Various Artists – Mercury Records: The New Orleans Sessions 1950 & 1953 (2 CD Set)


In stock


Release Date:  2007

Label:  Bear Family Records


Track List

Disc 1

1. Miss Lollypop’s Confession – MONDY, Alma
2. Love Troubles – MONDY, Alma
3. Baby Get Wise – MONDY, Alma
4. Just As Soon As I Go Home – MONDY, Alma
5. Street Walkin’ Daddy – MONDY, Alma
6. A Job For A Jockey – MONDY, Alma
7. Still My Angel Child – MONDY, Alma
8. No Stuff For Me – MONDY, Alma
9. I Need You Baby – MONDY, Alma
10. You Done Me Wrong – MONDY, Alma
11. Byrd’s Blues – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
12. Her Mind Is Gone – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
13. Bald Head – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
14. Hey Now Baby – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
16. Hadacol Bounce – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
17. Longhair Stomp – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
18. Been Foolin’ Around – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
19. Between The Night And Day – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
20. I Walk In My Sleep – JOHNSON, Theard
21. Lost Love – JOHNSON, Theard
22. Boogie’s The Thing – MILLER, George & MID DRIFFS
23. Bat-Lee Swing – MILLER, George & MID DRIFFS

Disc 2

1. She Won’t Leave No More – LITTLE JOE GAINES
2. Snuff Dipper – LITTLE JOE GAINES
3. Mercury Boogie – CRAVEN, Dwine (Mr. Brown)
4. New Way Of Loving – CRAVEN, Dwine (Mr. Brown)
6. What Are They Doing In Heaven Today – SILVERTONE SINGERS
7. Call On Jesus In Scret Prayer – SILVERTONE SINGERS
9. Keep Yoru Hands On Your Heart – VALDEVEAR, Pat
10. Baby, Rock Me – VALDEVEAR, Pat
11. Boogie The Blues – JOHNSON, Ray
12. House Of Blues – JOHNSON, Ray
13. I’ll Never Let You Go – JOHNSON, Ray
14. Smilin’ Blues – JOHNSON, Ray
15. Somethin’s Wrong – MOORE, Herbert ‘Woo Woo’
16. Five Long Letters – MOORE, Herbert ‘Woo Woo’
17. Miss Lollypop’s Confession – MONDY, Alma
18. Love Troubles – MONDY, Alma
19. Just As Soon As I Go Home – MONDY, Alma
20. Her Mind Is Gone – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
21. Hadacol Bounce – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
22. Longhair Stomp – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
23. Between The Night And Day – BYRD, Roy & HIS BLUES JUMPERS
24. Bat-Lee Swing – MILLER, George & MID DRIFFS



The Mercury New Orleans sessions began with William B. Allen, who owned a radio supply store at Orleans and North Robertson streets and also distributed Mercury records in New Orleans. In late 1949 Allen talked to Mercury’s main office about recording black artists in New Orleans. “He had impressed the people in Chicago in knowing something about it and having something to offer,” recalled Murray Nash, Mercury’s primary Southern A&R (artists and repertoire) man of the time, “and they sent me down there to check it out.”

Allen acted as Mercury’s talent scout. He didn’t have to look very far, as his business was on the border between the French Quarter, where George Miller & His Mid-Driffs often performed, and the black Treme district, where Professor Longhair and Alma Mondy played the’Caldonia Inn,’ though one or two of the Mercury artists were chosen from an audition at the ‘Club Desire,’ a swanky black nightclub in the middle of a poor Upper Ninth Ward neighborhood a few miles to the east of the downtown area on Desire Street, likely after Nash, who usually recorded country music, arrived from his home in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Before signing with Mercury in 1948, Nash had been a successful distributor and A&R man for RCA Victor, where over the course of a decade his many achievements included the creation of several innovative distributing practices, persuading producer Steve Sholes to sign Hank Snow, and the recording of the original version of Tennessee Waltz by Pee Wee King and the Golden West Cowboys (after Sholes had rejected the song) – Nash would later recommend the song to Mitch Miller, the pop A&R man at Mercury, for either Patti Page or Eddy Howard to Record. Of course, Miller recorded the song with Page and the rest is pop music history – perhaps (an alternate story suggests that ‘Billboard’ writer Jerry Wexler, having liked Erskine Hawkins’ pop cover version, recommended the song to Jack Rael, Page’s manager).

In early 1950 Murray traveled to one of his favorite cities, New Orleans, where segregation was obvious. “New Orleans was divided and there was a regular black section, and they had their clubs and businesses,”sremembered Nash. “Whites normally didn’t go into the colored section at all.” Nash and Allen went to segregated black clubs and had to stand behind the bar to watch the artists. On one memorable night Allen enjoyed a black hairdresser’s convention at a nightclub, watching women wearing hairdos “three or four feet” above their heads!

From all indications – the releases of the records and mentions of the recording in the media – the first sessions were probably held in February 1950. Likely because of economic considerations – seven artists recorded in marathon sessions over two nights – the recordings were made at National Recorders in the Godchaux Building on Canal Street, instead of at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M studio. The songs were recorded primarily on 33 1/3rpm acetates. “That’s all they had at National at the time,” says Cosimo Matassa. “Two engineers from WWL and another guy named Ray McNamara, an organist, owned National. They got all of the aircheck business from WWL (radio)… They weren’t around a terribly long time after that.”

The musicians on the session were George Miller’s Mid-Driffs, including Miller on bass, Lester Alexis on drums, Alex ‘Duke’ Burrell on piano, and Leroy ‘Batman’ Rankin and Lee Allen on tenor saxophones. Alexis recalled that former Paul Gayten sideman Jack Scott, husband of Jewel King of ‘3×7=21’ fame, played the guitar.

“He (Allen) knowed how good we was,” claimed Lester Alexis. “He wanted to invest some money. So he used Fess, Alma and all them recording and we backed all of them up… We started playing early that night and recorded all night, man. We ate and drank and everything (in the studio).”

In April 1950 ‘Billboard’ reported, “Murray Nash did his first Southern blues and rhythm waxing, cutting Roy Byrd and his Blues Jumpers, New Orleans group, and Alma Mondy, blues singer…

You may also like…

Louisiana Music Factory - Newsletter
Stay up to date with latest news and concert information, latest sale items available only to newsletter subscribers, and more!
* indicates required