Gene Phillips

A West Coast session stalwart who appeared on a myriad of jump blues waxings during the late '40s and early '50s, guitarist Gene Phillips faded from view even before the dawn of rock & roll. Any serious collector of the Bihari brothers' budget-priced Crown albums (you know, the ones with those ubiquitous cheesy cover illustrations by artist "Fazzio") should be intimately familiar with Phillips's LP -- it's one of the best Crown acquisitions you can possibly make (especially since there's no CD equivalent yet). The T-Bone Walker-influenced Phillips recorded extensively for the Biharis' Modern Imprint from 1947 through 1950. His often-ribald jump blues gems for the firm included "Big Legs," "Fatso," "Rock Bottom," "Hey Now," and a version of Big Bill Broonzy's witty standard "Just a Dream." Phillips's bandmates were among the royalty of the L.A. scene: trumpeter Jake Porter, saxists Marshall Royal, Maxwell Davis, and Jack McVea, and pianist Lloyd Glenn were frequently on hand. Phillips returned the favor in Porter's case, singing and playing on the trumpeter's 1947 dates for Imperial. After a 78 of his own for Imperial in 1951 ("She's Fit 'n Fat 'n Fine"), Phillips bowed out of the recording wars as a leader with a solitary 1954 effort for Combo, "Fish Man," backed by McVea's band. ~ Bill Dahl

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