Catchy King instrumental — and what is that instrument, exactly? Sounds like a blend of organ and harmonica, most likely:
“New Annie Laurie” Gene Redd 1960
“New Annie Laurie” seems an obvious attempt by King to “cash in” on the fresh organ retooling of “Red River Rock” made famous the previous year by Johnny and the Hurricanes, although without directly resorting to plagiarism, cleverly enough, by using an olde Scotch ballad.
Billboard‘s review of the single in its October 10, 1960 edition would have this to say about the A-side “New Sidewalks of New York” — “Gene Redd sells this happy rocker with warmth on this driving instrumental side, it’s the old tune dressed up with a rocking beat” — and then, hilariously, utter two words “same comment” about the B-side “New Annie Laurie”! Worth noting that Redd covered “Red River Rock” for King the previous year.
Brian Powers’ King Records Scrapbook informs me that Redd, originally a session player and King artist who became a talent scout for the label, would go on to do arrangements for Kool & the Gang, for which his son, Gene Redd, Jr., served as manager.
King Records would try to cash-in on the success of “Tequila” by The Champs, as Johnnie Pate‘s 1958 Federal 45 “Muskeeta” would demonstrate:
Johnnie Pate’s “Muskeeta” 1958
Johnnie Pate (b, ldr); Ronald Wilson (fl); Williams Wallace (p); Wilbur Wynne (g); Donald Clark (d).
Chicago, March 20, 1958
Cash Box‘s April 19, 1958 review acknowledged the structural similarities, though not in a bad way necessarily:
Pate sets his flute to a “Tequila”-like backdrop and hands in an exciting side. At mid point a voice belts out the word “Muskeeta.” Good mambo rock ‘n roll.
According to Armin Büttner‘s Johnnie Pate history website, the version of “Muskeeta” on the French EP (below) is exactly the same as the version on King LP 584, but for a tenor sax probably overdubbed by Ronald Wilson himself. It is not yet known, which version of “Muskeeta” is on Federal 45-12325.
The Five Keys, during their short stint with King Records, would carry out three recording sessions between 1959-1960 that would yield two albums for the label. One album, Rhythm & Blues Hits: Past and Present, would be released in 1960, while the other self-titled album would be released, oddly enough, 17 years later on the Gusto subsidiary. Note that the Five Keys original King album can fetch over $500!
One song title in particular seems to call attention to itself – “Your Teeth and Tongue (Will Get You Hung)” — fittingly, the album’s final track. Could this be an attempt at social protest, not unlike Lowman Pauling & the Five Royales’ “The Slummer the Slum”. Still decoding the lyric, but if true, might explain why this song was never put out for single release (*correction: Gusto would issue this song as a B-side in 1982).
Although this record bears the “James Brown Production” logo, the labels credit a Steve Baron as the actual producer of both tracks. Baron is also the songwriter on both of these tunes, which to me are reminiscent of the kind of sophisticated funk that Galt MacDermot was turning out around this same period. I’m sure JB approved.
Blakey would be identified as “Cincinnati Talent in Action” by Billboard in its May 23, 1970 edition:
Dennis Wholey, a resident of New York since his syndicated talk show bearing his name was chucked by WKRC-TV five months ago, was a visitor here last week, accompanied by singer Carolyn Blakey, whom he has under contract. Miss Blakey cut a session at King Records here, with Wholey monitoring. Her initial release on the label some months ago was “Tomorrow’s Child.” Now working out of the William Morris office, Dennis is still mulling the idea of presenting The Who here, with he as emcee.
Lord BooBoo‘s lone single release on King Records would end up being the calypso singer’s entire recorded output! Michel Ruppli’s 2-volume King discography reports that Lord BooBoo laid down these two tracks – “De Knife, De Fork, De Spoon” b/w “No Man and Woman Get Along” – in NYC on April Fool’s Day, 1957.
“De Knife, De Fork, De Spoon” Lord BooBoo 1957
Note that this single was issued on 10-inch (78) as well as 7-inch (45) vinyl.
Session guitarist Mickey (“Love Is Strange“) Baker — whose work would grace dozens of releases by King Records and its subsidiaries — would end up being allotted exactly one solo album by the label as an artist in his own right: 1963’s But Wild.
Recorded in Paris in June of 1962, this album would feature Baker’s guitar (as Michel Ruppli’s King Label discography would seem to indicate) overdubbed onto instrumental tracks – licensed from the Versailles label – of French studio musicians.