Speak Easy: The RPM Records Story Volume 2 1954-57

11th February 2016

CD Title: The RPM Records Story Volume 2 1954-57

Label: Kent/Modern

This is the second release that details the releases from Modern’s longest-running subsidiary of the 1950s, RPM. This collection begins around the end of 1953 (the end of the first volume, if you have that one). Volume 2 moves through to the label’s final releases of late 1957. On here you will hear a range of musical genres from blues and R&B, to pop and rockabilly.

Packed with previously unreleased or hard-to-find alternative takes, the 54 selections include 33 that appear on a Kent/Modern CD for the first time. The tracks have been mastered from new transfers of the original tapes or best-available dubs.

Quite a few of the artists seen on Volume 1 had gone by the time Volume 2 kicks in. So we can say goodbye to the likes of Howling Wolf and Lightnin’ Hopkins but Ike Turner was still around in his capacity of A&R man but also as a recording artist. Not that you would know at first glance. Turner went under the pseudonym of Lover Boy when he sang The Way You Used To Treat Me in a Guitar Slim sorta way. This is an alternative take which improves on the official release’s performance but the botched last note meant that, unfortunately, it couldn’t be commercially utilised.

B.B. King had five tracks recorded in 1954 for singles use. He was a busy chappy, recording this music in the middle of constant touring. Take 3 of Don’t You Want A Man Like Me is, in fact, King’s take on the Walter Brown track, Confession’ the Blues. You can also hear King here on his chart hitting best with You Upset Me Baby, a No 1 hit. Even the B-side, Whole Lotta Love (not on this collection), made it to No 8 in the charts.

There’s a fascinating collection of tracks on this 2CD pack from artists such as Don Cole, The Teen Queens, George Smith, The Chanters and Johnny “Guitar” Watson. A collection to savour.