Skip to Main Content
Roots and Rhythms

Roots and Rhythms
Wednesday April 12th, 2017 with Retro Renny
Meteor Records Part 1: Blues, R&B & Gospel recordings (1952 - 57)

Meteor Records was started in 1952 and based out of Memphis. Run by Lester Bihari, the older brother to Joe, Jules and Saul (the owners and operators of Modern Records), the label first started as subsidiary of Modern, intended to find and record downhome blues in Memphis. It lasted only five years but it managed to record great blues, R&B, gospel, country and rockabilly. Tonight's show concentrates on the blues, R&B and gospel music on the Meteor and in two weeks time, on part two of Meteor Records (in two weeks time) I'll be playing the label's hillbilly and rockabilly recordings.
Love You Baby
CHICAGO SUNNY BOY - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1953, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Chicago Sunny Boy was actually Joe Hill Louis who had recorded for the Sun label the year before. Sam Phillips (owner of Sun Records) was in a legal dispute with Modern Records over the recordings of Howling Wolf and Rosco Gordon which Phillips had leased to Modern’s competitor, Chess Records. Because Joe Hill Louis had already under contract with Sam Phillips, Louis had to use a pseudonym.
Baby You Just Don't Know
WOODROW ADAMS with BOOGIE BLUES BLASTERS - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1955, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Woodrow Adams was a Delta blues musician who played both guitar and harmonica. He backed such blues luminaries as Robert Nighthawk, Howling Wolf, Robert Junior Lockwood and Houston Stackhouse. Before recording for Meteor in 1955, Adams had recorded a single at the Memphis Recording Service in 1952 which was released on Checker records. Adams plays harp on this track.
Gonna Let You Go
BABY FACE TURNER - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1952, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Joe Bihari, Lester Bihari’s youngest brother, went to the South with a portable tape recorder in the early Fifties in the hope of finding talent for the Bihari brothers’ Modern Music record label. Baby Face Turner was recorded in North Little Rock, Arkansas and was original released on Modern. Joe lent the masters to his brother for re-release on Meteor. It was to pad out Meteor’s catalogue.
I Declare
SMOKEY HOGG - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1954, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Smokey Hogg’s song “I Declare” was originally released on Crown Records, a budget subsidiary label of Modern. This is another artist whose material was given to Lester in the hope of helping him out with his label.
Walkin' & Talkin' With Jesus
THE ANGEL VOICES (duet by BURNER DENE JORDAN & CLIFFIE MAE SPIKE) - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1954, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
The Angel Voices were a gospel duo, of Burner Dene Jordan and Cliffie Mae Spike. Meteor only released two gospel artists during it’s short life, the Angel Voices and James Anderson & His Anderson Harmoneers.
Let's Boogie Baby
LITTLE MILTON & THE PLAYMATES OF RHYTHM - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1957, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Little Milton went on to become a major force in Rhythm & Blues. He was brought to Meteor by Rufus Thomas who had become a talent scout for the label. Milton was another artist who had also recorded for Sun Records and turned to Meteor when Sam Phillips was slow in releasing his material.
Can I Depend On You?
LEO BAXTER & ORCHESTRA (vocal by LEO BAXTER) - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1953, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Leo Baxter was a tenor sax player, band leader and the vocalist on “Can I Depend On You?”. The song was actually recorded by Bob Shad in Texas. Bob Shad was the A&R man at Mercury Records’ jazz division. Lester Bihari worked out a deal by which Shad would send recordings for release on Meteor Records.
The Easy Living Plan
RUFUS "BEARCAT" THOMAS with THE BEARCATS - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1957, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Rufus “Bearcat” Thomas is known for his recordings on Sun (“Tiger Man” and “Bear Cat) and Stax Records (“Do The Dog” “Can Your Monkey Do The Dog?” and “Memphis Train”). His Meteor recordings were after his famous Sun records and before his tenure at Stax. Rufus Thomas was a deejay at the famous black radio station, Memphis’ WDIA and was able to promote local artists on his show (including himself, of course). He worked for a time as Meteor’s talent scout.
