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DELUXE 3303; MAY 1950



In the annals of rock ‘n’ roll there are countless cases of an artist re-cutting one of their songs – usually an early single – for another bigger record label.

Aside from wreaking havoc on an artist’s discography, the second version is usually tightened up, cleaned up, or spruced up and goes on to be seen as the definitive take on the song.

Not so here, where the reasons behind this updated edition might be slightly convoluted, but the end results – both concerning the record’s quality and the enduring historical perception of the two versions – are squarely with the original take.

Trying to piece it all together, let alone even finding a copy of this rendition despite coming out on a far more enduring label, wasn’t as easy as you’d think, but finally… hopefully… maybe?… it’s becoming a little more clear.


Really Don’t Know
Try as we might to get a firm grip on the maddening vagaries of the recording industry over the years sometimes digging up the truth proves elusive. As a result there’s a tendency to jump to conclusions when presented with a few sketchy facts when documenting rock history and you can rest assured that this will invariably lead to trouble.

To wit: When we studied the short-lived career of Erline Harris, a fiery singer who released two monumental singles in 1949 before quickly disappearing, we had a little to go on when trying to make sense of the releases on two different, though tangibly connected, labels.

Like so many other New Orleans based artists in the late 1940’s Harris signed with DeLuxe Records, a New Jersey company begun by David and Jules Braun who essentially launched rock ‘n’ roll as a commercial entity with their forays into The Crescent City starting in 1947.

When the brothers began having money troubles they looked to Syd Nathan, owner of King Records in Cincinnati, to come to their aid in exchange for controlling interest in DeLuxe. This was hardly a noble gesture on Nathan’s part, he simply wanted to get his hands on the other company’s best artists, Roy Brown most prominently, but also Paul Gayten and Annie Laurie.

However when the Brauns realized they were being pushed out of their own company by Nathan they took their money and ran, quickly starting up another label, Regal Records, where many of the artists they’d signed to DeLuxe soon followed, Gayten, Laurie, Chubby Newsom… and Erline Harris among them.

But while those others remained on Regal until it shut down in 1951, mired in more financial straits, Erline Harris, after cutting Jump And Shout, her best record – and one of the best of 1940’s rock as a whole – on Regal in the summer of ’49, found herself back on DeLuxe within a year, re-cutting Jump And Shout once she got there.

So what gives?

When I Find Out…
A lot of things here don’t make sense and lead you to wonder if maybe there was some double dealing going on, which considering the participants would be par for the course. It also explains why it’d be only natural to jump to some wrong conclusions based on rather circumstantial evidence.

So in an attempt to sort all of that out here’s a few strange clues followed by some misguided speculation and eventually the facts… as we know them to be anyway.

The first oddity to sift through is that we know it’s customary to record four songs per session, yet in 1949 DeLuxe issued only one single on Erline Harris, not two. Why? Furthermore, the backing band on the first version of this song on Regal Records was by The Johnson Brothers who the same month that was issued saw their OWN debut release come out on DeLuxe Records.

So what does all this suggest? Well, since Harris, along with Ray and Plas Johnson, were all signed to DeLuxe in 1949 you’d think that maybe they cut a regular session after all and then when the Brauns were about to be shown the door by Syd Nathan, maybe they absconded with the rest of Harris’s cuts, knowing they had a potential winner with Jump And Shout, while not bothering with the Johnson Brothers cuts they had in the can which Syd Nathan – still unaware of this duplicity in response to HIS duplicity – put out on DeLuxe without realizing what had happened.

But no, as entertaining as that scenario is – and certainly not out of character for the wild west of the independent record business during this era – that’s not the case. sorry to disappoint you.

Instead the truth is more mundane, at least if the session paperwork is to be believed.

