Jukebox Saturday Night: Teenage Party

Jukebox Saturday Night is not an anomaly in Jukebox Heart so much as it is a moment to take a trip back to our roots. In a previous article on Jukebox Saturday Night, we established a link between the street music of the Urban US in the 1950s to modern hip hop and R&B focusing on several labels and key individuals. It’s important to look back on and appreciate this music; it is arguably the product of the first wave of independent labels, fueled by many of the same frustrations that launched punk rock and industrial music in the 70s, and indeed all independently produced music since the second world war.

So here is the sound of NYC in 1956. These were the groups heard on the radio and echoing from record hops everywhere. This album was issued in late 1957 and is considered to be one of the most desirable doo-wop collectible records, especially in this first pressing incarnation. I’m lucky enough to have owned this since I was a kid. Record geek history will, of course, follow. But first, the music:

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Side 1 Playlist:

The Cleftones – Little Girl of Mine
The Cleftones – Can’t We Be Sweethearts
The Wrens – Come Back My Love
The Valentines – Nature’s Creation
The Valentines – Lily Maebelle
The Harptones – Three Wishes

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Side 2 Playlist:

The Cleftones – You Baby You
The Cleftones – You’re Driving Me Mad
The Crows – Gee
The Crows – I Love You So
The Harptones – My Memories of You (1956)
The Harptones – Sunday Kind of Love

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As promised, Geek History is below the cut. Read about the history of Gee Records, and some little known info about the fabulous house band…

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Jukebox Saturday Night: The Paragons Meet The Jesters

In Jukebox Saturday Night, Jukebox Heart takes timeout to go back to our roots. The earliest music I remember hearing was early rock n roll and doo wop as I shared a bedroom with my older brother. He’d play his records on the old Motorola in the corner of our room. It was then that the passion for music and records began, and it’s like the meatloaf and mashed potatoes of my musical taste – definite comfort food.

And there is no record for which this is more true than The Paragons Meet The Jesters. In fact, this is somewhat of a family heirloom harking back to the rarest of times when my brother, sister and I all still lived with our parents in our Brooklyn home.

As it turns out, this is more than just a family heirloom; it is one of those important nodes in rock history, defining a moment in music and propelling the careers of several key people and setting the stage for some of the most important evolution in rock and R&B history. Some back story…

Paul Winley Records Inc. was the parsent company Winley Records, a doo-wop record label founded in 1956 that in the 1970s became Paul Winley Records, one of the earliest hip hop labels. It was situated on 125th Street, Harlem, New York City. Winley released doo-wop by The Paragons and The Jesters, and hip hop records by Paul Winley’s daughters, Tanya and Paulette, produced by Winley’s wife, Ann. The label can lay claim to a number of firsts: one of the earliest rock and roll compilations, one of the earliest breaks compilations, an early solo female rap artist and an early instance of social commentary in rap. Winley was also the first label to record one of hip hop’s most important figures, Afrika Bambaataa.

There’s lots more details below, but first, the music.

The first thing is the legendary album, The Paragons Meet The Jesters, recorded from a first pressing of the vinyl. The original jacket is shown below. The Paragons Meet The Jesters, first released in 1959 with its street gang cover and vocal duels inspired by doo-wop’s street corner singing battles and live show group competitions, was one of the first rock and roll compilation LPs and the most commercially successful doo wop compilation ever released.

The Paragons Meet The Jesters, Side 1

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The Paragons Meet The Jesters, Side 2

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Side 1 Playlist:
The Paragons – Florence
The Jesters – Please Let Me Love You
The Jesters – So Strange
The Paragons – Let’s Start All Over Again
The Jesters – Now That You’re Gone
The Paragons – The Vows of Love

Side 2 Playlist:
The Paragons – Hey Little School Girl
The Jesters – I’m Falling in Love
The Jesters Love – No One But You
The Paragons – Stick With Me Baby
The Jesters – I Laughed
The Paragons – Twilight

Through his association with the Clovers, Winley met legendary figure, Atlantic Records mogul Ahmet Ertegün, who — unusual for a label mogul — himself wrote for The Clovers subsequent to signing them. Winley moved to New York City to work with Ertegün, where he wrote for Ruth Brown and Big Joe Turner. He then became one of the songwriters working in and around the Brill Building in the 1950s, along with figures he met and knew there such as Otis Blackwell and Jesse Stone. Winley formed a songwriting partnership with Davey Clowney, better known as Dave “Baby” Cortez, and the two began recording doo-wop groups for the newly-founded Winley Records.


