Here are a selection of classic representative albums of Early R&B and all its derivatives.
Rhythm & Blues
||Dedicated To You : The “5” Royales
This may be the great lost R&B record of the 1950s. The “5” Royales were a fine singing group long before this release, but on these sides recorded between 1955 and 1957, guitarist Lowman Pauling cuts loose with the most fiery guitar fills this side of Ike Turner. From the opening shout of “Think” to the closing notes of “Thirty Second Lover,” Dedicated to You is a guitar tour-de-force. The album’s crowning moment comes on “Say It,” where Clarence Paul’s pleading vocal is answered with Pauling’s bluesy replies. Other highlights include Bill Doggett’s gospel-tinged organ on “Someone Made You For Me,” several fine sax solos (“Don’t Be Ashamed,” “Right Around the Corner”) and the straightforward rocker “Messin’ Up.” An overlooked classic.The “5” Royales was an American rhythm and blues (R&B) vocal group from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States, that combined gospel, jump blues and doo-wop, marking an early and influential step in the evolution of rock and roll. Most of their big R&B hits were recorded in 1952 and 1953 and written by the guitarist Lowman “Pete” Pauling. Cover versions of the band’s songs hit the Top 40, including “Dedicated to the One I Love” (the Shirelles and the Mamas & the Papas), “Tell the Truth” (Ray Charles and Ike & Tina Turner), and “Think” (James Brown & The Famous Flames). Brown modeled his first vocal group after the “5” Royales, and both Eric Clapton and the legendary Stax guitarist Steve Cropper cited Pauling as a key influence. The Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger covered “Think” on his 1993 solo album Wandering Spirit. The “5” Royales were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.Sources: Wikipedia and Discogs.
Exclusive interview with Steve Cropper (with particular reference to The “5” Royales) to be published in the Inteviews section soon.
Rock and Roll
||Chuck Berry Is on Top
Chuck Berry Is on Top is the third studio album by rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry, released in July 1959 on Chess Records, catalogue LP 1435. With the exception of one track, “Blues for Hawaiians,” all selections had been previously released on 45 rpm singles, several of which were double-sided and charted twice.
If you had to sweat all of Chuck Berry’s early albums on Chess (and some, but not all, of his subsequent greatest-hits packages), this would be the one to own. The song lineup is exemplary, cobbling together classics like “Maybellene,” “Carol,” “Sweet Little Rock & Roller,” “Little Queenie,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Around and Around,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and “Almost Grown.” With the addition of the Latin-flavored “Hey Pedro,” the steel guitar workout “Blues for Hawaiians,” “Anthony Boy,” and “Jo Jo Gunne,” this serves as almost a mini-greatest-hits package in and of itself. While this may be merely a collection of singles and album ballast (as were most rock & roll LPs of the 1950s and early ’60s), it ends up being the most perfectly realized of Chuck Berry’s career.
Chuck Berry was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. Nicknamed the “Father of Rock and Roll”, Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive with songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958). Writing lyrics that focused on teen life and consumerism, and developing a music style that included guitar solos and showmanship, Berry was a major influence on subsequent rock music.
Sources: Wikipedia and Kip Coda, AllMusic
||Here’s Little Richard
Here’s Little Richard is the debut album from Little Richard, released on March 1957. He had scored six Top 40 hits the previous year, some of which were included on this recording. It was his highest charting album, at 13 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. The album contained two of Richard’s biggest hits, “Long Tall Sally”, which reached No. 6, and “Jenny, Jenny”, which reached No. 10 in the U.S. Pop chart. It also contained “Tutti Frutti” (his first hit), “Slippin’ and Slidin'”, and “Rip It Up,” all of which were Billboard top 40 hits; and “Ready Teddy”, “She’s Got It,” and “Miss Ann,” all of which, in addition to the prior songs listed, were top 10 Billboard “Hot R&B Singles.” In all, 9 of the LP’s 12 songs made the US Billboard Hot 100 charts between 1955 and 1958.
Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman) was an influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades. Nicknamed “The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll”, Penniman’s most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his charismatic showmanship and dynamic music, characterized by frenetic piano playing, pounding back beat and raspy shouted vocals, laid the foundation for rock and roll. Penniman’s innovative emotive vocalizations and uptempo rhythmic music also played a key role in the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk, respectively. He influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop; his music helped shape rhythm and blues for generations to come.
Sources: Wikipedia and Discogs
|Four Tops Greatest Hits
The Four Tops are a vocal quartet from Detroit, Michigan, USA who helped to define the city’s Motown sound of the 1960s. The group’s repertoire has included soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, doo-wop, jazz, and show tunes.
This is the second version of the Four Tops “Greatest Hits” album first released in 1967, This version, released in 1968, has additional tracks and a different running order, The additional tracks were I’ll Turn to Stone, Where Did You Go? Darling, I Hum Our Song, and You Keep Running Away. The European CD re-issue of the earlier version uses the same cover artwork as this release.
The original album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard albums chart in the United States, remaining on the chart for 73 weeks, and is the first Motown album to reach No. 1 in Britain. It spent one week at the top of the UK albums chart in 1968.
Sources: Wikipedia and Discogs.
||Diana Ross & the Supremes: Greatest Hits
A two-LP collection of singles and b-sides recorded by The Supremes, released by Motown in August 1967. The collection was the first LP to credit the group under the new billing Diana Ross & the Supremes. Although founding member Florence Ballard is pictured on all album artwork and sings on all the tracks, by the time the set was released, she had been fired from the group and replaced by Cindy Birdsong.
