Saturday, July 22, 2006

Soul Blues Saturday: From Chicago to Shreveport

Cicero Blake - Dip My Dipper

By the end of the '70s the R&B business has undergone major changes. At the largest level, the demise of most of the main R&B independent labels found many of the more regional-based artists (particularly those whose sounds appealed to Southerners) affiliating with labels like Columbia, which drove them toward disco and other incompatible styles. Only a few stalwart labels stayed the course, albeit operating on a much smaller scale than Stax, Hi, Invictus/Hot Wax, and others had operated. The Jackson, Mississippi label Malaco was at the forefront, and to the very day continues to record soul, blues and gospel in the more traditional styles. Stan Lewis' Jewel/Paula/Ronn setup was another Southern label that kept the flame going.

Today's selection was a Jewel release. Corey "Cicero" Blake was a Chicago soul singer whose talent was never appreciated, as he bounced around several Chicago imprints (Mar-V-Lus, Brainstorm, Brunswick) and others with no hits to show for the great recordings he left behind with them; the Brunswick material is particularly notorious, as it sat on the shelves for over twenty years! In the late '70s he recorded "Dip My Dipper," a salacious blues that became a signature tune. After a small-label release (I have the 45 but it's not with me so I can't recall the label's name), Stan Lewis picked it up for national distribution. The style of the recording is one that what would appear on many future sides. Next week these stylistic elements will be featured and discussed in further detail.

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