Harris cut just two sides for DeLuxe in the spring of 1949, not backed by the Johnsons at all, then landed at Regal for a summer session which produced her best work, again just two sides, but this time with Ray and Plas Johnson in tow. Then THOSE two headed to DeLuxe for a session of their own, which also amounted to just two cuts, not four, after which – long after, as in eight months later – Nathan went out and signed Harris and finally gave her a more proper four song session which included this re-make of that earlier Regal side, Jump And Shout.

Actually now that I see it all laid out in writing I think jumping to wild conclusions makes a lot more sense, because no matter what the official documentation claims there MUST have been some behind the scenes shenanigans going on with all of this.

I Understand He’ll Soon Be Home
Okay, so that’s the backstory as best as we can figure it… now here’s the verdict as to the competing versions.

There are certain elements of a song you can effectively replicate. Though this is a different band, it’s not a less capable one by any means, as certainly nobody doubts Joe Thomas’s abilities as either a sax player or a bandleader and if rock ‘n’ roll isn’t exactly his first love, he was still professional enough to put forth the requisite effort to make this come out okay… and it does for the most part.

They stick to the original arrangement pretty closely – piano and hand claps setting the rhythm, the band giving the vocal responses to the title line delivered by Harris – all of which still works quite well.

The changes however are slight, but telling, as there’s much less of a cacophonous din created by the horns here. Despite having four horns at his disposal for the session (trumpet, trombone and baritone along with his tenor) for some reason Thomas is the only one actually playing following the intro, as he’s providing the sax replies to the verses and a whimsical and fairly lusty solo during the break. You can’t complain about what he’s playing, but when comparing it to the earlier version with the full arsenal of sounds ricocheting off the studio walls, this Jump And Shout has a lot less jumping going on.

Unfortunately, maybe because Harris felt conflicted about having to revisit her earlier work, it also has a lot less shouting too.

For one thing this is taken at a slightly slower pace which naturally makes it less frantic and exciting. It’s not that Harris is subdued exactly, but she’s not singing with the same unbridled enthusiasm and emotional freedom. She manages to work herself up as it goes on, and she even attempts to duplicate the shouted encouragement in the break telling Joe to blow with appropriate fervor, but the whole thing comes across as a more measured vocal performance.

It’s still very good though, something undoubtedly helped by the brilliance of the song itself as written, and might even have a slightly more inventive ending (though that’s open to debate), but in spite of there being nothing to criticize outright, this record just doesn’t grab you in quite the same way.

What It’s All About
Because DeLuxe Records, by virtue of having their output housed with the vast King Records library, has had countless compilation producers mining their catalog over the years it’s rather surprising that it’s NOT this version, but rather the Regal Records original, which remains the one most people have heard in the Twenty-First Century.

(For the record, this is NOT the Alternate take found on Spotify, that’s another rendition from the Regal session… This DeLuxe version is available only the third volume of Rare Blues Girls On King, a fairly solid four disc set that unfortunately has deplorable cover art, which is why we’re not showing it)

Obviously the fact that the superior version has won out historically is a good thing for Erline Harris’s legacy… such as it is. But while presumably nobody who’s gotten to hear both of them side by side would disagree with this assessment, I wonder what somebody who heard this take on Jump And Shout first would think of the record. In other words if you had nothing better to compare it to would this be something you flipped over just as much, or would it generally come across as simply a good reading of a great song?

Regardless of any of that however this one is still recommended. But ultimately it’s best taken as a companion piece to the other (better) version, not to stand as a definitive take on its own. I mean let’s face it, if you encountered someone who’d never heard of Erline Harris, or was even fairly oblivious to what were the crucial records to hear to learn about the first era of rock, and you mentioned this title as one they had to check out… wouldn’t you make sure that it was the Regal release they heard rather than this one?

After all, solid though this may be, it’s hard to compete with perfection.


(Visit the Artist page of Erline “Rock And Roll” Harris for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)

Spontaneous Lunacy has reviewed other versions of this song you may be interested in:
Erline “Rock And Roll” Harris (Regal Records versionJuly, 1949)