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SOUL OF DESIGNER RECORDS

Soul Of Designer Records


Chances are, you've never heard of Designer Records. One of many independent labels run on a little less than a shoestring in the '60s and '70s, Designer Records was one of the many imprints run by Style Wooten, a Memphis recordman who recruited new talent in classified ads in the back of local newspapers (this also happened to be how he found his wife). Wooten's rates ran low but he wasn't cheap. As long as the musicians had the cash, he took his time in the studio, coaxing the best possible performances out of his nonprofessional artists, which wasn't a particularly easy thing to do due to his own amateur status. He could play a little, but he left a lot of the actual recording up to Roland Janes, a former studio guitarist for Sun who had played with Billy Lee Riley and Jerry Lee Lewis before he departed to set up Sonic Studios in Memphis in 1962. Two years later, Style became a regular customer of Sonic, cutting a wide variety of artists -- country, rockabilly, soul, rock & roll -- and issuing them on a bewildering number of imprints, many of them named after cars. Wooten dedicated Designer Records to gospel. Many vocal harmony groups came through Memphis with the intent to perform live and they'd wind up recording while they were in town, waiting to release a single until the groups could afford to get a record pressed. Nobody involved ever expected that one of these records would turn into a hit, and none did. Often, the groups would sell several copies at live shows -- sometimes selling well enough to ensure a second single from Designer -- but that was the only place they'd ever circulate. Over the years, collectors were drawn to Wooten's work and Designer in particular because there was a raw, vibrant authenticity to the records. Little was known of the musicians or Wooten himself -- in his series of excellent liner notes, Michael Hurtt's writes that Style's son Jason admitted that his father remains a mystery to him -- but that hardly dilutes the impact of Big Legal Mess' four-disc 2014 box set The Soul of Designer Records. In a way, this mystery strengthens the music as it underscores that it was, in many ways, true folk music, performed, recorded, and sometimes written by musicians who simply had a compulsion to sing these songs. Hurtt details biographical information for as many of the groups as he can -- more than you'd expect, although the information is often sketchy -- but the common thread is this: these are groups raised in the church but whose material often was informed by contemporary soul (some of the latest tracks here even feature newfangled effects like phased guitars), so they sounded like they belonged to the present, not the past. Sometimes the group had a guitarist, sometimes they also had a bassist, but it was Janes' responsibility to fill out the arrangement, so he'd sometimes add some live-wire guitar to the proceedings. The focus was always on the groups whose joy in harmonizing was palpable. This kind of gospel music isn't made much anymore. It's all rural small groups who were determined to connect on the terms of the modern world, adapting to its rhythms and sometimes addressing its secular concerns. At times, this does mean the music is tied to its time -- music made on a budget usually reflects the limits of technology -- but that's what is exhilarating about The Soul of Designer Records. Some of the groups are exceptional, as are some of the songs, but what matters is the cumulative impact, how the four discs paint a picture of a thriving, distinctive regional scene. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

  • Condition: --
    HPB condition ratings
    • New: Mint condition or still sealed (SS). Absolutely perfect in every way. New.
    • Fine/Like New (EX): No defects, little sign of use, well cared for. Plays perfectly. Close to new. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. Could be an unopened promotional or cut item. Sometimes called: mint-minus.
    • Very Good (VG): Will show some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it.
    • Good (G): Attractive and well cared for, but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, scuffing or scratching, but will play almost perfectly. For vinyl: barely detectable crackles or pops.
    • Fair (FR): This item is in okay condition. For vinyl: good is not so good and the record may have low level crackles or pops when playing. CD: one or more tracks may skip.
    • Poor (P): Obviously well-worn and handled. Most vinyl collectors will not buy good or below, but some tracks on CD or vinyl will play.
    Conditions Guide
  • Format: Compact Disc
  • Sold by: --
  • Label: RED DISTRIBUTION, INC
  • UPC: 895102002898
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Track listings

