Shout! Factory Readies 'Vee-Jay': The Definitive Collection for August 21 Release

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    Deluxe four-CD box set with extensive liner notes features such Vee-Jay Records hitmakers as Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, The Four Seasons, Jerry Butler & the Impressions, The Staple Singers, Betty Everett, Little Richard, Billy Preston, Gene Chandler, Rosco Gordon, J.B. Lenoir, Joe Simon, The El Dorados, The Dells, Jimmy Hughes, The Spaniels and more

    LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Vee-Jay Records was the first successful African-American-owned record company. At various times in its 13-year tenure, it was bigger than Motown Records and its Chicago rival, Chess Records. With origins in blues and doo-wop, the label quickly expanded into rhythm and blues, soul, jazz and gospel. Though it is perhaps best known as the first American label to release The Beatles’ first album and singles, it is the classic records by Jimmy Reed, Jerry Butler, John Lee Hooker, The Staple Singers, The Four Seasons, and countless others that are the label’s most enduring contributions to popular music.
    A hearty selection of Vee-Jay Records’ legendary recordings has been assembled by Shout! Factory for Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection, an 86-track, four-CD anthology with detailed liner notes by music writers Gerald Early and Michael Ribas. The package will list for $59.98 and will hit the streets August 21, 2007.

    According to Shout! Factory CEO Richard Foos, “Vee-Jay Records has as incredibly rich legacy, which hasn't always been well-served in the 40 years since the company went out of business. Thanks to our collaboration with Vee-Jay Limited Partnership, Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection is our attempt to finally do its music justice, and hopefully introduce it to a new audience as well."

    Featured on the collection are such essential Vee-Jay artists as Jimmy Reed (“Big Boss Man,” “Baby What You Want Me To Do”), Jerry Butler & The Impressions (“For Your Precious Love”), Gene Chandler (“Duke of Earl”), The Staple Singers (“Will The Circle Be Unbroken”), The Pips with Gladys Knight (“Every Beat of My Heart”), The Dells (“Stay In My Corner”), John Lee Hooker (“Boom Boom”), Dee Clark (“Raindrops”), The Spaniels (“Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite”), Betty Everett (“You’re No Good”), Elmore James (“It Hurts Me Too”), Little Richard (“I Don’t Know What You Have But It’s Got Me”), The El Dorados (“At My Front Door”), Rosco Gordon (“Just a Little Bit”), Snooky Pryor (“Judgment Day”), Billy Boy Arnold (“I Wish You Would”), Memphis Slim (“Steppin’ Out”), J.B. Lenoir (Oh Baby”), Billy Preston (“Billy’s Bag”), Eddie Harris (“Exodus”), The  Swan Silvertones (“Mary Don’t You Weep”), Hoyt Axton (“Bring Your Lovin’”) and much, much more.
    To give the fullest possible picture of the Vee-Jay story, Shout! Factory has also licensed in key tracks no longer controlled by Vee-Jay: The Four Seasons’ “Sherry”, Gloria Jones’s “Tainted Love” (later a worldwide hit for Soft Cell), The Honeycombs’ British Invasion hit “Have I The Right,” and two deep-soul classics, Jimmy Hughes’s “Steal Away” and Joe Simon’s “Let’s Do It Over.”
    Until its demise, Vee-Jay represented the ultimate American success story. It began in 1953 when husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Vivian Carter (a DJ at a Gary, Ind., R&B station) and Jimmy Bracken (a record store owner) borrowed $500 from a pawnbroker to record The Spaniels’ “Baby, It’s You,” which rose to the No. 10 position on Billboard’s R&B chart. Later that year they chanced upon bluesman Jimmy Reed, a worker at a Chicago slaughterhouse, who became the best-selling blues artist of the ’50s and ’60s. Relocating from Gary to Chicago, Carter and Bracken found the talent pool, networks and marketplace just right for a label like theirs.
    Over the next decade, Vee-Jay built itself into a black music powerhouse that also made strong inroads into the pop market, with acts like Jerry Butler and The Four Seasons. The label’s success came to a soaring crescendo in 1964, when some records Vee-Jay had released to little fanfare two years previous by a group called The Beatles, suddenly became hugely successful as Beatlemania landed on U.S. shores. Sadly for Vee-Jay, EMI’s American label, Capitol, promptly decided that they were entitled to sign the Beatles, though they had passed on them initially. Due to mismanagement and the vagaries of the music business, Vee-Jay soon lost its second biggest act, The Four Seasons, and the company went into financial freefall, though it continued to release great records right up until its demise in 1966.
    Vee-Jay’s achieved many things in its 13-year run: It helped define the sound of urban blues from the industrial Midwest; it provided a springboard for the region’s many doo-wop groups; it gave rise to the sound of Chicago soul and jazz; it made early inroads to the Southern soul later popularized by Stax and Atlantic; and it was the first black-owned label to break a major white act, the Four Seasons. Landing The Beatles came about almost by accident—all of the rest of it took talent, hard work, and impeccable taste.
    For the uninitiated, Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection will serve as an enthralling and instructive introduction to this essential but oft-forgotten label, and savvy Vee-Jay aficionados are sure to learn a thing or two as well.

     Later in 2007, Shout! Factory will follow up the box set with compilations of Vee-Jay material by Jerry Butler, The Staple Singers, John Lee Hooker, and The Dells, and will also reissue key albums from the catalog.

