High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Before It Was Soul - Vol. 2: "I.O.U."

Welcome to vol. 2 of my series



As you might recall, this series brings you some
of the greatest R&B and doo-wop recordings of
the 1940s and 50s - singles listed and ranked
on the black artist chart, a survey that twice
underwent a name change during the period:

(October 1942 – February 1945)

(February 1945 – June 1949)

(June 1949 – October 1958)

Romantic love, lost love, unrequited love,
physical attraction and infatuation are among
the common themes found on recordings in
this series, especially vocal group records
released in the 50s. Other familiar subjects
include man's temptation, vice, sin, infidelity
and other human flaws. In his referece book
Those Oldies But Goodies.. a Guide to 50's
Record Collecting, music historian Steve
Propes lists the following prevalent themes.

Positive or pleasant themes:

* Sex and virility
* Partying and night life
* Fast cars

Negative or problem themes:

* Drinking (occasionally presented in a boastful manner)
* Money problems
* Crime, punishment and dangerous situations
* Remorse and appeals for religious help

Many R&B vocal group singles feature a
dreamy ballad side backed with an up tempo
"jump" side. Jump sides are typically "dirty"
ditties with sexual themes. Records most
sought after by collectors are the ones with
sweet, tender, innocent vocal group ballads.
Original label 45s in that category have
been known to fetch hundreds or
even thousands of dollars.

Without further delay let's listen to
a few of these great long lost relics.

(October 1942 – February 1945)



Louis Jordan and his jazz band are making
their second appearance in this series and
for good reason. Jordan, nicknamed "King
of the Jukebox," rose to fame during the
the WWII years and is on the books as the
top R&B artist of the 40s. With his innovative,
often humorous style, Louis Jordan won over
white and black audiences alike. In vol. 1 you
heard "I'm Gonna Leave You On the Outskirts
of Town," the A side of Jordan's first chart
single. On the B side, Louis is once again
singing the blues. Seems he got himself
hooked on a married woman and...
"It's a Low Down Dirty Shame."

"It's a Low Down Dirty Shame"
Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five
(Nov. 1942, B side of "I'm Gonna
Leave You On the Outskirts of Town")


(June 1949 – October 1958)


The Five Keys were a vocal group from
Newport News, Virginia, that specialized
in the love ballad. They were responsible
for waxing "Close Your Eyes," the #1
Greatest Hit of the Shady Dell, a single
released in 1955 on Capitol Records.
Of greater interest to collectors are
the group's earlier recordings on the
Aladdin label.  In 1951 The Five Keys
scored their biggest hit with another fine
ballad, "The Glory Of Love," a cover of
Benny Goodman's pop hit of the 30s. On
the flip side of that Five Keys single, the
guys demonstrated their versatility with
"Hucklebuck With Jimmy," a rowdy, sexy
number loaded with euphemisms.

"Hucklebuck With Jimmy"
The Five Keys (Sept./Oct. 1951,
B side of "The Glory of Love")

(June 1949 – October 1958)



Piano player Billy Ward had a good thing goin'
with two of the greatest R&B singers of all time
fronting his group The Dominoes - Clyde McPhatter
from 1950 to 1953, and Jackie Wilson from 1953 to
1957. In 1951 The Dominoes scored a #1 smash hit
with the dirty ditty "Sixty Minute Man." In 1953 the
group changed their tune and recorded "The Bells,"
a somber, emotionally charged ballad that features
the hysterical sobbing of Clyde McPhatter.

"The Bells" - Billy Ward and
His Dominoes (Jan. 1953,
highest chart pos. #3)

As you might expect by now, the killer B side
of the Dominoes' drop-dead slow-paced, weepy
"Bells" ballad is a song that couldn't be more
different. Rendered in a style similar to the
group's monster hit "Sixty Minute Man,"
the jump tempo "Pedal Pushin' Papa"
is built around a highly suggestive
bike-riding euphemism.

