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Episode #507 – Elmore James: 1951-55

Air Week: January 20-26, 2020

Elmore James – 1951-55

Elmore James never tried to have crossover success. He was a bluesman through and through; an ambassador of the Mississippi Delta Blues with a modern, 1950s electric twist. Elmore’s blues was as pure as his ambitions when starting out as a sideman for now legendary blues harpist Sonny Boy Williamson II. James played on several Williamson sessions held in 1951 at Trumpet Records in Jackson, MS, until he was coaxed into playing the Robert Johnson tune, “Dust My Broom” in August. Trumpet gave James one side of the original 78 RPM release and in early 1952, “Dust My Broom” became a national R&B hit! Ike Turner, who was scouting for the Bihari Brothers of LA’s Modern Records, found Elmore and got him signed to a four year deal with the Biharis. They issued his first record on their Meteor subsidiary and “I Believe,” a reworking of “Dust My Broom,” also became a top 10 national hit. Elmore James wouldn’t score another hit record until 1960, but in those years in-between, James issued some incredible and highly influential blues sides, featuring his legendary slide guitar style. James would go on to inspire The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, early Fleetwood Mac and others, but would not live to see it. This week, Matt The Cat dusts off some prime Elmore James 78s from several labels and in many blues styles. Many of these records built off the original “Dust My Broom” guitar lick, but they are also good enough to stard firmly on their own.


Episode #506 – Percy Mayfield

Air Week: January 13-19, 2020

Percy Mayfield – 1949-60

Some songwriters and singers just know how to tap into deepest regions of sadness, passion and truth. Such is the musical prowess of Percy Mayfield, the “Poet Laureate Of The Blues.” Mayfield was born in rural Louisiana in 1920 and found he had a knack for writing poetry early on in life. By high school, he was putting his poems to music and finding local encouragement. By the early 1940s, he was settled in Los Angeles doing odd jobs, trying to make it as a songwriter and a singer. In ’49, he took his song, “Two Years Of Torture” to Supreme Records in LA, hoping that their artist, Jimmy Witherspoon would record it, but they were so impressed with Mayfield, that they had him wax it instead. “Two Years Of Torture” sold well enough around California to peak the interest of record man, Art Rupe of Specialty Records. He signed Mayfield in 1950 and they struck gold right out of the gate with his composition, “Please Send Me Someone To Love,” his only #1 record. What followed was six consecutive charging singles and a jukebox full of songs about pain, suffering and lonliness.This week, Matt The Cat digs through the musical treasure trove of fantastic 78s by the one and only Percy Mayfield. 


Juke In The Back: Demo The Show


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