Caption: An early release on Checker from Joe Hill Louis
An early release on Checker from Joe Hill Louis 

Blues Unlimited #118 - The Checker Label: Early Classics 1952-1953

From: Steve Franz
Series: Blues Unlimited
Length: 01:58:59

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Checker was a subsidiary label started by Phil and Leonard Chess in April of 1952. Almost immediately, the label became home to harmonica giant Little Walter, and in the early days, enjoyed a few top ten R&B hits, as well as some fine Down Home Blues. Join us for a look at the early years of the Checker label, on this episode of Blues Unlimited.

Checker763brc_small In this episode of Blues Unlimited, we delve into the Chess family of labels by taking a look at one of their subsidiary labels -- Checker. Shortly after the Chess label was formally launched in 1950 (which picked up on the heels of where Aristocrat -- the Chess brothers' first label -- left off), they started operations on the Checker label. Although Chess is deservedly famous for it's all-star lineup of Blues legends, Checker would come to be known as the home label to such musical giants as Little Walter, Bo Diddley, and Sonny Boy Williamson (among others), and the first couple years that Checker was in business saw issue to some fine Down Home Blues as well. Here, we take an in-depth look at the Checker label, focusing just on the first couple years of operations. Great, rare, and classic Blues from Little Walter, John Brim, Elmore James, Willie Nix, Morris Pejoe, Woodrow Adams, Arthur "Big Boy" Spires, and more.

Piece Description

In this episode of Blues Unlimited, we delve into the Chess family of labels by taking a look at one of their subsidiary labels -- Checker. Shortly after the Chess label was formally launched in 1950 (which picked up on the heels of where Aristocrat -- the Chess brothers' first label -- left off), they started operations on the Checker label. Although Chess is deservedly famous for it's all-star lineup of Blues legends, Checker would come to be known as the home label to such musical giants as Little Walter, Bo Diddley, and Sonny Boy Williamson (among others), and the first couple years that Checker was in business saw issue to some fine Down Home Blues as well. Here, we take an in-depth look at the Checker label, focusing just on the first couple years of operations. Great, rare, and classic Blues from Little Walter, John Brim, Elmore James, Willie Nix, Morris Pejoe, Woodrow Adams, Arthur "Big Boy" Spires, and more.

Timing and Cues

Hour 1: 00:00 - 1:02:28
In Cue: "Welcome to Blues Unlimited..."
Out Cue (at 1:01:28): "...coming up right after this break."

Break (60 second music bed): 1:01:28 - 1:02:28

Hour 2: 1:02:28 - 1:58:59
In Cue: "Welcome back to the show..."
Out Cue (at 1:56:44): next time, right here on Blues Unlimited."

Note: From 1:56:44 to 1:58:59, an instrumental excerpt by Little Walter, "Quarter to Twelve," closes the show.

Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
Juke Little Walter The Complete Chess Masters 1950-1967. MCA/Chess 1952 02:45
Murmur Low Arthur "Big Boy" Spires Drop Down Mama. MCA/Chess 1952 02:42
One Of These Days Arthur "Big Boy" Spires Drop Down Mama. MCA/Chess 1952 03:38
Mr. Commissioner Arbee Stidham The Complete Recordings Vol. 2 1951-1957. Blue Moon 1952 03:15
Come On Baby Now Rocky Fuller (aka Louisiana Red) Detroit Ghetto Blues 1948-1954. Nighthawk 1952 02:38
Soon One Morning Rocky Fuller (aka Louisiana Red) Down Home Blues Classics 1943-1953. Boulevard Vintage 1952 03:15
Truckin' Little Woman Willie Nix Chess Blues. MCA/Chess 1952 02:41
Just One Mistake Willie Nix Down Home Blues Classics Vol 5 - Memphis & The South. Boulevard Vintage 1952 03:04
Open Your Book Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Complete Recorded Works Vol 4. Document 1952 02:45
Tears In My Eyes Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup Complete Recorded Works Vol 4. Document 1952 02:47
Pretty Baby Blues Woodrow Adams Genesis Vol 2 - The Beginnings of Rock. Chess 1952 03:11
She's Done Come And Gone Woodrow Adams Genesis Vol 2 - The Beginnings of Rock. Chess 1952 02:44
Every Day I Have The Blues Joe Williams On The Charts 1948-1972. Arc Music Group 1952 02:39
Me And My Chauffeur Memphis Minnie Stompin' 30: 23 Rockin' Blues Monsters. Stompin' 1952 03:02
Dorothy Mae Joe Hill Louis Sun Records Blues Years 1950-1958. Charly 1952 02:07
When I Am Gone Joe Hill Louis The Chess Story 1947-1975. MCA/Chess 1952 03:47
Mean Old World Little Walter The Essential Little Walter. MCA/Chess 1952 02:55
Train, Train, Train Danny Overbea Chess Rhythm & Roll. MCA/Chess 1952 03:12
Gonna Buy Me A Telephone Morris Pejoe Down Home Blues Classics Vol 3 - Chicago. Boulevard Vintage 1952 02:40
Tired Of Crying Over You Morris Pejoe Chess Blues Guitar: Two Decades of Killer Fret Work 1949 to 1969. MCA/Chess 1952 02:30
She Just Won't Do Right (aka Going For Good) Elmore James Tough. Blue Horizon 1953 03:02
Country Boogie (aka Tool Bag Boogie) Elmore James Whose Muddy Shoes. MCA/Chess 1953 02:40
It Was A Dream John Brim Chess Blues Guitar: Two Decades of Killer Fret Work 1949 to 1969. MCA/Chess 1953 03:04
Rattlesnake John Brim House Rockin' Blues. Ace 1953 03:14
I'm Glad Mitzi Mars The Chess Story 1947-1975. MCA/Chess 1953 02:36
I Don't Play Arbee Stidham The Complete Recordings Vol. 2 1951-1957. Blue Moon 1953 02:47
Blues With A Feeling Little Walter The Essential Little Walter. MCA/Chess 1953 03:08
Can't Get Along Morris Pejoe Down Home Blues Classics Vol 3 - Chicago. Boulevard Vintage 1953 02:48
It'll Plumb Get It Morris Pejoe Down Home Blues Classics Vol 3 - Chicago. Boulevard Vintage 1953 02:38
Two Wings Rev. Utah Smith None But The Righteous: Chess Gospel Greats. MCA/Chess 1953 02:33
Take A Trip Rev. Utah Smith Slide Guitar Gospel 1944-1964. Document 1953 02:51
I Don't Know What I'll Do Sugar Boy Crawford Chicago Blues Vol 7. Chess/Vogue 1953 03:01
Overboard Sugar Boy Crawford Chess New Orleans. MCA/Chess 1953 02:27
Jock-A-Mo Sugar Boy Crawford Chess New Orleans. MCA/Chess 1953 02:27
Biscuit Baking Mama Big Ed & His Combo (aka Eddie Burns) Stompin' 27 - 22 Rockin' Blues Classics!. Stompin' 1953 02:34
Quarter To Twelve (excerpt) Little Walter The Essential Little Walter. MCA/Chess 1953 03:13

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