"Pedal Pushin' Papa" - Billy Ward
and His Dominoes (Mar. 1953,
highest chart pos. #4)

(June 1949 – October 1958)


In vol. 1 we heard two songs by The Cardinals.
Now let's listen to the warbles, chirps and tweets
of another R&B bird group, The Robins. Formed
in Los Angeles, The Robins started releasing
records in 1949. Over the next few years the
group hopped from one record label to the
next and underwent numerous personnel
changes. Around 1956 The Robins split
into two groups with one retaining the
original name and the other becoming
a much more successful act known as
The Coasters. Listen to the splendid
group harmony on this 1955 Spark
label ballad by The Robins...
"If Teardrops Were Kisses."

"If Teardrops Were Kisses"
The Robins (spring 1955,

(June 1949 – October 1958)


Nearly two decades before Michael and his
brothers The Jackson Five put Gary, Indiana on
the map, The Spaniels, led by James "Pookie"
Hudson, became the first successful R&B group
in the nation's Heartland. The Spaniels pioneered
the classic vocal group formation with the lead
singer positioned solo at his own microphone
and the rest of the members sharing a second
mic. The Spaniels are best known for their
hit ballad "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite"
 which is regarded as a doo-wop classic.
The Spaniels were one of the first acts to
sign with Vee-Jay Records and became the
label's top selling vocal group. The Spaniels
performed regularly at The Apollo, The Regal
and other venues on the Chitlin circuit. The
Spaniels were a versatile group. They perfected
the sweet romantic ballad and could also rock,
roll and jump the blues with the best of them.
In the summer of 1957 The Spaniels released
a single with "Everyone's Laughing" on the
A side. Shady's Pick-To-Click is the fab flip,
"I.O.U" aka "I Owe You," a cleverly written
ballad so beautiful that it brings tears.

"I.O.U." - The Spaniels
(July 1957, B side of
"Everyone's Laughing")

I hope you enjoyed listening

to these R&B doo-wop relics.

Stay tuned for volume 3 of



coming your way soon.

Have a Shady day!


  1. You're right - the A and B sides of that Dominoes 45 are as different as they can be! (I much preferred the B side!)

    I'd say music today still reflects on those same themes. :)

    1. Hi, Kelly!

      How are you, dear friend? Thanks for coming over on this busy week of holiday preps to listen to these old R&B tunes I picked for you.

      I wonder how many takes it required for Clyde McPhatter to sob his way through "The Bells" without laughing. With Clyde's hysterical wailing being the prominent feature, the song about a guy attending the funeral of his lover is hard to take seriously, but I assume it was not meant to be humorous. "Pedal Pushin' Papa" is almost shamefully derivative of the group's monster hit "Sixty Minute Man" and it is much easier on the ear.

      You're right. Themes found in some of the songs of the 40s and 50s are still widely used by recording artists today.

      Thanks again for joining me, dear friend Kelly, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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  3. A wonderful collection of songs, Shady. You've done it again.

    One euphemism in "Hucklebuck with Jimmy" that jumped out at me was "the girl ROCKS" I hail from Cleveland, where in 1951 (before I was born, but I've read a lot about it) Alan Freed broadcast his show "The Moondog House" where he played many of the artists you have here. Later, in New York City, he had to change the name of the show to "Rock and Roll Party" after he was sued by a blind musician named Moondog. This is all common knowledge, and I'm sure you've heard it before, but I love hearing "rock" or "rock 'n' roll" pop up in songs recorded before Freed made the term commonplace.

    1. Hi, Kirk!

      Thanks for joining the moldy oldie platter party, good buddy!

      You're right. The terms "rock" and "rock and roll" show up in countless songs of the pre-rock 'n' roll years, and had a sexual meaning. Take for example the famous dirty ditty "Sixty Minute Man" in which the singer boasts "I rock 'em, roll 'em all night long."

      I admired Alan Freed and I am very happy to see available on YouTube numerous clips about his Moondog show and his star studded rock 'n' roll movies Rock Rock Rock!, Mister Rock And Roll and Go, Johnny, Go!

      Hey, did you know that "Cleveland Rocks"? Drew Carey told me so.

      Moon over Parma bring my love to me tonight.
      Guide her to East Lake, underneath your silvery light.
      We met in Ashtabula,
      She was doing the hula.
      I landed her in my radishes and pledged my love that night.

