Chess Record Label (UK)
Chess Records was started by two brothers Leonard and Marshall Chess in Chicago in 1947. This independent record company was located at 2120 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL USA. The early music output was Blues, R&B and later Rock & Roll with Chuck Berry. Other labels followed, Aristocrat which later changed to Checker and Argo renamed Cadet in 1965. They even had thier own Chicago R&B radio station WVON which ran from 1963 until it was sold in 1969. Chess was issued on the Pye label in the UK and was very popular due to great R&B records being issued. In 1964 Chess got its own black label in the UK just as R&B was turning into Soul music. The labels biggest hit was with Fontella Bass and Rescue Me, which sold over a million copies. The catalogue is littered with artists with just one release on the label in the UK.
Gene Chandler I Fooled You This Time was issued in 1966. Born Eugene Dixon in Chicago in 1937; he started singing with the Dukay's in the late 50's. Best know for his hit Duke Of Earl which sold sold a million copies in a short space of time. He recorded with Vee Jay and Constellation label in Chicago. Had hits with Just Be True (1964) and Nothing Can Stop Me (1965), both songs written by Curtis Mayfield. Later he joined Chess and had five records issued on the Checker label, To Be A Lover, No Peace, No Satisfaction, River Of Tears, In My Body's House, before going to Brunswick. More hits followed with Groovy Situation in 1970. Produced Backfield In Motion for Mel And Tim on Bamboo in 1969 which went gold with over a million sales. In 2014, Gene Chandler was inducted into the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame. Today August 2016, Gene still lives in Chicago.
Cash McCall was another artist with just one release It's Wonderful (To Be In Love). Born Morris Dollison Jr. in New Madrid, Missouri USA. A guitarist and singer with the Gospel Songbirds, who recorded for Excello Records. He recorded for Thomas records who gave him the name Cash McCall. It's Wonderful (To Be In Love) was issued on both Thomas and Checker labels without sucsses. The upbeat I'm In Danger was issued on Checker in 1967. Under the influence of Willie Dixon, Cash McCall went on to become a session musician and songwriter for Chess Records. He later made three good blues albums, the last Cash Up Front on Stony Plain Records in 1987.
Maurice and Mac (Maurice McAlister and McLauren Green) recorded You Left The Water Running in 1968 for Checker. The song was written by Dan Penn, Rick Hall and Oscar Franks in 1964. The first recorded version was also issued on Checker by Billy Young in 1966. It is said that in 1968 Rick Hall asked Otis Redding to help them with an upcoming session with Wilson Pickett's new album Wicked Pickett. He recorded You Left the Water Running, and Otis recorded an acoustic demo of the song to help with the production. Atlantic Records released this demo for the first time on the album The Otis Redding Story in 1987. Maurice and Mac recorded seven records for Checker records.
The Gospel Classics More Love, That's What We Need was recorded in 1968 and issued on the Checker label. This record has since become a Northern soul collectors item and sells for in excess of 100 and is the most valued item on the label. The Gospel Classic group members are Melvin Reed, Leo Coney, Wilson DeShields, James Malone, Cleofas Tilmon, Elceanor Debose, and Charles Williams. From Detriot they also had an album We've Got to Join Hands issued on Checker 10046 in 1968.
Look out for the LP Sing A Song Of Soul by Various Artists CRL 4519 issued in 1966. Another LP worthy of note is Blues & Soul on Marbel Arch (a budget label) MAL 664 issued in 1966.
Collectable singles: The Gospel Classics More Love, That's What We Need Bernice Swanson Lying Awake Gene Chandler I Fooled You This Time Little Milton Grits Ain't Groceries Ramsey Lewis Wade In The Water Sugar Pie De Santo Soulful Dress The Dells Wear It On Our Face Billy Stewart Ol' Man River. White demo's are very collectable.
The original Chess recording studio is still at 2120 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60616, USA. It is now the Willie Dixon Blues Heaven Foundation well worth a visit if you are in Chicago.