Big Town/Last Town

What’s left in my closet of Crowns (& various other Bihari labeled LPs)?

Big Town, the label that was struck back in 1978 by Jules Bihari, his last blues harrah.


Jules Bihari’s last record label of newly recorded music was Big Town, all blues, mostly artists he recorded back in Modern’s R&B/Blues heyday including  Big Joe Turner, Johnny Guitar Watson and Charles Brown. In Johnny Guitar Watson’s case, the new recordings  are recreations of the originals and sound nearly as hot.

Jules recorded a few a younger bluesman like Smokey Wilson, a Los Angeles transplant by way of Texas who could rip up the guitar and do a decent imitation of Howling’ Wolf as part of his act down at Babe & Rick’s, the last blues club left on Central Avenue in Los Angeles.

The story I was told by Crown Recording engineer Bill Lazerus is that Jules built a second recording studio across the street from Normandie & Slauson and these LPs were the first recordings to be made there.  Bill found the new studio inferior to the original studio in the main building at 5810 S Normandie.


A somewhat amateur sketch of Johnny “Guitar” Watson dominates the cover of Hot Little Mama while an unfocused & crude little snapshot of Big Joe Turner below is no reflection that artists’ talents.


Like Guitar Watson, Charles Brown made new recordings of his most popular original recordings.  Cover photos for Charles Brown, Smokey Wilson & Joe Houston were all taken in the dining room of Jules Bihari’s house.


smokey copy 2


Ace Records has reissued this rockin’ Joe Houston LP which Joe himself declared to be his favorite Bihari release.


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