2022-06-18T09:58:36+02:00November 30th, 2018|

Excello was formed by Ernie Young as a subsidiary of Nashboro Records in 1952. Jay Miller was the primary studio producer for Excello. Excello was the first blues label established in Nashville, Tennessee. The label made an important contribution to rock and roll in 1954 when it recorded an answer song to Eddy Arnold’s country and western record “I Wanna Play House With You” called “Baby, Let’s Play House,” by Arthur Gunter. The song was covered by Elvis Presley a year later in one of his finest performances on Sun. Presley’s cover version was closely based on the Gunter original.

In 1957, an Excello group (the Gladiolas), featuring a lead singer named Maurice Williams, recorded an original song, “Little Darlin’,” in a fairly uptempo r&b arrangement. The song sold well enough to make #11 on the R&B charts, but it was “covered” for the pop market by a Canadian quartet called the Diamonds on Mercury Records.

Jay Miller, the Excello producer, has been the subject of many articles and record reissues for the blues he produced for the label. The sound is sometimes referred to “swamp blues”.

The Excello material has been reissued several times within the past decade. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Rhino Records put out several compilations from the Excello masters. In the early 1990s, the masters were sold to AVI entertainment. AVI’s Rob Santos retained Tom Moulton to remaster and upgrade virtually the entire Excello catalog, with the result being many CD reissues from 1993 to 1996 in quite excellent sound. By 1997, AVI itself was bought by Hip-O, a label associated with MCA, so the Excello masters are today just starting to be reissued on Hip-O.

Excello was not a big label for stereo recordings. Several of the late ’60s tunes by Slim Harpo (primarily on the album Tip On In) have shown up in true stereo, but not much else. Early LPs were reissued later in rechanneled stereo. For those albums where we have found an indication of a stereo issue, the prefix “LPS-” is used; for others, they may have been issued in mono only.



2021-10-14T15:46:36+02:00November 2nd, 2018|

SUN Records is an American independent record label founded in Memphis, Tennessee, starting operations on March 27, 1952.

Founded by Sam Phillips, Sun Records was notable for discovering and first recording such influential musicians as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. (Presley’s recording contract was sold to RCA Victor Records for $35,000 in 1955 to relieve financial difficulties which Sun was going through.)

sun records studioPrior to those records, Sun Records had concentrated on recording African-American musicians, because Phillips loved rhythm and blues and wanted to bring black music to a white audience. It was Sun record producer and engineer, Jack Clement, who discovered and recorded Jerry Lee Lewis, while owner Sam Phillips was away on a trip to Florida. The original Sun Records logo was designed by John Gale Parker, Jr., a resident of Memphis and high school classmate of Phillips.

The music of many Sun Records musicians helped lay part of the foundation of late 20th century rock and roll, plus it influenced many younger musicians, particularly the Beatles. In 2001, Paul McCartney appeared on a tribute compilation album titled Good Rockin’ Tonight: The Legacy Of Sun Records. The 2010 tribute Million Dollar Quartet is based on the famous photograph of Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis grouped round Elvis Presley at the piano, the night when the four joined in an impromptu jam at Sun Record’s one-room sound studio, the “Million Dollar Quartet” of 4 December 1956.

SUN-1225In 1969, Mercury Records label producer Shelby Singleton purchased the Sun label from Phillips. Singleton merged his operations into Sun International Corporation, which re-released and re-packaged compilations of Sun’s early artists in the early 1970s. It would later introduce rockabilly tribute singer Jimmy “Orion” Ellis in 1980 as Orion taking on the persona of Elvis Presley.

The company remains in business today as Sun Entertainment Corporation, which currently licenses its brand and classic hit recordings (many of which have appeared in CD boxed sets and other compilations) to independent reissue labels. Sun Entertainment also includes SSS International Records, Plantation Records, Amazon Records, Red Bird Records, Blue Cat Records among other labels the company acquired over the years. Its website sells collectible items as well as compact discs bearing the original 1950s Sun logo.

Having been mainly a re-issue label since the 1970s, Sun Records signed Julie Roberts to a recording contract in 2013.

4 Star ****

2019-11-27T09:30:20+01:00Oktober 27th, 2018|

The 4-Star label was formed in 1945 in Los Angeles, by Richard A. ”Dick” Nelson, with his partners Bill McCall and Cliff McDonald, as a subsidiary to their already established Gilt-Edge label.

By late 1946, when the label was on the brink of bankruptcy, the ambitious McCall invested $5,000 and acquired full control of the company. He quickly cornered the early post-war market in the burgeoning fields of country and western (4-Star) and rhythm and blues (Gilt-Edge). McCall moved the label out to Pasadena, California, during the 1948 AFM recording strike.

In 1950 McCall made the shrewd move of launching a custom pressing service whereby artists without a record contract could pay to have 4-Star press up a limited run of discs, which they could then sell at their gigs – the “OP” (Other People) series.

Gene Autry and Joe Johnson (owners of Challenge Records) bought 4-Star Records in 1961 and subsequently leased the masters to Pickwick for several years.

In the late 1970s, producer Joe Johnson headed up an organization that purchased 4 Star Records and moved all of its operations to Nashville, Tennessee. Johnson insisted on building state-of-the-art studios and bringing in the best talent available to run them.

4 Star’s financial problems continued to mount, and in the early 1980s the record company was closed and the catalog absorbed by its creditors. Sony/ATV Music Publishing owns the catalogue today.