We have not been able to say this for a while but we got a whole pile of brand new repro and reissue 45s this week. After last week’s little bit about genres how about a little vent about the use of terms ‘repro’ and ‘reissue’ and ‘boot’? Can we please get back to the simple and correct usage of these words? A ‘repro’ (short for reproduction) is a new copy reproducing a record that was issued in the past, so it is a ‘reissue’ but it is a particular type of reissue. The sound will be the same, not an alternative take or re-recording. It will be on the same label, same version if multiples exist and be the same coupling as the original issue. Anything else is not a repro.
A repro of one of the 45s that defines the exotica genre from 1959. The top side is a traditional tune played in an Americanised style and the flip is an American standard played in an Armenianised style. Both work wonderfully. Charles Ganimian was of Armenian descent and loved his county’s music. He formed a band as a young man to play music for other Armenian Americans. I guess most people know of the exotica / lounge styles encompassing the Tiki culture explosion in the 40s and 50s and the associated music of Arthur Lyman, Martin Denny etc and of course the phenomenon of Yva Sumac. This opened the door for Charles who recorded an album called Come with Me to the Casbah that these tracks are taken from. It is not Rock ‘n’ Roll but it is wild.
The Pygmies perform a track at the tail end of the exotica genre, when it had got a lot less genuine. This instro smashes the Jungle Exotica style with Voo Doo drums, monkey noises and general insanity. The flip side is a super boppin’ Coasters / Doo Wop version of Shortnin’ Bread a song that goes back to at least the turn of the 20th century. Both of these were flip sides of songs that sounded a lot more commercial when they were issued in 1963. Stripped of the less interesting sides you get the pure craziness.
Sometimes we feel like we write the same thing every week but it is just that what was true last week is still true this week and this week our repeated refrain is Rock ‘n’ Roll did not erupt from nowhere in the mid 1950s. Champion Jack is one of the artists who was playing something that sounded a lot like Rock ‘n’ Roll long before the term became popular and this repro is an example of that sound from 1953. Two amazing rockin’ boogie woogie stompers. Like so many of his tracks these were later slightly tweaked and recorded a few years later as full on Rock ‘n’ Roll (and, arguably, as Rockabilly but we don’t want a fight here.)
OK, so like you know what we wrote above about Champion Jack? Well, while he was rockin’ out of time in Chicago, Amos was doing much the same in Texas. House Party is from 1955 and I Done Done It from a year earlier. Both sides are piano and sax rockers with Amos’s super delivery raising them up to the level of the best in the style.
Oh no, another one! Roy’s big band style Jump Blues style accentuates the beat and the singer making it one of the tributaries that feed strongly into the river of Rock ‘n’ Roll. With the topside of this 1955 track, Roy has added the magic word ‘Rocking’ into the title for the kids but the style is pretty much what he had been doing for around a decade, which is good. The flip side is a sound which we are much less used to nowadays. An uptown Blues number in the Charles Brown style. A real deep feeling track for crying into your Martini.
From deep Soul to the related genre of Popcorn. We wrote a whole newsletter about this genre recently so we won’t go into it again here but if you are still confused as to what it is, listen to the Little Jimmy Ray track for a giant pointer. This track from 1959 has a distinct jazz feel mixed in with the ahead-of-its-time soul style vocal and superb production. But then it is three YEARS after Little Willie John’s Fever so maybe not so ahead of its time… Originally on the Fame label recorded at FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprise) and written by Dan Penn this screams class. Another great Popcorn track that gets better every time you listen to it.
For the last one today we’re moving over to adjacent genre with a Northern Soul monster. Super-rare on original and simply super on this repro on the King subsidiary, She Did has a fantastic dance beat and brilliant lead and supporting vocals from this quintet. The flipside is also great being a true Doo-wop number sounding like a Coasters take on the Andre Williams classic Bacon Fat.