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Throwback Thursdays - Smash Hits of the Late 1940s (Hr 2)
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January 29, 2015 09:28 AM PST
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Join us as we count our way down through the biggest #1 R&B hits of the late 1940s. It was a period dominated by Blues shouters, wailing saxes, and piano-playing balladeers -- and Louis Jordan was king of the charts. But times were a changing, with independent record producers making inroads into previously uncharted waters.

One iconic record that helped pave the way for what would become the burgeoning indenpendent record scene of the late 1940s was "I Wonder," by Private Cecil Gant. It was just the right record, at just the right time, hitting upon the zeitgiest of World War II and homesick soldiers who would soon be stationed "a million miles away" from their gal back home. The original version was recorded in June 1944 by Leroy Hurte for his independent Bronze label, but when Hurte couldn't keep up with demand, it was quietly recorded again, for yet another independent label, Gilt-Edge. And as events played out, it was Gilt-Edge -- not Bronze -- that had the Billboard smash hit with it. It was such a huge seller that Gilt-Edge had trouble keeping up with orders as well, even into the early days of March 1945, months after its release.

But it set the record industry on its ear, so to speak. As a massive hit with broad crossover appeal, it was a clarion call to the newly emerging idenpendent record industry that success was possible in a market mostly dominated by the major labels up until that time.

By far, though, Louis Jordan was one of the biggest stars of the era, turning in almost 50 top ten performances on the Billboard charts between 1942 and late 1949, with most of those making it into the top 5, or higher. With cleverly crafted songs and a band that cooked, it's pretty easy to see how he would go on to influence Rhythm & Blues rockers like Chuck Berry the following decade (One main difference between the '40s and the '50s? Louis Jordan's instrument of choice was the saxophone. Chuck Berry wielded an electric guitar.... need we say more?).

To come up with our list of the biggest #1 R&B hits of the late 1940s, we devised a special super-secret formula, giving weight to the number of weeks a record was on the Billboard charts, with bonus points given for number of weeks held in the top position. After hearing the show and seeing the playlist, however, some might wonder why some all time classics didn't make the cut.

One of the most widely heard records of the late 1940s had to be "Open The Door, Richard!" by Jack McVea. Essentially a comedy record cut for the L.A.-based Black & White label, it entered the charts on February 8th, 1947, but only enjoyed a seven week run, topping out at number two, where it stayed for two weeks. "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee," Stick McGhee's homage to good times and cheap booze that helped put a fledgling Atlantic Records on the map, befell a similar fate. After a healthy run of 23 weeks on the charts, it stalled out at number two (a position it held for four weeks), but was unable to penetrate the grasp of three of the hugest hits of the decade that were making a run on the charts at exactly the same time -- "The Hucklebuck" by Paul Williams, "Trouble Blues," by Charles Brown, and "Ain't Nobody's Business," by Jimmy Witherspoon. And speaking of classics by Charles Brown, "Drifting Blues" -- cut in 1946 with Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, and one of his most widely covered songs -- hit a similar brick wall when it ran up against Lionel Hampton's version of "Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop," which was enjoying a 16 week run at the top slot that spring and summer. On the charts for 23 weeks, "Drifting Blues" finally topped out at number two, for two weeks.

Although Billboard chart statistics don't always tell us "the whole story" (so to speak), in any case, here are the hits that a generation of R&B fans danced to, heard on the radio, sung along to, and put their nickels in juke boxes all across America to hear again, and again, and again. Join us then, as we count our way down through the biggest #1 R&B hit records of the late 1940s.

Pictured: King of the charts during the 1940s, Louis Jordan.

Throwback Thursdays - Smash Hits of the Late 1940s (Hr 1)
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January 29, 2015 08:15 AM PST
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Well, folks.... here's another one we had a lot of fun putting together. And the results were quite revealing too! We ended up doing two follow-up programs — one on the early 50s and another on the mid 50s — and perhaps we'll post those in the next couple weeks as well. As always, thanks for tuning us in, and hope you really dig it! --SBH

Join us as we count our way down through the biggest #1 R&B hits of the late 1940s. It was a period dominated by Blues shouters, wailing saxes, and piano-playing balladeers — and Louis Jordan was king of the charts. But times were changing, with independent record producers making inroads into previously uncharted waters. With our top secret formula, we've made a list of the 34 biggest chart-busters of the late 1940s, and we're counting down to number one!

