Monday, February 7, 2011

Jon Thomas - Hard Head Pt.1 - Mercury, 1957

This week I've got a nice piece of wax to grind to - a proper titty-shaker from Jon Thomas. Born February 21, 1918 in Biloxi, Mississippi, his family relocated to Cincinnati in 1921. He got his start beating on chairs to make music as a child, and worked his way up to the piano. From an early age he knew - he wanted to play music for a living. In '55 he put together his first quartet, and in '56 he began popping up on records for local label King.  Shortly after he started releasing his own material on Mercury - at first a few singles and culminating in an album in 1960 with an appearance on Dick Clark's show. After touring around to promote the album, he seems to have slowed down.  The next thing I can find is an ad for a restaurant in Cincinnati in 1978, touting his organ skills as a reason to dine there.
I couldn't find a picture of the man or any further info, so if you have some, please pass it along!
Today's song was probably one of his first singles, and it sounds to me like the perfect accompaniment to a smokey gentleman's club.  This song also has the distinction of one of the longest recorded horn blasts I've heard - that's some serious honkin'!
I don't think we've covered a single from Mercury here before. Founded in Chicago in 1945 by Irving Green, Berle Adams and Arthur Talmadge, Mercury released a ton of jazz, blues, rock, even country.
You may also know them by on of their subsidiary labels: Blue Rock Records, Cumberland Records, EmArcy Records, Fontana Records, Limelight Records, Philips Records, Smash Records and Wing Records. In the 80's, Mercury was folded into PolyGram, and then into some kinda Seagram, Universal, Island, DefJam mashup.  As a larger label with a broad spectrum of sounds released, you'll find music ranging from sublime to shit on Mercury 45s - but you're certain to see them again and again in those dusty bins.
Now, let's listen to the clip and get our strip-tease on!

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