"A Girl In Every City"
The Upsetters, unissued Vee-Jay session, c. 1958
This unissued track comes from sessions The Upsetters did for the Vee-Jay label in 1958 n Chicago. Best known as Little Richard’s road band during his rock ‘n roll stardom in the mid-1950's, they began backing other artists like Sam Cooke and Dee Clark, after Mr. Penniman got religion and stopped performing in 1957. There were three singles released two from these sessions, one backing singer Dee Clark on Falcon, “The Strip” b/w “Upsetter” on Falcon as The Upsetters, and “Hatti Malatti” b/w “Mama Loochie” on Vee-Jay in the name of Lee Diamond, their singer/pianist/saxophonist. The latter single is a classic and can be heard on the Vee-Jay CD compilation set released a few years ago.
Not all the band were from New Orleans; but Diamond (aka Wilbert Smith) was, as I believe was the drummer, Emile Russell. It seems their other fine NOLA drummer during the Little Richard days, Charles Connor, had already left the group by 1958. Grady Gaines, their main tenor sax man, was from Texas and has kept The Upsetters name going there over the years. As for the others, who I’ll list later, I have no confirmation of their origins.
Lee Diamond sings lead on “A Girl In Every City”, and probably wrote it. It’s a pity it wasn’t released, as the song is an in-the-pocket little rocker with great horns that ends all too soon. After his exit from The Upsetters, Diamond recorded for Minit Records in New Orleans under the direction of Allen Toussaint and, then, in the mid-1960’s co-wrote with George Davis the big Aaron Neville classic, “Tell It Like It Is”.
This track comes from a Charly LP I got in the 1980s called New Orleans Connection, which has most of the 1958 sessions, including the band backing other singers. It provides the following list of session players: Grady Gaines, tenor sax; Clifford Burks, tenor sax; Larry Linnear, baritone sax; Wilbert Smith (Lee Diamond), piano and tenor sax; Nathaniel Douglas, guitar; Osie Robinson, bass; Emile Russell, drums.