Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection

Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection

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Vee-Jay Records was the most successful black-owned independent record label in the pre-Motown era (Berry Gordy actually used Vee-Jay as a template in many ways when he set up Motown), placing records in the charts in an amazing diversity of styles, from blues and urban R&B to doo wop, straight pop, jazz, and gospel. Formed in Gary, IN, in

Overview

Vee-Jay Records was the most successful black-owned independent record label in the pre-Motown era (Berry Gordy actually used Vee-Jay as a template in many ways when he set up Motown), placing records in the charts in an amazing diversity of styles, from blues and urban R&B to doo wop, straight pop, jazz, and gospel. Formed in Gary, IN, in 1953 (the label moved its base to Chicago soon after) by the husband-and-wife team of Vivian Carter and James Bracken (the company name was an extension of the pair's first initials), and blessed with the assistance of Vivian's brother, Calvin Carter, a gifted and visionary A&R man, Vee-Jay had an aggressive recording, licensing, and marketing approach that saw them selling records to black and white audiences alike, and it worked so well that the label frequently had difficulty meeting the demands of its distributors, which meant that Vee-Jay was often facing cash-flow problems. Still, when the label finally closed its doors in 1966, it had outlasted most of the other black-owned record companies of the era, a list that included Exclusive, Excelsior, Duke-Peacock, and JVB. This four-disc, 85-track box set chronologically reveals the Vee-Jay story, and it is an astounding mix of genres and styles. One of the label's first big finds was the laconic blues songwriter Jimmy Reed, and several of his biggest hits are here, including "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby" from 1955, "Baby What You Want Me to Do" from 1959, "Big Boss Man" from 1960, and "Bright Lights, Big City" from 1961. Also here are tracks by the Staple Singers ("Uncloudy Day" from 1956 and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" from 1960), Gene Chandler (the timeless "Duke of Earl" from 1961), John Lee Hooker ("Boom Boom," also from 1961), the Four Seasons ("Sherry" from 1962), and the Honeycombs' "Have I the Right," which was recorded and produced by the eccentric Joe Meek in his home studio in 1964. There's even an early cut from a young Billy Preston, the hard charging instrumental "Billy's Bag" from 1964. What isn't here, unfortunately, no doubt due to licensing restrictions, are the two Beatles singles, "Please, Please Me" and "From Me to You," that Vee-Jay released in 1963, thus introducing Beatlemania to the U.S. at a time when even Capitol Records, EMI's American arm and thus first in line for the Beatles, failed to recognize the group's potential. Vee-Jay took risks and chances with its catalog, and that fearlessness in the face of the music marketplace kept the company constantly overextended financially and contributed mightily to the label's eventual demise, but the music that resulted was wonderfully diverse and vital, a central part of the sound of pop music in the 1950s and early '60s. After all, this is a label that gave the world (at least the U.S. part of it) both Jimmy Reed and the Beatles (not to mention the immortal "Duke of Earl"), and paved the way for Motown Records. That's not a bad legacy. Not bad at all. And it's only the tip of the iceberg.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times - Jon Pareles
Vee-Jay had no signature sound, just good ears.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/21/2007
Label:
Shout Factory
UPC:
0826663104851
catalogNumber:
631048

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. High and Lonesome
  2. Baby, It's You
  3. Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite
  4. Ain't Times Hard
  5. You Don't Have to Go
  6. Blue Evening
  7. I Wish You Would
  8. At My Front Door
  9. Hurt My Feelings
  10. Bad Boy
  11. Somewhere to Lay My Head
  12. Hands Off
  13. Fool's Prayer
  14. Oop de Oop
  15. I'll Be Forever Loving You
  16. Ain't That Lovin' You Baby
  17. Fooling Around Slowly
  18. Up on the Mountain
  19. Big Town Playboy
  20. Rock 'N Roll Mama
  21. Oh What a Nite

Disc 2

  1. Dimples
  2. The Telephone Is Ringing
  3. Judgment Day
  4. Uncloudy Day
  5. For All We Know
  6. Mother's Son
  7. The Pleasure's All Mine
  8. Honest I Do
  9. Farther Along
  10. You Can Make It If You Try
  11. It Hurts Me Too
  12. The Twist
  13. A Rockin' Good Way
  14. Hattie Malatti
  15. Blues Get off My Shoulder
  16. For Your Precious Love
  17. Pigtails and Blue Jeans
  18. I Love You Honey
  19. Leave You in the Hands of the Lord
  20. Nobody But You
  21. Shombalor/Crying for My Baby

Disc 3

  1. Mary Don't You Weep
  2. Steppin' Out
  3. Just a Little Bit
  4. Baby What You Want Me to Do
  5. Will You Ever Be Mine
  6. Will the Circle Be Unbroken
  7. Easy Lovin'
  8. No Shoes
  9. Oh Baby
  10. He Will Break Your Heart
  11. Exodus
  12. Big Boss Man
  13. Raindrops
  14. Every Beat of My Heart
  15. Old Ship of Zion
  16. Bright Lights, Big City
  17. Nite Owl
  18. Duke of Earl
  19. Real Gone Mama
  20. Help Me Somebody
  21. Boom Boom

Disc 4

  1. I'm a Woman
  2. Make It Easy on Yourself
  3. Sherry
  4. Rainbow
  5. Shakin' Fit
  6. Spring
  7. Body Surf
  8. You're No Good
  9. I Can See Everybody's Mother
  10. The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)
  11. Steal Away
  12. Have I the Right
  13. Let It Be Me
  14. Bring Your Lovin'
  15. Getting Mighty Crowded
  16. Walk Around Heaven All Day
  17. Tainted Love
  18. Billy's Bag
  19. Stay in My Corner
  20. Oo Wee Baby, I Love You
  21. Let's Do It Over
  22. I Don't Know What You've Got But It's Got Me

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Priscilla Bowman   Vocals

Technical Credits

John Lee Hooker   Composer
J.B. Lenoir   Composer
Billy Preston   Composer
Ralph Bass   Composer
Anthony Heilbut   References
L.C. McKinley   Composer
Robert Pruter   References
Arnold Shaw   References
Horace Clarence Boyer   References
Robert L. Campbell   References
Fats Washington   Composer
L.L. Cox   Composer
John Thornton   Composer
A. Brooks   Composer
A. Smith   Composer
Michael Ribas   Liner Notes
Charles Shaar Murray   References
R. Patterson   Arranger
Traditional   Composer
Gerald Early   Liner Notes
Emily Johnson   Artwork
Jeff Palo   Producer
Will Romano   References
Michelle Sangenito   Licensing

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