One of the original three major record companies which had dominated the music field for years and the one with the most complex – often confusing – history, and ultimately only a minor player in rock ‘n’ roll.

Decca was a British label founded in 1929 by Edward Lewis after he’d taken over Barnett Samuel & Sons who made the Decca gramophone. Despite the ravaging economic climate of the Great Depression Decca quickly positioned itself as a leader in the field thanks to Lewis’s extensive business acumen from his days as a stockbroker. When they acquired the bankrupt Brunswick label in the early 30’s it greatly expanded their artist base, giving them Bing Crosby who’d go on to be the biggest selling artist in their history. In 1934 they established an American Decca label in New York using Brunswick’s facilities and personnel. The American label however would be sold off upon Great Britain’s entry into World War Two when Lewis needed money to help the U.K.’s war effort (the money was then used to fund research leading to radio navigational systems which helped win the war as well as positioned UK Decca as the record label with the highest fidelity when that technology was adapted for recording and playback).

The two Decca labels now shared a name but nothing else (The UK Decca releases in America would therefore be issued on London Records, which will get its own page) and so this now becomes the story of US Decca which saw its market share grow in the 1930’s and 40’s with an unrivaled roster of talent covering all styles and backgrounds including Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Dorsey, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, The Andrews Sisters, Woody Herman, The Mills Brothers, Guy Lombardo, The Ink Spots and the most vital rock-forefather Louis Jordan.

Their success with such a diverse roster and their experience with all types of music made them the most likely of the major labels to capitalize on rock ‘n’ roll when it came along in 1947 and though they were the first to delve into it with such artists as Albennie Jones and Cousin Joe who both had prior records in other styles, Decca was too shortsighted to seek out new artists in this field despite having pianist Sammy Price to lead their sessions in this area and consequently they left the field open to upstart independent labels to succeed with, cutting into their dominance of the overall market as rock’s popularity took off.

When they finally jumped on board with rock in 1954, ironically for a label with such a rich history of black music, it was with Bill Haley & The Comets the first notable white artists in rock. Despite dragging their heels up to this point, their affiliation with Haley helped rock cross over in unprecedented fashion, as their commercial clout proved vital in exposing the music to a broader audience, and he promptly rewarded them with a string of Top Ten hits including the first ever #1 Pop hit with a rock record, the immortal “Rock Around The Clock”.

For that reason alone Decca would be more than a footnote in rock’s story, yet aside from Haley’s contributions Decca still remained unconvinced of rock’s overall potency and never seriously pursued other artists on their primary label (they did a little better with subsidiaries Brunswick and Coral), or only skirted the genre with Brenda Lee who had some rock-flavored hits mixed in with her prodigious country output of the late 50’s and early 60’s. When they finally did look to get more involved with rock it was with more acceptable white acts such as Rick Nelson, allowing them to maintain their image as a more proper pop outfit. Only their association with The Who in America gave them any rock credibility beyond Haley and on the whole Decca, for all their potential when rock began as a result of their longstanding commitment to innovative black styles of the 30’s and 40’s, wound up being the most disappointing label when it came to rock ‘n’ roll and is yet another example of how the majors let the most revolutionary style of music pass them by because they largely felt it was beneath them.

