Sunday, February 27, 2022

VA - The Soul of Designer Records [2014] (4 x CD's)



VA - The Soul of Designer Records [2014] (4 x CD's)

Chances are, you've never heard of Designer Records. One of many independent labels run on a little less than a shoestring in the 60's and 70's, Designer Records was one of the many imprints run by Style Wooten, a Memphis recordman who recruited new talent in classified ads in the back of local newspapers (this also happened to be how he found his wife). Wooten's rates ran low but he wasn't cheap. As long as the musicians had the cash, he took his time in the studio, coaxing the best possible performances out of his nonprofessional artists, which wasn't a particularly easy thing to do due to his own amateur status. He could play a little, but he left a lot of the actual recording up to Roland Janes, a former studio guitarist for Sun who had played with Billy Lee Riley and Jerry Lee Lewis before he departed to set up Sonic Studios in Memphis in 1962. Two years later, Style became a regular customer of Sonic, cutting a wide variety of artists -- country, rockabilly, soul, rock & roll -- and issuing them on a bewildering number of imprints, many of them named after cars. Wooten dedicated Designer Records to gospel. Many vocal harmony groups came through Memphis with the intent to perform live and they'd wind up recording while they were in town, waiting to release a single until the groups could afford to get a record pressed. Nobody involved ever expected that one of these records would turn into a hit, and none did. Often, the groups would sell several copies at live shows -- sometimes selling well enough to ensure a second single from Designer, but that was the only place they'd ever circulate. Over the years, collectors were drawn to Wooten's work and Designer in particular because there was a raw, vibrant authenticity to the records. Little was known of the musicians or Wooten himself -- in his series of excellent liner notes, Michael Hurtt's writes that Style's son Jason admitted that his father remains a mystery to him, but that hardly dilutes the impact of Big Legal Mess' four-disc 2014 box set The Soul of Designer Records. In a way, this mystery strengthens the music as it underscores that it was, in many ways, true folk music, performed, recorded, and sometimes written by musicians who simply had a compulsion to sing these songs. Hurtt details biographical information for as many of the groups as he can -- more than you'd expect, although the information is often sketchy -- but the common thread is this: these are groups raised in the church but whose material often was informed by contemporary soul (some of the latest tracks here even feature newfangled effects like phased guitars), so they sounded like they belonged to the present, not the past. Sometimes the group had a guitarist, sometimes they also had a bassist, but it was Janes' responsibility to fill out the arrangement, so he'd sometimes add some live-wire guitar to the proceedings. The focus was always on the groups whose joy in harmonizing was palpable. This kind of gospel music isn't made much anymore. It's all rural small groups who were determined to connect on the terms of the modern world, adapting to its rhythms and sometimes addressing its secular concerns. At times, this does mean the music is tied to its time -- music made on a budget usually reflects the limits of technology -- but that's what is exhilarating about The Soul of Designer Records. Some of the groups are exceptional, as are some of the songs, but what matters is the cumulative impact, how the four discs paint a picture of a thriving, distinctive regional scene. (AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

An amazing collection of lost, quality soul gospel songs. These CD's are mastered from old vinyls that were collected and recovered over a period of several years at Memphis area thrift shops (the masters from these songs have long since disappeared). The talent contained within these songs is astounding and are largely itinerant soul-gospel groups from the 1950's (I think) that traveled throughout the states surrounding Memphis etching out a living playing at local churches. If you're concerned about the sound quality, it is excellent (doesn't sound as if they were not derived from master recordings). I first became aware of this collection in the Wall Street Journal (of all places), which featured this collection in a large, favorable article. One quote from the article described the songs as "soul without the sex." All I know is that I'm wearing out these songs... (Amazon)