Cecil Gant, whose "I Wonder" cracked the top of the Billboard charts during the waning days of World War II.

Three from Imperial: The Desert Island Classics, Pt 2 (Hr 2)
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January 26, 2015 08:17 AM PST
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Join us for another installment of "Desert Island Classics." This time, we turn the spotlight on three LPs that came out on the Imperial label in 1968, called "Rural Blues." Compiled by Bob "The Bear" Hite and Henry Vestine of Canned Heat, almost 50 years later, they’re still considered essential listening. We'll hear selections from Volume 1, subtitled "Goin' Up The Country;" Volume 2, "Saturday Night Function;" and Volume 3, "Down Home Stomp." Includes music from Lightnin' Hopkins, Thunder Smith, Clifton Chenier, Lil' Son Jackson, J.D. Edwards, Papa Lightfoot, Slim Harpo, Snooks Eaglin, Boogie Bill Webb, and more.

Pictured: Issued 1968, each of the three volumes of "Rural Blues" were compiled by Canned Heat members Bob Hite and Henry Vestine.

Three from Imperial: The Desert Island Classics, Pt 2 (Hr 1)
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January 26, 2015 07:42 AM PST
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YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!!! Please take a moment to read the following....

Blues Unlimited DESPERATELY NEEDS NEW RADIO STATIONS to adopt the show! IF WE CANNOT GET MORE RADIO STATIONS TO CARRY THE SHOW, WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CONTINUE PRODUCING NEW EPISODES OF BLUES UNLIMITED. Sorry to shout, but yes, it's basically that simple. Is there an NPR or Community Radio station near you that has a diverse schedule, or that maybe plays some jazz in the evenings? Please write or call them and TELL THEM ABOUT OUR SHOW. Radio stations listen when you speak up. In the process, you will be doing us a great favor as well. And for those who live overseas..... same thing! We would love to be picked up in England, Canada, Australia, or any other place that would love to have some great blues on their schedule. Thanks for bearing with us while we take care of a little business, and now..... on with the show!!!

Join us for another installment of "Desert Island Classics." This time, we turn the spotlight on three LPs that came out on the Imperial label in 1968, called "Rural Blues." Compiled by Bob "The Bear" Hite and Henry Vestine of Canned Heat, almost 50 years later, they’re still considered essential listening. It's three classic LPs from Imperial, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

The Blues Unlimited 1st Annual Year In Review Special: Best of 2014 (Hour 2)
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January 18, 2015 08:14 AM PST
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YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!!! Please take a moment to read the following....

Blues Unlimited DESPERATELY NEEDS NEW RADIO STATIONS to adopt the show! IF WE CANNOT GET MORE RADIO STATIONS TO CARRY THE SHOW, WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CONTINUE PRODUCING NEW EPISODES OF BLUES UNLIMITED. Sorry to shout, but yes, it's basically that simple. Is there an NPR or Community Radio station near you that has a diverse schedule, or that maybe plays some jazz in the evenings? Please write or call them and TELL THEM ABOUT OUR SHOW. Radio stations listen when you speak up. In the process, you will be doing us a great favor as well. And for those who live overseas..... same thing! We would love to be picked up in England, Canada, Australia, or any other place that would love to have some great blues on their schedule. Thanks for bearing with us while we take care of a little business, and now..... on with the show!!!

Join us as we take a look back at some of our favorite moments from 2014. In a year filled with highlights, great blues, and a bunch of good music, we’ve hand picked a few standout segments for our first annual year in review special. Don’t miss the "Best of 2014," on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

