Rock & Roll & Riley King


CLP 5001/1957 –

Dance Party is the first Crown LP release, a reissue of the first RPM release (LP 3001) issued a year earlier.  There are also release numbers scribed on the vinyl for a Modern release that apparently wasn’t released.  The first 15 Crown releases mostly coincide with the first 15 Modern LP releases, then the next several Crown releases were reissues of RPM LP releases.  The first pure Crown release was CLP-5026 (String of Pearls: Music Made Famous By Glenn Miller) as deduced from the BSN’s Crown discography.

This first Crown LP has liner notes, song credits & a cover photo by Todd Walker (more info on Walker on this earlier blog entry).  The cover photo is blurred and sloppily cut out around the kids, creating quite a crappy appearance. The 12 tunes here are all popular singles from the Bihari catalogue, kind of a “best of Bihari” including hits by Etta James, the Cadets, Jacks and Joe Houston.


CLP 5015/1957

So here’s the 15th Modern LP reissued as Crown’s 15 issue with both LP numbers scribed in the vinyl. Backside probably duplicates the backside of the Modern release with liner notes, song credits and 6 tunes per side.  All these early Crown LPs credit Bihari sister Florette for “art direction and production.” As noted earlier, several Bihari employees I interviewed doubted that Florette actually did the work. The standing Cadet doesn’t look too happy in the cover photo.

The Cadets started out in the 1940s as gospel singers, calling themselves the Santa Monica Soul Seekers. They came to Modern through an audition and were also issued as The Jacks on RPM. They performed as the Cadets but played both groups’ tunes.  The Cadets had a big hit with Stranded in the Jungle and the group went thru several personnel changes over the years.


CST 240/1961

Tony Allen was born in New Orleans & raised in the Ninth Ward with Fats Domino as a neighbor.  There’s a great little biography of Tony Allen over at the Doo Wop Society web page.  Here’s a excerpt that defines this performer’s musical background: “I attended George Washington Carver High with Arthur Lee Maye and Eugene Church. Later I went to Jefferson High, where I knew Cornel Gunter and Bobby Freeman. Arthur introduced me to Jesse Belvin, who only lived a block away from me, on 41st Place and Long Beach Boulevard. We all became good friends.”  What an incredible musical adolescence.

Ace Records has the only legit CD of Tony Allen’s recordings, including the material here. This LP has syrupy ballads, upbeat doo woo and a few near rockers but mostly you’ll feel like you’re listening to an oldies LP.


CLP 5020/1957

One of several BB King greatest hits Crowns including his first hit record, the Memphis recorded 3 O’Clock Blues (1952) and other early classics like Woke Up This Morning (Houston/1952-3), the first version of Sweet Little Angel (alt. take/1956/Los Angeles) and Every Day I Have The Blues (1955/Los Angeles). Reissue of RPM LP 3005 with both Modern & RPM numbers in the vinyl trail off.  Bad Luck is from 1956/Los Angeles & features King’s raw, 1950’s guitar style. He’s backed by a horn section that’s not led by Maxwell Davis.

Singing The Blues CLP 5020 was later reissued as Custom LP 1071 & United LP 7726. All the BB King info on this posting taken from the invaluable discography Blues Records, 1943-1970 by Mike Leadbetter & Neil Slaven.


CLP 5283/1963

Steve Alaimo had a crazy career, starting out in a cousin’s instro band, recording as a pop singer, being backed by an all black band, hosting Dick Clark’s Where The Action Is TV show for 2 years, signed at various times to ATCO/Atlantic, Chess/Checker, ABC Paramount & Crown. He was even a producer, working with Sam & Dave amongst other black acts. Like many of my Crown LPs in the closet, the vinyl long ago slipped out of the torn open covers & so far it’s lost.  I’ll post a Steve Alaimo cut when the vinyl resurfaces.


CLP 5021/1957

As noted above. the Jacks were simply The Cadets wearing different suits and recording on RPM rather than Modern. Both had releases on Crown that were duplicates of their RPM/Modern discs. By this time the Biharis had started the practice that would eventually result in the multiple reissues of everything they owned and (except in a few cases) each release more budget than the last.


2 thoughts on “Rock & Roll & Riley King

  1. Regarding the BB King United “reissues” of the decrepid BB Crown releases.. which were unusual in themselves (more of which after). They weren’t normal reissues but rather “reimaginings”.
    Not all of them, but a large percentage were remixed into stereo by adding stereo imaged horns and organ – I don’yt think piano was ever added, just organ. These mixes only appeared on the United issues, other than a very few, likely the better ones, that appeared on the subsequent Kent releases – which were the last of the original RPM issues to be either reissued ot repackaged. At least the Kent issues had quality and class, but by that time BB had already jumped ship for Paramount. However, many of the better united stereo remixes did appear on Kent issues, and it was these that mixes ACE also released in the early days of their BB catalogue. “Please Love Me” and “Rock Me Baby” are classic examples. All originally appearing on the United issues. Most of these United stereo mixes still have never seen any form of CD issue at all and remain only available on the original and later issue United LPs.
    I went to a lot of trouble locating them in mint condition to collect the stereo mixes.. I have to tell you finding playable vinyl was a thankless task ;-(. They put no quality control into their pressings.
    OK re the Crown issues. There were apparently both mono and stereo issues for about half his LPs on Crown.. which were issued as stereo recordings from the start. as opposed to the dubbed in stereo done by United/ On red vinyl as well! At least until 1960. Most of the stereo versions of the old RPM stuff on ACE originate from these albums, since that was always their technique, to source from the best and also most approprite sources available.
    Sorry about such a long comment.. BB, Kent, Crown and United, plus the whole ACE reissue campaign is a subject I have been deeply involved and interested in for decades..
    Regards! Doc

    1. Hi Doc,
      Thanks so much for all the additional information on the various BB King issues, reissues & re-packagings. The Bihari catalogue of BB King releases is definitely a complicated and messy business. Thanks for shedding some light on all these LPs. –JK

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