HISTORY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

Independent label started in Chicago in 1946 by Lee Egalnick and Lew Simpkins which had some notable success in its relatively short four year run.

Simpkins owned S&S Bookstore on the South Side of Chicago that catered to black readers and authors and soon branched into selling records as well. At some point he used a backroom of the store to record demos for artists seeking to elicit interest from record companies. Having heard of this and sensing an opportunity to get into the record business, Egalnick invested money and they started Miracle in the summer of 1946 with two trial releases before launching the label in earnest with steady releases the following winter.

The material issued covered wide array of styles from the rockin’ piano blues of Memphis Slim to the honking tenor sax of Dick Davis, the jazz vocals of Gladys Palmer, the gospel of Brother John Sellers, the torch songs of Rudy Richardson and assorted other figures such as club performer Browley Guy.

By far the most important artist at Miracle however was pianist Sonny Thompson, who in addition to being the leader on sessions behind the label’s other artists was also given the chance to cut instrumentals under his own name, soon adding fellow session tenor sax ace Eddie Chamblee to his combo in the studio, which resulted in two of the three #1 hits the label would enjoy (the other being by Memphis Slim).

The company’s momentum however was severely curtailed by the recording ban of 1948 which unlike other independent labels who worked around it with clandestine sessions, Miracle, being based in Chicago where union head James Petrillo had come from and where union edicts were carried out fervently, was able to record only sporadically and thus couldn’t follow up their breakthrough hits of 1948 in proper fashion. Forced to rely on increasingly out of date 1947 recordings as the bulk of their releases the label never recovered their commercial clout.

By the time the ban ended in December 1948 Miracle further hurt their cause by not signing new artists in the rock arena, instead reaching back to the past and inking such acts as The Four Vagabonds, a group known for their club and radio work dating back to the 1930’s, and the Bill Samuels Trio, a blues/jazz/pop hybrid act that had success in mid-decade on Mercury yet by 1949 their style was out of date with the rise of rock ‘n’ roll.

Because Miracle had a small roster of artists it was imperative that each score some legitimate hits but aside from Memphis Slim and Sonny Thompson they were unable to do so and when Thompson left in 1950 for the larger King Records it signaled the beginning of the end for Miracle, who promptly sold some of their unreleased masters to other labels before shutting down operations later that year.

 
 
MIRACLE RECORDS REVIEWED TO DATE ON SPONTANEOUS LUNACY:
 
EDDIE CHAMBLEE: Last Call (4) (Miracle 119; December, 1947)
SONNY THOMPSON: Long Gone (Part I & Part II) (8) (Miracle 126; March, 1948)
SONNY THOMPSON: Late Freight (6) (Miracle 128; August, 1948)
SONNY THOMPSON: Sonny’s Return (3) (Miracle 128; August, 1948)
SONNY THOMPSON: Blues On Rhumba (3) (Miracle 131; February, 1949)
SONNY THOMPSON: Blue Dreams (3) (Miracle 131; February, 1949)
EDDIE CHAMBLEE: Back Street (5) (Miracle 133; April, 1949)
EDDIE CHAMBLEE: Lazy Mood (3) (Miracle 133; April, 1949)
SONNY THOMPSON: Still Gone (Part 3 & 4) (7) (Miracle 139; July, 1949)
SONNY THOMPSON: Dreaming Again (3) (Miracle 146; October, 1949)
SONNY THOMPSON: Backyard Affair (2) (Miracle 146; October, 1949)