Monday, 1 May 2017

Bulls Head Bob May 2017 - CHESS RECORDS best label ever? SHOCK AND AWE - Are you fully Accesorised? Keep fit for Brexit, Mrs Bob's Fat Behind.

Hello Brummies,

Happy May Day to all you guys, You're probably packing the kids in the car and hitting the road to spend a day on the beach so have a nice time.

When thinking back about the first days of Rock and Roll recording studios we automatically think about Sun Records and Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, latterly known as the "Million Dollar Quartet" because of this photo taken in Memphis at the Sun Records Studio, indeed they were the rebels of their day and the youth of the free world knew them all.   They were the purveyors of the music of the Now generation and most parents hated them with a passion.
They were all exciting, the music was intense and of course Elvis had wiggly hips which caused chaos wherever he went.   Of those four and despite Elvis' looks, demeanour and obvious talent, Jerry Lee was the real rebel and stage showman.    Great as they were, there was one obvious point about them, they were all white!  Sun Records was founded in 1952 and America was still steeped in racial exclusion. 

533 miles away lay Chicago a busy industrial city on the Mississippi, a trade hub with a massive population and a large black community.   In 1947 a Polish immigrant called Leonard Chess bought a stake in Aristocrat records and later on took over the company and brought in his brother Phil, changing the name to CHESS.   Aristocrat Records had already recorded Muddy Waters in 1947 and his second recording on the label "I cant be Satisfied" was a minor hit but naturally only in the black community.     The Chess Brothers started recruiting mainly black artists and in 1950 the first CHESS release was Gene Ammons with "My Foolish Heart" which produced a good hit for the label.  The same year Alan Freed had passed on a doo-wap group called the Moonglows who went on to have several hits too.

In 1951 CHESS formed an association with Sam Phillips who passed onto them the first Rock and Roll release with "Rocket 88", Sam Phillips was yet to form the Sun label.  Although history states that Rock Around the Clock was the first hit it should be said that it was the first hit for a white audience.

The label built up such a great stable of artists including Etta James, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Memphis Slim, Elmore James and of course the incredible stalwart of Rock, the fantabulous Chuck Berry. 

With the advent of Beat Groups of the 60's there was a constant search for new material to play and the CHESS catalogue of songs fitted the bill perfectly and the old white Rock and Roll was neatly tucked away and forgotten about.  Chuck Berry was king and we all played Johnny B Goode.  In the later blues boom of 62 nearly every band was hungry for material and life was good for CHESS as musicians scoured the record shops for old blues recordings.   For me it was the high point of British rock with everyone trying out their own interpretations of these classic Black songs.    I love the recordings too, full of excitement, atmosphere and feeling.

I would go so far as to say that this was probably the most influential record label, more so than SUN.   I love practically everything that was recorded there and I really recommend getting your hands on some old CHESS vinyl recordings sit yourself down and revisit those days of great basic music. 
The Founder Phil Chess died last year, one of the most important men in rock music ever so don't forget his name. 

There  is a film "Cadillac Records" with Beyonce Knowles as Etta James which is worth a look at too if you have the inclination.

I think that probably, musicians are clinically bonkers, hibernating in a bedroom or garage all night practising, spending everything they have to improve their sound and their equipment with little chance of any success especially these days.   Nothing changes with time either, you have to pay your dues, make your mistakes, get shafted a few times by unscrupulous managers and stabbed in the back by your musician "mates" who you believe are in it with you but the reality is that they would eat their own faeces to get success so crapping all over you is no problem at all for them.

Well when I say that nothing changes with time I am wrong in one sense and that is, there isn't anything cheap any longer and if it is cheap then you can almost guarantee that you will be paying for constant repairs or upgrades. Quality comes at a price.   I have just bought a Gibson Les Paul Double cut and thought I would get myself a comfy strap to go with it, I don't like the nylon straps you get these days.   OK Bob, off we go to EBay which I use as a virtual shop window to see what the going rate is for new items.

In the old days when you bought a guitar the shop would generally throw in a strap or even a guitar case, such was the service in music shops of old.  
I'll get a branded one I thought with Gibson printed on this

Looks comfy, I don't like the plastic clips which remind me of a back pack but it is what it is, a guitar strap.

F**K me!!   88 Pounds!!!! and this is not the most expensive either!

Half an hour later I had found two old leather belts in my wardrobe, measured the distance over my shoulder, then I took them to the Cobblers and had them sewn together with eyelets at either end for 3 quid.   I wrote Bob on one of them as a trade mark.   

Me and Mrs Bob are making plans for the country's eventual exit from the EU in 2 years time.   We have been reading all the doom and gloom reports that food prices will skyrocket for us merry Brexiteers and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is mulling over shagging up our pensions too so we have decided to slim down in preparation.  Mrs Bobs group of leotard wielding ladies are hard at it and can be seen below at a recent press launch of their new slimming method called  "DRIPPING FAT BEHIND"?  
Mrs Bob centre and the FAT BEHIND group
You can just spot me at the back with a shovel ready to scrape up the residue fat off the road and make it into candles or "Merkelbusters" as we like to call them.

Right you guys off I go for a day of merriment.

Isn't it strange that of the 396 people who have been a member of ELO only two were at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame awards, Jeff Lynne and for some reason Hagrid?

Take Care


RECENTLY REFORMED BANARAMA when asked if they were going to at least try to do some 2 part harmonies said "It's impossible, there's 3 of us you see!!". Glory days

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