Saturday, May 14, 2022

VA - Vee-Jay, The Definitive Collection [2007] (4 x CD's)



VA - Vee-Jay, The Definitive Collection [2007] (4 x CD's)

Vee-Jay Records was the most successful black-owned independent record label in the pre-Motown era (Berry Gordy actually used Vee-Jay as a template in many ways when he set up Motown), placing records in the charts in an amazing diversity of styles, from blues and urban R&B to doo wop, straight pop, jazz, and gospel. Formed in Gary, IN, in 1953 (the label moved its base to Chicago soon after) by the husband-and-wife team of Vivian Carter and James Bracken (the company name was an extension of the pair's first initials), and blessed with the assistance of Vivian's brother, Calvin Carter, a gifted and visionary A&R man, Vee-Jay had an aggressive recording, licensing, and marketing approach that saw them selling records to black and white audiences alike, and it worked so well that the label frequently had difficulty meeting the demands of its distributors, which meant that Vee-Jay was often facing cash-flow problems. Still, when the label finally closed its doors in 1966, it had outlasted most of the other black-owned record companies of the era, a list that included Exclusive, Excelsior, Duke-Peacock, and JVB. 

This four-disc, 85-track box set chronologically reveals the Vee-Jay story, and it is an astounding mix of genres and styles. One of the label's first big finds was the laconic blues songwriter Jimmy Reed, and several of his biggest hits are here, including "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby" from 1955, "Baby What You Want Me to Do" from 1959, "Big Boss Man" from 1960, and "Bright Lights, Big City" from 1961. Also here are tracks by the Staple Singers ("Uncloudy Day" from 1956 and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" from 1960), Gene Chandler (the timeless "Duke of Earl" from 1961), John Lee Hooker ("Boom Boom," also from 1961), the Four Seasons ("Sherry" from 1962), and the Honeycombs' "Have I the Right," which was recorded and produced by the eccentric Joe Meek in his home studio in 1964. There's even an early cut from a young Billy Preston, the hard charging instrumental "Billy's Bag" from 1964. What isn't here, unfortunately, no doubt due to licensing restrictions, are the two Beatles singles, "Please, Please Me" and "From Me to You," that Vee-Jay released in 1963, thus introducing Beatlemania to the U.S. at a time when even Capitol Records, EMI's American arm and thus first in line for the Beatles, failed to recognize the group's potential. Vee-Jay took risks and chances with its catalog, and that fearlessness in the face of the music marketplace kept the company constantly overextended financially and contributed mightily to the label's eventual demise, but the music that resulted was wonderfully diverse and vital, a central part of the sound of pop music in the 1950s and early '60s. After all, this is a label that gave the world (at least the U.S. part of it) both Jimmy Reed and the Beatles (not to mention the immortal "Duke of Earl"), and paved the way for Motown Records. That's not a bad legacy. Not bad at all. And it's only the tip of the iceberg. (AllMusc review by Steve Leggett)

For a label that lasted only 13 years and closed in 1966, Vee-Jay Records left a large legacy, though one that is largely under recognized.  This is a nice way to get the cream of the old Vee-Jay Records catalog. 


