UPDATED:: 3rd Edition Of ‘The Blues Discography’

The third edition of Bob McGrath and Les Fancourt’s mighty ‘The Blues Discography 1943-1970’, published by Eyeball Productions, is now available from their website.

The history of ‘The Blues Discography’ can be traced back to the mid 1960s when Mike Leadbitter (of Blues Unlimited) and Neil Slaven (of R&B Monthly) came together to work on ‘Blues Records 1943-1966’, a ‘selective discography’ of 380 pages eventually published in 1968.

Subsequently, an expanded ‘Blues Records 1943-1970 (A-K)’ by Leadbitter and Slaven was published by Record Information Services in 1987 and a second volume (L-Z) was published in 1994 by RIS, credited to Leadbitter, Les Fancourt and RIS. In 2006 Eyeball Productions published the award winning ‘The Blues Discography’ and a second, limited edition appeared in 2012.

This new third edition is revised, much expanded and has significantly more new information. Co-author Les Fancourt has done sterling work in collecting and collating new information/recording data from blues and R&B record company files and vaults, reissue companies, blues and R&B record collectors, discographers and researchers worldwide, from specialist blues and music magazines, other publications and websites.

 The third edition which features over 1300 artists will be published with a slightly changed format in order to reduce postal costs. It will be over 775 pages – (it would have been over 850 pages if the previous format had been used and much more expensive to mail according to Eyeball’s Bob McGrath).

The third edition has a new cover design, historical introduction by Blues & Rhythm’s Tony Burke, plus full acknowledgements of those who have contributed information over the years.

Date of release is 1st February, at a cost oto be announced and it will be available exclusively from www.eyeballproductions.com 

Price is $99 plust p&p.

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2018 Music: Gone But Not Forgotten

During 2018 we lost (among many others – too many to mention at present) the following artists and music industry people.

 Barbara Alston: Member of – and one time lead vocalist of the great 1960s Phil Spector produced vocal group The Crystals

Henry Butler: Technically gifted, blind New Orleans Jazz and R&B pianist.

Eddie C Campbell: Great Chicago based bluesman, hailed from Mississippi and waxed ‘King Of The Jungle’ for Rooster Blues.

Ace Cannon: Memphis based R&B and rock and roll sax player with Bill Blacks Combo

Eddy ‘The Chief’ Clearwater: Another great Chicago bluesman, started out playing Chuck Berry styled rock and roll. Dubbed ‘The Chief’ for appearing on stage with Indian head dress.

Johnny Dawson: Singer and co-founder of the Motown vocal group The Elgins.

Dennis Edwards: Singer with Motown vocal group The Contours and later with The Temptations.

Terry Evans: R&B vocalist who formed duo with Bobby King touring and supporting Ry Cooder on some of Ry’s best albums.

Clarence Fountain: Great lead singer with the long established and legendary Five Blind Boys of Alabama.

Don Gardner: R&B, soul singer and drummer recorded hits with singer Dee Dee Ford.

Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul. Nothing more to say except a legend not just as a soul singer but also for her gospel recordings.

Rick Hall: Record producer and owner of the Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Edwin Hawkins: Gospel musician, arranger, choir leader and writer who hit in the 1960s with the classic ‘Oh Happy Day’.

Denise Lasalle: Great soul/blues singer, stalwart of many US and European blues and soul shows and festivals.

Lazy Lester: Excello Records swamp blues singer, harmonica player and guitarist. Regular visitor to the UK.

Hugh Masekela: US resident and South African born trumpeter, composer and singer, anti apartheid campaigner.

Country Pete McGill: West Coast blues artists who played and recorded with his Cottonfield Blues Band

Trevor McNaughton: Co-founder of Trojan ska and rocksteady group The Melodians.

Big Jay McNeely: King of the 1950s honking sax players, started out in the 1940s, recorded with Johnny Otis and Little Sonny Warner in Los Angeles.

Winston McGarland Bailey (aka Mighty Shadow): Award winning Trinidadian calypsonian.

Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy: Blues guitarist who supported Memphis Slim and many blues artists. Toured Europe with the American Folk Blues Festival. Appeared as Aretha’s errant husband in the original ‘The Blues Brothers’ film

Charles Neville: New Orleans R&B and jazz sax player member of the Neville Brothers clan with brothers Cyril and Art.

Calvin Newborn: Jazz guitarist started out playing R&B in Memphis gave guitar lessons to Howlin’ Wolf before becoming jazz giant.

Eugene Pitt: Founder and lead singer of the classic doo wop and soul group The Jive Five.

