OK the USA trip was unlike previous as it hadnt really been planned in advance...I usually spend 4 months or so organinsing the working schedule. The reason for the almost last minute decision to go was as a direct result of the death of Andy Lee...Rob & I decided "fuck it..lifes too short".
Normally I like to have lots of tasty things lined up but we decided we didnt really care if we came back with nothing. So day 1, Thursday evening, into Newark...spent hours waiting for our connecting flight to Ohio which was eventually cancelled..finally arrived there Friday 15 hours late to meet my first contact, brother of the late Herman Lewis...after haggling for hours we escaped with 2 copies of Whos kissing you tonite on Stone Blue...4 copies of Bee Jays Ill find you (Prime) & a Universal acetate of the same... 7" Bell Sound acetate of Whos kissing you ...A&R 10" acetate of Herman & Gerri Right direction which is the same take but a slightly different mix...Diane Lewis Please let me help you Columbia/Golden World 8" acetate ... Charmaines Searching A&R 10" acetate (is this unissued ?)...Kenny Smith One more day (Flo-Roe)....Janice (Roulette)...a 10" acetate with no label that I cant remember from where it came now Im home but I think its an unreleased Andrea Henry thing plus a few other Motown things.
Saw some fab 60s private & promo shots of Tamiko Jones, Diane Lewis, Miracles, Mary wells etc...but he wouldnt part with them. Greg had given us a number on Kenny Smith who Id spoken to and was looking forward to seeing us but decided to be out for the day even tho he knew we were coming. Saturday flew back to Newark and visited Rose Marie McCoy...this woman is truly a living legend...been writing since the early 50s and has done stuff with all of the giants of R&B ...Ruth Brown, 5 Keys, Clyde McPhatter, LaVern Baker...the list is endless...Presley, Big Maybelle, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington...from a Northern point she wrote stuff like Spellbound..Our love is in the pocket..(she didnt know J.J. Barnes had cut this only knew Darrels version)...we had a brilliant day as she was absolutely full of stories like how upset she was when Eddie Singleton started going out with Miss Ray cos he was already married to a nice woman.
Anyway I spent a few hours going through her basement which has been turned over by a few people in the past...I came away with Big Joe Turner (Bluestime)...Debonairs Loving you takes all my time (Solid Hit)...Larry Reynolds Sweet tooth (Tri-Spin)...Little Dooley (Ko Ko) ..Parliaments (Cabell)...Parliaments ;Heart trouble (Golden World DJ) ....Jimmy Radcliffe The thrill of loving you Jaysine 10" acetate...this is a demo for the Drifters and is an awesome New York beat-ballad from 63ish...Tony Bruno The grass will sing Kama Sutra 10" acetate...Original Cadillacs (Josie)..Ghetto Boys (Tarx)..Ronnie Forte (Tarx & an Abtone acetate)..Lorraine Chandler (Giant)..Ben E. King..break the news (Atco) plus loads of other bits and bobs... best find was a RCA Custom acetate for Mercury Records by the Commotions called Sock it to me, same group who recorded for La-Ro-Ke & Blue Rock and I assume this to be an unissued Blue Rock track...its a traditional Northern dancer with some great horn breaks which really grabs you after a few plays....plus 100 other 45s that I thought friends would be interested in, mainly New York tracks.. R&B on labels like Old Town , Gone, Gee, End...anything that said Bert Keyes/Hal David/Burt Bacharach/Ellie Greenwich and some oddball pop rarities like Frankie Valley & Romans (Cindy)...Del Shannon Hats off to Larry (Bell Sound acetate)...Beatles (Tollie)...Marilyn Moroe EP from Some like it hot (UA promo)...all in all a great day.
Sunday drove down to Philly and arrived at Jesse James church just as Sunday service had finished...last year we went to the full service which was a very unique experience..I met many of the congregation some of whom had been praying for my wife to recover from her illness..Im not religious but I found it very touching to think that these people who lived thousands of miles away had actually taken the time out to spare us their thoughts...call me sentimental. Jesse, as usual, was in fine form and once again told us how unhappy he was with his version of Love is all right and that the definitive version was by Cliff Nobles (vocal of The Horse). After a few hours and a good long chat, plus an a capella rendition of My love is getting stronger, we went to find a hotel. Sunday eve nipped round to Thadeus Wales and while we listened to the master tape he didnt have a copy of the Springers Nothings too good for my baby..next went off to visit Weldon McDougall...co-owner of Harthon Productions...and basically had a good natter.
Cindy Scott was also there visiting and it was great to see her again as wed been with her in LA 2 years previously. Weldon has nothing left as all of the boys have been there over the years...Anderson, Raistrick, Roberts, King etc...only thing I got was Ruben Wright (Capitol) which is OK. Late to bed but up early next day to nip back to Weldons to collect some cassetttes of his new productions. Next stop Eddie Holmans for dinnertime and again a pleasant afternoon reminiscing...down to the basement before we left just to check out the acetates in case wed missed anything last time and indeed we had..Ducky & The Glowlighters...obviously this time it left when we did. Straight over to Morris Bailey whose done loads of Philly things but he had nothing left.
Finally over to Dave Brown to listen to the Del-Val masters but nothing very exciting Im afraid....he played us some very tasty unreleased Ronnie Walker tracks and two nice unissued cuts by the Royal Five which he will be issuing later in the year. Tuesday back to New Jersey..decided to drop into a store for a look and I recall saying to Rob "knowing our luck the only fing thing well find is a copy of The Snake...well the guy let us look at a box of acetates and nestled among the Who. Procul Harum, Streisand, Slade & Sweet was an 8" Liberty acetate of The Snake..after we stopped laughing we bought it...not much else in there..Les McCann sad little girl LP..Spinners (Atlantic).. Temptations My girl (Pic sleeve)...just as we thought the shops are a complete waste of time. Tuesday evening over to Mr Tormo in Hoboken for a beer ...first time Ive had a birthday in a foreign country...then back to Gregs to listen to a few tunes before going to find a hotel. Wednesday went to visit George Kerr and had a great time swapping stories...stood outside the Sugar Hill studios with him, Joe Robinson and Al Goodman (of the Moments), whilst George, who was obviously on a memory trip, sang a capella versions (part only) of songs hed written...we were treated to You hit me where it hurt me..I just cant live my life..The Airplane Song...Living a lie...I have faith in you ..it was brilliant. For those of you familiar with the Motown acetate version of the Sparkels Try love one more time (Old Town) George confirmed that the previously unknown singer is in fact Norma Jenkins..another mystery solved.
So that was it, back to the airport...six short days soon gone...nowhere near as good as previous trips for finding 45s (piss poor infact) but theyve always been 14 day visits and a lot more organised. I enjoyed it but was ready to come home and now I cant wait to get back there again....bored yet ?
you should be !