Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Perry Cain on Freedom 1200

Perry Cain - "Big Timing Grandma" / "My Heart Belongs to You" (Freedom 1200)

"Big Timing Grandma" (link to Soundcloud)

"My Heart Belongs to You" (link to Soundcloud)

The first release on Freedom went completely unnoticed in the trade when it debuted in 1948, and little has changed since then. Despite all the interest in black music in Texas and jump blues generally in recent decades, "Big Timing Grandma," a decent jumper, has never been reissued. This probably has a lot to do with the availability of original copies, or lack thereof. Though many releases on the Freedom label are fairly easy to find, even now, this one never was. Bruce Bastin remembered snapping up a copy in Houston in 1965, but the package he sent to himself back in England was lost at sea. He never saw or heard of another copy.

Leadbitter's Blues Records 1943-1966 lists the personnel here as Ed Wiley and Nathaniel Haskins (saxes), Edwin "Buster" Pickens (piano), and Ben Turner (drums). The trumpeter is known, but would probably prefer to remain anonymous. It was a young band, probably the first record for most of them. Cain himself claimed to have been only 19 at the time, but if that's so, he has a mature voice for a teenager. He must have been greatly discouraged by the non-sale of this release -- it was his second and final record. The emcee at Club Matinee during that venue's glory years, Cain's better remembered today by old-timers as a longtime disc jockey at KCOH in Houston. An unrevealing interview with Cain appeared in Nothing But the Blues (Hanover, 1971).

The slow ballad "My Heart Belongs to You" is the actual "A" side here. Did Freedom naively think they could compete with RCA-Victor? Arbee Stidham's original version of "My Heart Belongs to You" for that label debuted in Billboard's Race charts on June 12, 1948, and spent 24 weeks there, peaking at #1 on September 11. This nicely telescopes the probable period for this record's release date. After some initial missteps, Freedom would find it's footing with the more experienced Conrad Johnson band.