This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.
Cream Of The Crate Reviews 1 to 50 were vinyl album reviews. The following fifty reviews (51 - 100) were originally marked as CD Reviews 1 - 50 and this numbering has been kept to keep consistency with the published CD reviews.
This is number twenty three in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of CD’s in my personal collection.
The series is called, “Cream of The Crate (CD’s)”, and they represent CD albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.
This weeks review is a boxed set that in some ways is in a class of its own, not so much because of the quality of presentation, although that is very good, but rather because the content is indeed, significantly rare.
This is a four CD’s set in a boxed set titled “The Sue Records Story: New York City – The Sound of Soul” and was distributed by EMI label in 1994.
It is quite probable that most people born after 1960 have never heard of Sue Records.
This simply reflects how the ‘major’ labels and distribution of music positions itself in such a way that smaller and very important elements of music production and distribution are pushed so far into the background they eventually become invisible to all but hardened collectors and music historians.
Sue Records was formed by Henry “Juggy” Murray, Jr. (born November 24, 1922) in New York City, Harlem to be exact, on January, 1957.
Juggy Murray, along with Bobby Robinson, were the two most successful black record label proprietors in New York City.
Although Sue became nationally known for its rock and roll and rhythm and blues hits by acts such as Ike and Tina Turner, most of the albums on the Sue label were jazz, for example by the Ray Bryant Combo, Ernestine Anderson and Jimmy McGriff. Sue produced some stunning records during its relatively brief time on the scene.
There is no debate among those ‘in the know’ that Sue was a pioneer amongst successful black-owned and operated record labels. It was not the first such label but Juggy’s New York based label existed well before later trailblazers such as Motown.
This four-CD, 100-song set is the best representative body of work ever assembled (or ever likely to be assembled) of the R&B and soul releases from Henry “Juggy Murray” Jones’ Sue Records.
There is much music history, and an enormous quantity of genuine music talent in this set.
For example, some of us have heard the amazing “Mockingbird“, originally recorded at Sue by the brother-sister team of Charlie and Inez Foxx. The track was subsequently covered by Aretha Franklin, Martha and the Vandellas, Dusty Springfield, and even by Carly Simon and James Taylor, and, our own Johnny O’Keefe.
However on these CD’s we hear the real thing and it would defy logic for anyone to prefer any of these covers to the original.
The range of sounds runs the gamut from ex-Drifter Bobby Hendricks‘ first hit for the company (“Itchy Twitchy Feeling“) in 1959, through the string of hits by Ike & Tina Turner, to the company’s last hits some seven years later.
Not only is every chart single that the label ever had represented, but so are club hits from the mid-’60s and solo sides by uniquely New York-associated figures.
The contents of the box are almost ideal, along with their arrangement, in contrast most other box sets, this one follows strict release order.
This results in a great way to follow the history of the label.
Producer Alan Warner admits that some of the tracks included are not the original single takes, but, rather, outtakes that were found in the tape vaults, and which were used in place of missing masters on various singles.
But this is a fair enough compromise because without this decision, we would be unable to access the tracks, albeit not the original single take. Sometimes compromise brings about an excellent result – this is the case here.
In fact optimum sound was as much a consideration as providing the authentic rendition, and the audio quality here is excellent, given the rarity of a lot of original singles, the compromise (forced by the presence of missing material) is a wise one.
The one drawback will be for jazz fans, who will find Jimmy McGriff and Bill Doggett represented in a limited manner, but not any of the other jazz artists who cut music for Sue.
Other than this caveat, the collection is not only an essential look at the history of one of the most vital New York-based R&B and soul labels of the 1960s, but also a close-up look at part of the history and development of New York soul, an area frequently overlooked.
Of course, all of that’s really just intellectual jackassing around; the real reason to buy this box is that there’s not an uncool track among the 100 songs here.
But as we have come to expect, whilst the music is the focus of these sets, the accompanying booklet can make or break a set. The booklet with this set is not the best booklet in a boxed set I have reviewed, but it’s damn good.