A rare first press of the Paragons’ first
single, Florence, from 1957, on the
signature orange label.

Winley Records’ main acts were The Paragons and The Jesters, but they also introduced Little Anthony and the Imperials, then known as The Duponts. Then came The Jesters, students at Cooper Junior High School in Harlem who graduated from singing under an elevated train station near 120th Street to the amateur night contest at the Apollo, where Paul Winley discovered them. A brother group to The Jesters were The Paragons – described by Wiley as real hoodlums, real zip-gun, street-warring hoodlums.

Much less known is the Winley records follow-up to The Paragons Meet The Jesters, The Paragons Vs. The Jesters – WAR! as shown below. This features later, less successful sides, but with some wonderful songs nonetheless.

The Paragons Vs. The Jesters WAR! Side 1

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The Paragons Vs. The Jesters WAR! Side 2

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Side 1 Playlist – The Jesters
The Wind
Sally Green
Come Let Me Show You
Down In Uncle Henry’s Basement
Tutti Frutti
That’s How It Goes

Side 2 Playlist – The Paragons
Kneel and Pray
Just A Memory
Florence Don’t Leave Me
Don’t Cry Baby
So You Will Know
Two Hearts Are Better Than One

Several tracks from the Paragons and The Jesters never made it to either compilation, but were included on this one, and are presented here, along with some great tracks from the labels other groups, The Quinns and The Collegians.

Selected Tracks from Everybody Digs The Boss Record Hop

The Jesters – The Plea

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The Jesters – Oh Baby

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The Paragons – Doll Baby

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The Collegians – Zoom Zoom Zoom

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The Collegians – Let’s Go For A Ride

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The Quinns – Hong Kong

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The Quinns – Oh Starlight

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Winley Records resurfaced in the 1970s with a series of releases which—like the street corner practices of doo-wop foreshadowing those of hip hop — would in their different ways presage the advent of commercially recorded hip hop even as that movement blossomed in the Bronx and spread to the streets of Harlem. Winley released a series of speeches by Malcolm X, tied into a tradition of black oratory and to be sampled a decade later by Public Enemy and others. The label also recorded Harlem Underground Band (featuring a young George Benson), whose “Smokin’ Cheeba Cheeba” (1976) would furnish a break for hip hop’s burgeoning breakbeat culture.

A “break” was a short percussive passage in a record which hip hop DJs would loop (using two copies, one for each turntable) in order for it to be rapped over and/or danced to. By the late 1970s, “b-boy” sections were appearing in some small New York record stores, catering to “b-boys”, followers of this yet-to-be-named new subculture, who would buy 45s, 12″s or complete albums, old or new, of funk, rock or indeed any genre, as long as they were satisfied that each contained at least a few seconds worthy of being looped.

Paul Winley’s daughter Tanya was such a follower. Paul began collecting songs containing popular breaks and compiling them on a series of records called Super Disco Breaks, beginning in 1979 and eventually running to six volumes. The first of these therefore was one of the earliest records released with hip hop culture in mind, and probably the first breakbeat record in history.

Harlem Underground Band, augmented with the organ of the seemingly ever-present “Baby” Cortez, would function as the house band backing Winley’s hip hop releases, hence having the same function, if not influence, as “Jiggs” Chase’s band at Sugar Hill Records, or those of Pumpkin at Enjoy Records and elsewhere, i.e. solving the problem of how to translate the backing to raps heretofore provided live by DJs.

