Release Date: 03/26/13
Rough But Very, Very Ready
King Records was the brainchild of Syd Nathan a brash but imaginative entrepreneur. After many ventures (he sold jewelry, ran shooting galleries and promoted wrestling), he decided to go into selling records. He found a run-down premises and did a deal to buy an old employer's stock of records for 15¢ each. Sales racks and listening booths came free. Most of his stock was hillbilly records. He was surprised when 'tall, gaunt-faced folks with the lonesome sound of the mountains in their talk' began to frequent his store and buy his records. The next step for Nathan was to start a label. In November 1943, his first artists were Merle Travis and Grandpa Jones. King began a blues series in August 1945 with Bull Moose Jackson first in line. Further early sessions included Slim Gaillard, Walter Brown, Annisteen Allen and Lennie Lewis with Harold Tinsley. Pianists Lee Brown and Jimmie Gordon and guitarist Johnny Temple soon followed. Joe Von Battle was another local music fan, who recorded local talent, and, who then sold the masters on to King. Much of Von Battle's roster was country-blues oriented, like harmonica players Robert Richard and Walter Mitchell. The sound that Nathan and Von Battle produced was crude but the performances had both authenticity and excitement. Principal among them was John Lee Hooker, the city's leading bluesman, happy to record for any label and adopt any name. On the recordings bought by King he refers to himself as 'Poor Slim' but the attempt at disguise was utterly pointless. Other artists included Detroit Count, Robert Richard, Walter Mitchell, Eddie Burns and Johnny Wright. Other bluesmen journeyed to Cincinnati to record, while Nathan also travelled to Chicago to oversee a number of sessions. These four CDs are in roughly chronological sequence to better illustrate artists' styles and their development.
|Label: Jsp Records|
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