WYNONIE HARRIS Complete Discography
Listed by release

Compiled by David Gasten

 


——
The Early Recordings——

Title

Label

Serial No.

Recorded
(Month/Day/Year)

Chart Position

Available on:

“Hurry Hurry” b/w “I Can't See For Lookin'”
(as Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra; vocal chorus by Wynonie “Mr. Blues” Harris and Congregation; Wynonie only appears on the A-side)

Decca

18609

5-26-1944/???????
(Single released in July 1944)

 

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 1
(Proper Records UK, 2001)

“Who Threw the Whiskey In the Well” b/w “Shipyard Social Function”
(as Lucky Millinder and his Orchestra; vocal chorus by Wynonie “Mr. Blues” Harris and Congregation; Wynonie only appears on the A-side)

Decca

18674

5-26-1944/???????
(Single released in April 1945)

#1

"

Actually a Lucky Millinder Orchestra song with Wynonie on vocals, “Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well” was Wynonie’s breakthrough as a recording artist and nationally known performer.  The song tells a story about two party-hardy churchmen by the names of Elder Brown and Deacon Jones whose spiritual concerns seem to revolve around “spirits” of a different type. :) These fictional characters would surface again in Wynonie’s seminal 1948 recording “Good Rockin’ Tonight” as well as in many other jump blues recordings from the period. 

For the next year and a half, Wynonie’s discography would read like a who’s who of jazz and R&B music from the period.  The names involved with Wynonie during this period would include big names like Jack McVea (“Open the Door, Richard”), Illinois Jacquet (“Flying Home”), Johnny Otis (“Harlem Nocturne”, “Willy and the Hand Jive”), Lionel Hampton (as producer only), Charles Mingus, and even Sun Ra!

“Around the Clock, Pt. 1” b/w “Around the Clock, Pt. 2”
(as Wynonie “Mr. Blues” Harris and Johnny Otis’ All Stars)

Philo (aka Aladdin)

103

7-?-1945

 

"

“Cock-a –Doodle-Doo” b/w “Yonder Goes My Baby”
(as Wynonie “Mr. Blues” Harris and Johnny Otis’ All Stars)

Philo (aka Aladdin)

104

7-?-1945

 

"

Note: Philo Records was the original name for Aladdin Records.  Philo would change its name to Aladdin the following year and record many famous jump blues, R & B, and early rock and roll acts.  Wynonie would return to the label the following year as well.

“Young Man’s Blues” b/w “Straighten Him Out”
(as Wynonie “Blues” Harris with Jack McVea and his All Stars)

Apollo

360

8-?-1945

 

"

“That’s the Stuff You Gotta Watch” b/w “Baby Look at You”
(as Wynonie “Blues” Harris with Jack McVea and his All Stars)

Apollo

361

8-2-1945

 

"

 “Wynonie’s Blues” b/w “Somebody Done Changed the Lock on My Door” b/w
(A-side as Wynonie  “Blues” Harris with Illinois Jacquet and his All Stars; B-side as Wynonie “Blues” Harris with Jack McVea and his All Stars)

Apollo

362

8-2-1945/8-?-1945

#3

"

 “She’s Gone With the Wind” b/w “Here Comes the Blues”
(A-side as Wynonie “Blues” Harris with Jack McVea and his All Stars; B-side as Wynonie  “Blues” Harris with Illinois Jacquet and his All Stars)

Apollo

363

8-2-1945/8-?-1945

 

"

Note: the two Illinois Jacquet songs feature Charles Mingus on bass.

 “Rebecca’s Blues” b/w “I Gotta Lyin’ Woman”
(as Wynonie “Blues” Harris with Oscar Pettiford and his All Stars)

Apollo

387

9-?-1945

 

"

“I Gotta Lyin’ Woman” (Alternate Take)

Apollo

Initially unreleased

9-?-1945

 

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 1
(Proper Records UK, 2001); Everybody Boogie! (Delmark Records USA, 1996)

“Everybody’s Boogie” b/w “Time to Change Your Town”
(as Wynonie “Blues” Harris with Oscar Pettiford and his All Stars)

Apollo

378

9-?-1945

 

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 1

“Everybody’s Boogie” (Alternate Take)
(as Wynonie “Blues” Harris with Oscar Pettiford and his All Stars)

Apollo

Initially unreleased

9-?-1945

 

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 1; Everybody Boogie! (Delmark Records USA, 1996)

Note: the above Oscar Pettiford sides also feature Jack McVea on tenor saxophone.  Jack McVea was the band leader on all but two of the Wynonie sides recorded in August of 1945 (see above), but here he appears as a sideman.