The Blues Unlimited 1st Annual Year In Review Special: Best of 2014 (Hour 1)
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January 18, 2015 07:54 AM PST
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Join us as we take a look back at some of our favorite moments from 2014. In a year filled with highlights, great blues, and a bunch of good music, we’ve hand picked a few standout segments for our first annual year in review special. Don’t miss the "Best of 2014," on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Sweet Giants of the Blues: A Tribute to the BluesTime Label, Hr 2
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January 10, 2015 08:06 AM PST
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Join us as we pay tribute to the BluesTime label — a short-lived subsidiary imprint of Flying Dutchman. Their main claim to fame was a legendary album called "Super Black Blues," issued 1969, featuring Big Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker, along with a second volume that was recorded live at Carnegie Hall (with Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson and others) the following year. Along the way, we'll enjoy a few rarities, as well as a few selections from the very last studio LP of keyboard giant, Otis Spann. It's a tribute to the BluesTime label, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: A legendary slab of vinyl, "Super Black Blues" was released in 1969 on the short-lived BluesTime label.

Sweet Giants of the Blues: A Tribute to the BluesTime Label, Hr 1
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January 10, 2015 07:27 AM PST
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We're going to keep up our plea for help! Blues Unlimited DESPERATELY NEEDS NEW RADIO STATIONS to pick up the show! Is there an NPR or Community Radio station near you that has a diverse schedule, or that maybe plays some jazz in the evenings? Please write or call them and TELL THEM ABOUT OUR SHOW. Radio stations listen when you speak up. In the process, you will be doing us a great favor as well. And for those who live overseas..... same thing! We would love to be picked up in England, Canada, Australia, or any other place that would love to have some great blues on their schedule. Thanks for bearing with us while we take care of a little business, and now..... on with the show!!!

Join us as we pay tribute to the BluesTime label — a short-lived subsidiary imprint of Flying Dutchman. Their main claim to fame was a legendary album called "Super Black Blues," issued 1969, featuring Big Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker, along with a second volume that was recorded live at Carnegie Hall (with Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson and others) the following year. Along the way, we'll enjoy a few rarities, as well as a few selections from the very last studio LP of keyboard giant, Otis Spann. It's a tribute to the BluesTime label, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Special thanks to Chris Stovall Brown for help and assistance with this episode!

One-of-a-Kind Wonders: The Rarest Blues 78s of All Time, Hr 2
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January 02, 2015 08:17 AM PST
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Join us as we aim the spotlight on the rarest 78s of all time. We’ve got some real classics from the 1920s and 30s, that have exactly one thing in common — only one copy was all that was ever found. We’ll hear from Son House, Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, Skip James, King Solomon Hill, Frank Stokes, and many more. It’s one-of-a-kind blues 78s — on this episode Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: First discovered in 1995, the "Jack of Diamonds Georgia Rub" comes from the only surviving copy.

One-of-a-Kind Wonders: The Rarest Blues 78s of All Time, Hr 1
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January 02, 2015 07:43 AM PST
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Happy New Year everybody! We're back after a wee break with another killer episode. One that we think you'll enjoy, for sure! Special thanks to David Costa for help and background assistance on this one -- it wouldn't have been possible without his help.

We're going to keep up our plea for help! Blues Unlimited DESPERATELY needs for new radio stations to pick up the show. In fact, radio stations that air our program, right now, is our primary source of revenue. Without radio stations airing this program, the whole thing comes to a grinding halt. Although that may sound alarming, so far it's working out -- but just barely. Is there an NPR or Community Radio station near you that has a diverse schedule? One that plays some jazz in the evenings? Please write or call them and TELL THEM ABOUT OUR SHOW. Radio stations listen when you speak up. In the process, you will be doing us a great favor as well. And for those who live overseas..... same thing! We would love to be picked up in England, Canada, Australia, or any other place that would love to have some great blues on their schedule. Thanks for bearing with us while we take care of a little business, and now..... on with the show!!!

Join us as we aim the spotlight on the rarest 78s of all time. We’ve got some real classics from the 1920s and 30s, that have exactly one thing in common — only one copy was all that was ever found. We’ll hear from Son House, Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson, Skip James, King Solomon Hill, Frank Stokes, and many more. It’s one-of-a-kind blues 78s — on this episode Blues Unlimited.

Pictured: The great Son House. Out of the original four 78s that were issued by Paramount in the early 1930s, two of them are so rare that only one surviving copy is known to exist -- one of them was allegedly found lying on the floor of an abandoned home in rural Virginia, and another didn't surface until 2005 -- 75 years after it was recorded!

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