Otis Rush: Chicago blues guitarist, singer and a major influence on John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Peter Green and many UK blues guitarists.

Teddy Scott: Founder and singer with the classic doo wop group The G Clefs.

G. G. Shinn: Blue eyed soul and swamp pop singer leader of the Fabulous Boogie Kings.

Yvonne Staples: Long time manager and sometime singer with the soul and gospel group Staple Singers.

John ‘Jabo’ Starks – James Brown’s much sampled drummer.

Melvin Ragin (aka ‘Wah Wah’ Watson): Guitarist with the Mowton session band – the Funk Brothers.

Tony Joe White: The Swamp Fox – swamp blues singer/songwriter and guitarist. Wrote ‘Polk Salad Annie’ and ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’ and later hits for Tina Turner.

Jody Williams: Chicago blues guitarist, worked the streets with Bo Diddley, a member of Howlin’ Wolf’s band as well as recording sides in his own right.

Eddie Willis: Guitarist with Motown’s Funk Brothers sessioneers.

Elder Roma Wilson: Detroit gospel artist who cut some raw blues-gospel sides with his family members in the late 1940s. Died aged 103.

Danny Woods: Co-founder and singer with great 1970s soul group The Chairmen Of The Board.

UK Blues & Rock ‘n’ Roll

Jon Hiseman: Drummer with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, went on to form prog rock groups Colosseum and Tempest.

Chas Hodges: As part of the UK duo Chas and Dave who created ‘rockney’ played many a great rock and roll shows.

Danny Kirwan: Singer and guitarist with Fleetwood Mac when they were a proper blues band.

Roy Young: Original and authentic UK 1950s rock and roller and pianist.

 US Country & Rockabilly

Roy Clark: Master guitarist and banjo player, star with Buck Owens on syndicated TV country music and comedy show ‘Hee Haw’

Lawrencine Collins (aka Lorrie Collins): One half of great rockabilly duo The Collins Kids with brother Larry (Lawrence).

D J Fontana: Legendary Sun Records rockabilly and rock and roll drummer who backed Elvis on over 200 sides.

Herb Remington: Master teel guitar player with western swing band Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.

 UK Music People

Stuart Colman – Radio DJ, broadcaster, writer and record producer who helped get rock and roll music back on BBC.

Gerard Homan – UK blues record collector, and promoter of blues gigs via his Shakedown Promotions. Brought over many obscure US bluesmen.

Mick Huggins – Designer and part of the team at UK blues magazine Juke Blues.

Cliff White – UK R&B, soul music writer, journalist, sleevenote writer and reissue compiler for labels such as Charly Records. World authority on the music of James Brown.

Peter Young – DJ on Capital Radio and later on Jazz FM’s ‘Soul Cellar’ which broadcast wide range of soul music including Northern rarities.

Work still in progress. Taken from Blues & Rhythm, Now Dig This, Record Collector, Tales From The Woods, Mojo, Uncut and elsewheres!

Posted in 45 rpm, 78rpm, Americana, Blues, Cassette, Compact Disc, Country/Hillbilly, Gospel, Jazz, Magazine, Rare Records, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Rock & Roll, Roots, Soul, Uncategorized, Vinyl, Website, World Music | Leave a comment

Trojan Records 50th Anniversay Book

This article first appeared in the Morning Star on December 15th

Growing up in the early 1960s in Manchester, with grandparents living in Moss Side, the infectious music of bluebeat and ska records newly imported from Jamaica booming out giant speakers of local record shops was a familiar sound.

These shops were stocked with boxes of imported 45s, which customers seemed to select by the handful – and there were older records stored in racks and boxes outside – sometimes with multiple copies of the same disc – all selling cheaply.

In amongst the imports could be found discs on the UK Island and Blue Beat labels – by artists such as Derrick Morgan, Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, The Ethiopians, The Skatellites, Roland Alphonso and the mighty Prince Buster (massive at the time via his ‘Al Capone’ chart hit) pressed in the UK for the West Indian market.

And then came Trojan Records. Formed in 1968 by Chris Blackwell and Lee Gopthal.

Gopthal, who arrived in the UK on the Empire Windrush aged 28, operated the Musicland retail chain and owned Beat & Commerical Records and Blackwell owned Island Records. Initially, Trojan licensed recordings from Jamaican record producers such as Duke Reid and Coxone Dodd but they soon established Trojan as the number one ska and later reggae label signing artists such as John Holt, Judge Dredd, Jimmy Cliff, Bob and Marcia, The Pioneers and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.

