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Episode #534 – King Records, Pt. 9: Federal Records, Pt. 1

Air Week: July 27-Aug 2, 2020

King Records, Pt. 9: Federal Records, Pt. 1

This week, it’s part 9 of a multi-part feature on the great King Record Label, out of Cincinnati. Syd Nathan, who began putting out records under the King logo in 1943, developed King as a hillbilly music label. After seeing the sales potential in the Rhythm & Blues market, Nathan launched the Queen Records subsidiary in 1945, but folded it into King in 1947 and transferred his R&B acts over. At the end of 1950, King launched a new R&B subsidiary called Federal Records. Nathan chose Ralph Bass to head up this new venture. Bass had already proven himself a great talent scout, first with Black & White Records in the mid-’40s and then with Savoy Records. Earlier in 1950, under Bass’ watch, Savoy scored 3 #1 records with the Johnny Otis Orchestra. Federal’s first R&B release, “Do Something For Me” by a new group from New York called the Dominoes, immediately made the national top 10. Federal was off and running with more hits from the Dominoes, including the biggest R&B record of 1951 (“Sixty Minute Man”) and 1952 (“Have Mercy Baby”). Another vocal group on Federal at the time was The Royals. Though their early output were mostly chart sleepers, in 1953 with Hank Ballard on vocals, their “Get It” made the national top 10 and set the stage for what was coming. Soon, the Royals would become the Midnighters and “Work With Me Annie” would be the top R&B single in America. Matt The Cat digs up the essential Federal Records releases from 1951-54 in part 1 of 2 on this week’s “Juke In The Back.” 

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