I found this photo of The Lamp Sisters recently and since I always find it nice to put faces to the records I listen to, I thought I’d go ahead and share it here with you.
The Lamp Sisters hailed from Detroit, starting out as backup singers for who else but name bearer Buddy Lamp. Buddy, a recording star who jumped to Don Robey’s Duke imprint in 1968, wielded plenty of attention and commercial success that could easily highlight band members to the masses during intermissions. Robey likely saw both the talent and selling points of three attractive ladies that already stood so close to the limelight and signed the group to a recording deal. The results were four 45s issued on Duke over the next few years, none of which seemed to climb the charts to much-coveted positions. Continue reading
While vinyl relics from Houston become tougher and tougher to locate as the years pass, proving the existence of other ephemera from a bygone era can feel more fiction than fact at times. It would only make sense that a record company the size of Don Robey’s Duke imprint would manufacture their own 45 single sleeves. After all, Robey paid enough attention to Duke’s sister company Peacock that he used beautiful five-color labels on his 45s. A dauntingly expensive endeavor at the time for a record enterprise, as the more colors used for printing, the more expensive the label being stuck onto to the actual vinyl became. This is the reason many record companies, particularly independents ones, tend to use one-color labels to this day.
Records, being made of polyvinyl chloride or styrene tend to weather the storm of time decently enough. As long as the listener doesn’t toss them around like frisbees and returns them to their sleeves after playing them, there’s not much threat of degradation. Paper on the other hand seems to deteriorate at a much faster pace and paper 45 sleeves tend to be no exception to the rule.
I’ve spent a lot of time attempting to track down anyone and everyone I can that had a hand in shaping the sounds of Houston’s vast soul scene. Over the years, I’ve found a decent number of long-lost musicians, a handful of hustling record label owners and fortunately, a couple fellows who produced their music.
That being said, there’s still a lot a people out there I’d like to sit down with and listen to their stories. Please send me an email if you have an uncle or friend that was involved locally with soul music in the 1960s or 1970s that I could speak with. The one thing I’ve had the hardest time getting my hands on is local music ephemera like posters, playbills and pictures. So you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when this Bobby Bland flier showed up in my mailbox recently.
Bland, born and raised in Tennessee made a name for himself more than half a century ago when he recorded his first record for Chess in 1951. It wasn’t long afterwards that he signed with the then-fledgling recording label Duke. After a short stint in the military shaped his resolve to sing, upon his release he learned Duke had been sold to Don Robey and its base of operations relocated to Houston to run side by side with his Peacock imprint.