  • Disc 1:
  • 1. Tone The Bells Easy Gospel Songbirds (Featuring Andrew Cheairs)
  • 2. I Thank You Jesus Gospel Songbirds (Featuring Andrew Cheairs)
  • 3. Beautiful City Dynamic Hughes Gospel Singers (Featuring Jerry Hughes)
  • 4. Viet Nam Dynamic Hughes Gospel Singers (Featuring Jerry Hughes)
  • 5. I Know It's Jesus Melody Kings Of Greenwood, Ms (Featuring Hilliard Mc Swine)
  • 6. If You Need The Lord Call Him Melody Kings Of Greenwood, Ms (Featuring Hilliard Mc Swine)
  • 7. Tone The Bells The Twilight Singers (Featuring Nathaniel Halloway)
  • 8. Climbing High Mountains The Twilight Singers (Featuring James White)
  • 9. I'll Go Sensational Family Singers (Featuring Gilford Evans)
  • 10. Everyone Should Know Who Jesus Is Sensational Family Singers (Featuring Gilford Evans)
  • 11. We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder Songs Of Spiritual Of Albany, Ga (Featuring Eljoe Mallory)
  • 12. It's Been A Long Journey Songs Of Spiritual Of Albany, Ga (Featuring Eljoe Mallory)
  • 13. I Made It Over Spiritual Qc's (Featuring Willie Ligon)
  • 14. What A Time Spiritual Qc's (Featuring Willie Ligon)
  • 15. After While The Shaw Singers (Featuring J.W. Shaw/Opal Shaw)
  • 16. Trying To Do Thy Will The Shaw Singers (Featuring J.W. Shaw/Opal Shaw)
  • 17. What Ever You Do Do Good Soul Superiors Of Detroit, Mi (Featuring Bobby Green)
  • 18. Great Day, A Soul Superiors Of Detroit, Mi (Featuring Fred Burns)
  • 19. Move Echoes Of Glory (Featuring Rev. Willie Crawford)
  • 20. I Feel Good Echoes Of Glory (Featuring Fred Burns)
  • 21. Trusted Alberta Powell
  • 22. Same God, The Alberta Powell
  • 23. How Good God Has Been Laura Bradley & The Famous South Land Singers
  • 24. How Far The Lord Has Brought Me Laura Bradley & The Famous South Land Singers
  • 25. Stand By Me The Jubilee Hummingbirds (Featuring Rev. Al Banks)
  • 26. Something Within Me The Jubilee Hummingbirds (Featuring Rev E. L. Whitaker)
  • 27. Go Back To God The Silvertone Singers Of Wynne, Ar (Featuring Joe Harris)
  • Disc 2:
  • 1. God Is Ruler From Above The Breckenridge Singers
  • 2. I'm On My Way The Fantastic Alphonzo Thomas
  • 3. Walking Through The City E.L. Burtis
  • 4. Sweet Home E.L. Burtis
  • 5. I Come To Praise His Name The Dixie Jubilees (Featuring Arthur Boyd)
  • 6. Mary Don't You Weep The Faithful Aires (Featuring C.H. Clark)
  • 7. I Am Going Home O'neal And The Dean Brothers (Featuring Cleoathah Dean Jr.)
  • 8. Abc's, The O'neal And The Dean Brothers (Featuring Cleoathah Dean Jr.)
  • 9. Get Right With Jesus The Mighty Blytheville Aires (Featuring R.J. Banks)
  • 10. It May Be Your Last The Mighty Blytheville Aires (Featuring Lelar King)
  • 11. Beautiful Mansion Traveling Stars (Featuring Johnny Jones)
  • 12. It's Me Oh Lord Standing In The Need Of Prayer Harps Of David (Featuring Raymond Ellis)
  • 13. Just A Little While Harmonizers Of Newton, Ms
  • 14. Do What The Lord Day Do The Golden Five (Featuring Lucious Issac)
  • 15. He's Coming To Judge The World The Johnsonaires (Featuring Manuel Smith)
  • 16. Too Close To Turn Around Golden Travelers (Featuring Lee Futrell)
  • 17. I've Got The Love Of Jesus The Holy City Travelers (Featuring Arthur Watson/Leon Hamner)
  • 18. God's Word Will Never Pass Away George Shields & His Gospel Singers (Featuring George Shields/Evelyn Mc Glown)
  • 19. When The Gates Open The South Land Singers
  • 20. Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone The Shaw Singers (Featuring J.W. Shaw/Opal Shaw)
  • 21. God Has Done So Much For Me The Shaw Singers (Featuring J.W. Shaw/Opal Shaw)
  • 22. People Of The World Are So Easy To Forget Gospel Consolators (Featuring Elgie Brown)
  • 23. Ring The Message Out Sensational Spirit Consolators (Featuring Robert Sims)
  • 24. Great Creator, The Sensational Spirit Consolators (Featuring Rev. Robert Berry)
  • 25. By And By I'll See Jesus The Memphis Spiritual Four (Featuring Otis Phillips)
  • 26. Here I Am The Memphis Spiritual Four (Featuring Otis Phillips)
  • Disc 3:
  • 1. Since He Touched Me The Shaw Singers (Featuring Opal Shaw)
  • 2. He's Sweet I Know The Silver Leaf Harmonizers (Featuring Eddie Fason/E.L. Smith)
  • 3. Letter From Jesus Little Willie Patterson/The Famous South Land Singers
  • 4. New Born Soul Little Willie Patterson/The Famous South Land Singers
  • 5. He Won't Deny Me Leon Hamner/The Holy City Travelers (Featuring Arthur Watson)
  • 6. Only Jesus Knows Leon Hamner/The Holy City Travelers
  • 7. Jesus Is Calling Me The Gospel Stars (Featuring Willie James Johnson)
  • 8. If I Could Not Say A Word Joe Townsend
  • 9. Going Over The Hill Joe Townsend
  • 10. When The World's On Fire The Canton Spirituals (Featuring Harvey Pop Watkins, Sr.)
  • 11. Lord's Been Good To Me The Four Stars (Featuring Willie Benson)
  • 12. Clean Up Your Life Jackson Trumpeteers (Featuring Rev. Warren White)
  • 13. Lord Remember Me Jackson Trumpeteers (Featuring Lee Lewis)
  • 14. I Won't Have To Cry No More The Jubilee Hummingbirds
  • 15. Sinners Plea, A The Jubilee Hummingbirds (Featuring Rev E. L. Whitaker)
  • 16. Holy Ghost The Mighty Gospel Eagles Of Greenwood, S.C. (Featuring Telpher Gilchrist)
  • 17. How Bless You Are The Mighty Gospel Eagles Of Greenwood, S.C. (Featuring Jesse Williams)
  • 18. Nobody's Fault But Mine The Original Golden Stars
  • 19. At The Red Sea The Original Golden Stars
  • 20. How I Made It Over Silver Trumpets (Featuring Floyd Bond)
  • 21. Living Down Here On Borrowed Time Silver Trumpets (Featuring Charles C. Hubbard)
  • 22. My Last Song Barnes Singers Of Earle, Ar
  • 23. I Won't Be Back No More Barnes Singers Of Earle, Ar
  • 24. Praise His Name Dixie Wonders Of Memphis, Tn (Featuring Cleophas Mabone)
  • Disc 4:
  • 1. Try The Lord Fantastic Gospel Travelers (Featuring Jerry Jerdine)
  • 2. Lord Will Make A Way, The Fantastic Gospel Travelers (Featuring Leroy Smith)
  • 3. Don't Give Up O'neal And The Dean Brothers (Featuring Pastor Bennett Dean)
  • 4. It's Your Life O'neal And The Dean Brothers (Featuring O'neal Dean)
  • 5. Christ At The Wall Original Holy Kings (Featuring R.D. Murray)
  • 6. Strong Believer Rev. Houston Potts Jr./Sister Mary Pride
  • 7. If I Don't Wake Up In The Morning Rev. Houston Potts Jr./Sister Mary Pride
  • 8. You Don't Know Sister Carrie Daniel
  • 9. This Joy I Have Sister Carrie Daniel
  • 10. Why Am I Treated So Bad Spiritual Harmonizers Of Senatobia, Ms (Featuring Julius Smith)
  • 11. Let Me Lean On You Christian All Stars Of Akron, Oh (Featuring James Ingram)
  • 12. When Jesus Comes Elgie Brown
  • 13. Helping Hand, A Elgie Brown
  • 14. Plant Love Foster Brothers (Featuring James Foster)
  • 15. Freedom Shore Foster Brothers (Featuring Samuel Foster)
  • 16. Don't Blame It On The Children Genessee Gospel Travelers (Featuring George Smith)
  • 17. Noah's Ark You Been Good To Me (Featuring Louise King)
  • 18. Hold On To His Hand The Magnificent Soul Survivors
  • 19. I'll Fly Away The Wandering Five (Featuring David Fuller)
  • 20. Lord Is My Shepherd, The The Mosby Singers Of East St. Louis, Il (Featuring Irene Mosby)
  • 21. I Got The Love Of Jesus The Mosby Singers Of East St. Louis, Il (Featuring Rochelle Mosby)
  • 22. Do Yourself A Favor Souls Of Solomon Of Buffalo, Ny (Featuring Hamid Motley/Marshall Cannady)
  • 23. Testify For Jesus Elizabeth King
  • 24. Love King Jesus Cora Bell Watkins
 
