Sue records is probably the collectors UK label for 60's rhythm & blues and soul. The Sue label was formed in 1963 as a subsidiary of Island records it was intended to cater for West Indian music, which was the main output at the time. Using the simple label design of Island, the colours were changed from red and white to yellow and red. The owner Chris Blackwell, who had completed a distribution deal with the US Sue and Symbol label owner Juggy Murry, issued the labels first single, it was December 1963 and the record was "Mockingbird" by Inez and Charlie Foxx, which packed the club dance floors that year. The first seventeen UK releases mirrored the US Sue label.
Guy Stevens,(above) managed the label for Chris, who was a DJ (R & B on a Monday night) at the Scene Club in London's Soho. This was an allnighter club which catered for the young teenagers who were a mix of mods and later attracted West Indian youth. This was refected in the loud dance music, a mix of Ska, Blue Beat, Rhythm and Blues and up to the minute Soul, played until the early dawn. Guy through the fans influenced many of the releases which included some of the finest Rhythm & Blues and Soul that was available in the USA.
It also re-issued many great records from previous UK labels, such as London, Top Rank and Parlophone. After it stopped releasing direct from the US Sue catalogue, other records were picked up from american labels, Modern, Duke/Peacock, V-Tone, Kent, Fury and Ace. Current material was put out by some very obscure artists as well as known acts such as Ike and TinaTurner.
"Harlem Shuffle" by Bob and Earl, is probably the best known and the labels best seller.
Today it is very hard to find some of the in demand gems hidden away in the catologue.Record collectors can pay some very high prices for records in good condition and LP's. Many of the Albums which were mostly compilations by various artist, check out the Island LP listing.
Sadly, much of the labels output will remain obscure and unknown. The '300' Series of singles ran from December 1963 to January 1966. This was then followed by the '4000' Series , which ran from Febuary 1966 until June 1968. Finally, the last release was the classic "Girls are out to get you" by the Fascinations, re-issued from London and Stateside records.
Island Records, as part of the 40th Anniversary Series, have on volume 2 "Rhythm & Blues Beat" put together some excellent Sue singles, some never released previously, are now available on CD
(April 2004) excellent Sue Records CD series from Ace Records