    DISC ONE:            
    1.            JIMMY REED AND HIS TRIO — High And Lonesome  
    2.            THE SPANIELS — Baby, It’s You
    3.            THE SPANIELS — Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite
    4.            FLOYD JONES AND BAND — Ain’t Times Hard
    5.            JIMMY REED AND HIS TRIO — You Don’t Have To Go
    6.            L.C. McKINLEY — Blue Evening
    7.            BILLY BOY ARNOLD — I Wish You Would
    8.            THE EL DORADOS — At My Front Door
    9.            MORRIS PEJOE — Hurt My Feelings
    10.           EDDIE TAYLOR — Bad Boy
    11.           THE HIGHWAY QC’S — Somewhere To Lay My Head
    13.           THE FIVE ECHOES — Fool’s Prayer
    14.           EARL PHILLIPS — Oop De Oop
    15.           THE EL DORADOS WITH AL SMITH’S ORCHESTRA — I’ll Be Forever Loving You
    16.           JIMMY REED — Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby
    17.           AL SMITH’S COMBO — Fooling Around Slowly
    18.           THE MAGNIFICENTS — Up On The Mountain
    19.           EDDIE TAYLOR — Big Town Playboy
    20.           CAMILLE HOWARD — Rock ’N Roll Mama
    21.           THE DELLS — Oh What A Nite


    1.            JOHN LEE HOOKER — Dimples
    2.            PEE WEE CRAYTON — The Telephone Is Ringing
    3.            SNOOKY PRYOR — Judgment Day
    4.            THE STAPLE SINGERS — Uncloudy Day
    5.            SONNY TIL’S ORIOLES — FOR ALL WE KNOW  
    6.            THE DELEGATES — Mother’s Son
    7.            BILLY EMERSON — The Pleasure’s All Mine
    8.            JIMMY REED — Honest I Do
    9.            THE HARMONIZING FOUR — Farther Along
    10.          GENE ALLISON — You Can Make It If You Try
    11.           ELMORE JAMES — It Hurts Me Too
    12.           HANK BALLARD & THE MIDNIGHTERS — The Twist
    13.           PRISCILLA BOWMAN WITH THE SPANIELS — A Rockin’ Good Way  
    14.           LEE DIAMOND AND THE UPSETTERS — Hattie Malatti
    15.           BOBBY PARKER — Blues Get Off My Shoulder
    16.            JERRY BUTLER & THE IMPRESSIONS — For Your Precious Love
    17.            LEONARD CARBO — Pigtails And Blue Jeans
    18.            JOHN LEE HOOKER — I Love You Honey
    19.            THE ORIGINAL 5 BLIND BOYS OF MISSISSIPPI — Leave You In The Hands Of The Lord  
    20.            DEE CLARK — Nobody But You
    21.            SHERIFF & THE RAVELS — Shombalor
    22.            HAROLD BURRAGE — Crying For My Baby

    1.            THE SWAN SILVERTONES — Mary Don’t You Weep
    2.            MEMPHIS SLIM — Steppin’ Out  
    3.            ROSCO GORDON — Just A Little Bit  
    4.            JIMMY REED BABY — What You Want Me To Do
    5.            DONNIE ELBERT — Will You Ever Be Mine
    6.            THE STAPLE SINGERS — Will The Circle Be Unbroken
    7.            WADE FLEMONS — Easy Lovin’
    8.            JOHN LEE HOOKER — No Shoes
    9.            J.B. LENOIR — Oh Baby
    10.           JERRY BUTLER — He Will Break Your Heart
    11.           EDDIE HARRIS — Exodus
    12.           JIMMY REED — Big Boss Man
    13.           DEE CLARK — Raindrops
    14.           THE PIPS WITH GLADYS KNIGHT — Every Beat Of My Heart
    15.           THE SALLIE MARTIN SINGERS — Old Ship Of Zion
    16.           JIMMY REED — Bright Lights, Big City
    17.           THE DUKAYS — Nite Owl
    18.           GENE CHANDLER — Duke Of Earl
    19.           THE MOONGLOWS — Real Gone Mama
    20.           THE “5” ROYALES — Help Me Somebody
    21.            JOHN LEE HOOKER — Boom Boom

    1.            CHRISTINE KITTRELL — I’m A Woman
    2.            JERRY BUTLER — Make It Easy On Yourself
    3.            THE FOUR SEASONS — Sherry
    4.            GENE CHANDLER — Rainbow
    5.            THE PYRAMIDS — Shakin’ Fit
    7.            AKI ALEONG & THE NOBLES — Body Surf
    8.            BETTY EVERETT — YOU’RE NO GOOD
    9.            THE ORIGINAL BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA — I Can See Everybody’s Mother
    10.            BETTY EVERETT — The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)
    11.            JIMMY HUGHES — Steal Away
    12.            THE HONEYCOMBS — Have I The Right
    13.            JERRY BUTLER & BETTY EVERETT — Let It Be Me
    14.            HOYT AXTON — Bring Your Lovin’  
    15.            BETTY EVERETT — Getting Mighty Crowded
    16.            THE CARAVANS — Walk Around Heaven All Day
    17.            GLORIA JONES — Tainted Love  
    18.            BILLY PRESTON — Billy’s Bag
    19.            THE DELLS — Stay In My Corner
    20.            FRED HUGHES — Oo Wee Baby, I Love You
    21.            JOE SIMON — Let’s Do It Over
    22.            LITTLE RICHARD — I Don’t Know What You’ve Got But It’s Got Me  

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