It would rank as their second #1 album holding a distinction that it would take decades for another female group to achieve. The 2-LP set topped the Billboard Album Chart for 5 consecutive weeks, spending 20 weeks in the top 5 and 24 weeks total in the top 10. It remained on the Billboard Album Chart for 89 weeks. According to Motown data the album eventually sold over 6,200,000 copies. In 2018, the Official Charts Company published that The Supremes’ Greatest Hits (1967) has a total of 60 weeks in the UK top 40; making it the 4th ‘longest-reigning Top 40 girl group album ever’.
Source; Wikipedia and Discogs
||The Five Satins Sing Their Greatest Hits
The Five Satins Sing Their Greatest Hits may not have the fanciest packaging, and the sound is merely adequate, but it remains a hell of a good Five Satins collection, containing a robust 24 tracks. That means it doesn’t just have “In the Still of the Night,” it has a wealth of other singles that prove that the group was one of the finest doo wop outfits.
The Five Satins are an American doo-wop group, best known for their 1956 million-selling song, “In the Still of the Night.” The group, formed in New Haven, Connecticut, United States, in 1954, consisted of leader Fred Parris, Lewis Peeples, Stanley Dortche, Ed Martin and Jim Freeman and Nat Mosley. With little success, the group reorganized, with Dortche and Peeples leaving, and new member Al Denby entering. The group then recorded “In the Still of the Night”, a big hit in the United States, which was originally released as the B-side to the single, “The Jones Girl”. The single was initially issued on the tiny local “Standord” label and after some local Connecticut sales, it was released the following year on the New York label Ember, and “In The Still Of The Night” ended up charting at number three on the R&B chart and number 25 on the pop chart.
Sources: Wikipedia and All Music
||The Rolling Stones
‘The Rolling Stones’ is the debut studio album by the English rock band the Rolling Stones, released by Decca Records in the UK on 16 April 1964. The American edition of the LP, with a slightly different track list, came out on London Records on 30 May 1964, subtitled ‘England’s Newest Hit Makers’, which later became its official title. Recorded at Regent Sound Studios in London over the course of five days in January and February 1964, The Rolling Stones was produced by then-managers Andrew Loog Oldham and Eric Easton.
The majority of the tracks reflect the band’s love for R&B. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (whose professional name until 1978 omitted the “s” in his surname) were fledgling songwriters during early 1964, contributing only one original composition to the album: “Tell Me (You’re Coming Back)”. Two songs are credited to “Nanker Phelge” – a pseudonym the band used for group compositions from 1963 to 1965. Phil Spector and Gene Pitney both contributed to the recording sessions, and are referred to as “Uncle Phil and Uncle Gene” in the subtitle of the Phelge instrumental “Now I’ve Got a Witness.”
The Rolling Stones were at the forefront of the British Invasion of bands that became popular in the United States in 1964 and were identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. Rooted in blues and early rock and roll, the band started out playing covers but found more success with their own material; songs such as “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Paint It Black” became international hits, and Aftermath (1966) – their first entirely original album – has been considered the most important of the band’s formative records.
||‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’: The Rolling Stones in Concert
‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’: The Rolling Stones in Concert is the second live album by the Rolling Stones, released on 4 September 1970 on Decca Records in the UK and on London Records in the US. It was recorded in New York City, New York and Baltimore, Maryland in November 1969, just before the release of Let It Bleed. It is the first live album to reach number 1 in the UK. It was reported to have been issued in response to the well known bootleg Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be.
In the Rolling Stone review of the album, critic Lester Bangs said, “I have no doubt that it’s the best rock concert ever put on record.”
‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’: The Rolling Stones in Concert was released in September 1970, well into the sessions for their next studio album, Sticky Fingers, and was well-received critically and commercially, reaching number 1 in the UK and number 6 in the US, where it went platinum. Except for compilations, it was the last Rolling Stones album released through Decca Records in the UK and London Records in the US before launching their own Rolling Stones Records label.
The album has received consistent praise from critics as one of the greatest live albums ever made. In 2000 it was voted number 816 in Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums. In 2007, NME ranked the album as the 7th greatest live album of all time. Q ranked the album as the 14th greatest live album of all time.
Sources: Wikipedia and Discogs.
Exclusive interview with Mick Taylor to be published in the Inteviews section soon.
The Animals (American Album) is the self-titled debut album from British invasion group, The Animals. Released in late summer 1964, the album introduced the States to the “drawling, dirty R&B sound (with the emphasis on the B)” that typified the group. The album featured many R&B standards, written by the likes of Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and John Lee Hooker, as well as the classic #1 hit single “House of the Rising Sun”.
The Animals (British Album) is the self-titled debut studio album by British R&B/blues rock band the Animals. It was released in the United Kingdom in November 1964 on EMI’s Columbia Records. The album reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart and held that position for a total of 20 weeks.
The Animals are an English rhythm and blues and rock band, formed in Newcastle upon Tyne in the early 1960s. The band moved to London upon finding fame in 1964. The Animals were known for their gritty, bluesy sound and deep-voiced frontman Eric Burdon, as exemplified by their signature song and transatlantic No. 1 hit single, “House of the Rising Sun”, as well as by hits such as “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”, “It’s My Life”, “Inside Looking Out”, “I’m Crying” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. The band balanced tough, rock-edged pop singles against rhythm and blues-orientated album material and were part of the British Invasion of the US. Altogether, the group had ten Top Twenty hits in both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100.
The original lineup of Burdon, Alan Price, Chas Chandler, Hilton Valentine and John Steel reunited for a one-off benefit concert in Newcastle in 1968. They later had brief comebacks in 1975 and 1983. There have been several partial regroupings of the original era members since then under various names. The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
Sources: Wikipedia and Discogs.
Note the images are of the British Album.
Exclusive interview with John Steel to be published in the Inteviews section soon.
New Orleans R&B