The Story of Vee-Jay: America's Premier Black Music Label

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
"America's Premier Black Music Label" says the small print on the front sleeve, and while that's highly disputable, Vee-Jay was undoubtedly one of America's premier black music labels from the mid-'50s to the mid-'60s. This two-CD, 50-song set is a strong and varied selection of their wares, focusing mostly but not exclusively on their hit singles and better-known performers. Vee-Jay went into every area of black music, and though their jazz roster isn't represented here to keep the scope more manageable, every other genre is: R&B, doo wop, blues, gospel, rock & roll, and early soul. As with any select condensation of a huge vault, there's bound to be some ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
"America's Premier Black Music Label" says the small print on the front sleeve, and while that's highly disputable, Vee-Jay was undoubtedly one of America's premier black music labels from the mid-'50s to the mid-'60s. This two-CD, 50-song set is a strong and varied selection of their wares, focusing mostly but not exclusively on their hit singles and better-known performers. Vee-Jay went into every area of black music, and though their jazz roster isn't represented here to keep the scope more manageable, every other genre is: R&B, doo wop, blues, gospel, rock & roll, and early soul. As with any select condensation of a huge vault, there's bound to be some argument among knowledgeable fans as to what tracks were selected; it seems odd that Billy Boy Arnold's "Rockin'itis" is here rather than his seminal blues "I Wish You Would," for example. But you can't argue with the bounty of hits that are present, from Jerry Butler, Betty Everett, Jimmy Reed, the El Dorados, Dee Clark, John Lee Hooker, the Spaniels, the Dells, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Gene Chandler. Hits like "Duke of Earl," "The Shoop Shoop Song," "For Your Precious Love," "Every Beat of My Heart," "Raindrops," and "Boom Boom" all here, of course might be expected from any Vee-Jay compilation, but to its credit this also has a lot of smaller hits or non-hits that have escaped oldies rotation. There's Fred Hughes' fine midtempo soul-popper "Oo Wee Baby, I Love You," for instance, a number three R&B hit in 1965 that barely made the pop charts; Memphis Slim's mordant blues "Mother Earth"; Hank Ballard's first version of "The Twist," predating both his own hit version and Chubby Checker's cover, recorded in 1958 but not issued until 1985; Little Richard's mid-'60s single "I Don't Know What You Got But It's Got Me," with Jimi Hendrix on guitar; Betty Everett's "You're No Good," just a moderate hit in 1963 but a much bigger one for Linda Ronstadt in the '70s; Jay McShann and Priscilla Bowman's jump blues "Hands Off"; Rosco Gordon's oft-covered R&B classic "Just a Little Bit"; and Gene Allison's early soul ballad "You Can Make It if You Try," covered by the Rolling Stones on their first album. Perhaps it might have made more sense to make the stylistic tone more even and not include gospel cuts as well. But the gospel acts represented here are undeniably important, including the Original Blind Boys of Alabama, the Swan Silvertones, and on the mid-'50s sides the Staple Singers.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/28/2003
  • Label: Metro Music
  • UPC: 698458700926
  • Catalog Number: 509

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Bim Bam Boom - The El Dorados (2:53)
  2. 2 Duke of Earl - Gene Chandler (2:19)
  3. 3 The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss) - Betty Everett (2:14)
  4. 4 Oh What a Nite - The Dells (2:53)
  5. 5 Hands Off - Priscilla Bowman (2:51)
  6. 6 Dimples (2:11)
  7. 7 Big Town Playboy - Eddie Taylor (2:59)
  8. 8 I Found My Peace of Mind - Pee Wee Crayton (2:34)
  9. 9 Wade in the Water - The Harmonizing Four (3:06)
  10. 10 Mary Don't You Weep - The Swan Silvertones (2:48)
  11. 11 For Your Precious Love - The Impressions (2:44)
  12. 12 You Can Make It If You Try - Gene Allison (2:09)
  13. 13 Just a Little Bit - Rosco Gordon (2:06)
  14. 14 Raindrops - Dee Clark (2:51)
  15. 15 Every Beat of My Heart - The Pips (2:04)
  16. 16 My Adorable One (2:24)
  17. 17 Bright Lights, Big City (2:40)
  18. 18 It Hurts Me Too (3:19)
  19. 19 I'm Journeying On (1:52)
  20. 20 Jesus Is the Answer - The Argo Singers (2:44)
  21. 21 Up on the Mountain - The Magnificents (2:40)
  22. 22 Baby It's You - The Spaniels (2:33)
  23. 23 You're No Good - Betty Everett (2:16)
  24. 24 I Don't Know What You Got But It's Got Me - Little Richard (4:05)
  25. 25 Uncloudy Day - The Staple Singers (2:59)
Disc 2
  1. 1 I'm in the Mood for Love (2:44)
  2. 2 12 Year Old Boy (3:05)
  3. 3 Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On - Little Richard (2:27)
  4. 4 Honest I Do (2:40)
  5. 5 No More Doggin' (2:39)
  6. 6 Hey Little Girl - Dee Clark (1:52)
  7. 7 Moon River (2:35)
  8. 8 Let It Be Me - Betty Everett (2:40)
  9. 9 I'll Be Forever Loving You - The El Dorados (2:29)
  10. 10 Rainbow - Gene Chandler (2:46)
  11. 11 Stay in My Corner - The Dells (2:55)
  12. 12 Precious Lord (3:50)
  13. 13 Sinner Man - The Swan Silvertones (3:06)
  14. 14 Rockin'itis - Billy Boy Arnold (2:38)
  15. 15 The Twist - The Midnighters (2:34)
  16. 16 Boom Boom (2:28)
  17. 17 Big Boss Man (2:45)
  18. 18 At My Front Door - The El Dorados (2:34)
  19. 19 Mother Earth (3:31)
  20. 20 If I Could Hear My Mother Pray - The Staple Singers (2:50)
  21. 21 Getting Mighty Crowded - Betty Everett (2:12)
  22. 22 Make It Easy on Yourself (2:37)
  23. 23 Oo Wee Baby, I Love You (2:18)
  24. 24 Nobody But You - Dee Clark (2:24)
  25. 25 Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite - The Spaniels (2:42)
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Album Credits

Technical Credits
Jimmy Reed Composer
Ewart Abner Composer
John Crosby Sleeve Notes
Autumn Whitehurst Illustrations
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