FOUR SHADES OF RHYTHM – HEY BARTENDER KNOCK ME A ZOMBIE (PTS 1 & 2) SENSATION 45

Brilliant Louis Jordan style record right on the jazz / Rhythm and Blues cusp, Roger tells the full story below.

The first Sensation release in 69 years!

As Marv Goldberg points out in his R&B Notebook article, the Four (or Five) Shades Of Rhythm was not an uncommon moniker. The main usage, however, was by a Cleveland-based outfit that formed in around 1940, continuing with varying line-ups for some years. They first appeared on disc on Vitacoustic in 1948. The first four Vitacoustic platters were shared by Bernie Besman’s Sensation label, and the Four Shades Of Rhythm was the next Vitacoustic release, so who knows who cut the group first. The upshot is that their recording of the magnificent jive talkin’ ‘Bartender, Knock Me A Zombie’ (a tune also cut by Browley Guy on Miracle in 1949) was discovered by Ace in the Sensation vaults.

The Zombie is not a cocktail for the light drinker, as described: “I’ll take a sip, a little bit of nip from a Zombie. Say, bartender, (What do you want?) knock me a Zombie.” The bartender probably took an ounce each of white, golden and dark rum, apricot brandy, pineapple and papaya juice, an optional jiggle of gin, added a dash of grenadine and put it all in a shaker. Poured the mix into a Tiki-style glass and then added half an ounce of 151-proof rum for good measure. Hold the ice. Garnish with even more fruit and prepare to “feel so far away”.

This ode to the high-powered cocktail lay unperturbed until given a recent airing on Cerys Matthews’ BBC Radio 6 show, resulting in an immediate demand to make it available to the public at large. So the Ace team sprung into action, and here it is in a part one and part two, the first Sensation release since 1950.

“(You want sherry?) Uh uh, man. That’s wine…”

ROGER ARMSTRONG

£ 8.00

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Format: Vinyl Single

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