NO MORE DOGGIN’ THE RPM STORY VOLUME 1 1950-53.

NO MORE DOGGIN’ THE RPM STORY VOLUME 1 1950-53.

Jules Bihari, a Hollywood based musical entrepreneur, founded Modern Music with his brothers Saul, Joe and Lester in 1944. Little did anyone realise, that within a few years the nascent Modern Music would become one of the most successful independent labels. Modern Music made its name releasing R&B. Its first hit single came in 1945, after Jules Bihari booked some studio time.

This studio time was to record Hadda Brookes, who Modern Music billed as the Queen Of The Boogie. Hadda provided Modern Music with their first commercially successful single, Swinging The Boogie. Released in 1945, this paved the way for the commercial success that followed. Three years later, in 1948, Modern Music changed its name to Modern Records. By then, Modern Records had a problem.

Modern Records were releasing so many singles that it was becoming difficult to get all their records played on radio. Radio stations were wary of playing too many records by the same label. They were scared they’d be accused of accepting payola. For labels like Modern Records, this presented a problem. So they had to work out a way round the problem.

Their way of doing this, was to setup a subsidiary company. Often this subsidiary company only released one type of music, like blues or R&B. Modern Records’ first subsidiary company was Colonial. It was founded in 1948. A year later, Modern Records founded their second imprint RPM Records.

Founded in 1949, RPM Records would release its first releases in 1950. Part of RPM Records’ success, was a talent scout called Sam Phillips. He brought RPM Records blues legends B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Lightnin’ Hopkins. Sam also brought Rosco Gordon. He was part of RPM Records until 1952, when he fell out with the Biharis. After that, Sam Phillips founded his own label Sun Records. However, in 1950, RPM Records was just about to release its first singles.

RPM Records’ first releases included Austin McCoy’s cover of Jack Holmes Happy Payday. An alternate version of Happy Day features on Ace Records recent compilation No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53. 

The best way to describe No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53 is lovingly compiled. It’s a double album that features fifty-six tracks. There’s contributions from blues legends like B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Rosco Gordon and Memphis Eddie.  Luke Jones, Gene Phillips, The Nic Nacs, Mickey Champion, Alexander Moore and Jimmy Nelson also make an appearance. Of the fifty-two tracks on More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53, seventeen have never been released before. They’re mostly alternate takes. Sometimes, they allow you to hear a new take on a familiar track. For anyone with a passing interest in blues music, No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53 will be essential listening. I’ll now tell you why.

Disc One.

Disc One of No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53 features a total of twenty-six tracks. Sixteen have been released before. They were released between 1950 and 1982. The other ten tracks have never been released before. 

Two of the unreleased tracks were recorded before RPM Records was even a twinkle in Jules Bihari’s eye. Gene Phillips and His Rhythm Aces recorded Big Fat Mama in 1947 and Luke Jones and Orchestra’s Luke Jones recorded Mama Oh Mama in 1949. Of the other unreleased tracks, when the recording took place isn’t known. This include B.B. King’s The Other Night Blues, Rosco Gordon’s Rosco’s Boogie, Alexander Moore’s If I Lose You Woman, Willie Nix’s Try Me One More Time and Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Bad Luck And Trouble. These unreleased tracks are a snapshot of some of the biggest names in blues music as their career unfolded. The same can be said of the other unreleased tracks.

Among the alternate are Austin McCoy’s Nappy Payday Pt 1 and Memphis Eddie’s Good Time Woman. They were two of the earliest  singles released on RPM Records. Both singles were recorded in musician Ted Brinson’s home studio and released in 1950. So was Clyde Hurley’s Alabamy Bound, which featured Adele Francis’ vocal. These three tracks helped launch RPM Records in 1950. 

By 1951, RPM Records’ roster was expanding. Junior Blues released Whiskey Head Woman. Two blues legends signed to RPM Records, B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf. B.B. King released She’s Dynamite and 3 O’Clock Blues. Howlin’ Wolf released Ridin’ In The Moonlight. It’s one of the highlights of No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53. Before long, B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf would become two of RPM Records biggest names. So would Rosco Gordon. He released Saddled The Cow (And Milked The Horse). Other singles released during 1951, included Jimmy Nelson’s Fine Little Honey Dripper, Mumbles’ Black Gal. As 1951 drew to a close RPM Records was forging a reputation as one of the most successful blues labels.

