HISTORY AND DISCOGRAPHY


Los Angeles based independent record company started in 1944 by Leon Rene, one half of Creole brothers from Louisiana who’d made their name as songwriters, panning such classics as “When It’s Sleep Time Down South”, “When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano” and other huge hits that quickly became standards.

The brothers each started their own labels in 1943/44 and headed them independently of one another, with Otis’s Excelsior hitting the market shortly before Leon’s Exclusive imprint did, making them among the first black record label owners in the industry. But it was Leon who wound up excelling in this realm more so than his brother, scoring the single biggest Race Chart hit of the 1940’s with Joe Liggins “The Honeydripper” in 1945.

The company seemed poised to break big in rock ‘n’ roll when it came along in 1947 having already established itself in some of the key pre-rock styles with Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, one of the most popular cocktail blues acts featuring their pianist Charles Brown, sax star Jack McVea, the perennially popular Basin Street Boys vocal group and Mabel Scott, a talented jazzy-pop hybrid star who’d soon hit big with “Elevator Boogie”… all artists influential on rock without quite making the transition themselves.

They’d even scored with Ivory Joe Hunter’s first hit from 1945, “Blues At Sunrise”, and it’d be Hunter who’d go on to be a hugely important rock artist over the next decade, albeit for other labels. In addition they The Dixieaires on their roster who were recording strict gospel for them rather than the handful of rock songs they cut for other companies, but it at least showed Exclusive was not unfamiliar with the musical personalities who’d have some sway in the new genre.

The got off to a decent start in rock ‘n’ roll with a Top Ten hit by Joe Swift in the fall of 1948 and when Big Jay McNeely, the biggest new name on the scene a few months later, suddenly became available soon after his breakthrough they signed him up as well. But that would be all they ever got the chance to explore rock. The company’s production costs had outstripped its income over the past few years and being $40,000 in debt Exclusive abruptly went out of business in 1950.

Leon Rene managed to quickly recoup his losses thanks to songwriting royalties from his recently penned Christmas hit “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” and using that influx of cash started Class and later Rendezvous Records along with his son Googie and they continued to thrive well into the rock era though without ever quite attaining the dizzying heights of Exclusive’s initial run in the mid-1940’s.

 
 
EXCLUSIVE RECORDS REVIEWED TO DATE ON SPONTANEOUS LUNACY:
 
 
JOE SWIFT: Chicken Leg Chick (3) (Exclusive 264; March, 1948)
JOE SWIFT: Don’t Trust A Woman Blues (3) (Exclusive 264; March, 1948)
JOE SWIFT: That’s Your Last Boogie (8) (Exclusive 51X; September, 1948)
JOE SWIFT: What’s Your Name (6) (Exclusive 51X; September, 1948)
JOE SWIFT: Lovin’ Baby Blues (6) (Exclusive 64X; November, 1948)
EDGAR HAYES & HIS STARDUSTERS: Fat Meat ‘N’ Greens (6) (Exclusive 78X; January, 1949)
JOE SWIFT: Crazy ‘Bout Your Cookin’ (3) (Exclusive 80X; January, 1949)
JOE SWIFT: Right Now Baby (5) (Exclusive 80X; January, 1949)
JOE SWIFT: Alligator Meat (3) (Exclusive 85X; March, 1949)
BIG JAY McNEELY: Blow Big Jay (8) (Exclusive 90X; March, 1949)
BIG JAY McNEELY: Road House Boogie (8) (Exclusive 96X; May, 1949)
BIG JAY McNEELY: Willie The Cool Cat (6) (Exclusive 96X; May, 1949)
CLIFFORD BLIVENS: Achin’ Heart Boogie (7) (Exclusive 105X; June, 1949)
CLIFFORD BLIVENS: Unhappy Woman Blues (4) (Exclusive 105X; June, 1949)
EDGAR HAYES & HIS STARDUSTERS: Edgar’s Boogie (8) (Exclusive 106X; June, 1949)
EDGAR HAYES & HIS STARDUSTERS: Sunday Mornin’ Blues (6) (Exclusive 106X; June, 1949)
BIG JAY McNEELY: Hoppin’ With Hunter (5) (Exclusive 108X; June, 1949)
BIG JAY McNEELY: Tondalayo (8) (Exclusive 108X; June, 1949)
EDGAR HAYES & HIS STARDUSTERS: Blues At Dawn (6) (Exclusive 110X; July, 1949)
CLIFFORD BLIVENS: Hobo Boogie (3) (Exclusive 114X; August, 1949)
BIG JAY McNEELY: K&H Boogie (6) (Exclusive 122X; September, 1949)
BIG JAY McNEELY (ft. CLIFFORD BLIVENS): Junie Flip (6) (Exclusive 122X; September, 1949)