Monday, October 18, 2010

The Virtues - "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" - Hunt Records, 1959

Today we've got a great slab of early instro rock from Philadelphia's the Virtues!
Frank Virtue put this band together in 1947 after being discharged from the Navy in '46 to look after his family. Starting a band was the natural thing to do after his stint as bandleader of the Regular Navy Dance Band while enlisted.

Ralph Frederico on the piano and Steve Rossi on the guitar filled out the trio. After touring for the better part of a decade doing smaller gigs, the boys decided to try to get a piece of that Rock N' Roll craze in the late 50's. Here's the low-down from Wikipedia:
"By this time, the group's lineup had expanded, with Virtue on the bass, John Renner on the saxophone, Jimmy Bruno on the guitar, Joe Vespe on the drums, and Dave Kaplin as an occasional vocalist. Under the name The Virtues, they released a rock reworking of Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith's country hit "Guitar Boogie" in 1958 under the title "Guitar Boogie Shuffle". The instrumental became a major hit in the U.S., peaking at #27 on the Black Singles chart and #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959. The single also became a sheet music smash, selling well worldwide. Several singles followed – "Flippin", "Boogie Woogie", "Vaya con Dios" – but none of them succeeded; the group was signed by ABC/Paramount, but their only return to the charts was with the 1962 release "Guitar Boogie Shuffle Twist" (U.S. #95).

Towards the end of 1962, Virtue disbanded the group and pursued a career as a record producer and recording engineer. His studio, Virtue Recording Studios, located at 1618 N. Broad St., was one of the top studios in Philadelphia for a number of years until closing in the early 1980s. His original studio, in the basement of his house on Fayette Street, was where "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" was originally recorded."

If you'd like to read more about the Virtues, I'd recommend this page: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-virtues-p24947/biography
Note, I believe Virtues studios is where some of my favorite music was recorded for the Phil-L.A. of Soul label - "The Horse" and "Boogaloo Down Broadway" (covered here!)
Hunt seems to have been owned by Globe Record Corp and dispributed via Am-Par Records. Perhaps they were Philly based? I can find no other info on this label - please share if ya have some.
And now, the clip:

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