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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: Harlem Hamfats Vol. 1 (1936)

1. Oh Red!

2. Lake Providence Blues

3. Live And Die For You

4. New Oh Red!

5. What You Gonna Do?

6. She's Gone Again

7. Let's Get Drunk And Truck

8. Move Your Hand

9. Sales Tax On It

10. You Done Tore Your Playhouse Down

11. Little Girl

12. Southern Blues

13. My Garbage Man

14. Weed Smoker's Dream

15. If You Want To Live

16. I Feel Like A Millionaire

17. Bad Luck Man

18. My Daddy Was A Lovin' Man

19. She's Trickin' Me

20. We Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie (Take A)

21. We Gonna Pitch A Boogie Woogie (Take C)

22. Hamfat Swing

23. Who Done It?

24. Growling Dog

x

Track List: Harlem Hamfats Vol. 2 1936-1937

1. Keep It Swinging Round And Round

2. Ooh-Wee Babe

3. I Don't Want You Loving Me

4. She's A Mellow Mother For You

5. Hallelujah Joe Ain't Preachin' No More

6. What's My Baby Doin'?

7. It Was Red

8. I Feel Like Going To Town

9. I'm So Glad

10. Jam Jamboree

11. Down In Shady Lane

12. I'm Cuttin' Out

13. Hoodooin' Woman

14. I Love That

15. My Old Lady Blues

16. Baby Don't You Tear My Clothes

17. You Drink Too Much

18. Empty Bed Blues

19. Let Your Linen Hang Low

20. If You're A Viper

21. Rosetta Blues

22. It's Your Turn

23. Let's Fall In Love Again

24. Worried Man Blues

x

Track List: Harlem Hamfats Vol. 3 1937-1938

1. Tempe De Bucket

2. You Got The Devil To Pay

3. Time's A Wastin'

4. Black Gal You Better Use Your Head

5. Root Hog Or Die

6. You Got To Be Satisfied

7. Toodle Oo Blues

8. Rampart And Gravier Blues

9. What's On Your Mind?

10. Broken Hearted Blues

11. Don't Start No Stuff

12. Let Me Feel It

13. Little Girl

14. I'd Rather Be With You

15. I'm In So Much Trouble Now

16. I Believe I'll Make A Change

17. It Will Never Happen Again

18. Trading Old Love For New

19. Stay On It

20. Delta Bound

21. You Got To Go When The Wagon Comes

22. How Long Baby (Will You Keep Me This Way)

23. Harlem Jamboree

x

Track List: Harlem Hamfats Vol. 4 1938-1939

1. Mellow Little Devil

2. The Barefoot Boy

3. Stomp It Out Gate

4. The Candy Man

5. Oh Rider

6. Stay Away From My Door

7. All On Account Of You

8. You've Had Your Last Good Time With Me

9. What Was You Doing?

10. Something Wrong With My Mind

11. Way Down That Lonely Road

12. When The Sun Goes Down In Harlem

13. That's Going To Ruin Your Beauty Spot

14. Bartender's Blues

15. Ready For The River

16. Rockin' Myself To Sleep

17. Business Is Gone Away

18. You Done Turned Salty On Me

19. You Brought Me Everything But Love

20. Oh Babe, Has Your Money Come?

21. Take Me In Your Alley

22. You Can't Win In Here

23. When My Love Has Come Down

Comments

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

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