Pt.1   Pt.2  \


Track lists


01 Jimmy Reed and His Trio High and Lonesome 0:02:47

02 Spaniels Baby, It's You 0:02:37

03 Spaniels Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite 0:02:43

04 Floyd Jones and Band Ain'y Times Hard 0:03:08

05 Jimmy Reed and His Trio You Don't Have to Go 0:03:08

06 L.C. McKinley Blue Evening 0:02:44

07 Billy Boy Arnold I Wish You Would 0:02:44

08 El Dorados At My Front Door 0:02:38

09 Morris Pejoe Hurt My Feelings 0:03:28

10 Eddie Taylor Bad Boy 0:03:02

11 Highway Qc's Somewhere to Lay My Head 0:02:23

12 Jay McShannon's Orchestra, Vocalist Priscilla Bowman Hands Off 0:02:52

13 Five Echoes Fool's Prayer 0:03:10

14 Earl Phillips Oop De Oop 0:02:49

15 Rge El Dorados With Al Smith's Orchestra I'll Be Forever Loving You 0:02:30

16 Jimmy Reed Ain't That Lovin' You Baby 0:02:22

17 Al Smith's Combo Fooling Around Slowly 0:03:08

18 Magnificents Up on the Mountain 0:02:49

19 Eddie Taylor Big Town Playboy 0:03:00

20 Camille Howard Rock 'n Roll Mama 0:02:45

21 Dells Oh What a Nite 0:02:56


01 John Lee Hooker Dimples 0:02:11

02 Pee Wee Crayton The Telephone is Ringing 0:03:11

03 Snooky Pryor Judgement Day 0:02:42

04 Staple Singers Uncloudy Day 0:03:01

05 Sonny Til's Orioles For All We Know 0:02:51

06 Delegates Mother's Son 0:02:56

07 Billy Emerson The Pleasure's All Mine 0:02:43

08 Jimmy Reed Honest I Do 0:02:48

09 Harmonizing Four Farther Along 0:02:45

10 Gene Allison You Can Make it If You Try 0:02:09

11 Elmore James It Hurts Me Too 0:03:05

12 Hank Ballard & the Midnighters The Twist 0:02:35

13 Priscilla Bowman With the Spaniels A Rockin' Good Way 0:02:15

14 Lee Diamond and the Upsetters Hattie Malatti 0:02:50

15 Bobby Parker Blues Get Off My Shoulder 0:03:00

16 Jerry Butler & the Impressions For Your Precious Love 0:02:47

17 Leonard Carbo Pigtails and Blue Jeans 0:02:19

18 John Lee Hooker I Love You Honey 0:02:35

19 Five Blind Boys of Mississippi Leave You in the Hands of the Lord 0:02:46

20 Dee Clark Nobody But You 0:02:28

21 Sheriff & the Ravels Shombalor 0:02:16

22 Harold Burrage Crying for My Baby 0:02:15


01 Swan Silvertones Mary Don't You Weep 0:02:51

02 Memphis Slim Steppin' Out 0:02:03

03 Rosco Gordon Just a Little Bit 0:02:09

04 Jimmy Reed Baby What Do You Want Me to Do 0:02:25

05 Donnie Elbert Will You Ever Be Mine 0:02:35

06 Staple Singers Will the Circle Be Unbroken 0:02:49

07 Wade Flemons Easy Lovin' 0:02:21

08 John Lee Hooker No Shoes 0:02:27

09 J.B. Lenoir Oh Baby 0:02:13

10 Jerry Butler He Will Break Your Heart 0:02:50

11 Eddie Harris Exodus 0:02:01

12 Jimmy Reed Big Boss Man 0:02:53

13 Dee Clark Raindrops 0:02:54

14 Pips With Gladys Knight Every Beat of My Heart 0:02:04

15 Sallie Martin Singers Old Ship of Zion 0:03:58

16 Jimmy Reed Bright Lights, Big City 0:02:48

17 Dukays Nite Owl 0:02:26

18 Gene Chandler Duke of Earl 0:02:27

19 Moonglows Real Gone Mama 0:03:02

20 '5' Royales Help Me Somebody 0:02:58

21 Jogn Lee Hooker Boom Boom 0:02:32


01 Christine Kittrell I'm a Woman 0:02:33

02 Jerry Butler Make it Easy on Yourself 0:02:44

03 Four Seasons Sherry 0:02:34

04 Gene Chandler Rainbow 0:02:23

05 Pyramids Shakin' Fit 0:02:11

06 Birdlegs & Pauline and Their Versatility Birds Spring 0:02:49

07 Aki Aleong & the Nobles Body Surf 0:02:03

08 Betty Everett You're No Good 0:02:23

09 Original Blind Boys of Alabama I Can See Everybody's Mother 0:02:28

10 Betty Everett The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss) 0:02:16

11 Jimmy Hughes Steal Away 0:02:25

12 Honeycombs Have I the Right 0:02:59

13 Jerry Butler & Betty Everett Let it Be Me 0:02:41

14 Hoyt Axton Bring Your Lovin' 0:02:27

15 Betty Everett Getting Mighty Crowded 0:02:15

16 Caravans Walk Around Heaven All Day 0:03:41

17 Gloria Jones Tainted Love 0:02:14

18 Billy Preston Billy's Bag 0:02:50

19 Dells Stay in My Corner 0:02:54

20 Fred Hughes Oo Wee Baby, I Love You 0:02:25

21 Joe Simon Let's Do it Over 0:02:21

22 Little Richard I Don't Know What You've Got But It's Got Me 0:04:46




  1. Replies
    1. Hi Bob Mac,
      I hope you enjoy this great set.

  2. One of the best rhythm and blues label! Indispensable for every aficionado of this music.

    1. Hi Racati,
      I've posted a lot of Vee Jay in the past. It is always popular.

  3. Replies
    1. You are welcome, Guitarradeplastico,scraping oddities.