Air Week: April 22-28, 2024

The R&B of RCA

It is a popular belief that the seeds of Rhythm & Blues, Rock n’ Roll and even Jazz were planted by the small independent labels and that the major labels exhaustively played catch-up as the music grew in popularity. That is simply not true. The major labels were there from the beginning, often breaking important artists, many with mainstream leanings, while the indie labels promoted the more “grittier” aspects of the music, which we view today as the more “authentic” sound of R&B, Rock n’ Roll and Jazz. And so, like Columbia and Decca, RCA Victor released some stellar Rhythm & Blues during the late 1940s into the early 1950s, before the label signed Elvis in 1955. It’s hard to imagine Rock n’ Roll emerging from a world void of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup as Elvis and his contemporaries took so much inspiration from him, including covering his songs. Crudup was a star on RCA’s blues roster as was Jazz Gillum. John Greer, The Robins and even Jesse Belvin all spent time on RCA. This week, Matt The Cat shines the spotlight on some great Blues, Jump Blues, Rhythm & Blues and vocal group sounds from RCA Victor during the golden age of R&B. It’s the R&B of RCA on the “Juke In The Back.”