“Playful Baby” b/w “Papa Tree Top”
(as Wynonie “Blues” Harris with Johnnie Alston and his All Stars)

Apollo

372

12-?-1945

#2

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 2 (Proper Records UK, 2001)

“Take Me Out of the Rain” b/w “Young and Wild”
(as Wynonie “Blues” Harris with Johnnie Alston and his All Stars)

Apollo

381

12-?-1945

 

"

“Hey, Ba-Ba-Re-Rop Pt. 1” b/w “Hey, Ba-Ba-Re-Rop Pt. 2”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Hamp-Tone All Stars)

Hamp-Tone

100

c. Dec. 1946/ Jan. 1946

 

"

“Good Morning, Corrine” b/w “In the Evenin’ Blues”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Hamp-Tone All Stars)

Hamp-Tone

103

c. Dec. 1946/ Jan. 1946

 

"

The preceding two recordings were for Lionel Hampton’s independent Hamp-Tone imprint.  According to the Proper Records Rockin’ The Blues box set liner notes: “[Lionel Hampton] had recently set up the [Hamp-Tone] label, primarily to record small groups drawn from the ranks of his big band, which itself was under contract to Decca[.]  Lionel’s wife and manager, Gladys Hampton, ran the label[,] and the recording sessions took place at the Hampton’s home.  Wynonie is accompanied by the Hamp-Tone All Stars[,] a strong contingent of musicians from Hamp’s big band, albeit without its leader[,] who was unable to participate for contractual reasons.”  (Proper Records Rockin’ The Bluesbox set liner notes, p. 22-23)

“Dig This Boogie” b/w “Lightnin’ Struck the Poor House”
(A-Side as Wynonie “Mr. Blues” Harris; B-side as Wynonie “Mr. Blues Harris” with Jimmy Jackson and his Orchestra)

Bullet

251

c. Mar.-Apr. 1946

 

"

“My Baby’s Barrel House” b/w “Drinkin’ By Myself”
(As Wynonie “Mr. Blues” Harris)

Bullet

252

c. Mar.-Apr. 1946

 

"

Note: The preceding two singles are some of the rarest and most collectible in the Wynonie discography.  They are of particular interest because they feature the recording debut of Herman “Sonny” Blount, aka Sun Ra, who plays piano on these tracks. (Proper Records Rockin’ The Blues box set liner notes, p. 24) 

Also, all the Bullet sides except “Dig This Boogie” feature Jimmy Jackson on Alto Sax, although apparently only “Lightnin’ Struck the Poor House” officially credits Jimmy Jackson as bandleader.  (ibid., p. 48-49)

“Mr. Blues Jumped the Rabbit” b/w “Whiskey and Jelly-Roll Blues”
(As Wynonie “Mr. Blues” Harris and his All-Stars)

Aladdin

171

11-30-1946

 

"

“Rugged Road” b/w “Come Back Baby”
(As Wynonie “Mr. Blues” Harris and his All-Stars)

Aladdin

172

11-30-1946

 

"

The above singles mark Wynonie’s return to Aladdin Records after recording his third an fourth singles with Johnny Otis’ band for Aladdin when they were still called Philo Records

These two Aladdin singles both feature Tab Smith on alto sax.  Tab Smith was the vocalist in Lucky Millinder’s Orchestra and was actually replaced by Wynonie Harris, who then had his breakthrough success with “Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well”.  An orphaned Tab Smith recording from 1951 called “Jimmy’s Blues” (originally by Jimmy Rushing) appeared on the Chess compilation LP Shoutin’, Swingin’, and Makin’ Love (1971); this LP also collects the final three songs recorded by Wynonie in 1964 (see the very end of this discography for more info on these final Wynonie sessions).

 “Ghost of a Chance” b/w “Big City Blues”

Aladdin

196

c. Jul. 1947

 

"

“Hard Ridin’ Mama” b/w “You Got to Get Yourself a Job, Girl”

Aladdin

208

c. Jul. 1947

 

"

“Battle of the Blues, Pt. 1” b/w “Battle of the Blues, Pt. 2”
(as Wynonie Harris and Big Joe Turner)

Aladdin

3036

c. Jul. 1947

 

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 3

“Battle of the Blues, Pt. 1” (alternate take)
(as Wynonie Harris and Big Joe Turner)

Aladdin

Initially unreleased

c. Jul. 1947

 

Big Joe Turner: Jumpin’ With Joe: The Complete Aladdin and Imperial Recordings (1994) (Note: Not on the Wynonie Proper box!)

“Goin’ Home”, “Blues”
(as Wynonie Harris and Big Joe Turner)

Aladdin

Initially unreleased

c. Jul. 1947

 

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 3; Big Joe Turner: Jumpin’ With Joe: The Complete Aladdin and Imperial Recordings (1994)

Wynonie’s final Aladdin session paired him with fellow jump blues star Big Joe Turner; the only single that was released from this session was “Battle of the Blues Pts. 1 & 2”.  Three more initially unreleased songs are known to survive from the sessions: “Goin’ Home”, “Blues”, and an alternate take of “Battle of the Blues, Pt. 1”.  These five songs are all available on the Big Joe Turner CD Jumpin’ With Joe: The Complete Aladdin and Imperial Recordings (1994).  The alternate take of “Battle of the Blues Pt. 1” is available on the Big Joe Turner CD but not on the Wynonie Proper box set, which makes it an odd track that hardcore Wynonie fans may want to search out.

According to the Proper box liner notes: “This was to be Wynonie’s last session for Aladdin.  His contract, [which] expired on October 1947, was not renewed[,] and Aladdin had not even recorded the sixteen sides that the contract called for. In spite of his popularity as a live performer, Wynonie’s career seemed to be on the slide…In early October 1947, Wynonie acquired a new manager, Jimmy Evans…[and] Evans negotiated a new contract with King Records for Wynonie.” (p. 29-30) This would begin a fruitful ten-year relationship for King Records that would produce Wynonie’s most famous and influential music.



——Wynonie Harris’s Complete King Records Recordings——

(Plus One Single on Atco)

Title

Label

Serial No.

Recorded
(Month/Day/Year)

Chart Position

Available on:

 “Wynonie’s Boogie” b/w “Rose Get Your Clothes”

King

4202

12-13-1947

 

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 3

“Wynonie’s Boogie” was a remake of a song Wynonie recorded in 1946 called “Dig This Boogie”.  “Dig this Boogie” was the A-side of the first of Wynonie’s two collectible Bullet records singles that feature Sun Ra on piano (see above for more information).  And in case you’re wondering, no, this new version does not feature Sun Ra.

“Crazy Love”, “From Bad to Good Blues”

King

Initially unreleased

12-23-1947

 

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 3;
Hot Lips Page: Shoutin’ the Blues (Blue Boar Records, 1999)

Wynonie’s first and second recording sessions for King were on December 13 and December 16, 1947 and took place in New York City; the third was on December 23, 1947 and took place in King’s home recording studio in Cincinnati.  This session is of interest not only because it’s a very solid session, but because five of the six songs recorded featured Oran “Hot Lips” Page on trumpet and as bandleader.  Hot Lips Page was a famous blues performer in his own right, but was also hired to back performers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey in this earlier years, and Wynonie and Big Maybelle later on.  This Hot Lips Page-backed session featured “Blowin’ To California”, “Good Morning Mr. Blues” (B-side to “Good Rockin’ Tonight”), “Blow Your Brains Out” (B-side to “Lollipop Mama”), and two unreleased songs called “Crazy Love” and “From Bad to Good Blues”.  Another song was recorded during this session that doesn’t feature Hot Lips or a full horn section; it’s called “Bite Again, Bite Again”, and was released with “Blowin’ to California” (also from this session).  Hot Lips also played trumpet on “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, which was recorded five days later on December 28, 1947.

“Good Rockin’ Tonight” b/w “Good Morning Mr. Blues”

King

4210

12-27-1947/
12-23-1947
(Released February 1948)

#1

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 3

All right!  This is where things start to kill for Wynonie and jump blues in general.  “Good Rockin’ Tonight” was originally a Roy Brown song.  Deluxe Records released Roy Brown’s version in 1947, but it was Wynonie’s 1948 version for King Records that became a massive #1 hit on the R&B charts.  It stayed in the Top Ten for six months, and was the biggest hit of his career.  Wynonie’s version is seminally important in that his version of the song effectively raised the intensity level for jump blues and began the transition toward what would eventually become rock and roll.  In this regard, you could count Wynonie’s version as the first rock and roll recording, although it would be Bill Haley who would truly define the amalgamation of black jump blues, white country, and teenage elements that are characteristic of the early rock and roll sound.

With the advent of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” came a huge wave of intense jump blues performers.  A bunch of the established names like Roy Brown and Louis Jordan jumped on the intensity train.  Other even more intense performers would kick up the intensity even further to the point that you had insanely loud and fast performers like Big Jay McNeely tearing it up at high intensity in the early and mid-50’s. It was Wynonie’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight” that started it all!

“Love is Like Rain” b/w “”Your Money Don’t Mean a Thing”

King

4217

12-13-1947/
12-16-1947

 

"

“Lollipop Mama” b/w “Blow Your Brains Out”

King

4226

12-28-1947/
12-23-1947

#1?

"

“Lollipop Mama” is another Roy Brown song.  Its B-side, “Blow Your Brains Out”, is one of the Hot Lips Page sessions mentioned above.  And no, it’s not about suicide; it’s an admonition for the sax man to wail on the horn.

 “Bite Again, Bite Again” b/w “Blowin’ to California”

King

4252

12-23-1947

 

"

“Grandma Plays the Numbers” b/w “I Feel that Old Age Comin’ On”

King

4276

12-19-1948
(Released Jan. 1949)

#7/
#10

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 3 (A-Side); Disc 4 (B-Side)

This was a double-sided hit for Wynonie; the two songs became hits together in February of 1949.  “Grandma Plays the Numbers” reached #7 on the R&B charts and stayed in the Top Ten for six seeks; “I Feel That Old Age Comin’ On” made it to #10 the week of February 26, 1949.  (Proper box set liner notes, p. 36, 38)

“Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” b/w “She Just Don’t Sell No More”

King

4292

4-13-1949/
12-19-1948

#4

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 4 (A-Side); Disc 3 (B-Side)

“All She Wants to Do is Rock” b/w “I Want My Fanny Brown”

King

4304

4-13-1949/
12-19-1948
(Released Aug. 1949)

#1/
#10

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 4 (A-Side); Disc 3 (B-Side)

Another double sided hit for Wynonie. “All She Wants to Do is Rock” followed the lead of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” and became another massive #1 hit for Wynonie, remaining on the charts for 18 weeks and becoming the second biggest hit of Wynonie’s career.   “I Want My Fanny Brown” was another Roy Brown song (as was “Good Rockin’ Tonight”) and hit #10 on the R & B charts in October 1949. (Proper box set liner notes, p. 36, 40)

“Sittin’ On It All the Time” b/w “Baby, Shame on You”

King

4330

10-19-1949

#3

Rockin’ The Blues4-CD Box Set, Disc 4

“I Like My Baby’s Pudding” b/w “I Can’t Take It No More”

King

4342

10-19-1949/
4-13-1949

#5

"

“Triflin’ Woman”

King

Initially unreleased

10-19-1949

 

"

This early version of “Triflin’ Woman” was withheld from release initially; however, it was rerecorded a year later and released as a single.

“Good Morning Judge” b/w “Stormy Night Blues”

King

4378

5-18-1950

#6

"

“Rock Mr. Blues” b/w “Be Mine My Love”

King

4389

5-18-1950

 

"

“Mr. Blues is Coming to Town” b/w “I Want to Love You Baby”

King

4402

7-12-1950

 

"

“Triflin’ Woman” b/w “Put it Back”

King

4415

10-23-1950/
7-12-1950

 

"

“Oh Babe” b/w “Silent George”
(as Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra; Wynonie Harris on A-Side vocals; Myra Johnson on B-Side vocals)

King

4418

10-18-1950

#7

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 4
(A-side only, as Wynonie does not appear on the B-side)

 “Teardrops From My Eyes” b/w “Please Open Your Heart”
(as Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra; Wynonie Harris on A-Side vocals; Lee Richards on B-Side vocals)

King

4419

10-18-1950

 

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 4
(A-side only, as Wynonie does not appear on the B-side)

Wynonie reunites with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra for the A-sides of two King singles.  “Oh Babe” is a Louis Prima cover, and “Teardrops From My Eyes” is a Ruth Brown cover.  “Oh Babe” went to #7 on the R&B charts.

“A Love Untrue” b/w “I Believe I’ll Fall in Love”

King

4445

10-23-1950/
12-28-1947

 

"

“Tremblin’” b/w “Just Like Two Drops of Water”

King

4448

2-27-1951

 

Lovin’ Machine (Ace Records UK, 2002)

“Bloodshot Eyes” b/w “Confessin’ the Blues”

King

4461

2-27-1951/
10-24-1950

#6

Lovin’ Machine (Ace Records UK, 2002) (A-side); Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 4 (B-Side)

“Man, Have I Got Troubles” b/w “I’ll Never Give Up”

King

4468

10-24-1950/
2-27-1951

 

Rockin’ The Blues 4-CD Box Set, Disc 4 (A-Side); Lovin’ Machine (Ace Records UK, 2002) (B-side)

“Lovin’ Machine” b/w “Luscious Woman”
(as Wynonie Harris with The Todd Rhodes Orchestra)

King

4485

7-2-1951

#5

Lovin’ Machine

“Here Comes the Night” b/w “My Playful Baby’s Gone”
(as Wynonie Harris with The Todd Rhodes Orchestra)

King

4507

7-2-1951

 

"

“Every Beat of My Heart” b/w “All Night Long”
(The Royals with Wynonie on guest vocals on “All Night Long”)

Federal

12064

1-8-1952

 

Lovin’ Machine (B-side only; Wynonie does not appear on the A-side)

This is a unique instance of Wynonie doing guest vocals on another performer’s song.  The Royals were an R&B vocal group that was recording in the same studio that Wynonie and the Todd Rhodes Orchestra were recording at.   According to the Lovin’ Machine liner notes: “Wynonie’s participation came about entirely by chance.  During the session the Royals’ bass singer, Sonny Woods, was apparently having trouble getting the middle eight [bars] right.  Wynonie, meanwhile, was listening in another room…Wynonie simply walked into the studio, took Woods’ microphone and showed him how to do it.  Ralph Bass, the session producer, liked the way Wynonie sang and kept him in the recording.”  (p. 10) This single was released by Federal Records, but Wynonie is not credited on the single, as he was under contract to King Records.

“Keep on Churnin' ('Til the Butter Comes)” b/w “Married Women, Stay Married”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Todd Rhodes Orchestra)

King

4526

1-9-1952

 

"

“Rot Gut” (alternate take)
(as Wynonie Harris with the Todd Rhodes Orchestra)

King

Initially Unreleased

1-9-1952

 

"

King teamed Wynonie up with the Todd Rhodes Orchestra for two sessions in 1951.  The pairing produced “Lovin’ Machine”, Wynonie’s final single to chart on the Hit Parade.  It also featured “My Playful Baby’s Gone” (a follow-up to Wynonie’s 1946 hit “Playful Baby”) as well as “Keep On Churnin’ (‘Til the Butter Comes)”, a favorite with many today that did not make the charts because the black charts were transitioning from jukeboxes to radio at that time and DJ’s were understandably not interested in risking their jobs by playing overtly suggestive songs on the air.

The sessions also include an earlier version of “Rot Gut”, which was initially withheld from release.  From the Lovin’ Machine liner notes: “This previously unissued recording of ‘Rot Gut’ is preceded by a snippet of session chat, in which Syd Nathan [King Records owner] can be heard telling Wynonie that he has sandwiches but Wynonie won’t be getting them until has finished the number.” (Wynonie’s responses: “Rollin’, hell!  I’m hungry! Stand by[, my foot]…”  “If you don’t give me a sandwich you ain’t gonna get no damn number!”)  “Wynonie and the band tried at least six takes of ‘Rot Gut’ but Nathan was evidently not satisfied with any of them….[Regardless,] a little under a year later Wynonie cut another version that Nathan saw fit to issue.” (p. 7)

“Night Train” b/w “Do It Again, Please”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra)

King

4555

6-25-1952

 

"

“Drinking Blues” b/w “Adam Come and Get Your Rib”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra)

King

4565

6-25-1952

 

"

King Records pairs Wynonie with the Lucky Millinder Big Band once more, so it‘s a brief return to a larger band sound after many small-band recordings.  By this time Lucky had been a has-been for a while, and little did King Records know that Wynonie was also just beginning the slide into has-been status.  Neither of the singles recorded in this session charted.

“Rot Gut” b/w “Greyhound”

King

4592

11-7-1952

 

A-side on Wynonie Harris 1950-1952 (Melodie Jazz Classics, 2003); B-Side on Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails (Ace Records UK, 1993)

After an unsuccessful run at “Rot Gut” with the Todd Rhodes Orchestra that got shelved the previous year, Wynonie re-recorded “Rot Gut” again and this time it became the A-side of the above single. 

Important note: Ace Records UK have released two wonderful compilations (Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails and Lovin’ Machine) that comprehensively collect every track from Wynonie’s King Records period from 1951 to 1957 with the exception of this version of “Rot Gut”, which is left off for some unknown reason.  That makes this version of “Rot Gut” an odd track that has only been released on CD once, and that is on Melodie Jazz Classics’ collection Wynonie Harris 1950-1952. 

“Bad News Baby (There’ll Be No Rockin’ Tonight)” b/w “Bring it Back”

King

4593

11-7-1952

 

Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails (Ace Records UK, 1993)

Just as Wynonie followed up “Playful Baby” with “My Playful Baby’s Gone”, he did it again by belatedly following up “Good Rockin’ Tonight” with “Bad News Baby (There’ll Be No Rockin’ Tonight)”, which was too little too late for the charts even though the song itself is great.  There would be two more failed attempts to revive “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, once as “Good Mambo Tonight” to latch onto the brief mambo craze of the mid-1950’s, and once as a rock and roll version for Roulette Records in 1960 under the name “Spread the News”.  Unfortunately the latter didn’t even get released initially, and remained in the vaults until Sequel Records UK found it in the Roulette Records archives and released it on CD in 1994.

“Mama, Your Daughter Done Lied on Me” b/w “Wasn’t That Good?”

King

4620

3-11-1953

 

A-side on Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails; B-side on Lovin’ Machine

Here’s a fun single.  “Mama, Your Daughter Done Lied to Me” was an answer to Ruth Brown’s hit single “Mama, She Treats your Daughter Mean” that retells the story from the man’s point of view.  Think of it as the man trying to set the record straight after the woman tells her mama this tear-jerking story about how terrible the boyfriend has been to her whilst omitting some of the not-so-glamorous details about her own behavior.

“Wasn’t That Good?” is in my opinion the most risqué song Wynonie ever recorded.  Wynonie talks about all the “games” he wants to play with whatever woman he’s hitting up currently, and we’re not talking about board games either.  The Stray Cats cover this song on their UK-only second LP, Gonna Ball (1981). 

“The Deacon Don’t Like It” b/w “Song of the Bayou”

King

4635

3-11-1953

 

A-side on Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails; B-side on Lovin’ Machine

From the Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tailsliner notes: “’The Deacon Don’t Like It’ [was] a cover of a then-current gospel record, ‘God Don’t Like It’, by the Reverend Anderson Johnson.  Wynonie’s version preserves the lyrics intact apart from the change in the title phrase.” (p. 3) There’s definitely more than a little ironic humor in hearing Wynonie preach-sing about the evils of alcohol, extramarital affairs, and short skirts, and topping it all off with an emphatic ‘I don’t drink moonshine.’”  Sure, Wynonie, sure.

“Please Louise” b/w “Nearer My Love to Thee”

King

4668

9-11-1953

 

A-side on Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails; B-side on Lovin’ Machine

“Quiet Whiskey” b/w “Down Boy Down”

King

4685

9-11-1953
(released Jan. 1954)

 

Lovin’ Machine

Holy cow, “Quiet Whiskey” b/w “Down Boy Down” is a scorcher!  I have three different Wynonie compilations that take care to include both songs; two of the three play the songs back to back.  And all for good reason.  “Quiet Whiskey” starts with this twinkly music box sound and a black guy that sounds like Blankman reciting in fairy tale style, “Whiskey, whiskey, on the shelf…you were so quiet there by yourself; things were fine ‘til they took you down, and opened you up and passed you around…”  It immediately slams you with a brutal, fast jump, captained by Wynonie singing at the very top of his lungs about a party gone out of control. “Down, Boy, Down” is slightly more mid-tempo but still heavy and rip-roaring as hey.  This time, Wynonie tells the story of his own out-of-control behavior that resulted from drinking a little of that moonshine that he supposedly doesn’t drink.  Too bad this one wasn’t a double-sided hit like “All She Wants to Do is Rock” b/w “I Want My Fanny Brown” was; it deserved to be.

“Shake That Thing” b/w “Keep A-Talkin’”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Sonny Thompson Orchestra)

King

4716

4-14-1954
(released Spring 1954)

 

Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails

 “Don’t Take My Whiskey Away From Me” b/w “I Get a Thrill”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Sonny Thompson Orchestra)

King

4724

4-14-1954
(released Jul. 1954)

 

Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails

“I Get a Thrill” was famously covered by The Honeydrippers on their 1984 EP entitled Volume 1, for which there has never been a Volume 2.  “I Get A Thrill” opens the EP. 

Just to make sure everyone is in the loop, The Honeydrippers was a side project for Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin fame) that included appearances from Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Brian Setzer, Paul Schaffer, and Nile Rodgers amongst others.  Their Volume 1 EP scored a Top 30 hit with a cover of Roy Brown’s “Rockin’ at Midnight”, which was in itself a follow up to Wynonie's “Good Rockin’ Tonight”.

“All She Wants to Do is Mambo” b/w “Christina”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Sonny Thompson Orchestra)

King

4763

11-23?-1954/
11-23-1954
(Released Dec. 1954)

 

A-side on Lovin’ Machine; B-side on Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails

“Good Mambo Tonight” b/w “Git to Gittin’ Baby”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Sonny Thompson Orchestra)

King

4774

11-23?-1954/
11-29-1954
(Released Feb. 1955)

 

A-side on Lovin’ Machine;B-side on Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails

These two A-sides are attempts to remake Wynonie’s two biggest hits (“All She Wants to Do is Rock” and “Good Rockin’ Tonight”) in the image of the exploding Mambo craze of the mid-1950’s.  They’re fun, but they didn’t exactly catapult Wynonie back into the spotlight as the Mambo king; in fact they barely crept out the door.

