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Episode #648 – The Ravens

Air Week: October 3-9, 2022

The Ravens

The “Juke In The Back” features The Ravens, an R&B vocal group that set the stage for all the groups that would follow.  With Jimmy Ricks’ bass lead and some tremendous harmony behind him, The Ravens were the predecessors to the doo wop music that would follow in the 1950s.  They formed in New York City in 1945 and quickly built a solid following, even before they had hits on the radio.  Their “Ol’ Man River,” and “Write Me A Letter” were instant smashes in 1948, but it was their non-charting “Count Every Star” that proved to be the most influential.  Music historian Billy Vera stops by the “Juke” to discuss the impact of “Count Every Star” while Matt The Cat examines the overall influence of this wonderful group.  The Ravens along with The Orioles moved vocal group singing from its gospel and Ink Spots / Mills Brothers roots into the next phase…rock n’ roll.  The Ravens story and star shine bright on this week’s “Juke In The Back.”

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Episode #647 – Excello Records

Air Week: September 26-October 2, 2022

Excello Records

Drop a nickel in the ol’ Rockola Juke as Matt The Cat dedicates the entire hour to the great little Nashville R&B label, Excello Records. Ernie Young started Excello as a sister label to his Nashboro Label and both labels were housed in his Ernie’s Record Mart building in Nashville. For a city mostly known for Country Music, Nashville sure had a lot of great R&B acts and we’re going to hear some of ’em this week. From The Marigolds to Arthur Gunter to Slim Harpo, Excello’s fantastic R&B catalog is in the spotlight on the “Juke In The Back.”

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Episode #646 – Vocalese Musical Phenomenon

Air Week: September 19-25, 2022

The Vocalese Musical Phenomenon

Vocalese is a musical sub-genre of Jazz and R&B that burst on the scene in 1952 and was practically gone by 1954. Before it departed, King Pleasure (real name Clarence Beeks) had managed to rack up 2 top 10 R&B hits in the style, which is a lyrical interpretation of an instrumental solo. Unlike scatting, which uses nonsense syllables to mimic an instrumental solo, Vocalese uses actual lyrics. Eddie Jefferson is credited as its innovator, taking Coleman Hawkins’ 1939 groundbreaking version of “Body & Soul” and setting Hawk’s monumental improved sax solo to lyrics. That set the stage for the biggest record of the Vocalese sub-genre, “Moody’s Mood For Love.” King Pleasure took that record to #2 during the spring of 1952, though the lyrics were written by Jefferson. It was based on James Moody’s 1950 rendition of “I’m In The Mood For Love.” Moody would soon adopt the tune, “Moody’s Mood For Love” as his theme song and play it until his death in 2010. Echoes of the original Vocalese movement were carried on by the trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross in the late 1950s and revived again by the Manhattan Transfer in the ’70s. This week, Matt The Cat shines the spotlight on this oft-forgotten, but incredible musical form on this week’s “Juke In The Back.”

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Episode #645 – Motown Artists BEFORE Motown

Air Week: September 12-18, 2022

Motown Artists BEFORE Motown

The entire “Juke In The Back” this week features Motown’s biggest acts,BEFORE there even was a Motown Records and before those acts were household names. Matt The Cat spins the earliest records by The Miracles (1958), The Four Tops (1956), The Supremes (as The Primettes) and many more. Marvin Gaye’s first recordings with The Marquees are discussed with fellow group member, Reese Palmer. You’ll get the real story behind the story as to how DC’s Marquees became the “new” Moonglows as well as hear the original Bo Diddley produced version of the Marquees’ “Wyatt Earp,” which Okeh Records wouldn’t release. All this and more on this week’s, “Juke In The Back.”

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Episode #644 – Richard Barrett (The Valentines)

Air Week: September 5-11, 2022

Richard Barrett (The Valentines)

This week, the “Juke In The Back” honors one of the silent architects of Rock n’ Roll, Richard Barrett. On the surface, he’s known today to fans of vocal group music as the lead singer and chief songwriter for The Valentines. They had a string of solid singles on George Goldner’s Rama Records from 1955-57, but due to Rama’s lack of promotion for the group, they never scored a national hit. When you dig a little deeper, you find that Barrett played a pivotal role in getting Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, The Chantels and Little Anthony & the Imperials signed to Goldner’s Gee and End Records, respectively. Barrett worked with the groups, including The Cleftones, to perfect their sound and produced many of their hit records. He was a immensely talented, driven man, who accomplished a lot more than he ever gets credit for. Matt The Cat fills the ol’ Rockola “Juke In The Back” with Valentines records and sheds some light on the influence that Richard Barrett had on Rhythm & Blues and early Rock n’ Roll.

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Juke In The Back Promo

1940s & ’50s Rhythm & Blues

At the end of the Second World War, economics forced the big bands to trim their once great size and thus, the Jump Blues combo was born. Between 1946-1954, rhythm and blues laid the tracks for what was to become Rock n’ Roll. So how come, 70 years later, this vibrant and influential music is still so unknown to so many?

Matt The Cat is going to change that with the radio program, “Juke In The Back.” These were the records that you couldn’t hear on the jukebox in the front of the establishment. To hear all this great 1950s rhythm & blues, you had to go to “Juke In The Back.”

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Juke In The Back: Demo The Show

 

Click below to hear a demo episode of “Juke In The Back.”

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