This continued into 1952. During 1952, pianist Rosco Gordon released Booted, one of the biggest singles of his career. Not long after this, Lightnin’ Hopkins joined RPM Records and released Jake Head Boogie. This was his only released for RPM Records. It was a tantalising taste of a blues legend as his career began. Not to be outdone, another blues legend, Howlin’ Wolf released I Want Your Picture. Now RPM Records had a trio of blues legends on their roster. The future looked bright for Jules Bihari’s label.

This was the case. RPM Records had B.B. King, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Howlin’ Wolf on their roster. They also had Gene Phillips, The Nic Nac, Mickey Champion and Jimmy Nelson. It looked as if RPM Records would be capable of rivalling the bigger, more established labels. Jules Bihari’s label had come a long way in three years.

Disc Two.

On disc two of No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story picks up where disc one left off, in 1952. Of the twenty-six tracks on disc two, nineteen were released between 1952 and 1975. The other seven tracks have never been released before. They make their debut on disc two No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story, which begins in 1952.

Rosco Gordon’s most famous song No More Doggin’ opens disc. It also lends its name to the compilation. That’s fitting. After all, No More Doggin’ was one of RPM Records’ biggest hits of 1952. 1952 proved to an important year for RPM Records.

1952 was the year Sam Phillips and the Bihari brothers parted company. This came about when rather than send B.B. King’s 3 O Clock Blues to the Biharis, who would possibly send it to Chess Records, Sam send the record directly to Chess Records. The Biharis were infuriated. They saw this as them being cut out of the deal.

Previously, Sam had been a talent scout for RPM Records. He brought the Biharis artists and then, sometimes, the Biharis took them to a bigger label. As if the problem with B.B. King’s 3 O Clock Blues wasn’t bad enough, Sam made things worse when he sent copies of Howlin’ Wolf and Roscoe Gordon masters to Modern Records and Chess Records. Things then came to a head.

Sam Phillips parted company with the Biharis. He formed his own record company Sun Records. Given Sam and the Biharis had an agreement, some of RPM Records’ assets were divided up. Howlin’ Wolf signed to Chess Records and Roscoe Gordon stayed at RPM Records. This meant RPM Records had lost not just its talent scout, but one its top artists. It wouldn’t be long before RPM Records had a new talent scout, Ike Turner.

Before that, the RPM Records success story continued apace during 1952. Lightnin’ Hopkins, now one of two future blues legends left at RPM Records, released Last Affair. The roster would would soon begin to change, when Ike Turner signed to RPM Records. 

Ike Turner signed as a talent scout and artist. His first release was Trouble And Heartaches, which was credited to Ike Turner with The Ben Burton and His Orchestra.  He followed this up with Bonnie and Ike Turner’s My Heart Belongs To You. One of Ike’s first signings was Sunny Blair, who released Glad To Be Back Home in 1952. An alternate take of Glad To Be Back Home features on No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story. Houston Boines was another artist mentored by Ike Turner. Superintendent Blues was released as a single in 1952. Sadly, this was Houston Boines’ only single. Mind you, what a single it is. However, and Houston Boines weren’t the only new names on the RPM Records roster.

As 1952, progressed, a number of new names signed to RPM Records. Jules Bihari was determined to continue the commercial success they’d previously enjoyed. Losing Sam Phillips was a massive blow though. As musical history proved, Sam Phillips could spot a star in the making. However, Sam Phillips was the past. So, Jules Bihari had to start again. 

With Ike Turner’s help RPM Records continued to rebuild. Jay Frank recorded Stripped Gears in April 1952. It was released later in 1952. So was Jimmy Huff’s She’s My Baby. This was one of two singles Jimmy released on RPM Records. Another single released on RPM Records was Little Eddie Kirkland’s It’s Time For Lovin.’ This was the debut single for was John Lee Hooker’s second guitarist. John Lee Hooker adds backing vocals on It’s Time For Lovin.’ This makes the single something of a collector’s item. Gene Forrest and His Orchestra entered the studio in August of 1952. They recorded two tracks. One of them was Aching and Crying. Sadly, despite its quality it failed to chart. For everyone concerned, including Jules Bihari this proved a disappointing end to 1952.