A new generation of acts appeared in the early to mid 1980s on labels like Def Jam, Profile and Cold Chillin’, with a tougher image, musical style and lyrical delivery than their predecessors Thissignaled the end for labels like Enjoy, Sugar Hill and Winley. After releasing “Street Rock” by Rap Dynasty in 1984, the label folded, though two discs appeared in 2007 bearing the imprint’s name and purporting to contain Bambaataa material from the 1970s. A collection of Winley hip hop, Death Mix: The Best of Paul Winley Records, was released on Landspeed Records in 2001.

Jukebox Saturday Night: The Heartbeats

Jukebox saturday night, some would say, is the heart and soul of Jukebox Heart. In this category, the music of the pre-Beatles rock n roll is is featured; it’s the music I cut my teeth on. Its namesake comes from the Ink Spots and Nino & The Ebb Tides’ classic tune of the same name.

This time around, we’re featuring NYC doo wop stars, the Heartbeats. The Heartbeats were a 1950s American doo-wop group best known for their song A Thousand Miles Away. One of the most important doo wop songs, this is most famous for its closing sweeping glissando which would characterize the genre for decades to come.


The Heartbeats circa 1955.

Hear the commercially released version by clicking on the arrow below.

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The above image is commonly available on eBay, but my collector geek buddies will recognize the holy grail copy below, on the Hull label in its original black and silver print. This copy commands hundreds of dollars whenever it appears. Hull Records was a tiny NYC independent started in 1955 by Billy Dawn Smith, then A&R man for one of George Goldner’s larger labels, Herald Records. When A Thousand Miles Away began to climb the charts beyond its local popularity, another of Goldner’s labels, Rama, picked it up for national distribution. My own copy is a black label 78 RPM; this 45 RPM image was scouted and pulled off the web for you.

What is exciting about the Heartbeats ad the main reason we are presenting them now is the recent discovery of their rehearsal tapes, and a spectacular acapella version of A Thousand Miles Away. The session tape is present below. This is a quintessential argument in favor of doo wop harmony in acapella over that with musical accompaniment. While the commercially released version is classic and beautiful, it is easily seen how the vocal harmony can lose its impact embedded in the music. These rehearsal sessions show how talented the Heartbeats really were. The tapes from which this was extracted lay dormant for over 50 years, and fortuitously voided any damage.

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And for good measure, I’m also throwing in the followup, and the biggest hit for Hull Records, Daddy’s Home, also fronted by Heartbeats front man James Shepherd as Shep and the Limelites.

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Below is some biographical information about the groups for you. Enjoy!

The Heartbeats were formed in the mid 1950s in Jamaica, Queens. Originally called “The Hearts”, they switched in 1955 when a female group by the same name scored a minor billboard hit. They were signed shortly after James “Shep” Sheppard joined the group, and were shuffled between various production companies over the next few years. The group split up in 1959, and Sheppard later went on to start Shep and the Limelites.

Lead singer James “Shep” Sheppard co-wrote a series of velvety doo wop ballads for the Heartbeats during the mid-’50s; one entry, “A Thousand Miles Away,” was a huge R&B seller in 1956. The Queens, NY, quintet began their string of street-corner classics with “Crazy for You” and “Darling How Long,” culminating with “A Thousand Miles Away.” The Heartbeats recorded for Hull, Rama, Roulette, Gee, and Guyden before packing it in. In 1961 the lead singer formed a new trio, Shep & the Limelites, and scored on the charts with a heartwarming sequel to his first hit, “Daddy’s Home,” for Hull. “Our Anniversary” also sold well for the trio the next year, but they broke up soon thereafter. Sheppard was found dead in his auto on the Long Island Expressway in 1970.

James Sheppard (“Shep”) and Clarence Bassett, both from Queens, New York, and Charles Baskerville, originally from Virginia, formed a group in Queens in 1960. This was initially billed as Shane Sheppard and the Limelites, but quickly became Shep and the Limelites. All three had previous experience in other groups when they formed the group: Shep in The Heartbeats (notable for “A Thousand Miles Away”); Bassett in The Five Sharps and then, with Baskerville, in The Videos.