Jimmy Cliff – one of Trojan’s biggest stars.

Between 1968 and 1972 Trojan enjoyed regular UK chart hits. Blackwell eventually sold his share of the company focussing on Island Records and its mega roster of rock and progressive artists (and Bob Marley!) while Gopthal continued releases a stream of 45s, (some with overdubbed strings to appeal to the pop market).

Despite the chart hits and regular radio airplay by the likes of Dave & Ansell Collins, Harry J, Dandy Livingstone and Greyhound, by 1975 Trojan, mired in debt went bust. Marcel Rodd owner of the budget album label Saga Records bought up the Trojan business. Trojan and its large catalogue changed hands on a number of occasions including ownership by record collector and accountant Colin Newman who focused on re-issuing Trojan’s back catalogue of ska, rock steady and reggae in classic three CD box sets.

The label went through the hands of Sanctuary, and Universal and now it is owned by BMG.

As part of the celebrations of the labels’ 50 year history comes this profusely illustrated ‘coffee table’ book, ‘The Story of Trojan Records’ authored by UK writer, researcher and reissue complier Laurence Cane-Honeysett, who was originally hired in 1992 to oversee reissues of Trojan material.

He has overseen all the label’s reissues ever since. Cane-Honeysett is unequalled in his knowledge of the label – as this lavish publication shows.

Commencing with the emergence of calypso and mento music which came to the UK with the Empire Windrush, the book covers the early years of blue beat and ska music in the UK and Jamaica; the golden years of Trojan Records; its myriad of associated record labels; vinyl album releases (anyone remember its vinyl budget sampler multi volume series ‘Tighten Up’?); the key people in the history of the label; artists biographies; chart listings and entries; UK culture including skinheads, the 2Tone and ska revival era plus photos and reproductions of rare memorabilia; record labels; newspaper and magazine articles and cuttings; adverts; promotional photos and sales material plus pages of album, 8 track and cassette covers.

This is a marvellous tribute to the label often dubbed the ‘British Motown’ and produced by an author who has a total passion for the music and knows the Trojan label and its history inside out. Essential Christmas reading for UK music history fans.

The Story of Trojan Records By Laurence Cane-Honeysett is published by Eye Books



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London Blues Festival: January 14th – January 19th

January 14th to 19th will see US blues artists return to London for the London Blues Festival to be held at the 100 Club on Oxford Street.

Kim Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds will play two nights on January 15th and 16th (the latter supported by the great US guitarist and session player Billy Flynn). Sugaray Rayford will play 17th at the 100 Club, London with additional dates on 18th Live Room – Caroline Social Club, Shipley; 19th Great British Rock & Blues Festival, Skegness. Sharrie Williams plays the 100 Club on 18th and Mud Morganfield (son of Muddy Waters) plays the festival on January 19th. He also plays the Eel Pie Club, Twickenham on 16th; 17th Shakedown Blues Club, Peterborough (Gerard Homan tribute gig) and 18th Taulouse Lautrec Jazz Club, Kensington.
Rick Estrin and The Nitecats play Stramash, Edinburgh on January 23rd and the 100 Club on the 24th. Also do not miss Cedric Burnside direct from the Mississippi Hill Country and a member of the famous R. L. Burnside blues dynesty who will play a promo gig on February 12th at Rough Trade East, Old Trueman Brewery, Brick Lane, London where he will be signing copies of a new release. Cedric will also play The Blues Kitchen, Camden on February 14th; The Cluny, Newcastle On Tyne on the 15th and St. Mary’s Creative Space in Chester on 17th.

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Stuart Cosgrove’s Soul Trilogy: In Conversation

Writer and critic Stuart Cosgrove will be at Watersone’s, 153–157 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3EW, on 21st January celebrating his latest book  – part of his three book trilogy. £5 entrance fee.

His new volume ‘Harlem 69: The Future of Soul’ is the final book in his epic 1960’s trilogy about soul music and social change in three American cities in three crucial years, following Detroit ’67 and the Penderyn Music Book Prize 2018 winner, Memphis ’68.  Stuart will be in conversation with Alison Stroak from Glasgow Music City Tours.

Cosgrove weaves a compelling web of circumstance that maps a city struggling with the loss of its youth to the Vietnam War, the hard edge of the civil rights movement and ferocious inner-city rioting … a whole-hearted evocation of people and places’ – Independent

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Doug Kershaw – “The Raging Cajun” : 100 Club, Oxford Street, London – June 16th 2019

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Accordion Revolution – Due 2019

A New Book by Bruce Triggs – Due in the Spring of 2019!