Pt.1   Pt.2  


Track lists


01 Gospel Songbirds Tone The Bells Easy 2:53

02 Gospel Songbirds I Thank You Jesus 3:06

03 Dynamic Hughes Gospel Singers Beautiful City 2:06

04 Dynamic Hughes Gospel Singers Viet Nam 2:38

05 Melody Kings Of Greenwood I Know It's Jesus 2:27

06 Melody Kings Of Greenwood If You Need The Lord Call Him 2:17

07 Twilight Singers Tone The Bells 2:41

08 Twilight Singers Climbing High Mountains 2:16

09 Sensational Family Singers I'll Go 3:07

10 Sensational Family Singers Everyone Should Know Who Jesus Is 3:42

11 Songs Of Spiritual Of Albany We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder 2:19

12 Songs Of Spiritual Of Albany It's Been A Long Journey 2:40

13 Spiritual QC's I Made It Over 2:49

14 Spiritual QC's What A Time 3:11

15 Shaw Singers After While 2:30

16 Shaw Singers Trying To Do Thy Will 3:49

17 Soul Superiors Of Detroit Whatever You Do - Do Good 3:29

18 Soul Superiors Of Detroit A Great Day 2:35

19 Echoes Of Glory Move 2:05

20 Echoes Of Glory I Feel Good 2:14

21 Alberta Powell Trusted 2:59

22 Alberta Powell The Same God 2:30

23 Laura Bradley & The Famous South Land Singers How Good God Has Been 3:05

24 Laura Bradley & The Famous South Land Singers How Far The Lord Brought Me 2:21

25 Jubilee Hummingbirds Stand By Me 2:58

26 Jubilee Hummingbirds Something Within Me 2:19

27 Silvertone Singers Of Wynne Go Back To God 2:01


01 Breckenridge Singers God Is Ruler From Above 3:12

02 Fantastic Alphonzo Thomas I'm On My Way 2:34

03 E.L. Burtis Walking Through The City 1:45

04 E.L. Burtis Sweet Home 2:31

05 Dixie Jubilees I Come To Praise His Name 2:10

06 Faithful Aires Mary Don't You Weep 2:46

07 O'Neal And The Dean Brothers I Am Going Home 2:36

08 O'Neal And The Dean Brothers The ABC's 3:12

09 Mighty Blytheville Aires Get Right With Jesus 4:07

10 Mighty Blytheville Aires It May Be Your Last 1:46

11 Traveling Stars Beautiful Mansion 2:49

12 Harps Of David It's Me Oh Lord Standing In The Need Of Prayer 2:23

13 Harmonizers Of Newtown Just A Little While 2:40

14 Golden Five Do What The Lord Say Do 2:01

15 Johnsonaires He's Coming To Judge The World 2:30

16 Golden Travelers Too Close To Turn Around 3:21

17 Rev. Leon Hamner & The Holy City Travelers I've Got The Love Of Jesus 2:32

18 George Shields And His Gospel Singers God's Word Will Never Pass Away 3:09

19 South Land Singers When The Gates Open 3:06

20 Shaw Singers Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone 2:56

21 Shaw Singers God Has Done So Much For Me 2:46

22 Gospel Consolators People Of The World Are So Easy To Forget 2:46

23 Sensational Spirit Consolators Ring The Message Out 2:35

24 Sensational Spirit Consolators The Greatest Creator 3:03

25 Memphis Spiritual Four By And By I'll See Jesus 3:04

26 Memphis Spiritual Four Here I Am 1:49


01 Shaw Singers Since He Touched Me 2:28

02 Silver Leaf Harmonizers He's Sweet I Know 2:40

03 Famous South Land Singers with Littile Willie Patterson Letter From Jesus 2:42

04 Famous South Land Singers with Littile Willie Patterson New Born Soul 2:21

05 Rev. Leon Hamner & The Holy City Travelers He Won't Deny Me 2:10

06 Rev. Leon Hamner & The Holy City Travelers Only Jesus Knows 2:37

07 Gospel Stars Jesus Is Calling Me 2:23

08 Joe Townsend If I Could Not Say A Word 3:02

09 Joe Townsend Going Over The Hill 2:34

10 Canton Spirituals When The World's On Fire 3:01

11 Four Stars Lord's Been Good To Me 2:58

12 Jackson Trumpeteers Clean Up Your Life 2:35

13 Jackson Trumpeteers Lord Remember Me 3:57

14 Jubilee Hummingbirds I Won't Have To Cry No More 4:21

15 Jubilee Hummingbirds A Sinner's Plea 3:24

16 Mighty Gospel Eagles Of Greenwood Holy Ghost 2:36

17 Mighty Gospel Eagles Of Greenwood How Bless You Are 2:35

18 Original Golden Stars Nobody's Fault But Mine 2:04

19 Original Golden Stars At The Red Sea 3:16

20 Silver Trumpets How I Made It Over 2:08

21 Silver Trumpets Living Down Here On Borrowed Time 2:29

22 Barnes Singers Of Earle My Last Song 2:19

23 Barnes Singers Of Earle I Won't Be Back No More 3:14

24 Dixie Wonders Of Memphis Praise His Name 3:18


01 Fantastic Gospel Travelers Try The Lord 4:51

02 Fantastic Gospel Travelers The Lord Will Make A Way 3:21

03 Oneal And The Dean Brothers Don't Give Up 2:52

04 Oneal And The Dean Brothers It's Your Life 3:07

05 Original Holy Kings Christ At The Wall 2:15

06 Rev. Houston Potts Jr. & Sister Mary Pride Strong Believer 3:40

07 Rev. Houston Potts Jr. & Sister Mary Pride If I Don't Wake Up In The Morning 2:53

08 Sister Carrie Daniel You Don't Know 3:32

09 Sister Carrie Daniel This Joy I Have 1:51

10 Spiritual Harmonizers Of Senatobia Why Am I Treated So Bad 2:40

11 Christian All Stars Of Akron Let Me Lean On You 2:55

12 Elgie Brown When Jesus Comes 3:53

13 Elgie Brown A Helping Hand 3:30

14 Foster Brothers Plant Love 1:56

15 Foster Brothers Freedom Shore 2:42

16 Genessee Gospel Travelers Don't Blame It On The Children 3:24

17 Noah's Ark You Been Good To Me 2:41

18 Magnificent Soul Survivors Hold On To His Hand 3:26

19 Wandering Five I'll Fly Away 3:45

20 Mosby Singers Of East St. Louis The Lord Is My Shepherd 3:14

21 Mosby Singers Of East St. Louis I Got The Love Of Jesus 3:25

22 Souls Of Solomon Of Buffalo Do Yourself A Favor 3:49

23 Elizabeth King Testify For Jesus 2:20

24 Cora Bell Watkins Love King Jesus 2:45




    Hello, there is a great new Sampler from Cherry Red Rec.Can you perhaps give a offer on your side???Greetings Thomas

  2. Replies
    1. You're welcome Guitarradeplastico,scraping oddities.


  3. I did a quick u2oob search and came up with some monster tracks, unfortunately not on this collection though. Hopefully, there will be more to come of this label ??? :)

    This is definitely "diggin' the crates" stuff - thanks BB