Shep and the Limelites’ recording sessions for Hull Records started in August 1960. They recorded the original version of “Daddy’s Home” on February 1, 1961. “Daddy’s Home” reached no. 2 on the Billboard pop chart in May,[1] and was covered by Jermaine Jackson in 1972. Later songs were not as successful as “Daddy’s Home”, but still sold well; among these were “What Did Daddy Do”, “Ready For Your Love” and “Our Anniversary”.

Kahl Music, publisher of “A Thousand Miles Away”, an earlier song written by Sheppard, sued Keel Music, publisher of “Daddy’s Home”, for copyright violation. Keel eventually lost, and this led to the end of the Limelites and Hull Records in 1966. Bassett joined The Flamingos and Baskerville joined The Players and then The Drifters.[1] Sheppard re-formed the Limelites in the late 1960s, but died on January 24, 1970. He was found dead in his car on the Long Island Expressway, having been beaten and robbed.

Sheppard was found on January 24, 1970, shot to death in his car on the Long Island expressway. Baskerville died, at age 58 on January 18, 1995 in New York. Bassett died on January 25, 2005, at age 68 from the complications of emphysema, at his home in Richmond, Virginia.

Not Quite Jukebox Saturday Night…

…but almost. I don’t have a full out doo wop mix today, but this is kinda one of those Screamer of the Day things too.

Today, I ran an errand and stopped at a yard sale just because they had a few interesting things I could see from the street. The woman running it had a box of 45s, so naturally I peeked. It looked interesting enough, and I didn’t have the time to rally flip through it and she just wanted 5 bucks for the whole box – about 50 45s – so I bought it.

Most of the stuff was pretty run of the mill. But then, out popped this fantastic 45.

The Continentals were just a fantastic group, with one of the best bass voices ever. I’ve included both sides of the 45, with a bonus track from another of their rare records pulled from the stacks for this occasion. These were all released by Bobby Robinson’s New York based Whirlin Disc records in 1956. Definitely a rare find these days. And such a fun record, especially the uptempo songs. But their harmonizing on the ballad, Dear Lord, is just choice…

The Continentals – Dear Lord

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The Continentals – Fine Fine Frame

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The Continentals Picture of Love

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Jukebox Saturday Night, Volume 3: Murray The K’s Golden Gassers

Jukebox Saturday Night: Murray The K’s Golden Gassers
31.4 MB | 34:23

Jukebox Saturday Night is a series of podcasts within Jukebox Heart that is a bit of a departure from the other posts and podcasts in Jukebox Heart. Jukebox Saturday Night goes back to my roots and presents the music I cut my teeth on. Music has been a huge part of my life right out of the box – as it were. My older brother and sister were fifties’ rock n rollers, and the music played around the clock. My Dad was a Hi-Fi afficionado, and again, his collection of EZ listening and Space Age Bachelor Pad records still graces my collection to this day. This is where it all began…

Chess LP-1458 – Various Artists – Golden Gassers [1961]

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For this edition of Jukebox Saturday Night, I broke out an old, classic LP especially for my brother and sister, “Murray The K’s Golden Gassers”. This is an original Chess Records release, and a little bit of collector geek history is, as usual, presented below. This is one of the first records I ever remember hearing – going as far back as toddler years.

It was originally released in 1961, as the first wave of doo wop revival was occurring, and the demand for these records was on the rise again. Murray the K was famous for his Swingin’ Soiree shows throughout New York, but especially at the old Brooklyn Paramount Theater on Flatbush Avanue in downtown Brooklyn.

This LP was issued with different titles and covers for various disc jockeys in different cities. There was a national version [Golden Gassers, LP-1458 U.S.A.] and at least 3 others: Pittsburgh [WAMO’s Golden Gassers, LP- 1458 PGH] featuring Porky Chedwick, New York City [Murray the K’s Golden Gassers, LP-1458 NYC] featuring Murray the K, and San Francisco [KYA Golden Gate Greats, LP-1458 SF]. There may have been others.

