, ETTA JAMES, THE COBRAS, FRED DARIAN AND THE DREAMERS, JIMMIE LEE AND ARTIS, THE SOUNDS, AND THE ROCKETS. ALSO, THE SONGS "NEAR YOU", "ROLLIN' STONE", "SIXTY MINUTE MAN", "I GOT LOADED", "STRANDED IN THE JUNGLE", "THE HENRY SONGS", AND "SINDY (CINDY)".

MODERN RECORDS - PART SIX FEATURES B.B. KING, THE NIC NACS, THE ROBINS, ARTHUR LEE MAYE AND THE CROWNS, DONNA HIGHTOWER (WITH VOCAL GROUP), JOE HOUSTON, ROSCOE GORDON, LIGHTNING HOPKINS, AND LUKE JONES. ALSO, THE SONGS "DON'T YOU THINK I OUGHTA KNOW" AND "SHTIGGY BOOM".


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

          1. "Blow Gabriel Blow" - Smith Jubilee Singers - Modern 20-544A - 1947.
          2. "How About You" - Smith Jubilee Singers - Modern 20-554A - 1947.
          3. "I've Got To Tell It" - Smith Jubilee Singers - Modern 20-554B - 1947.
          4. "Disatisfied Blues" - Lillie Greenwood - Modern 20-771A - 1950.
          5. "I'm Goin' Crazy" - Lillie Greenwood - Modern 20-771B - 1950.
          6. "Monday Morning Blues" - Lil Greenwood And Little Willie And The Four Jacks - Federal 12082-AA - 1952.
          7. "I'll Go" - Lil Greenwood (And The Lamplighters) - Federal 12158 - 1953.
          8. "Little Willie's Boogie (Instrumental)" - Little Willie Littlefield - Eddie's Records 1202-A - 1948.
          9. "My Best Wishes" - Little Willie Littlefield - Eddie's Records 1202-B - 1948.
        10. "The Moon Is Risin'" - Little Willie Littlefield - Modern 20-726A - 1949.
        11. "Frightened" - Little Willie Littlefield - Modern 20-726B - 1949.
        12. "Rockin' Chair Mama" - Little Willie Littlefield - Modern 20-729A - 1950.
        13. "Your Love Wasn't So" - Little Willie Littlefield - Modern 20-729B - 1950.
        14. "K. C. Loving" - Little Willie Littlefield - Federal 12110 - 1952.
        15. "Pleading At Midnight" - Little Willie Littlefield - Federal 12110 - 1952.
        16. "Long After Hours (Instrumental)" - Pee Wee Crayton - Modern 20-707A - 1949.
        17. "Brand New Woman" - Pee Wee Crayton - Modern 20-707B - 1949.
        18. "Dedicating The Blues" - Pee Wee Crayton - Modern 20-774A - 1950.
        19. "Good Little Woman" - Pee Wee Crayton - Modern 20-774B - 1950.
        20. "I Got News For You" - Pee Wee Crayton - Imperial 5338 - 1955.
        21. "My Idea About You" - Pee Wee Crayton - Imperial 5338 - 1955.
        22. "I Found My Peace Of Mind" - Pee Wee Crayton (And Vocal Group) - Vee-Jay VJ 252 - 1957.
        23. "I Don't Care" - Pee Wee Crayton (And Vocal Group) - Vee-Jay VJ 252 - 1957.
        24. "I Gotta Guy" - Little Esther With Johnny Otis And His Orchestra - Modern 20-715B - 1949.
        25. "P. M. Blues (Instrumental)" - Paul Madison And Orchestra - Colonial 114A - 1949.
        26. "Madison Square (Instrumental)" - Paul Madison And Orchestra - Colonial 114B - 1949.
        27. "Thinkin' And Thinkin'" - The Ebonaires - Colonial 117-A - 1949.
        28. "We're In Love" - The Ebonaires - Colonial 117-B - 1949.
        29. "Unemployment Blues" - Smokey Hogg - Modern 20-556A - 1948.
        30. "Skinny Leg'd Woman" - Smokey Hogg - Modern 20-556B - 1948.
        31. "I'm Gonna Find Your Trick" - Smokey Hogg - Modern 20-667A - 1949.
        32. "Who's Heah" - Smokey Hogg - Modern 20-667B - 1949.
        33. "In This World Alone" - Smokey Hogg - Colony C103 - 1951.
        34. "Need My Help" - Smokey Hogg - Colony C103 - 1951.
        35. "Hello Little Girl" - Smokey Hogg - Combo 9A - 1952.
        36. "My Woman" - Smokey Hogg - Combo 9B - 1952.
        37. "When Did You Leave Heaven" - George Bledsoe And His Metrotones With The Moon Mists - Modern 201A - 1950.
        38. "Didn't You Get The Letter I Wrote" - George Bledsoe And His Metrotones With The Moon Mists - Modern 201B - 1950.
 
          ALL THIRTY-EIGHT ABOVE SONGS played in sequence.

          ALL TWENTY-FOUR ABOVE MODERN AND COLONIAL LABEL SONGS played in sequence.


PREVIOUS ARTICLES!


Back to Main Page

Last Update: July 21, 2022

E-mail Me: