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Episode #551 – The Royals

Air Week: November 23-29, 2020

The Royals

This week, the “Juke In The Back” looks at the humble beginnings of The Midnighters, one of early R&B’s most successful groups.  Before they topped the R&B charts with “Work With Me Annie” in 1954, The Midnighters were known as The Royals, a rough and ready group from the east side of Detroit.  Charles Sutton, the Royal’s first great lead singer, shaped their early recordings (1952-53) in the style of The Orioles’ leader Sonny Til.  That influence resulted in the recording of some amazing vocal group records, including the immortal “Moonrise” from 1952.  Matt The Cat explores the Royals great early sides, their lineup changes (Hank Ballard joined in 1953) and their legal battles.  You’ll only hear this great early rhythm & blues jumpin’ out of the “Juke In The Back.”


Episode #550 – Aladdin Records, Pt. 3 – 1953-55

Air Week: November 16-22, 2020

Aladdin Records, Pt. 3 – 1953-55

The “Juke In The Back” presents part 3 in our series on Aladdin Records, one of the most important independent labels of the pre-rock era. Part 3 focuses on 1953-55, just as Rock n’ Roll was beginning to enter the mainstream. Matt The Cat digs up a great variety of styles this week as vocal groups, raw Rhythm & Blues, jump instrumentals, drinking songs and ballads take center stage. We’ll dig on some hits and misses from Amos Milburn, The Five Keys, Chuck Higgins, Gene & Eunice and Shirley & Lee. We’ll also hear some great debut records from Bobby Marchan and Sonny Knight, who would go on to greater success on other labels. A few rare vocal group sides are also featured. Grab a handful of nickels, because this week the “Juke In The Back” is loaded with Aladdin Records sides out of Beverly Hills, CA. This is the final part in our 3 part series. 


Episode #549 – Aladdin Records, Pt. 2 – 1950-53

Air Week: November 9-15, 2020

Aladdin Records, Pt. 2 – 1950-53

The “Juke In The Back” presents part 2 in our 3 part series on Aladdin Records, one of the most important independent labels of the pre-rock era. Part 2 will pick up the Aladdin Records Story in 1950 and carry it through til rock n’ roll began hitting the mainstream in 1953-54. This week, we’ll hear more hits from Aladdin’s early hit-makers, Amos Milburn and Charles Brown. We’ll also dig some of the newcomers, like Floyd Dixon, Peppermint Harris, Calvin Boze, Shirley & Lee, the Five Keys and more. Aladdin was a rare label in that almost everything they pressed was worth hearing. If you ever see a discarded Aladdin 45 by an artist you’ve never heard before, pick it up, because chances are it’ll make you very, very happy. Next week, part 3 will close down the series on Aladdin on the “Juke In The Back” with Matt The Cat. 


Episode #548 – Aladdin Records, Pt. 1 – 1945-49

Air Week: November 2-8, 2020

Aladdin Records, Pt. 1 – 1945-49

The “Juke In The Back” begins a three part special on one of the most important record labels of the pre-rock era, Aladdin Records. Eddie and Leo Mesner started Aladdin as Philo Records in 1945. It was one of the first independent labels on the West Coast and sought to fill in the R&B void left by major labels like Victor, Decca and Columbia. The Mesners hired Maxwell Davis to help with musical arrangements and back up their artists and got the label off to a jumpin’ start. In February of 1946, Philo became Aladdin and a record label icon was born. With artists like Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers featuring Charles Brown, Helen Humes, Illinois Jacquet, Wynonie Harris, Amos Milburn and some rare releases from a young Robins group, how could Aladdin possibly fail? They didn’t and in the process, they helped propel rhythm & blues into the mainstream, paving the way for the emergence of Rock n’ Roll. This week’s show focuses on the beginning of the label from 1945-49 and next week’s show will feature 1950 to the birth of Rock n’ Roll, while part three will concentrate on the early Rock releases. Grab some nickels, because the party’s getting ready to start down at the Chicken Shack…with Matt The Cat and the “Juke In The Back.” 


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.”

Juke In The Back: Demo The Show


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