The King Records Puzzle Piece

Things are starting to fall into place in old age....All Music is likely somewhere we all go at some point in the day to either re-evaluate the catalog of ELO album by album or to see if that French baby from the '90s (Jordy) had another hit besides "Dur Dur D'etre Bebe". I have never trolled around the periphery of the site until last week when I noticed an article about Cincinnati's King Records, and in all of my years into the Buckeye State's musical history, I've was surprised I'd never heard of what, in this article by Uncle Dave Lewis on the All Music blog, claims was pretty much the blueprint for both country, rock, and rhythm and blues labels.

Indicative of Cincy's long racial divide, it's no surprise though that civic leaders have left the base of the groundbreaking record label and it's memory a boarded-up eyesore in a depressed part of town and an anecdote of unspoken folklore in the city's history. Little did I know King launched the careers of James Brown, Hank Ballard, Bootsy Collins, and are credited with a number of hit "hillbilly" '78s. Most of the music they released in the early '50s is commonly referred to as proto-rock (primitive futures?). Surely there's a basement in the Queen city full of this stuff (crate heaven?). Of course that's not my intention in the present. Just knowing the building is finally becoming a landmark and getting a face-lift is an improvement. Now maybe a symposium (could be in tandem with an inevitable Bubblegum retrospective), some stacked reissues, a tourist trap? I encourage any readers here to recommend any compilations that are known and any other research on the subject. I'm knee deep in Dayton these days.


Benz said...

Hip-O Select has been issuing a series of two-disc sets of James Brown singles from the Federal/King Records era, 1956 through 1971 (released sets up through 1969 so far). Excellent collections with lots of info on the unhappy Brown/Syd Nathan relationship which led to all sorts of bizarre releases as each tried to screw the other guy over: Brown issuing singles on Smash under assumed names, Nathan re-releasing singles with added "live crowd" noise...it's all there on these CDs. Awesome. Cinci did celebrate King Records on its anniversary this year:


Kevin J. Elliott said...

Yes. The article linked here talks about the anniversary celebration, which was little more than a plaque dedication at the old label headquarters in Evanston. JB's widow was there, as was Bootsy "dressed in performance attire" which would have been a site to see.

Thanks for the info.