Sunday, November 29, 2009

Norris Mayhams: The Early Years



Although I just featured a Norridge Mayhams single a few weeks ago, I'm returning to that well again today, because I've just obtained one of the earliest known Mayhams Co-Ed label singles. The AS/PMA site puts the date on this one at "1945?", and given the lyrics, it certainly seems to date from some time during WWII. It's also the second lowest number of the listed Co-Ed singles (most of which pre-date his Mayhams label records), meaning it is likely among his earliest self-released records. He made earlier records with the Blue Chips (and wondrous many of those are), but they were released on established labels.

I find the Mayhams story (what little I know of it) and his records endlessly fascinating. Today's feature carries the amazing name "The Hopewell Junction (To Wartime Function)" Those of you who have heard Mayhams later 78 - one with an far more amazing name - "Yamtang Yamtang Rankytang (No Meat Sweet Potato Swing", might notice a subtle similarity between the melody to the chorus and bridge of that record with the same sections of this record. For those of you not lucky enough to have heard "Yamtang...", here's a hint - the tunes to those sections of both songs are virtually identical. Please excuse the surface noise as you enjoy Carl Bostic and his Orchestra:



On the flip side is a real rarity on Mayhams' records - a song not written by the maestro himself. This song, "Married Man Blues", performed by "The Ministers of Melody", carries a writers credit to someone named "Lowe":



5 comments:

thisispop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thisispop said...

Thank for sharing this Bob. The disc, incidentally, was issued in 1943 -it appears in a Billboard ad in November of that year along with two other Co-d releases no included on the AS/PMA discography - 107-N Light Up/Induction Blues and 106-L I Forgive You/Ridehorse - Ridehard

Sammy Reed said...

The link to "Married Man Blues" isn't working.

Randall Stehle said...

I've had a copy of Co-Ed 105I/106L for several years and only recently decided to search the net for info, particularly because of the great bluesy RideHorsse-RideHard. Great listening, despite the grainy surface. Apparently the record was pressed during wartime from recycled shellac. Was the Carl Bostic orchestra a black organization? How about "Norris Troubadour", the vocalist. Other side of the record - "Forgive Me" is nowhere near as interesting.

Bob Purse said...

Hi,

I'm writing in response to Randall Stehle - I hope you see this, I couldn't get an e-mail address off of your post.

I don't really know anything about the Carl Bostic Orchestra, but my guess is that everyone that Mayhams was in business with at that time was black, as was Mayhams himself.

And although the "Norris the Troubadour" vocalist tag was later applied to at least five or six vocalists that I know of, in his early years of recording, if the label says "Norris", then the singer is Norridge Mayhams himself. Look him up on Amazon - he made a handful of legit records with a group in the 1930's under his own name, and they're on a CD (although Mayhams is the bandleader, not the vocalist, on those tracks). He is undoubtably the lead singer on "Wartime" here.

Mayhams continued to record his own vocals until at least the late 1950's, when he started employing the various song-poem factories, and his records continued to be billed as by Norris the Troubadour, yet the vocal sound would change release by release.