Uncover the hidden history of the Accordion in North America: from the Industrial Revolution to the Rock and Roll upheaval of the 1960’s.

  • The book features the ‘squeeze’box in Rock ’n’ Roll and the Folk Revival, and big sections about jazz (especially several women jazzers from the 1940s); Ethnic Music; African American accordion; 150 country and western accordionists; African American “windjammers”; Country & Western accordions; Irish American button-boxes; Zydeco, Klezmer; Tex-Mex, and the lost tale of the electric rock accordion.
  • With over 45 illustrations including the Accordion Family Tree and  700 Years of (combined) accordion history.

To sign up for more information and emails click here.

Posted in Americana, Blues, Books, Country/Hillbilly, Film -TV, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Rock & Roll, Roots, Website, World Music | Leave a comment

Around The World In 80 Record Stores – Book Review

From the Morning Star November 10th, 2018

Posted in 45 rpm, 78rpm, Americana, Blues, Cassette, Compact Disc, Country/Hillbilly, Gospel, Jazz, Rare Records, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Rock & Roll, Roots, Soul, Vinyl, World Music | 1 Comment

Rudeboy : The Story Of Trojan Records

Duke Reid in front of his Trojan sound system. Photo courtesy Trojan Records

By Garth Cartwright

Running from November 1st -18th London’s Doc ‘N Roll film festival offers up 28 music documentaries that range from a study of ‘lost’ Ethiopian jazz of the 1960s through to a scholarly overview of Tunbridge Wells’ panto’ punks, The Anti-Nowhere League. Rich as the pickings are one feature stands out for its cultural resonance – ‘Rudeboy: The Story Of Trojan Records’. For the first time the little London record label that made a huge impact is getting its documentary due.

Trojan Records was founded in 1968 by two young Jamaicans determined to get the music from “back home” heard in the UK. Chris Blackwell and Lee Gopthal initially met through Blackwell renting office space in Kilburn from Gopthal in 1962. Blackwell quickly proved himself a music industry tyro, his Island Records scoring hits with The Spencer Davis Group. Gopthal, noting the profits being generated, began distributing Jamaican music and setting up record shops to sell such. In 1968 the two men combined forces as Trojan Records and helped unleash a cultural revolution.

Initially, Trojan licensed recordings from Jamaican record producers for the UK’s Afro-Caribbean community. Success meant the label was soon signing reggae artists and mentoring such maverick talents as Desmond Dekker, John Holt and Lee Perry. Very quickly reggae began peppering the UK singles charts and a new youth cult – the skinheads – chose Jamaican music as an alternative to hirsute rock bands. 1968 also saw Enoch Powell deliver his infamous Rivers Of Blood speech so firing up anti-immigrant vitriol. Trojan Records found itself a lightning rod for an increasingly divided UK, its vision of music uniting everyone on the dance floor at odds with both racists and a very white, rock oriented music industry. Trojan rose quickly then fell hard – by 1975 the label was bankrupt – yet Trojan’s since gained legendary status, both its music and Greek helmet emblem being internationally championed.

Trojan’s story is celebrated in both Rudeboy and the recently published book ‘The Story Of Trojan Records’ (Eye Books). Laurence Cane-Honeysett, the author of the aforementioned book (and an adviser to the documentary), first fell under reggae’s spell when a schoolboy in the late-1960s and recalls Trojan tunes being spun at Stamford Bridge every Saturday before kick off. When, a decade later, the rise of 2-Tone – The Specials, Madness, Selecter – reignited interest, he became the label’s most prominent print champion. As Trojan’s masters were horse traded subsequent owners needed an employee who knew what was on the tapes, thus they hired Cane-Honeysett in 1992 and he’s overseen Trojan’s reissues ever since.

“Trojan crashed in 1975,” says Cane-Honeysett, “and while that was the end of the label as a creative force there have been all kinds of attempts at reissuing some or all of the thousands of recordings it owns. Trojan’s been sold twice since I started working there but, fortunately, the new owners have always kept me on.”

The current owners are BMG, the German corporation now the world’s fourth largest record label. And it was BMG’s determination to ensure Trojan’s 50th anniversary was both properly marked – and the label rebranded in the market place as something akin to a “British Motown” – that lead to the book and film (and The Trojan Records Box Set: this contains 6 CDs, 4 LPs, 2 45s, a book of album covers, poster, patch etc).