The book consists of 11 double sided pages and while the covers are coloured the pictures inside are all black and white. The inside cover is the listing of all artists and the tracks on these CD’s, and there are a total of 54 artists covering the 102 tracks. Some artists have more than 2 tracks while others only have 1.
Then they provide five single sides of the complete singles discography of singles released by Sue and its associated labels, A.F.O, Symbol, Crackerjack, Broadway and Eastern.
From there on each artists has a bio and a discussion on the track and why it was chosen. This leads to quite an education if you take the time to read it through. Do!
1. Vengeance (Will Be Mine) – The Matadors
2. Itchy Twitchy Feeling – Bobby Hendricks
3. Written in the Stars – The Four Jokers
4. Believe It or Not – Don Covay
5. A – Thousand Dreams – Bobby Hendricks
6. I Feel Like a Million – Mamie Bradley
7. Betty Jean – Don Covay
8. The Chicken Scratch – The Commandos
9. Hand in Hand – Johnny Darrow
10. Psycho – Bobby Hendricks
11. Don’t Leave – Bobby Adams
12. Don’t Start Me Talking – Johnny Darrow
13. A – Fool In Love – Ike & Tina Turner
14. Night Ridin’ – The Night Riders
15. I Idolize You – Ike & Tina Turner
16. That’s All I Need – Ike Turner & His Kings of Rhythm
17. Trouble Up the Road – Jackie Brenston
18. I’m Jealous – Ike & Tina Turner
19. I Wanna Marry You – Jimmy & Jean
20. You Ain’t the One – Jackie Brenston
21. My Man Rockhead – Eloise Carter
22. I Can’t Believe – Jimmy & Jean
23. My Love – Ike Turner & His Kings of Rhythm
24. Keep Your Business to Yourself – Pearl Woods
25. Stick Shift – The Duals
1. It’s Gonna Work Out Fine – Ike & Tina Turner
2. She Put the Hurt on Me – Prince La La
3. I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More) – Barbara George
4. May I Have This Dance? – The Senors
5. You Talk About Love – Barbara George
6. Gettin’ Married Soon – Prince La La
7. Graveyard – The Blenders
8. Poor Fool – Ike & Tina Turner
9. I’ve Got A Woman: Pt. 1 – Jimmy McGriff
10. A – Handfull Of Memories – Baby Washington
11. Come on Let Me Try – Linda & The Del Rios
12. Tra la la la La – Ike & Tina Turner
13. Prancing – Ike & Tina Turner’s Kings Of Rhythm
14. You Should’a Treated Me Right – Ike & Tina Turner
15. Send for Me (If You Need Some Lovin’) – Barbara George
16. It Seemed Like Heaven to Me – Elmore Morris
17. Let’s Shimmy – King Coleman
18. Hitch Hike: Pt. 1 – Russell Byrd
19. Come Back to Me – Prince La La
20. Worried and Hurtin’ Inside – Ike & Tina Turner
21. Any Other Way – Jackie Shane
22. That’s How Heartaches Are Made – Baby Washington
23. Hold on Baby – Hockadays
24. Summer’s Love – Ritchie Barrett
25. All About My Girl – Jimmy McGriff
1. Mockingbird – Inez & Charlie Foxx
2. She’s Got Everything – Barbara George (previously unreleased)
3. Daddy Rollin’ Stone – Derek Martin
4. I Can’t Stand It – The Soul Sisters
5. In My Tenement – Jackie Shane
6. Leave Me Alone – Baby Washington
7. So Far Away – Hank Jacobs
8. Everybody But Me – Ocie Smith
9. Ask Me – Inez Foxx
10. You You’re Mine – Jimmy Helms
11. Good Time Tonight – The Soul Sisters
12. I See You My Love – Inez Foxx
13. Don’t Put Me Down Like This – Derek Martin
14. I Can’t Wait Until I See My Baby – Justine Washington
15. Hurt by Love – Inez Foxx
16. I Can’t Tell You – Sylvia Robbins
17. Last Minute: Pt. 1- Jimmy McGriff
18. Dreams – Lovelace Watkins
19. Loop de Loop – The Soul Sisters