Baby, What's Wrong?
ELMORE JAMES - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1953, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
This is from Elmore James first recording on Meteor Records. One of the reasons Meteor was founded was so that the Bihari brothers could record Elmore James without being sued by the label he was signed to at the time, Trumpet Records. He had had a huge hit on Trumpet with “Dust My Broom” and the brothers were hoping to repeat that success.
I Know What You Need
MINNIE THOMAS with SLIM WATERS' LAGOONS - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1956, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Minnie Thomas’s single was an older song that had been recorded earlier and put on a back shelf while Lester Bihari concentrated on country and rockabilly music. By mid 1956, with Rufus Thomas’ help, he decided to concentrate on the black artists in Memphis who were no longer being recorded.
Alone On A Rainy Nite
THE DEL RIOS with THE BEARCATS (lead vocal by WILLIAM BELL) - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1956, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
The Del Rios were a group of teenagers who were inspired by the Midnighters, the “5” Royales, the Clovers, the Flamingos and the Platters. They were a vocal group that included a very young William Bell who went on to become an important soul singer in the Sixties on Stax Records of Memphis. Bell is singing lead on this number, which was his first recording.
Tennessee Woman
FENTON ROBINSON with THE DUKES - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1957, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Fenton Robinson went on to become a renowned blues guitarist and singer. He was another Mississippi bluesman who moved north to Chicago.
My Best Friend
CARL “MR. BROADWAY” GREEN & HIS ORCHESTRA - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1953, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Carl “Mr. Broadway” Green was the bass player in Dick Lewis’ West Coast band. This recording was recorded in Los Angeles in 1953 and was the second session held by Meteor.
Ooh! My Baby
LITTLE MILTON & THE PLAYMATES OF RHYTHM - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1957, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
“Ooh! My Baby” was recorded at the same session as his “Let’s Boogie” recording.
Hawaiian Boogie
ELMORE JAMES & HIS BROOMDUSTERS - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1970, Kent Records/2006, Ace Records
This is a release of a field recording made by Lester’s youngest brother Joe. The track was supposed to be released on Meteor but wasn’t released until 1970 on Kent Records, a label formed after Modern Records went bankrupt, and used to re-release Modern recordings. Both the Kent and Meteor catalogues were bought up by Ace Records (the British label) in the Eighties.
Lost Woman Blues aka Please Find My Baby
ELMORE JAMES & HIS BROOMDUSTERS - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1983, Ace Records/2006, Ace Records
Porky Pine
JIMMY WRIGHT & HIS ORCHESTRA featuring PORKY HARRIS, guitar - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1953, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Jimmy Wright was a white kid from Los Angeles who dug the music of the honking sax players of the late Forties and early Fifties. He had his start drumming in Big Jay McNeely’s band. He would book the band into a legion hall himself and charge 50 cents admission. Soon he formed his own orchestra, joined by another white member of Big Jay’s band, guitarist Porky Harris. This is Harris’ own composition.
Beale Street Stomp aka Chop Chop Boogie
AL SMITH’S PROGRESSIVE JAZZ (with THE BROOMDUSTERS) - The Complete Meteor Blues, R&B & Gospel Recordings - 1957, Meteor Records/2006, Ace Records
Al Smith was an upright bass player who fronted the house bands of many of Chicago’s small independent labels: Chance, Parrot, Vee-Jay and United. This piece was recorded in Chicago at the Universal Studios by Chance Records. The masters were probably taken to Meteor by Smith. Elmore James band the Broomdusters was not on this recording, that was added by Lester Bihari in a hope to cash in on Elmore James popularity. Smith is also known as being bluesman Jimmy Reed’s manager in the 1960s.
Interactive CKCU
Daragh
More people would go to church if the music there was like "Walkin' and Talkin' with Jesus"! LOVE good GOSPEL music!

9:42 PM, April 12th, 2017
Renny G (host)
Thanks Daragh. I'm sure your surprised that a sinner like myself likes good gospel too.

9:03 AM, April 13th, 2017