DECCA RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
COUSIN JOE: Boxcar Shorty (And Peter Blue) (8) (Decca 48045; September, 1947)
ALBENNIE JONES: The Rain Is Falling (9) (Decca 48048; September, 1947)
ALBENNIE JONES: Papa Tree Top Blues (8) (Decca 48048; September, 1947)
COUSIN JOE: Sadie Brown (6) (Decca 48061; December, 1947)
COUSIN JOE: Evolution Blues (5) (Decca 48061; December, 1947)
ALBENNIE JONES: Give It Up Daddy Blues (6) (Decca 48069; January, 1948)
ALBENNIE JONES: I Have A Way Of Lovin’ (4) (Decca 48069; January, 1948)
COUSIN JOE: Boxcar Shorty’s Confession (5) (Decca 48091; December, 1948)
COUSIN JOE: Beggin’ Woman (4) (Decca 48091; December, 1948)
ALBENNIE JONES: Love Is Such A Mystery (6) (Decca 48095; January, 1949)
ALBENNIE JONES: Hey Little Boy (6) (Decca 48095; January, 1949)
ALBENNIE JONES: Hole In The Wall ★ 10 ★ (Decca 48100; March, 1949)
ALBENNIE JONES: Song Man (3) (Decca 48100; March, 1949)
DOLES DICKENS: Rock And Roll (5) (Decca 48110; July, 1949)
JOE MORRIS: Portia’s Boogie (3) (Decca 48123; November, 1949)
JOE MORRIS: Lowdown Baby (4) (Decca 48126; December, 1949)
JOE MORRIS: Broken Hearted Blues (4) (Decca 48126; December, 1949
JOE MORRIS: Wig Head Mama Blues (2) (Decca 48135; February, 1950)
THE RAY-O-VACS: Sentimental Me (4) (Decca 48141; March, 1950)
THE RAY-O-VACS: Once Upon A Time (3) (Decca 48141; March, 1950)
THE BLENDERS: Gone (My Baby’s Gone) (3) (Decca 48156; May, 1950)
COUSIN JOE: Chicken A La Blues (4) (Decca 48157; May, 1950)
COUSIN JOE: Poor Man’s Blues (4) (Decca 48157; May, 1950)
THE BLENDERS: Count Every Star (2) (Decca 48158; May, 1950)
THE BLENDERS: Would I Still Be The One In Your Heart (2) (Decca 48158; May, 1950)
THE RAY-O-VACS: Bésame Mucho (7) (Decca 48162; June, 1950)
THE RAY-O-VACS: You Gotta Love Me Baby Too (6) (Decca 48162; June, 1950)
COUSIN JOE: Looking For My Baby (7) (Decca 48165; July, 1950)
COUSIN JOE: High Powered Gal (5) (Decca 48165; July, 1950)
CECIL GANT (as GUNTER LEE CARR): We’re Gonna Rock (5) (Decca 48170; August, 1950)
HAROLD BURRAGE: Hi-Yo (4) (Decca 48175; October, 1950)
HAROLD BURRAGE: I Need My Baby (5) (Decca 48175; October, 1950)
THE RAY-O-VACS: Got Two Arms (Waiting For Me) (6) (Decca 48181; November, 1950)
THE RAY-O-VACS: A Kiss In The Dark (5) (Decca 48181; November, 1950)
THE BLENDERS: What About Tonight (3) (Decca 48183; November, 1950)
CECIL GANT: Hello Santa Claus (5) (Decca 48185; November, 1950)
CECIL GANT: It’s Christmas Time Again (6) (Decca 48185; November, 1950)
CECIL GANT: It Ain’t Gonna Be Like That (5) (Decca 48191; December, 1950)
THE BLENDERS: (I’m Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over (1) (Decca 27403; December, 1950)
CHARLIE SINGLETON: Alligator Meat (6) (Decca 48193; January, 1951)
CHARLIE SINGLETON: Elephant Rock (2) (Decca 48193; January, 1951)
THE RAY-O-VACS: Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle (3) (Decca 48197; January, 1951)
THE RAY-O-VACS: Goodnight My Love (2) (Decca 48197; January, 1951)
DOLES DICKENS: Blues In The Back Room (4) (Decca 48199; February, 1951)
CECIL GANT: Rock Little Baby (7) (Decca 48200; February, 1951)
THE RAY-O-VACS: If You Ever Should Leave Me (3) (Decca 48211; May, 1951)
CECIL GANT: Don’t You Worry (6) (Decca 48212; May, 1951)
DOLES DICKENS: Woogie (3) (Decca 48214; May, 1951)
DAVE BARTHOLOMEW (ft. TOMMY RIDGLEY): Tra-La-La (6) (Decca 48216; June, 1951)
RENÉ HALL: My Kind Of Rocking (5) (Decca 48217; June, 1951)
THE RAY-O-VACS: My Baby’s Gone (3) (Decca 48221; July, 1951)
THE RAY-O-VACS: Let’s (3) (Decca 48221; July, 1951)
TOMMY RIDGLEY & THE ROYAL PLAYBOYS: Anything But Love (6) (Decca 48226; July, 1951)
TOMMY RIDGLEY & THE ROYAL PLAYBOYS: Once In A Lifetime (3) (Decca 48226; July, 1951)
DOLES DICKENS: Gonna Rock This Mornin’ (6) (Decca 48229; August, 1951)
CECIL GANT: Owl Stew (7) (Decca 48231; August, 1951)
THE RAY-O-VACS: What’s Mine Is Mine (3) (Decca 48234; September, 1951)
THE RAY-O-VACS: I Still Love You, Baby (4) (Decca 48234; September, 1951)
DOLES DICKENS: Blues In The Evening (3) (Decca 48242; September, 1951)
THE BLENDERS: You Do The Dreamin’ (1) (Decca 48244; September, 1951)
THE RAY-O-VACS: Hands Across The Table (3) (Decca 48260; November, 1951)
THE RAY-O-VACS: Charmaine (3) (Decca 48260; November, 1951)
LINCOLN CHASE: I Do Believe (5) (Decca 48270; January, 1952)
LINCOLN CHASE: Loved One (3) (Decca 48270; January, 1952)
THE RAY-O-VACS: When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano (3) (Decca 48274; January, 1952)
THE RAY-O-VACS: She’s A Real Lovin’ Baby (5) (Decca 48274; January, 1952)
THE BLENDERS: Just A Little Walk With Me (5) (Decca 28092; April, 1952)
THE BLENDERS: I’d Be A Fool Again (3) (Decca 28092; April, 1952)
THE BLENDERS: Never In A Million Years (3) (Decca 28241; June, 1952)