RPM 306; AUGUST 1950



So after more than a thousand reviews since rock’s inception let’s sit back for a second and take stock of the situation at this juncture of the game to get ourselves re-situated.

It’s a little past the midway point of 1950… rock ‘n’ roll has been around for just about three full years now and had all of one measly record inch its way into the pop charts during that time.

If it hasn’t been flat out ignored by the mainstream music establishment, it has at least been treated condescendingly by them if for no other reason than the fact it’s remained virtually unknown to their primary middle-class white constituency and thus is largely irrelevant to their established business model.

From that perspective it’d be understandable to call rock ‘n’ roll a niche style for a secondary market at best and leave it at that.

But what if you were IN that secondary market, one that had been long ignored and cast aside without having your tastes, your interests and your perspectives addressed, let alone catered to?

Then would you be so quick to judge this movement a non-entity as it neared its third birthday?

Hell no. You’d be throwing the biggest, loudest, most decedent party imaginable and for good reason… because by any OTHER measure rock was nothing short of an astounding success.


A Live Cut Comes Alive
This may seem to be a rather odd record with which to celebrate rock’s stature in society since it wasn’t a hit, didn’t feature a big star, nor even someone who was a full-fledged member of their union, and because this side was cut at a concert it made it a rather odd release any way you sliced it.

But that in of itself was notable for a number of reasons.

It featured two artists with diverse backgrounds in Bumps Myers and Joe Lutcher, and why they were on stage together we don’t know, but apparently they were and somehow as a result Meyers wound up getting signed by the first subsidiary of the Bihari brothers Modern Records franchise, RPM, which issued this, a rare live single, in an attempt to help them launch the label making it an interesting curio perhaps, but nothing particularly noteworthy beyond that.

A year earlier maybe this would’ve had a shot at stirring a bit more interest, back when sax players near and far were attempting to recreate the hysteria of a live show in the sterile confines of a studio, but now that the honking craze had died down a bit you weren’t getting credit any more simply for being boisterous. But Myers was a good saxophonist and any chance to hear an actual live cut from the first half decade of rock is reason enough to welcome it no matter how it turns out.

Luckily for everyone involved Bumps And Lumps turns out to be pretty representative of the attitude that rock was using to define itself.

Though it’s a little jazzy to start with once Myers leaps into the spotlight it starts to cook and if the piano is a little too pushy in trying horn in – no pun intended – Myers is having none of that and keeps blowing up a storm, his tone is lusty and in your face, his runs are full of vibrant energy and determination and his commitment to keeping you on your feet never relents.

The song is actually worked out a lot more than any mere loose-knit jam would be and so this is something that had structure going in. The other horns, Lutcher included, are playing individual parts rather than just adding to the din and everything’s surprisingly cohesive. The drummer is solid, laying on the backbeat and even the pianist falls into line when he realizes Myers isn’t about to let him steal his thunder while the audience is clearly receptive to the frantic noise they create, each side pushing the other higher.

It all builds to a fever pitch and winds down in an equally satisfying way and in the end Bumps Myers got his well deserved round of applause, walked off the stage and packed up his horn, ready to move on to the next show in the next town and do it all over again.

A Bumpy Road
One of the overriding problems when it comes to trying to put the early years of rock music into context is how insular it was at the time. Rock had an entirely black audience until around 1953 which means even the best and most popular music being released only reached so many ears.

The 1950 census shows that just 10% of the population was African-American and since not every one of them was a music fan, let alone a rock fan, we’re left to try and figure out how many people were fueling its rise.

Considering the age of the performers, the anything but conservative nature of the music itself and the fact it continued to grow at a dizzying pace that tells us that the prime audience for it were those in their teens and twenties, which pretty much correlates with future evidence once rock “crossed over” where it remains primarily a voice of the young.

So using those demographic numbers and basic math it means that of the 10% of the U.S. population this music was aimed at, maybe 20% of them, 30% at the most, were receptive to it. When put back into the larger figures encompassing the entire nation that translates to just two or three percent of the total number of people alive at that time in America who can rightly be credited for giving the necessary support to rock in its formative stages which allowed it to take hold and grow exponentially in the coming years.

Have THEY ever been thanked?

No, of course not. Look around the thousands of histories on rock music that exist and tell me how many of those people were ever interviewed about their first experience hearing it? Or who consented to tell stories about the live shows they attended to see Jimmy Liggins or Roy Brown or Amos Milburn or Chubby Newsom… or Bumps Myers in person and what it meant to them.



The whole era was obliterated for a myriad of reasons. The fact that the music was issued on 78 RPM when the world was soon to change to 45 RPM making the original recordings themselves all but obsolete in the era before widespread re-issue efforts on the latest format. There were hardly any photographs of these artists on stage taken, let alone film of them performing to show them in their element for future generations to appreciate. Hell, there were hardly even many posed pictures being used for promotion that existed for each artist! And aside from Bumps And Lumps how many live records were issued to document the effect this had on people?

But the main reason it was erased from existence was because those writing rock’s history weren’t among those who were moved by it at the time… they weren’t even aware of it then and so retroactively they treated it as if it was irrelevant to their experiences “discovering” it later on, passing all of this off as little more than a boring preamble to the “real” story, that is if they even acknowledged its existence in the first place.

Yet during that era rock music took root, one artist at a time, one record at time and one show at a time. Each artist had to deliver the goods whenever they opened their mouth to sing or to blow a sax and each listener had to respond enthusiastically to what they were hearing. If they did their job and did it well they got to do it again with the same stakes hanging in the balance.

They sure didn’t get paid much for their efforts, forty or fifty bucks to cut a song, maybe $200 for headlining a show out which you deducted expenses – food, gas and lodging. In most places down south you slept in rooming houses because no motel would accept you. Your very presence in these towns, riding in a new car and wearing flashy clothes, invited police harassment at every turn. Along the way you may have used your status to get laid a few times but that also meant you had to look out over your shoulder for jealous boyfriends who didn’t want the girl they’d had their eye on for six months to throw themselves at some musician passing through town.

To top it all off you got little or no long term benefit from any of this. No real royalties, no retirement account or pension, no assurance that you’d even get to keep playing in front of audiences once that audience’s interest waned when you failed to get another recording contract to issue new material.

All in all, you got relatively little for changing the world.

Take Your Lumps
The point of this crazy website is to belatedly give them all – the artists, the writers, the musicians and producers and the fans who made it all possible – the one thing they absolutely deserved but rarely got…


Just credit for being there, for doing this, for putting up with so much shit for so little in return. For giving us the music that led to the music that somebody out there loves. It may be different music for each one of you, but because it all had to originate somewhere it means it’s all connected in some way and to deny even one of them credit is to deny it to them all.

In time we’ll get to far more popular songs than Bumps And Lumps by far bigger artists than Bumps Myers and I’m sure by then records like this will seem to be insignificant stops along the way. But if this was an performance taken from an average live show at the time it meant that this music was in fact succeeding.

If Myers and those like him hadn’t been able to draw people to a concert then record companies wouldn’t have been interested in recording them and if they hadn’t then nobody would’ve gotten a chance to hear this music and in turn the music it led to down the road.

Take out just one step along the way and you’re on a different path. Take out all of them and you never get anywhere, you remain standing in one place forever.


(Visit the Artist page of Bumps Myers for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)