“Fishtail Blues” b/w “Mr. Dollar”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Sonny Thompson Orchestra)

King

4789

11-30-1954
(Released Apr. 1955)

 

Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails

“Git With the Grits” b/w “Drinkin’ Sherry Wine”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Sonny Thompson Orchestra)

King

4814

11-30-1954/
11-29-1954

 

A-side on Lovin’ Machine;B-side on Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails

OK, “Git With the Grits” is another fun side whose enjoyment value lies in the fact that it’s so hilariously un-PC.  It’s “the morning after”, and Wynonie is upset to find out that the gal he’s bedded down with doesn’t know how to cook, so he has to take her under his wing and show her how to make breakfast.  You can hear him thinking, “Gee, what good is a woman that can’t cook?  I mean, it ain’t no good when the man can cook better than the woman!”  He even threatens to throw her back out on the street if she doesn’t learn to cook really fast.  Hide this one from the PC police.

“Man’s Best Friend” b/w “Wine, Wine, Sweet Wine”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Sonny Thompson Orchestra)

King

4826

11-29-1954/
11-30-1954
(Released Sept. 1955)

 

Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails

“Man’s Best Friend” is a song that claims that dogs are better and more reliable friends than women, although when you hear the lyrics to this one, you can see why in this case a woman would be peeved with this man but a dog wouldn’t.  If you’re out running around and didn’t leave a note as to your whereabouts, your dog will just be happy to see you when you get back, whereas your woman will be worried sick about you. It's not rocket science.

“Shotgun Wedding” b/w “I Don’t Know Where to Go”
(as Wynonie Harris with the Sonny Thompson Orchestra)

King

4839

11-30-1954/
11-29-1954
(Released Nov. 1955)

 

Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails

“Destination Love” b/w “Tell A Whale of a Tale”

Atco

6081

10-24-1956

 

Rock, Mr. Blues!  The Atlantic and Atco Recordings (1949-1956) (Rev-Ola UK, 2007), also on Atlantic Blues 4-CD box set, Disc 3 (Atlantic, 1991)

Wynonie’s popular career was moving into that of an oldies act, and the hits had dried up a few years prior.  However, the musical quality of Wynonie’s recordings continued to remain high.  The liner notes of Rock, Mr. Blues!  The Atlantic and Atco Recordings (1949-1956) provide some details to the period that yielded Wynonie’s lone Atco single from 1956:


With no hits to promote, the mid 1950s was tough, with Wynonie earning less and less for his dwindling live gigs while continuing to maintain his expensive lifestyle.  He parted amicably with King Records in 1956, not having recorded a session [since November of 1954], and headed to Atlantic Records[,] who had revitalized the career of his friend and mentor, Big Joe Turner.  The Billboard trade magazine of October 6th, 1956 reported: 

“R&R Lures Harris Back To Disk Fold.  Wynonie Harris, after a nine-year affiliation with King Records, this week signed a long-term contract with the Atco label…Jimmy Evans, Harris’ manager, said that although the singer would prefer ‘just to give it easy’, he had been persuaded to hit the comeback trail because of the high and unabated market for rock and roll music.  ‘What they called rock and roll today, Harris was singing ten years ago.  One only has to compare Harris’ big hit of yesteryear, ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ with Elvis Presley’s more recent version of it to see that’, Evans averred.”

The Atlantic session, held on 24th October [1956], was a masterpiece of reinvention; the backing band and chorus was suitably up-to-date and the material…was sufficiently innocuous to appeal to the new lucrative audience of white teenagers…but Wynonie…[had] a long reputation of being bad that no innocuous lyric could expunge.”
(Rock, Mr. Blues!  The Atlantic and Atco Recordings, Inside panel #3)


The result was a one-off single for Atco that sounded great but sold poorly.  King would then bring Wynonie back for two more singles, both of which tanked.

The availability of the two Atco sides on digital is a little odd and essentially makes them more “odd tracks” for the collector to search out.  They were initially released on the 4-CD Atlantic Blues box set, which collected a potpourri of sessions from many of the big names in vintage blues.  Wynonie’s two Atco sides are buried in that set as tracks 9 and 10 on Disc 3.  More recently, Cherry Red UK’s Rev-Ola subsidiary took it upon itself to release a nice collection of tracks from Wynonie’s King period that includes the two Atco sides at the very end of the disc (this disc is where the above quote comes from, by the way).  This newer release gives the Wynonie collector another option in locating these two songs.

