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DRUMMIN' UP A STORM: THE IMPERIAL RECORDS STORY CD
[one day CD]
 

When vinyl mogul Lew Chudd passed away in his native Los Angeles on 15 June 1998, postwar popular music lost one of its great champions and tastemakers.
Lewis Robert Chudd founded the eclectic Imperial Records label in 1946. He cut his musical teeth and developed his business acumen while working as an advance promotion man, sticking up posters for the big bands of the Thirties. He later went to work for the NBC radio network where he made a star out of clarinettist and self-styled ‘King of Swing’ Benny Goodman.
After World War II Chudd started Imperial, releasing 78s and 10-inch LPs by local Mexican acts and then diversified into wedding albums, Dixieland jazz and even square-dancing records! This all changed when Lew met Dave Bartholomew on a trip to Texas in 1947. Bandleader and arranger Bartholomew was at the centre of the New Orleans music scene. When he introduced Chudd to young piano player and singer Antoine Dominique ‘Fats’ Domino, the Latino acts were very quickly history and Imperial began to expand into the burgeoning rhythm and blues market.
Domino, with his characteristic pounding boogie-woogie piano, was one of the forerunners of the rock’n’roll phenomenon that was soon to change the face of music forever, and would go on to sell over 65 million records. The singer enjoyed a long career at Imperial from 1949 and is well represented here by songs like ‘You Win Again’, ‘My Real Name’, and ‘Nothing New (Same Old Thing)’. Bartholomew used to speed up the tapes to add even more excitement to Fats’ rolling rock!
With Bartholomew as Imperial’s A&R man, he and Chudd made the world aware of the sound of the ‘Big Easy’ and recorded a number of important acts from New Orleans including Ford Eaglin and Smiley Lewis, whose ‘Gumbo Blues’ features here. Imperial’s new output wasn’t just confined to the Delta, and it also released sides by such important blues figures as T-Bone Walker and Lightnin’ Hopkins from Texas.
By 1962 the company was at the top of its game with a staggeringly prolific release schedule; most of the cuts included in this three-disc set were issued that year as part of its 5000 series of singles. Chudd was a shrewd entrepreneur and stole Ricky Nelson from under the nose of the Verve label in the wake of his appearances on popular US TV show The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet. This clean-cut rock’n’roller and balladeer, who’d never actually signed a contract with Verve though they released his first hit, can be heard to great effect here on three 45s that made the Billboard singles chart on Imperial in 1962: ‘Young World’ (Number 5), ‘Teenage Idol’ (Number 5) and ‘It’s Up To You’ (Number 6).
Slim Whitman signed to Imperial in 1962 after a long tenure with RCA and helped cement his new label’s success. A veteran country singer and songwriter best known for his smooth falsetto voice and amazing abilities as a yodeller, his laid-back romantic vocals – dubbed ‘countrypolitan’ for their country sentiments delivered in a crooner’s style – are showcased here on ‘The Wayward Wind’ and ‘You Have My Heart’, the latter written by his wife Jerry Crist.
When percussion sensation Sandy Nelson hit the charts with ‘Teen Beat’, Lew was keen to get a slice of the action and lured the instrumentalist over from Original Records to join his roster of acts. Sandy quickly repaid Chudd’s faith; you can hear ‘Drums Are My Beat’, which made a respectable Number 29 in early 1962, here alongside two further A-sides, ‘And Then There Were Drums’ and the aptly titled ‘Drummin’ Up A Storm’. Co-writer on some of the Nelson hits was Richie Podolor who also recorded sides for Imperial as Richie Allen: his ‘Kick Off’ can be heard on disc three of this collection. Ever the astute businessman, Chudd acquired the Aladdin label, a company particularly known for its doowop and novelty acts, in 1961; the Velvetones feature here on the popular standard ‘Glory Of Love’. Another Aladdin act, Shirley & Lee, can be heard on the self-penned ‘Don’t Stop Now’, ‘My Last Letter’ and ‘The Joker’, another great song from the team of Bartholomew and King.
Having brought such heavyweight acts as soul singer Irma Thomas to the company by acquiring Minit Records, Chudd sold Imperial and its satellite labels to Liberty in 1964. Its far-ranging musical coverage still excites record collectors to this very day.
Whatever your taste, whether it’s the rock and roll of Frankie Ford on ‘They Said It Couldn’t Be Done’, the smooth doowop of the Turbans’ ‘I Wonder’ or the rhythm and blues of Amos Milburn’s ‘I’m Still A Fool For You’, this set offers something for anyone interested in the music scene of the Fifties and Sixties. Sit back and enjoy a collection of some of the Imperial’s greatest acts performing at the height of their careers.

This product was added to our catalogue on Thursday 03 April, 2014.
£7.00

 

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