Side 1:
We Belong Together – Robert & Johnny (originally released on Old Town Records, 1958)
Sincerely – Moonglows (originally released on Chess Records, 1954)
So Young – Students (originally released on Red Top records, 1957)
10 Commandments Of Love – Moonglows (originally released on Chess Records, 1960)
A Kiss From Your Lips – Flamingos (originally released on Checker Records 1956)
Book Of Love – Monotones (originally released on Mascot Records 1958)

Side 2:
Happy Happy Birthday Baby – Tune Weavers (originally released on Casa Grande Records 1957)
Let The Little Girl Dance – Billy Bland (originally released on Old Town Records 1959)
Over The Mountain Across the Sea – Johnnie & Joe (originally released on J&S Records 1957)
Most Of All – Moonglows (originally released on Chess Records 1955)
I’ll Be Home – Flamingos (originally released on Checker Records 1956)
Long Lonely Nights – Lee Andrews & Hearts (originally released on Main Line records 1957)

Here are some photos of the artists appearing on the LP. They are taken from the original liner notes, which did not include pictures of The Students or The Monotones.







Jukebox Saturday Night, Volume 2

Jukebox Saturday Night Volume 2
38.1 MB | 41:37

Here’s another collection of scratchy jukebox singles for your Rockin’Saturday Night. Once again, these are all culled from my collection, all original 45 RPM records. Jukebox Heart Never forgets its roots!

Here’s the Playlist. After the cut, there’s information about each release and the obligatory label shots for my collector buddies and fabulous graphic design geeks…

The Videos – Trickle Trickle
(Casino Records, 1958)

The Jesters – I Laughed
(Cyclone Records, 1958)

Frankie Lymon – Little Bitty Pretty One
(Roulette Records, 1958)

The Revalons – Dreams Are For Fools
(Pet Records, 1958)

Nino and the Ebb Tides – Jukebox Saturday Night
(Madison Records, 1961)

Nino and the Ebb Tides – (Someday) I’ll Fall in Love
(Madison Records, 1961)

The Regents – Laura My Darling
(Gee Records, 1961)

Reparata and the Delrons – Whenever A Teenager Cries
(World Artists Records, 1963)

The Safaris – Image of a Girl
(Eldo Records, 1960)

The Knockouts – Darling Lorraine
(Shad Records, 1959)

The Pyramids – Ankle Bracelet
(Shell Records, 1961)

The Rivileers – A Thousand Stars
(Baton Records, 1954)

The Cadillacs – Gloria
(Josie Records, 1954)

The RObins – One Kiss
(Spark Records, 1955)

Fats Domino – Ain’t It A Shame
(Imperial Records, 1956)

Cark Perkins – Blue Suede Shoes
(Sun Records, 1957)

Bill Justis – Raunchy
(Phillips Int’l Records, 1957)

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Jukebox Saturday Night!

Jukebox Saturday Night! Volume 1
41.8 MB | 44:40

A new series and a big departure from the usual freeform style of the Jukebox Heart podcast, this new series is called “Juekbox Saturday Night”, and features a series of early rock, doo wop and R&B singles selected from my collection. I know that lots of members of my family will especially enjoy this new series, and I hope to make it appear frequently; it will always happen on Saturday nights.

The playlist follows, and for my graphic design geek friends (like me!) I’ve placed photos of all the record labels and logotypes after the cut… Enjoy!

Playlist:

1. The Pin Ups – Lookin For Boys
2. The Elegants – Little Star
3. The Excellents – Coney Island Baby
4. The Fantastics – There Goes My Love
5. Rosie and the Originals – Angel Baby
6. The Harptones – The Masquerade Is Over
7. Barbara George – I Know (You DOn’t Love Me No More)
8. Dee Dee Sharp – Gravy (For My Mashed POtatoes)
9. Duane Eddy – Peter Gunn
10. Lee Dorsey – Ya Ya
11. Al Brown – The Madison
12. The Flamingos – A Kiss From Your lIps
13. The Capris – There’s A Moon Out Tonight
14. Lloyd Price – Lawdy Miss Clawdy
15. Darlene Love – (Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna MArry
16. The Nutmegs – Story Untold
17. The Bop Chords – Castle In The Sky
18. The Happenings – See You In September

Not subscribed to Jukebox Heart yet? You should! But until you’re ready, you can download this podcast here.

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