As Cane-Honeysett worked on all three projects its refreshing to note a lack of repetition; where The Story Of Trojan Records is intensely detailed, Rudeboy takes more a big picture approach, suggesting Trojan worked as a conduit for British race relations: DJ Don Letts states in the film, “Trojan planted the seeds of our multicultural society on the dance floor.”

“Record companies don’t often get this opportunity to repackage a label,” says Cane-Honeysett, “so BMG ensured that Trojan’s fiftieth anniversary was a unique celebration. Its great that BMG have been able to portray the label as it was. Trojan’s legacy, all the things it stood for, is now being recognised.”

BMG gifted Rudeboy with a lavish budget beyond that of most music documentaries (few other Doc ‘N Roll features will have enjoyed such largesse). Thus it blends archive footage of London and Jamaica from decades past alongside scenes where actors dramatically recreate incidents at Kingston dances and London recording studios that were never filmed at the time.

British director Nicholas Jack Davies skilfully weaves old and new together, letting both the musicians and fans who experienced Trojan’s golden era carry the film’s narrative forward as they reflect on what was, for all, a defining time in their lives. Davies is caucasian and his previous documentary feature focused on Mumford & Sons (a band whose music and background is the polar opposite of Trojan’s artists). This makes him, he admits, a somewhat surprising choice to helm such an Afro-Caribbean story.

“I learnt quick by involving the people that were there, taking advice and really listening to people about it,” says Davies. “I hope that the film appeals and does justice – in it’s own small way – to the Afro-Caribbean community who place great value in that period of history and Trojan as a label. I felt it was vitally important to get it as right as possible for that reason alone.

“For the time we live in, I thought a positive story about the effects of immigration and the power of music and culture to have more effect than politics or religion was the basis of Rudeboy. The music is incredible and still not known enough but the societal impact of Trojan is an amazing thing to try and highlight. And, I feel, makes the story of the music more contemporary and vital in 2018.”

Indeed, Rudeboy stands as a history lesson of sorts that counters the Conservative government’s scandalous policy of aggressively deporting Windrush generation Afro-Caribbean citizens. The film’s underlying theme is how people from a former colony came to Britain and shared their culture so enriching the local music and youth culture.

“Trojan’s success meant, for the first time, people of Afro-Caribbean heritage were regularly appearing on TV and radio,” says Cane-Honeysett. “This not only sent out an extremely positive and inspirational message to black Britons, but also ensured a degree of respect – which up until this time had been largely lacking – from their white counterparts.”

Trojan enjoyed a great run from 1968 – 1972 but began to come unstuck after co-founder Chris Blackwell sold his share of the label to concentrate on running Island Records. Lee Gopthal, now sole owner, focused on pumping out 45s (often adding strings to sweeten Jamaican recordings) while Blackwell, having signed former Trojan artist Bob Marley to Island, developed Marley for the album market, thus launching reggae’s first superstar. By 1975 Trojan was consumed by debt and Gopthal lost his label. Post-Trojan he maintained a low profile before dying of a heart attack in 1997.

“It’s sad that Lee’s not around to see Trojan being celebrated for what it achieved,” says Cane-Honeysett. “It introduced reggae to the world, gave so many now famous musicians their first break, helped create contemporary British music and youth culture. Trojan changed everything.”

Rudeboy: The Story Of Trojan Records has three screenings at Doc ‘N Roll Festival: November 4th, 10th, 15th.

Originally published in the New European – reproduced with the permission of Garth Cartwright

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Morrison Releases 40th album – Is that Archie Andrews On The Cover?

Van Morrison has recently confirmed that he will release his 40th studio album, ‘The Prophet Speaks’, on 7th December on Caroline International. The new album will also feature jazz organist and trumpeter Joey DeFrancesco.

‘Got To Go Where the Love Is’ is one of six new originals by Morrison that will be featured along with other sides which are covers of Sam Cooke, John Lee Hooker and Solomon Burke titles.

“It was important for me to get back to recording new music as well as doing some blues material that has inspired me from the beginning,” Morrison said. “Writing songs and making music is what I do, and working with great musicians makes it all the more enjoyable.” The album also carries a distinctive photo of Van with a ventriloquit’s doll – speculated to be the 1950s radio show ‘Archie Andrews’.

This new 14-track release is also his second album released in 2018, following ‘You’re Driving Me Crazy’, which was released in April.

It also part of a recent run of back-to-back releases that started with 2017’s ‘Roll With The Punches’ and delves deep into the musical styles including blues, R&B, soul and jazz that have influenced Morrison throughout his career.

Included in this post is the official video for ‘Got To Go Where The Love Is’, the lead single from the new album.

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