Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wynonie Harris


I have a soft spot for novelty R&B acts and Wynonie Harris certainly fits this category. The songs are full of fun and rock along with a lot of style and infection. This double LP on the Gusto label was bought from Brick Lane many years ago. It contains most of his big hits and a few obscurities.

"No blues shouter embodied the rollicking good times that he sang of quite like raucous shouter Wynonie Harris. "Mr. Blues," as he was not-so-humbly known, joyously related risque tales of sex, booze, and endless parties in his trademark raspy voice over some of the jumpingest horn-powered combos of the postwar era.

Those wanton ways eventually caught up with Harris, but not before he scored a raft of R&B smashes from 1946 to 1952. Harris was already a seasoned dancer, drummer, and singer when he left Omaha for L.A. in 1940 (his main influences being Big Joe Turner and Jimmy Rushing). He found plenty of work singing and appearing as an emcee on Central Avenue, the bustling nightlife strip of the Black community there. Wynonie Harris's reputation was spreading fast -- he was appearing in Chicago at the Rhumboogie Club in 1944 when bandleader Lucky Millinder hired him as his band's new singer. With Millinder's orchestra in brassy support, Harris made his debut on shellac by boisterously delivering "Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well" that same year for Decca. By the time it hit in mid-1945, Harris was long gone from Millinder's organization and back in L.A. "

Discover more about Wynonie Harris HERE.


Wynonie Harris - I Like My Baby's Pudding

Wynonie Harris - Bloodshot Eyes

Wynonie Harris - Rot Gut


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7 comments:

baikinange said...

A Wynonie Harris song I don't own, thanks for that!
I don't know if I would dismiss Wynonie as a novelty act. traight-up, raunchy, kick-ass R & B, hell yes, but I always think of "novelty" acts as being someone like Spike Jones.
I'd say Louis Jordan & Bull Moose Jackson did more novelty numbers than Wynonie.

michael said...

Being a novelty act is the highest accolade in my book so certainly no "dismiss" intended. This double LP is the only one i have of Wynonie so not heard a great deal of his output but if anything like these tracks then he is certainly up there with Loius Jordan, early Ray Charles, Slim & Slam, the Jimmy Liggins, Roy Brown, Johnny Otis etc. etc.

Neil Carter said...

I do possess pretty much all of Wynonie's commercial releases and he was a huge talent. I take the point about 'novelty', but there is a danger of being too defensive about it. The bottom line, this man like Roy Brown, Amos Milbur, Liggins and even Jordan still do not recieve one housandth of the recognition they deserve.

Freudian Slip said...

Thanks for the tunes, I love em and will definitely be picking up the album :)
Matt

wastedpapiers said...

neil and freud. thanks for the input. much appreciated. I agree entirely!

Susan said...

Wynonie was NOT a novelty act; he was a first-rate R&B artist who had some of the best jazz musicians ever backing him.

The songs are GREAT; they have never dated.

david said...

I have the double LP shown, its highly prized, certainly Harris is far more than a novelty act, big time star amongs his own folk, I wonder how famous he would have been, & rich if he had been white, remember these were recorded in Segregation times in the US.
A rare unique talent, similar to a few, the Liggins Brothers, Milton, Brown, Jordan, & Milburn a great talent, but his own man, style.
Superb,
David Curtis