As 1953 began, of RPM Records three blues legends, only only Lightnin’ Hopkins was left. Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King had moved on. Lightnin’ Hopkins was now RPM Records’ biggest draw. When he released Another Fool In Town in 1953, it didn’t disappoint. It showcases Lightnin’ Hopkins at his very best. Another Fool was one of the finest releases on RPM Records during 1953. Another was Rosco Gordon’s We’re All Loaded. Written by Joe Josea, it further reinforced Rosco’s position as one of RPM Records’ biggest names. However, there was still a void left by the loss of Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King. It needed filled.

Back in 1951 Jimmy Nelson had signed to RPM Records. He’d previously enjoyed a number one single T-99 Blues. So, when RPM Records got the chance to sign Jimmy, they didn’t hesitate. In 1953, Jimmy Nelson released two singles. The first was the swinging Sweetest Little Girl. It was followed up by the sultry Meet Me With Your Black Dress On. Neither single was a hit. Both tracks are a reminder of one of the most underrated blues musicians on RPM Records. However, Jimmy wasn’t the only artist who RPM Records acquired via a buy-in.

Jimmy Huff was another artist whose contract RPM Records bought. Don’t You Know was the followup to 1952s She’s My Baby. Just like She’s My Baby, Don’t You Know failed to trouble the charts. It’s without doubt the best of the two singles Jimmy released on RPM Records. Sadly, other singles released during 1953 failed to enjoy the success earlier releases on RPM Records enjoyed.

This includes King Perry and His Orchestra released Vaccinate Me Baby and Welcome Home Baby in 1953. Both feature vocals from Dell St. John. Again, despite being quality cuts, neither sold well. That’s despite drawing comparisons with Louis Jordan. These tracks are true hidden gems. They deserved to fare better. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. Melvin Daniels fared no better with I’ll Be There. He gives his all as he vamps and scats his way through the track. That’s not the end of No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53, though. There’s the unreleased tracks.

Just like all of Rosco Gordon’s cuts on No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53, Just In From Texas oozes quality. The version included on No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53 in an alternate take. It wasn’t released until 1975. It’s the perfect showcase for the legendary blues pianist. Another blues legend features among the other unreleased tracks.

Other unreleased tracks on No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53 include a trio from B.B. King, Shake It Up And Go, Woke Up This Morning and Please Love Me. Other unreleased tracks include Rosco Gordon’s New Orleans Wimmen, Frankie Irvin’s False Love and Jimmy Nelson’s Cry Hard Luck. These six tracks are far too good to be hidden in the vaults of a record company. They deserve a wider audience.

Featuring fifty-two tracks spread over two discs, No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53 documents the first three years of when RPM Records were in business. During that three year period, RPM Records released some of the best blues and R&B music of that era. Despite its undoubtable quality, many of the singles released by RPM Records weren’t a commercial success. Some were only successful with California, which was home to RPM Records. Other singles never came close to even troubling the regional tracks. However, RPM Records enjoyed more than its fair share of success.

Blues legends like B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Rosco Gordon made their debut on RPM Records. They were discovered by Sam Phillips, who was a talent scout for RPM Records. In many ways, he was the man behind the throne. He discovered and produced these artists. When he left, this left a huge void to be filled. Ike Turner tried to fill this void.

Sadly, Ike never quite succeeded in filling that void. Sam Phillips set the bar high. He’d discovered four blues legends. How could he compete with that? Ike did discover a number of talented artists. Sadly, they didn’t enjoy the commercial success and critical acclaim that the artists Sam Phillips discovered. All of the artists Ike discovered were talented, but for whatever reason, never found the commercial success their talent deserved. That was the case with a number of artists who were signed to RPM Records. No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53 is a reminder of these artists and their undoubted talent.

The music RPM Records released between 1950 and 1953m is part of the label’s rich musical legacy. A tantalising taste of this rich musical legacy can be heard on Ace Records recent compilation No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53. Hit singles and hidden gems sit side-by-side on No More Doggin’-The RPM Records Story Volume 1 1950-53 which is a veritable music treasure trove.

NO MORE DOGGIN’ THE RPM STORY VOLUME 1 1950-53.

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks. Sounds essential! Regards Thom.

    • Hi Thom,

      I’m sure you’ll enjoy No More Doggin’-The RPM Story Volume 1 1950-1953. There’s some great music on the compilation. The guys at Ace Records have put together another great compilation. Hopefully, there will be a Volume 2. Enjoy.

      Regards,
      Derek.

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