20. Limbo Lucy – The Everglades
21. La De da I Love You – Inez & Charlie Foxx
22. Yesterday – Tyree Glenn Jr.& the Fabulous Imperials
23. Ain’t That Bad – Winfield/Pancho Villa & The Bandits
24. You Succeeded – Sandra Phillips
25. Monkey Hips and Rice – Hank Jacobs
1. Time Waits for No One – Eddie & Ernie
2. Think About the Good Times – The Soul Sisters
3. Outcast – Eddie & Ernie
4. Only Those in Love – Baby Washington
5. Fat Back – Bill Doggett
6. The – Tina Britt Real Thing
7. Annie Don’t Love Me No More – The Hollywood Flames
8. One More Hurt – Marjorie Black
9. Love in My Heart – Entertainers
10. I’m Going for Myself – Eddie & Ernie
11. What Can I Do? – Billy Prophet
12. Two Is a Couple – Ike & Tina Turner
13. The New Breed: Pt. 1 – Ike Turner & His Kings of Rhythm
14. Stagger Lee & Billy – Ike & Tina Turner
15. I Can’t Do It – Eddie & Ernie
16. She Blew a Good Thing – The Poets
17. Count to Ten – Derek Martin
18. World Without Sunshine – Sandra Phillips
19. If You Go – Derek Martin
20. I’m Gonna Stand by You – Hollywood Flames
21. I Was Born a Loser – Bobby Lee
22. So Young (And So Innocent) – The Poets
23. If You’ve Ever Loved Someone – Jean Wells
24. She’s Called a Woman – The Magnificent 7
25. Soul at Sunrise – Juggy
So, too the tracks! I have had some hard decisions in terms of just how to choose tracks that might represent the depth of the talent in some form, whilst recognising tracks that became classics, and, the unusual/rare tracks. With 100 tracks to try and make this judgement on, it wasn’t easy.
Before purchasing this track I was aware of and had listened to music by some 12 of the artists on this set but the remainder were new to me.
So even looking at the artists I’m familiar with creates an issue. There’s Don Covay, widely known for Mercy Mercy, a track covered by many groups including the Stones.
Ike and Tina Turner should need no introduction and throw in Bobby Hendrix and Ike Turner and His Kings of Rhythm and, they all demand listening to.
In the end I went for Jackie Brenston, who was a member of the Kings of Rhythm, whose tracks included “Rocket 88“, on which Brenston sang lead and which he was credited with writing.
In fact Rocket 88 has always been a contender for the first R&R track ever recorded.
There are two tracks on offer, “Trouble Up the Road“, and, “You Aint the One“. These were the two sides of the only single released by Brenston, and they appear on this CD the first time anywhere.
I chose Trouble Up The Road. The track was written and produced by Ike Turner.
Trouble Up The Road
The second track I chose from CD#1 is a track by Bobby Hendrix with the title of Itchy Twitchy Feeling.
If hid name rings a bell it’s no wonder, as Bobby fronted the popular and talented group, The Drifters, where he sang lead on their hit “Drip Drop“. He then went onto a solo career of limited success.
The track Itchy Twitchy Feeling was released in 1958 and reached #5 on the Black Singles Chart. It was the first of 8 singles he recorded on the Sue label and the opening lyrics set the scene.
You tune in on Bandstand,
they are jumpin’ like mad
And the dancin’ they’re doing,
it don’t look bad…….
I can find no evidence that there was a dance called Itchy Twitchy, but if there wasn’t, there should have been!
Itchy Twitchy Feeling
CD#2 has some similar artists on it to CD#1, but I have chosen Barbara George and her track, I Know (You Don’t Love me Know More).