      Moon over Parma, won't you bring my love to me?
      Shine on the freeway
      and guide her AMC.
      Get her past those radar Mounties,
      Bring her home to Lake County,
      Moon over Parma, tonight.

      Moon over Parma shine on I-271.
      We can get together
      In the warm light of the sun.
      I'm askin' you don't fail.
      Get her safely past Lindale,
      I can't go to Parma cause my Edsel will not run.

      Moon over Parma, where those pink flamingos stand.
      I need her kisses
      and the soft touch of her hand.
      We're goin bowlin,
      so don't lose her in Solon.
      Moon over Parma, tonight.
      I said tonight.

      Thanks again for joining the fun, good buddy Kirk, and happy T-giving to you and your family!

  4. That song originally made its debut on either Houlihan and Big Chuck, or it's successor, The Big Chuck and Little John Show. These were late night horror movie hosts, and Drew Carey, who's a few years older than me, would have grown up with the former.

    1. Cool, Kirk! I didn't know any of that. Thanks for filling me in, good buddy!

      Happy holiday to you!

    2. I am so happy that you and Kirk found each other blogs. You both go into the history of the things like. So much fun to read with so much information.

    3. Hi, Gayle!

      Yessum, I am very thankful to have a new friend and follower in Kirk. He's a good guy and I love his interesting, in depth posts. We have a lot in common and a lot to share.

      Thank you again for your kindness, dear friend Gayle. I hope you are having a great T-giving with Winston!

  5. Hi Shady! I know it's getting late, I'm running pretty close to behind, lol!

    We were pretty young when Doo Wop was shining! I do remember hearing it some, because my parents listened to it a little. My dad was more of a 'boogey woogey' man, and Rockabilly, which does fall close to the Doo Wop. Doo Wop impresses me because the singers can do so much with their voice ranges! They blend harmonies so well together and have lots of rhythm!

    I'm glad the early Doo Wop rolled into Soul when my time came around-I really loved the Soul sounds of the 50's and 60's!

    I listened to your selections, and they were very good. Billy Ward did a good job on "Pedal Pushin' Papa", but "The Bells" was a bit whiny, as you said. Some of these tunes are just a little too slow. I remember The Five Keys "Close Your Eyes", and I liked it, even though it is so slow.

    I did enjoy "It's a Down And Dirty Shame" by Louis Jordan. and, "If Teardrops Were Kisses", by the Robins. You sure put together a pretty good line up of entertainers, Shady!

    I apologize for being so late. We're leaving around 5:00am so I am running 90 miles an hour.

    I do want to say, please have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and if you travel, be safe. We will return in a few days-thank you for this great post! ♫

    1. Hi, Suzanne!

      Thank you very much for coming over in the midst of your busy holiday preparations, dear friend. I suspected you had a million things to do today to prepare for your trip and I greatly appreciate you making time for a visit.

      This style of music was almost entirely foreign to my ears until I reached my twenties, caught the nostalgia bug and started collecting oldies 45s and albums. At first I purchased only the most common material like that of Elvis, Roy Orbison, Fats Domino and Ricky Nelson but, thanks to record collecting guides like the one I own by Steve Propes, I gradually got interested in more obscure artists and recordings. I put together a nifty collection of original recordings by 50s bird groups and solo artists like LaVern Baker and Ruth Brown. I also collected the early career recordings of Ray Charles released in the late 40s thru mid 50s, the output that I consider his best. It's fun to review some of the recordings I first got to know in the early 70s at the height of my vinyl record collecting phase.

      I'm happy to know you enjoyed some of these ballads and naughty jump sides. I swoon when I listen to these slow numbers and smile with appreciation when I hear the dirty ditties.

      Thank you again for setting aside time to visit, dear friend Suzanne. I hope you get plenty of sleep so that you are fresh for your long drive tomorrow. Stay safe. I wish you, Scootie, Rusty, your mother and your sister a very happy Thanksgiving.

      God bless!

