HISTORY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

The third – and last – of the names Jack Lauderdale chose for his West Coast label of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s and the name which with he scored his biggest successes on.

All three monikers – Down Beat, Swing Beat and finally Swing Time (usually written as a single word, Swingtime) – were the same company, one he began in 1947 and built into a moderately profitable enterprise with such artists as Lowell Fulson and Ray Charles who scored his initial hit in early 1949 on Down Beat under his group’s name, The Maxin Trio. But by the fall of ’49 Downbeat magazine, the leading jazz publication in America, objected to the use of their name, worried that people would think they were connected (which surely had been Lauderdale’s original hope) and when they threatened to sue he switched to Swing Beat which lasted through the Christmas season before changing it once again to Swingtime as 1950 dawned.

The artists and the artwork remained the same but he picked up more powerful distributors for his label nationally during this time which helped to boost sales. Fulson had the most success by far, notching the company’s first #1 hit with “Blue Shadows” in 1950, one of six Top Ten national hits to his credit, while Charles, now billed under his own name, was at least a consistent seller. The company’s musical director was pianist Lloyd Glenn who scored two huge hits of his own including the company’s other chart-topper, “Chica Boo”, in 1951.

But Lauderdale’s cheapness prevented them from building a viable company beyond those three big names as they failed to add more promising artists to their stable. Instead he chose to invest his money in picking up the already released masters of labels that went under, Supreme Records being the most notable, and re-issuing them instead, meaning he was now just paying distribution costs, not studio fees. Furthermore the company’s own output occupied a rather quirky middle-ground in contemporary music at the time, sort of a classy blues style which while popular enough to pay the bills wasn’t in a position to grow as more aggressive electric urban blues picked up steam and of course rock which was now the most consistently popular form of black music in America. Without artists to compete in those realms Swingtime wasn’t able to keep pace in the ever more competitive independent record field and by 1953 Lauderdale was looking to get out of music altogether. The loss of Fulson and Glenn to Aladdin Records and Charles to Atlantic sealed the deal for him and he sold his company and used the profits to invest in hotels where he remained for the rest of his days.
 
 
SWINGTIME RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

CECIL GANT: Deal Yourself Another Hand (3) (Swingtime 209; January, 1950)
RAY CHARLES: I’ve Had My Fun (4) (Swingtime 215; January, 1950)
THE MAXIN TRIO: Ain’t That Fine (4) (Swingtime 216; February, 1950)
RAY CHARLES: See See Rider (3) (Swingtime 217; March, 1950)