Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Best of Excello Records
Genres: Blues, Special Interest, Pop, R&B, Rock
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The Best of the Excello Years
Steve Vrana | Aurora, NE | 09/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although Excello Records began in 1952 and continued through the mid-seventies, this generous 30-track anthology focuses on the peak years 1954 to 1966. The songs are a collection of rhythm & blues, rockabilly and blues.
While most listeners will recognize such artists as Slim Harpo, Lightnin' Slim and the Gladiolas (with their original version of "Little Darlin'"), the CD kicks off with Arthur Gunter's 1954 recording of "Baby Let's Play House," which predates Elvis' cover version. The rest of the collection is dominated by artists who may not have become stars, but that doesn't mean these are second-rate performances. Johnny Jano's "Havin' a Whole Lot of Fun" shows he could hold his own with Jerry Lee Lewis. Rudy Greene's "My Mumblin' Baby" is reminiscent of Louis Jordan. Al Ferrier's "Hey Baby" is a song torn from the Carl Perkins' school of rockabilly.
This collection of big names and also-rans helps preserve the music that was being played throughout the south in juke joints and on local radio shows. This is an overall amazing collection. This out-of-print CD is worth tracking down--if you can find it, get it. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED"
The Little Label That Could
Steve Vrana | 10/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When, in 1953, Ernie Young started Excello Records in Nashville as a R&B subsidiary of the gospel-oriented Nashboro Records, he was likely looking at things realistically in terms of hits, counting on good regional sales to sustain the label and, if a national hit ensued, all the better.
Well, this is one little label that did all right in that regard, as evidenced by the national hits they generated, some of which are covered in this one album. Their first was Arthur Gunter's Baby Let's Play House, a # 12 R&B early in 1955 featuring Skippy Brooks at the piano. That tune, of course, was one of those that inspired a young Elvis Presley. Later that summer Louis Brooks & His Hi-Toppers got all the way to # 2 R&B with It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day) with Earl Gaines doing the vocal, while The Marigolds went national with Rollin' Stone, reaching # 8 R&B. A cover by The Fontane Sisters went to # 13 Billboard Pop Top 100.
From 1957 are two huge hits for the label, as Little Darlin' by The Gladiolas peaked at a modest # 11 R&B in May, but also became their first Pop cross-over as it just missed the Top 40, settling in at # 41, losing out to The Diamonds' cover, which topped out at # 2. Two months later they had their second Pop cross-over as Miss You So by Lillian Offitt got to # 8 R&B and # 66 Top 100. Lightnin' Slim's Rooster Blues (his real name is Otis Hicks) was a # 23 R&B hit in December 1959.
Their most consistent artists in terms of national hits, however, was Slim Harpo whose Rainin' In My Heart was a # 17 R&B/# 34 Billboard Pop Hot 100 in June 1963, featuring Lightnin' Slim on guitar, while Baby, Scratch My Back made it to # 1 R&B (2 weeks at that spot) and # 16 Hot 100 in February 1966. He would also have two more hits for Excello (Tip On In Part 1 - # 37 R&B/# 127 Hot 100 "bubble under" in July 1967, and Te-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu - # 36 R&B in April 1968) - but neither is included here.
The remaining cuts here aren't bad either, and when you hear things like This Should Go On Forever by Guitar Gable (Gabriel Perrodin), and I Hear You Knockin' (not the same song as the Smiley Lewis or Gale Storm hit) by Lazy Lester (Leslie Johnson), you'll wonder, like I did, why these never made any national charts.
The six pages of liner notes by WFMU East Orange DJ James "The Hound" Marshall gives you thumbnail sketches of each artist in the album, alonmg with three photos of Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester, and Lightnin' Slim and several vintage poster/ad reproductions. The sound is excellent.