Tuesday, October 25, 2005


triumph of the shabby man

Little Junior's Blue Flames, Love My Baby.
Little Junior's Blue Flames, Mystery Train.

Another rock & roll cornerstone: Sun 192, recorded in September or October 1953.

Herman Parker Jr. was born in West Memphis in 1932, just across the river from the future site of Sun Records. He began playing in Memphis in the late '40s, and took years to shake off the influence of Roy Brown and Sonny Boy Williamson (II) of whom he was a rank imitator for a while. He also began playing with the Beale Streeters, a sort of Memphis supergroup that featured on occasion Johnny Ace, Rosco Gordon and Bobby Bland. Parker formed the Blue Flames out of a faction of Howlin' Wolf's old band, and in 1952, Ike Turner, who served as a circulatory system for early rock & roll, helped organize "Little Junior" Parker's first solo session.

In '53, Parker recorded a handful of tracks for Sam Phillips--the first, "Feelin' Good", hit #5 in the R&B charts. Its follow-up, the amazing single "Mystery Train"/"Love My Baby", did nowhere as well, prompting a frustrated Parker to leave Sun and sign with Don Robey's Duke label.

But "Mystery Train" would linger in the air at Sun, until two years later, when another group would take a crack at it...

Little Junior's Blue Flames were Parker on vocals, Sun regular Raymond Hill and possibly James Wheeler on sax, Bill Johnson (p), Floyd Murphy (g) (Phillips later would tell Scottie Moore to play like Murphy on various Elvis tracks); Kenneth Banks (b) and John Bowers (d). Find here.

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