This was her first and only #1 hit, but what a hit. It has been covered by many artists including Cher, Ike & Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt, Anne Murray, Steve Marriott and Yvonne Fair.
Released on Sues’ associated label A.F.O it was in fact the biggest hit that label had.
One outstanding feature on this track is A.F.O co-founder, Melvin Lastie and his trumpet playing. The track also features Harold Battiste on piano, whose New Orleans style of playing supported by his talent, put him in great demand – and in fact in later years he would work closely with Dr. John.
I Know (You don’t love me no more)
Ike and Tina Turner feature heavily in this set, and why not!
Recognised as possibly the best talent on a talented roster at Sue, if he wasn’t recording himself, Ike was producing, writing and supporting other acts.
So I have chosen track # 1 on CD #2 – which is Ike & Tina Turner and It’s Gonna Work Out Fine.
An interesting title, because things did not work out fine for them as a couple and although they continued to record together for over ten more years.
The track was released in 1961 and features Ike playing piano with the male voice answering Tina as “Ikey” was not Ike Turner, but was in fact Mickey Baker.
You might recall Mickey had a massive R&B hit in 1957 when along with his music partner, Sylvia, had the classic hit – Love Is Strange.
In fact Sylvia also played on the track “Gonna Work Out Fine”, and contributed with guitar. The track was covered by both the Spencer Davis Group later in the ’60’s, and some time after by Linda Rondstadt on her 1982 album, Get Closer.
The track was written by Sylvia McKinney and Rosemarie McCoy who was a good song writer, one of her best remembered tracks being “Mambo Baby“.
It’s Gonna Work Out Fine
CD #3 has many fine artists, but it also contains music from an act that was all class.
Track #1 features Inez and Charlie Foxx, and their classic hit, Mockingbird. They were not a husband and wife duo, but a top brother & sister act. I will lift a direct quote from the book regarding these two.
“Their relationship with Sue began when Juggy Murray was leaving the Turf Restaurant in the legendary Brill Building . . . and he was stopped on the street by Charlie and Inez who told him they had a hit song. ‘Charlie was very handsome while Inez was extremely cute’ remembers Juggy, ‘she looked the way she sang – sassy!’
Charlie was carrying a little guitar with a broken string and they walked with Juggy to his office. Juggy closed the door and the two youngsters sang MOCKINGBIRD right there and then.”
The rest is history.
“Mockingbird“, was released in 1963 and made the Top 10 on both the US rhythm and blues and pop charts. It was their most successful record, and was later covered by artists including Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Dusty Springfield, Etta James with Taj Mahal and Toby Keith, and, our own Johnny O’Keefe.
The Soul Sisters, whilst possibly not being recognised by most listeners unless they are aficionados of soul, have four tracks in the set, with three of them on this CD.
I have chosen track # 4 – I can’t Stand It, which would be the most well known of their tracks.
So, who are they?
Like most “Sister” acts, they were not actually related and were in fact Theresa Cleveland and Ann Gissendanner.
They recorded the track “I Can’t Stand It” and on hearing it, Juggy Murray immediately purchased the master tape and it went onto become both a top 40 R&B and pop hit in the US, and a favourite in Londons clubs.
Their harmonies are infectious, the arrangement is great, it has a fantastic beat, and, a most excellent trombone solo by Steve Pulliam.
Released in 1964, the track was covered one year later by the Spencer Davis Group, then by Betty Everett and the Dave Clark Five.
I can stand the pain of life
The ticking of the clock
I can stand the pain of love
And even stand the shock
But when I hear you say
That you will go away
And leave me someday
I can’t stand it
Oh, no (oh no I can’t stand it)
No I can’t stand it (oh no I can’t stand it)
I can’t stand it (no no I can’t stand it)
No I can’t stand it
I Can’t Stand It
The final CD (#4) contains a wealth of talent and includes many well know artists. There are three tracks I would like to share with you.