“That’s Me Right Now” b/w “Big Old Country Fool”

King

5050

4-15-1957

 

A-side on Lovin’ Machine; B-side on Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails

Both sides of this single feature Kenny Burrell on guitar. “Big Old Country Fool” may be an obscure tune on the Wynonie discography, but it is not to be missed!  It’s about a fresh young guy who is new to the city and gets taken advantage of repeatedly by a vampy woman.  It has a vocal chorus that sounds like it belongs on one of the country singles of the period, but it is mixed flawlessly into fun, rockin’ jump blues. 

“A Tale of Woe” b/w “No Substitute for Love”

King

5073

7-17-1957

 

A-side on Lovin’ Machine; B-side on Women, Whiskey, and Fish Tails

It was back to King Records for these final two singles, and that was it for Wynonie’s relationship with King Records.  Wynonie finishes with Hal Singer, tenor sax man on “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, playing tenor sax again on these two sides.



——Wynonie’s Final Sessions——

Title

Label

Serial No.

Recorded
(Month/Day/Year)

Available on:

“Bloodshot Eyes” b/w “Sweet Lucy Brown”

Roulette

4291

8-4-1960

Various Artists: Roulette Rock ’n ’ Roll Vol. 2(Sequel Records UK, 1994)

“Spread the News”

Roulette

Initially unreleased

8-4-1960

"

“Bloodshot Eyes” b/w “Sweet Lucy Brown”, Wynonie’s final release to come out during his lifetime, featured rock and roll rerecordings of two of his previous hits, “Bloodshot Eyes” and “I Want My Fanny Brown”.  We’re in 1960 now, so rock and roll had become mainstream and was starting to mellow, and that is reflected in these Roulette sessions.  A third track from the session, “Spread the News”, was a similarly-styled remake of “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, and was not even announced, let alone released. 

“Saturday Night”

Roulette

Initially unreleased

12-28-1960

"

“Josephine”, “Did You Get the Message”

Roulette

Initially unreleased

1-4-1961

"

Sequel Records UK’s Roulette Rock ’n ’ Roll Vol. 2 CD is a must for Wynonie collectors because it contains a grand total of six later Wynonie Harris tracks, all of which were recorded for the Roulette label in 1960-1961.  It features four unreleased tracks that are otherwise unavailable elsewhere and were not even known to exist previously.  The three new songs recorded in the later two sessions are all fun, pleasant songs about dancing and falling in love on a Saturday night.  In my opinion they are a tad better than the three rerecordings of Wynonie’s previous hits, although again, all six tunes are quite good and not embarrassing to Wynonie’s legacy in any way.

“The Comeback”, “Buzzard Back”, “Conjured”

Chess

Initially unreleased

Unknown date, 1964

Various Artists: Shoutin’, Swingin’, and Makin’ Love(Chess Records, 1971; reissued on CD by Chess/MCA, 1991)

These three sides recorded for Chess Records in 1964 were initially shelved, and did not get released until a couple of years after Wynonie’s death.   All three recordings find Wynonie sounding time-weathered but very comfortable in a 1960’s Booker T and the MG’s-style blues/soul sound that has since become “ground zero” when people talk about “The Blues” as a music genre.  It looks like “The Comeback” was supposed to announce Wynonie’s return as a performer, but “Buzzard Luck” seems to fit what really happened a lot better.  (“Just like a buzzard flyin’ high in the sky, I can’t kill nothin’ and nothin’ won’t die…”)

Shoutin’, Swingin’, and Makin’ Love was a very early example of what would later be a common practice of trawling the vaults for great material that wasn’t released the first time around, and releasing it to a public interested in rare archival material.  The full-length LP devoted a half a side each to R&B performers Jimmy Rushing, Jimmy Witherspoon, Al Hibbler, and our very own Wynonie Harris, and opened the collection with a Tab Smith cover of Jimmy Rushing’s “Jimmy’s Blues” because of the Rushing connection.  At the time of the album’s 1971 release, the liner notes classified Wynonie as the least famous of the four primarily-featured performers, which in and of itself gives us an idea of how far Wynonie had fallen and how much the record-buying public had forgotten him by the time of his death.  However, a subsequent revival of interest in jump blues and vintage R&B in the 1980’s re-established Wynonie’s reputation to the point that when this collection was reissued on CD in 1991, a new set of liner notes created for the CD reissue took care to discuss Wynonie’s contributions first and re-establish him to the top of list as the most famous of said four performers.

 

And so ends the Wynonie Harris discography, a legacy of 20 years of consistently great music.  All of it has been reissued on CD and you can knock out most of it with the purchase of four CD’s and one budget-priced box set, or get a good overview with the purchase of about two CD’s.