December 03, 2004

Real Upsetters

"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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dan. There is a single on Lola by Lee Diamond and the Challengers with 'Good Old Summertime' and 'Nothing But A Playboy'. Lola is a very small and obscure Label owned and led by famous John Marascalco. Is this the Upsetter's Lee Diamond? Perhaps you know that. Regards Andi

1:06 PM, May 11, 2007  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

I am not familiar with that single, Andi; but I looked up the label in the R&B Indies discography. It appears that Marascalco's Lola label was based in Los Angeles from about 1962 - 1964. There is a separate listing for a Lola label based in New Orleans that released a few singles around 1966, one of which was the Lee Diamond with the Challengers (#100). Likely they were two different labels, as they both had releases numbered 100. The CA Lola #100 was by the Electras, "You Know" b/w "Can't You See It In My Eyes".

Oddly, though, Diamond had a release on the Bourbon Street label of the same two songs that were on his Lola #100. The Indies date that as 1961 - which may not be right. That's as far as I got on short notice.

Anyway, I would say that the NO Lola single probably features the Lee Diamond (Wilbert Smith) who I spoke of in this post, as he was still somewhat active in the city around this time.

If you find out any more about it, or want to disucss this further, let me know via email.

9:10 PM, May 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dan.

Sorry for the late reply. In the meanwhile I collected the most releases on Lola. Indeed there are more than one serials of label numberings and colours:

1. Lola #001 - #003: black with yellow writings
2. Lola #001 - #003: the white promotional copy to the black ones
3. Lola LO 100: one yellow copy of the Electras You Know/Can't you see it in my eyes. Some sources say, it's rom 1962
4. Lola LO 100-105: the orange serial. Some say, it's from 1964
5. Lola BS 100-101: the violet serial with our Lee Diamond.

The question is: are there two different labels or is it all the one of John Marascalco.
Note, that Marascalco is also involved in the violet serial as author of Lee Diamonds B-Side "Nothing But A Playboy".
It is also remarkable, that there are two LO-100 by the Electras, the yellow and the first orange.

Please contact me via email:
I can send you a complete list and a collection of single scans and - if you want - some mp3s...

Greets Andi

6:33 AM, January 13, 2008  

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