The first is track # 6. The Real Thing by Tina Britt which kicks off with a sound not unlike that projected by Martha and the Vandellas. In fact you could be forgiven for thinking you were about to hear a variation of their hit, Quicksand, when it starts.
It’s definitely a party/dance track and I really, really like it. What is surprising is that Tina Britt was, and remains today a really obscure R&B artists.
It beats me why not more singles material was released by her, she certainly was a favourite of Juggy and the track steadily climbed the R&B charts and reached #20.
An album was eventually released in 1969 titled “Blue All The Way“. I’m on the look out for it right now.
In the meantime, enjoy her peculiar vibrato voice and maybe, even have a bit of a dance along.
The Real Thing
Track # 11 is by another singer who had escaped my radar prior to purchasing this set.
Billy Prophet was actually in the earlier Doo Wop group, the Jive Five and in that group he was known as Thurmon Prophet. They had a monster hit with “My True Story” in 1961.
Fast forward to 1965 and Billy releases this track on one of only two singles he ever released.
The song What Can I Do itself; flawless!
Simply another perfectly crafted soul side from the golden era. The girl group backing vocals on this record are incredible, as well and given Billy’s powerful voice, it remains yet another mystery why there were no releases after this one.
What Can I Do
I couldn’t resist adding a third track to this review, and it is the last rack on CD #4.
The track is credited to Juggy Murray and is an instrumental called Soul Sunrise. “Soul at Sunrise” was his first record 1966.
He also recorded another track titled “Oily“.
The melody of Juggy’s first song was later used on an American Soul Duo in the 1960’s, Eddie & Ernie’s “Outcast” track.
All I can determine about the single “Soul at Sunrise” is that the B-side was “Just A Minute“, and was like the A-side, composed by Juggy.
There is no info in the booklet about the track except it was his first solo release, but there are no mention of whom played what on the single, and even googling this question bought no response.
But in some ways it matters not.
Look the track is acceptable, it’s not a great instrumental, you want great soul instrumentals you go to Booker T and the MG’s, but, it did show that Juggy was not averse to playing and composing, although some would say it was his entrepreneurship that he will rightly be remembered for.
Soul At Sunrise
In 1968, United Artists Records & Music purchased the master tapes of Juggy Murray’s Sue label and his publishing houses, Saturn & Sagittarius. In doing so they ‘saved’ a gem of a collection that might otherwise have simply faded into dust.
Murray died in February 2005 he was 81 and had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.
A Memorial Celebration arranged by friends took place on February 23 at Babbingtons Restaurant, located at 95th Street and Columbus Avenue in New York. “It was a very warm affair,” reported John Broven. “There were about 50 people in attendance. Tom Moulton and I gave eulogies along with other record producers, artists and friends. It was rather touching when I read out Juggy’s Sue hits and people cheered and applauded each title.”
What Juggy Murray left was a music set that is a treasure trove of recordings that though once influential, have since been largely lost to time.
It is also a study of a time and place in music, when New York really had Soul and the music tells of days that are now often overlooked.
This is a most serious collectors set, it’s like will never come this way again.
I found three copies on Ebay. Copy # 1 was listed as “Acceptable” quality and was offered for $69.00 plus postage. Copy #2 was listed as “Very Good” and the asking price was $171.00 and finally, the 3rd set was listed as “Brand New” and the asking price was $313.00.
So keep your eyes open, copies do exist but make certain all four CD’s are available as well as the booklet.
The quality of these items, and indeed the box, will determine the market price. It also appears as though there have been releases of a much small compilation of tracks, but under the same name – damn confusing!
So IF the price is really low, make sure you have the 4 CD boxed set.
Finding good videos of Sue records material wasn’t hard, however, the greater majority is simply the record played to a still, or a series of still pics. There is an absolute dearth of live performances. Here are a few clips which are worth while watching.
The Duals – Stick Shift
Tina Turner – A Fool In Love
Soul Sisters (Just) Think About the Good Times
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
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#21. 2nu – Ponderous