01. Deacon Rides Again
02. Blow Blow Blow
03. Jay Walk
04. Night Ride
05. Jet Fury w/ Cheers
06. Deacon's Express
07. Insect Ball
01. Sad Story
02. All That Wine Is Gone
03. Don't Cry Baby
04. Let's Do It (Deacon's Hop)
05. I'll Never Love Again
06. Love From The Heart (True Love)
07. Old Black Mule
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This is the return of an LP which I posted in the very earliest days of the blog. Back then I couldn't scan in LP covers properly so the rather tawdry looking post was quietly allowed to die following one of the takedowns of the blog. The return of "Deacon Rides Again" includes new cover and label scans. The sound files are the same but with a volume boost.
The tracks on this LP date from a couple of years before the Federal recordings on "Big "J" In 3-D," being recorded for Imperial between December 1950 and early 1952. This was the era captured in the photographs of Bob Willoughby taken at Hunter Hancock's Midnight Matinee on October 6th 1951 in the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium. The Imperial sides differ from the Federal sides in that few of them are instrumentals. Half of the tracks feature vocal accompaniment by "Three Dots And A Dash", a group with a varying lineup which featured Jesse Belvin and then Marvin Phillips as lead vocalist.
In fact there are only four original instrumental tracks in this collection: "Deacon Rides Again", "Blow Blow Blow", "Jay Walk" and "Night Ride." "Jet Fury w/ Cheers" and "Deacon's Express" have a murky origin, being spliced together extracts from the four original instrumentals with dubbed on crowd noise. See below for details!
The first six tracks of this collection are a non-stop tenor sax blast which brings to mind a quote from LeRoi Jones' sleevenotes for the Willis Jackson album "Thunderbird" on Prestige:
“Lloyd’s Manor in Newark, N.J., was a place where they’d have groups, like Illinois Jacquet’s, Erskine Hawkins', Earl Bostic’s, Tab Smith’s, Big Jay McNeely’s and all the other wild swingers of the day ….. It was a loud blur, climaxed by those shattering saxophone battles which featured heavy horns like Jacquet, McNeely and Ammons-Stitt groups and big throated singers like Wynonie Harris, Larry Darnell and Little Esther.” (Quoted in Charlie Gillet's "The Sound Of The City")
As I mentioned at the start of this post, two of the tracks on Side A have dubbed on crowd noise and are not what they seem to be. They are in fact cut-and-paste jobs, consisting of extracts from previously issued tracks spliced together. Listen to "Jet Fury w/ Cheers" and you can hear the intro to "Jay Walk" followed by "Deacon Rides Again" and then maybe some of "Blow Blow Blow." My head is still reeling from trying to deconstruct the track.
Similarly "Deacon's Express" combines pieces of different tracks, starting off as pieces of "Blow Blow Blow" then throwing in the "Ooh!" from "Deacon Rides Again" then back to the beginning of "Blow Blow Blow" for a complete reprise of that track. I think. I'm beyond all caring!
But what of the vocal sides which form more than half of this collection? The frantic "Insect Ball" features the voices of Little Arthur Matthews and Ernest Mayhand (aka Dope and Skillet). Jesse Belvin provides the vocal on "Sad Story", and leads Three Dots And A Dash (Jimmy Huff, Undine Harris and Marvin Phillips) on "All That Wine Is Gone" and "Don't Cry Baby". The final four tracks on the LP again feature Three Dots And a Dash, but with a different lineup without Jesse Belvin, lead vocals being provided by Marvin Phillips.
Big Jay releases on Imperial:
Imperial 5115 - All That Wine Is Gone / Don't Cry Baby - April 1951
Imperial 5130 - Insect Ball / Sad Story - summer 1951
Imperial 5164 - Let's Do It (Deacon's Hop) / I'll Never Love Again (credited to "Three Dots And A Dash with Big Jay McNeely And His Orchestra") - late summer 1951
Imperial 5169 - Tall Brown Woman / The Deacon Blows For Ray - late 1951
Imperial 5170 - Deacon Rides Again / Blow Blow Blow - January 1952
Imperial 5176 - Jay Walk / Night Ride - March 1952
Imperial 5186 - Love From The Heart / Old Black Mule (credited to "Three Dots And A Dash with Big Jay McNeely And His Orchestra") - mid (?) 1952
Imperial 5219 - Deacon's Express / Jet Fury - January 1953
As noted above, "Deacon's Express" and "Jet Fury - Cheers" are spliced extracts from Imperial 5170 and Imperial 5176, with dubbed on crowd noise. Two 1953 releases on the Imperial subsidiary Bayou are similar - Hometown Jamboree / Teenage Hop (Bayou 14) and Catastrophe / Calamity (Bayou 18). Someday, someone will risk their sanity by sitting down and listening to all these sides in order to analyse the ingredients of these cut 'n' paste jobs. It won't be me.
Elsewhere on the blog:
The Best Of Big Jay McNeely (Saxophonograph)
No R&B fan should be without this book:
Nervous Man Nervous by Jim Dawson (Big Nickel Publications, 1994) goes way beyond Big Jay to take a broad look at the honking sax phenomenon in rhythm and blues. Honk fans, this is your bible.