Saturday, August 3, 2013

Chance Vintage Blues/R&B Crops P-Vine Vol. 1-4

Chance Records opened for business in September 1950. Initially the company was housed at Sheridan's American Record Distributors, 2011 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Among the first artists to record for the company were the Al Sims Trio, an uptown blues group, and a combo led by tenor saxophonist John "Schoolboy" Porter, who had developed a vigorous R&B style in the Cootie Williams band. Porter's rendition of "Tennessee Waltz," a much-covered hit in 1950, sold well enough that Sheridan's pressing plant, Armour Plastics, couldn't meet the demand and many copies were pressed by RCA Victor. Porter would be a steady contributor until he left Chicago in 1952.
In 1951, however, the company ran into big trouble with the American Federation of Musicians on account of employing non-Union personnel on one of Schoolboy Porter's sessions. The company actually lost its license to record with Union musicians for one year, although Sheridan was able to work in a few sessions by gospel groups, which in those days were almost entirely non-Union. He would remain persona non grata with Musicians Union Local 208 for many years.
While restricted from making new recordings, Sheridan astutely picked up items for release from many small labels: the debut session by jazz pianist John Young, Little Walter's very first session, a long out-of-print single by Sunnyland Slim,[4] and three John Lee Hooker 78s, all released under the low-effort pseudonym John L. Booker.
Chance quickly recovered when the ban ended in May 1952, and Sheridan moved both the record company and his distribution operation to 1151 East 47th Street. Added to the roster were blues singer Brother John Sellers, jazz trumpeter King Kolax, down-home blues guitarist Homesick James, and flamboyant blues shouter Jo Jo Adams. In the fall, bassist Al Smith took over as leader of a house band that featured tenor saxophonist Red Holloway, guitarist Lefty Bates, and drummer Vernel Fournier; among the first singers they backed was Bobby Prince.
Chance hit its peak in 1953. A collaboration with Joe Brown's JOB Records brought a new release by Homesick James, including his signature number "Homesick" a release by Arthur "Big Boy" Spires, and further tracks by Sunnyland Slim and Johnny Shines that were not released till later. The company's blues roster grew further to include Lazy Bill Lucas and Willie Nix. Singer/guitarist Rudy Greene also recorded for Chance.
Sheridan made a significant investment in doo-wop, signing two of the two top groups of the period, The Flamingos and The Moonglows. The established R&B combo led by Tommy Dean made a session, as did the jazz groups of pianist Jimmy Binkley and trumpeter Conte Candoli. In the summer, Sheridan opened a new subsidiary called Sabre at 1225 East 47th Street to handle some of his expanding catalog. Two doo-wop groups that Sheridan signed, the Five Echoes, and the Five Blue Notes, recorded exclusively for the new subsidiary.
In June 1953, Sheridan lent a hand to an emerging outfit from Gary, Indiana called Vee-Jay, which needed marketing and distribution help on its first releases by bluesman Jimmy Reed and the vocal group The Spaniels. Each was given a parallel release on Chance.
In 1954, the company recorded The Moonglows, The Flamingos, along with a new vocal group called the Five Chances. It picked up what was probably its highest-profile gospel group, the Famous Boyer Brothers. A single by blues shouter Freddie Hall came from the tiny Ebony label, run by J. Mayo Williams. A major new blues signing was J. B. Hutto, who made his recording debut for Chance.
However, in June 1954, Al Smith and his corps of studio musicians moved to Vee-Jay. Sabre Records made its last release in August. Sheridan wound Chance Records down in December 1954, becoming a behind-the-scenes investor in the newer company. Ewart Abner, who had been Sheridan's right-hand man at Chance, went to work for Vee-Jay in early 1955.

Thanks go to Frits for these rips.

Vol. 1:
Vol. 2:
Vol. 3:
Vol. 4:


Anonymous said...

Great great compilations, tough blues, dig it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this set - especially the 'city' R & B - never heard the Kitty Stevens, Tampa Red and Bobby Prince sides !

billyboy said...

thanks for the chance lps the Kitty Stevens & Bobby Prince are very rare, never seen em' oc CD or LP

Anonymous said...

Great compilations of blues, really appreciate your posting. Outstanding!