HPB condition ratings
  • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
  • Fine/Like New (F): No defects, little usage. May show remainder marks. Older books may show minor flaws.
  • Very Good (VG): Shows some signs of wear and is no longer fresh. Attractive. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. Possible loose bindings, highlighting, cocked spine or torn dust jackets. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Fair (FR): Obviously well-worn, but no text pages missing. May be without endpapers or title page. Markings do not interfere with readability. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Poor (P): All text is legible but may be soiled and have binding defects. Reading copies and binding copies fall into this category. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: Mint condition or still sealed (SS). Absolutely perfect in every way. New.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): No defects, little sign of use, well cared for. Plays perfectly. Close to new. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. Could be an unopened promotional or cut item. Sometimes called: mint-minus.
  • Very Good (VG): Will show some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it.
  • Good (G): Attractive and well cared for, but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, scuffing or scratching, but will play almost perfectly. For vinyl: barely detectable crackles or pops.
  • Fair (FR): This item is in okay condition. For vinyl: good is not so good and the record may have low level crackles or pops when playing. CD: one or more tracks may skip.
  • Poor (P): Obviously well-worn and handled. Most vinyl collectors will not buy good or below, but some tracks on CD or vinyl will play.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: This movie is unopened and brand new.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): Near new. No defects, little sign of use. Plays perfectly. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. No skipping; no fuzzy or snowy frames in VHS.
  • Very Good (VG): Attractive and well cared for but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, but will play almost perfectly. For VHS: barely detectable distortion or very few fuzzy or snowy frames.
  • Good (G): This item is in okay condition and basically works well. There may be some minor distortion on VHS tape; slight scratching or wear on DVD.
  • Fair (FR): Basically plays, but may be obviously well-worn with some scratching or tape distortion.
  • Poor (P): Disc or tape is intact, but may be scratched or stretched. There may be skips or distortion or product defects.
Conditions Guide
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