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Harlem Hamfats

The Harlem Hamfats were a crack studio band formed in 1936 by black talent scout Mayo "Ink" Williams. Its main function was backing jazz and blues singers such as Johnny Temple, Rosetta Howard, and Frankie "Half Pint" Jackson for Decca Records; the Hamfats' side career began when its first record "Oh Red" became a hit. Despite its name, none of the band's members came from Harlem, and none were hamfats, a disparaging term referring to indifferent musicians. Brothers Joe and Charlie McCoy were blues players from Mississippi; leader Herb Morand, Odell Rand, and John Lindsay were from New Orleans; Horace Malcolm and drummers Pearlis Williams and Freddie Flynn were from Chicago. This territorial disparity created a sound which blended various blues styles with New Orleans, Dixieland, and swing jazz. The band's high-spirited playing and excellent musicianship compensated for what some critics have called lack of improvisational skill. The Hamfats' music has been somewhat neglected over the years. The vocalists tended to be derivative of other popular singers of the day such as Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, and various blues singers. The lyrical content of their songs often revolved around subjects like drinking and sex, leading some to dismiss them as a lightweight novelty act. Although it is not seen as an innovative group, the Harlem Hamfats' riff-based style was influential to Louis Jordan, early Muddy Waters, and what would eventually become rhythm & blues and rock & roll. ~ Jim Powers
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Back To The Crossroads: The Roots Of Robert Johnson

1. Police Station Blues [1932]

2. Old Original Kokomo Blues - 1934

3. Cruel Hearted Woman [1934]

4. Roll And Tumble Blues [1929]

5. Life Saver Blues [1927]

6. Sitting On Top Of The World [1930]

7. Hittin' The Bottle Stomp [1936]

8. Devil Got My Woman - 1931

9. My Black Mama, Pt. 1 [1930]

10. Georgia Bound - 1929

11. When The Sun Goes Down [1935]

12. Sissy Man Blues [1935]

13. Your Enemy Cannot Harm You [1926]

14. Lead Pencil Blues [1935]

15. 22-20 Blues [1931]

16. Dry Southern Blues [1926]

17. Kokomo Blues [1928]

18. Things 'bout Coming My Way [1931]

19. King Of Spades [1935]

20. Oh Red [1936]

21. You're Gonna Need Somebody When You Die [1929]

22. Milk Cow Blues - 1934

23. Preachin' The Blues [1930]

x

Track List: Dope & Glory

Disc 1

1. Sendin' The Vipers

2. Viper's Drag

3. When I Get Low I Get High

4. I'm Gonna Get High

8. Knockin' Myself Out

9. Reefer Man?

11. Here Comes The Man With The Jive

12. If You're A Viper

13. Texas Tea Party

15. Jack I'm Mellow

16. Sweet Marihuana Brown

18. Weed Smoker's Dream

19. The 'G' Man Got The 'T' Man

20. All The Jive Is Gone

21. Stuff Is Here

22. Weed

23. Knockin' Myself Out

25. Save The Roach For Me

Disc 2

1. Killin' Jive

3. Sweet Sue, Just You

6. Golden Leaf Strut

11. Jive Man Blues

14. Mellow Stuff

15. Minor Goes A Muggin'

16. Reefer Man

18. Dopey Joe

20. Don't Credit My Stuff

21. A Vipers Moan

23. Smoking Reefers

25. Willie The Weeper

x

Track List: Out There: Wild & Wondrous Roots Of Rock 'n' Roll, Vol. 2

1. Space Guitar

2. She's Gone

3. Oh Red

4. Two Little Men In A Flying Saucer

5. Hittin' The Bottle Stomp

6. Down The Road Apiece

7. Rockin' Chair Money

8. Saturday Night Fish Fry

9. Rock & Roll

10. Oh By Jingo!

13. Let That Liar Alone

14. Alarm Clock Boogie

15. Round Town Girls

16. My Black Mama Part One

17. Rockin' With Red

18. Country Blues

19. Mother Fuya

x

Track List: The Early Roots Of Rock N' Roll

1. High Water Everywhere

2. Rock And Roll

4. Somebody's Been Using That Thing

6. Oh Red

7. Dusty Blossom Boogie

8. Evans Shuffle

9. Serves 'Em Fine

10. White Lightning

11. A Big Ball In Cowtown

13. Rock Island Line

14. Two Little Men In A Flying Saucer

15. My Black Mama Part One

16. Rockin' Chair Money

19. Shake It

20. Rockin' Rollin' Mama

21. Country Blues

22. Ramrod

23. Down The Road Apiece

24. Round Town Girls

25. Rhythm And Booze

26. Saturday Night Fish Fry

27. Alarm Clock Boogie

28. Shimmy Shakin' Daddy

29. She's Gone

30. Hittin' The Bottle Stomp

31. Lint Head Stomp

32. Fast Freight

34. Pero Hay Que Triste

35. Tomi Tomi

36. African Love Call

37. Oh By Jingo!

38. It's A Good Thing

39. Rock Little Baby

40. Mother Fuya

42. Let That Liar Alone

43. Rockin' With Red

44. Fox And The Hounds

x

Track List: The History Of New Orleans Rhythm & Blues Vol. 1 1921-1949

Disc 1

1. When The Saints Go Marching In

2. Maple Leaf Rag

3. Tiger Rag

4. A Handful Of Riffs

5. Perdido Street Blues

8. Sweet Mumtaz

10. Root Hog Or Die

13. Dear Old Southland

14. Sous Les Palmiers

16. King Porter Stomp

17. Besame Mucho

21. Eh La Bas

Disc 2

1. St James Infirmary

3. James Alley Blues

4. Crazy Cryin' Blues

5. New Orleans Joys

6. Old New Orleans Blues

8. Black Snake Blues

10. Funny Feathers

11. Louisiana Bound

12. Bread And Water Blues

13. Allons A Lafayette

16. Cabbage Greens No. 1

19. New Low Down Dog

20. I'm Cuttin' Out

21. Sidney's Blues

22. Just As Soon As I Go Home

23. Hackberry Hop

25. Junker Blues

26. Box Car Shorty And Peter Blue

Comments

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pixiegrrrl
Fantastic, and so evocative of a time and place.

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