Vanguard Visionaries

by: Big Mama Thornton

Founded in 1950 by brothers Seymour Solomon and Maynard Solomon just as the LP format was taking hold (it had been introduced to the market two years previously), Vanguard Records took full advantage of the longer playing time afforded and began life as a classical label, moving easily into jazz, then gospel, bluegrass, blues, and folk (as Joan Baez's label, they had a high profile during the 1960s folk revival), eventually experimenting with rock groups like the Frost, although folk and classical remained the label's forte. Vanguard was sold to the Welk Group in 1985. The new owners set about revitalizing the imprint's back catalog, and also began adding contemporary recordings of country and pop artists as the 21st century began. To celebrate the imprint's rapidly approaching 60th anniversary, Vanguard has released a series of brief artist samplers (Vanguard Visionaries) from the label's peak 1960s and early-'70s era, including this one from Big Mama Thornton. A classic juke joint blues shouter, Thornton recorded the original versions of "Hound Dog" and "Ball and Chain," which ended up being big hits for Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin, respectively. Thornton recorded two albums for Vanguard in 1975, one a studio affair (Sassy Mama!) and the other drawn from live concerts held at two northwestern prisons (Jail). This brief sampler takes tracks from both releases and includes versions of "Hound Dog" and "Ball and Chain." ~ Steve Leggett

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.