  6. Shady,I.O.U. by the Spaniels is a great
    tune. Much more class than the normal
    New York Style doo-wop. The groups out of Chicago were my favorites. Anything on the Vee-Jay label I just loved. From that era we had out of Chicago, The Dells, The Spaniels, The Flamingos, The Moonglows and many more. Hey Shady, thanks for this look at the Spaniels. They were my favorite singing group when I was in High School. Later My man! Dave

    1. Hi, Dave!

      Thanks for coming over to sample the songs in volume 2 of Before it Was Soul, a series created with doo-wop loving guys like you in mind.

      I remember you telling me how much you like the Spaniels and that is why I worked them into Volume 2. I agree that "I.O.U." is a great tune. The Spaniels will be back later in the series.

      The Chicago vocal groups you mentioned are among my favorites and Vee-Jay Records got it right. It was a thrill for me to meet members of the Flamingos in 1984 when they made a guest appearance at an oldies revival show I helped produce. To your list of great artists out of Chicago I would like to add Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler.

      Thanks again for stopping by, Davy. I wish you and yours a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Winter here, friend Shady ... sittin with Theo by the fire at times, and steppin out into the cold at times tellin him: I've got to make money for us, honey ... purrs ... my vacation time is comin closer as will be travellin the southern Caribbean Islands Dec 08 - 22, and spendin XMas with son Paul and daughter in law Leanne in Fort Lauderdale, Florida ... they are travellin the USA for 6 months by van ... @paulleanneandavan ... ... all 4 now, friend ... got 2 sleep and make sum more money in order to travel ... smiles and purrs ... Love, cat.

    1. Hi, cat!

      How are you, dear friend? Thanks for swinging over for a visit!

      I went to Paul & Leanne's site and looked at the pics of their North American travel adventures by van. They've been to some neat places and done many interesting things. I'm sure you will enjoy getting away from the cold weather and spending Christmas with them in Ft. Lauderdale.

      I also hope you get rested up so that you can enjoy your next vacation getaway, this time to the Caribbean Islands. Mrs. Shady and I visited Aruba and St. Croix and had a great time on both of those islands.

      Thanks again for coming down, dear friend cat. Enjoy the rest of your week and I will see you over at your place soon!

    2. Added music, friend Shady ... smiles ... Love, cat.

    3. AOK, cat!

      I'm coming right over to see you again.


    4. Listen to Holger every Saturday 1500 to 1700 hrs mountain time for his Natural Blues Program on ... Much love, cat.

    5. Thanks for the tip, cat. I will tune in. I enjoy the music you recommend and introduce on your site and I hope you like mine as well.

      Lubbins X 3, dear friend!

  8. Happy Thanksgiving- I miss my friend Shadester. I've been a terrible friend and blogger.

    1. Hi, Holli!

      I am delighted to see you, dear friend! Thank you very much for dropping in to sample some pre-soul blues, ballads and rockers.

      Hush your mouth, Holli-berry! You are not a terrible friend and blogger and you just proved it by coming by and spreading holiday cheer. I wish you and Todd and your bow-wows a safe and happy Thanksgiving, dear Holli!

  9. Tom,

    I will certainly revisit your post when I can devote more attention to it properly and made short cut to it on my desktop so to remember at the start of next week to do just that.

    I just wanted to pop by for a second to wish you and Mrs. Shady a happy, blessed Thanksgiving. Have a good time with family and friends around the dinner table and be safe in your travels. God bless!

    1. Hi, Cathy!

      I appreciate your visit and pledge to return next week to listen to my musty, dusty old tunes. You are a great friend!

      I hope your DD in Maine is enjoying her new surroundings and I wish you and your entire family a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Thanks again for your kind visit, dear Cathy. Have a great weekend and I'll see you next week!

    2. Tom,

      I'm here! These tunes transported me a time before my time. lol I love the innocence of the doo-wop era and it seems for all ages mewsicians sing about the same things love, broken hearts, cheatin', drinkin', and fast cars (or women). I did not know any of these bands by name before today but each has a sound that sorta tickles a slight recognition somewhere in my brain but the it could be that these remind me of the general style of that period. I'm pretty sure all of these tunes are new-to-me, though. It was great fun to listen and to pretend I was on the floor at Shady Dell sock hoppin' to these 45s. Thanks for this time warp presentation to the 50s, my friend. Oh yeah, I have to add I remember scribbling the acronym I.O.U. when I owed someone something. lol Have a good day!

    3. Hi, Cathy!

      Thank you very much for returning to listen and comment. I appreciate it, dear friend!

      Quite frankly, half of these tunes are new to me and the other half I haven't heard since the 70s when I first collected R&B bird groups on vinyl albums. I have no way of knowing which if any of these tunes were played on the jukebox at the Dell because they were popular when I was still a boy. One major exception is the 45 that I mentioned in the text - "Close Your Eyes" by the Five Keys. Released in 1955, it was still hot in the Dell jukebox ten years later when I first started attending, and it remained popular until the end of the 60s, making it the top ranked song on my list of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell.

      Thank you again for coming to visit and chat, dear friend Cathy. Enjoy the rest of your week!

  10. Shady!

    These songs are great! I have never heard of any of these performers before, but I really loved their vocals and beats. I especially loved Louis Jordan, I will have to find him on iTunes.

    Have a rocking Thanksgiving, dear friend!

    1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

      You arrived just in time because I am soon ready to head out the door and travel across the state to have T-giving dinner with family. Thank you for coming over to sample songs recorded and released decades before you were born. Louis Jordan will be back in other volumes of this pre-Soul series. I'm glad you enjoy his bluesy sides.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you, your kitty and the rest of your family, dear friend JM!

    2. Tomorrow I want to see if I can find Louis Jordan on ITunes.

      I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

    3. Thanks, Jessica Marie!

      I hope you can find lots of tunes by "The King of the Jukebox" Louis Jordan. Keep in mind that I also have more of his recordings coming up in this series.

      Yessum, I had a great T-giving and I hope you did, too!

  11. Shady, to and your family, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day !

    cheers, parsnip and mandibles

    1. Hi, Gayle!

      It is so nice of you to drop in on Thanksgiving, dear friend. Thank you very much!

      I wish you and your family (including Mandibles of Doom) a wonderful holiday celebration.

      Thank you again for your kind visit, dear friend Gayle, and happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Hi Shady! With turkey day over and the day off today I finally have some time to enjoy your post! The music was classic as always but I have to say "Bells" was just weird! Ha! You always find the best to share! I know this might be a difficult holiday season for your family but it was great to see you back and I hope your Thanksgiving was good. You're in my prayers and a big hug from Ohio!

    1. Hi, YaYa!

      Thank you very much for your visit and sweet comments, dear friend. I appreciate them!

      Yessum, it's safe to say that the maudlin recording "The Bells" featuring the sound of Clyde McPhatter wailing at his lover's funeral, is one of the most unusual popular songs of the 20th century. I don't know for sure if it was meant to be taken seriously or if it was intended to be a novelty number. As you can see, "The Bells" made the top 3 on the black chart, so plenty of folks liked it either way. Maybe people bought the record as a "two-fer" in order to get the spicy B side "Pedal Pushin' Papa" which reached #4 on the chart.

      Thank you again for your kind visit and virtual hugs, dear friend YaYa. The holidays bring my Toto and your Eddy to mind and I offer hugs and prayers to you as well. Have a wonderful weekend!

  13. I'm so glad to see you back with the great musical nostalgia. I was thinking of you during the holiday and hoped you were with family and finding support from each other.

    1. Hi, Cheryl-Lee!

      It is very nice of you to drop by and spread cheer, dear friend. It is also comforting to know that you have been thinking about us and our recent loss. Mrs. Shady and I and our son traveled across the state yesterday and had a nice dinner with other family members. It helped to be around loved ones and get some much needed hugs. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too, dear friend.

      "The show must go on" and that is why I have resumed my blogging activity. Thank you again for being here, dear Cheryl. Have a great weekend and I will see you Monday over at your place!

    2. Always appreciate your visits and your lovely comments. Welcome mat is out for you at all times!

    3. Ditto, dear friend!

      Thank you for coming by to spread cheer, Cheryl. Have a great week!


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