Tuesday, 9 September 2014

"I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday" by BOBBY MITCHELL and THE TOPPERS - A Review Of The 1997 Bear Family 2CD Box Set with Discographies...



“…Can’t Be Beat…”

Released March 1997 in a 12” x 12” box set – “I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday” by BOBBY MITCHELL and THE TOPPERS is on Bear Family BCD 15961 BI and features 47 tracks across 2CDs (5 previously unreleased).

The Louisiana Rhythm ’n’ Blues pioneer never managed an album of his own in his brief chart career - but Imperial, Ron and Rip Records of the USA put out a raft of his singles between 1953 and 1963 – all of which are here. There’s even a Northern Soul crossover fave in “Well, I Done Got Over It” on the obscure Sho-Biz Record label included (from 1959).

A 2CD jewel case is centred beneath inside a plastic tray within the box (55:59 minutes and 54:37 minutes) and the beautifully laid-out album-sized 20-page booklet provides a life history by New Orleans expert RICK COLEMAN. The text is peppered with photos of Bobby right up to the Eighties (1935 to 1989), there’s trade adverts, concert flyers, letters from Imperial Records, Dave Bartholomew’s Orchestra, a picture of Roy Hayes – the writer of his biggest hit “I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday”. The session-by-session breakdown on Pages 18 and 19 by JOHN BROVEN, RICK COLEMAN, WALTER DeVENNE (who also did the Tape Transfer and the excellent Remastering) and Bear Family’s own RICHARD WEIZE provide all the insider info you’d need (as well as those songs that are now lost). However for fans - here’s a simpler Bobby Mitchell Discography in release date order referencing where the tracks are on the box: [7/1] = Track 7 on Disc, 1/2 = Track 1 on Disc 2 etc:

1.     Imperial IM-5236 (released 1953)
I’m Crying [1/1] b/w Rack ‘Em Back [2/1]
[Note: ”Rack ‘Em Back” appeared on the Various Artists LP “Hitsville, USA” in 1959 on Imperial LP 9084]

2. Imperial IM-5250 (released 1953)
One Friday Morning [7/1] b/w 4 x 11 = 44 [8/1]

3. Imperial IM-5270 (released 1954)
Baby’s Gone [9/1] b/w Sister Lucy [10/1]

4.     Imperial IM-5282 (released 1954)
Angel Child [4/1] b/w School Boy Blues [12/1]

5.     Imperial IM-5295 (released 1954)
The Wedding Bells Are Ringing [5/1] b/w Meant For Me [6/1]

6.     Imperial IM-5309 (released 1954)
I’m A Young Man [3/1] b/w She Couldn’t Be Found [11/1]

7.     Imperial IM-5326 (released 1955)
I Wish I Knew [15/1] b/w Nothing As Sweet As You [13/1]

8.     Imperial IM-5346 (released 1955)
I Cried [14/1] b/w I’m In Love [16/1]

9.     Imperial IM-5378 (released 1956)
Try Rock And Roll [17/1] b/w No, No, No [20/1]

10. Imperial IM-5392 (released 1956)
Goin’ Round In Circles [22/1] b/w I Try So Hard [21/1]

11. Imperial IM-5412 (released 1956)
You Are My Angel [19/1] b/w I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed [23/1]

12. Imperial IM-5440 (released 1957)
You Always Hurt The One You Love [2/2] b/w I Would Like To Know [4/2]

13. Imperial IM-5475 (released 1957)
I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday [5/2] b/w You Better Go Home [6/2]

14. Imperial IM-5511 (released 1958)
I Love To Hold You [3/2] b/w 64 Hours [1/2]

15. Imperial 5558 (released 1959)
Hearts Of Fire [8/2] b/w You’re Going To Be Sorry [7/2]

16. Sho-Biz 1005 (released 1959)
Well, I Don’t Got Over It [9/2] b/w Just Say You Love Me [10/2]

17. Ron 337 (released 1961)
Send Me Your Picture [11/2] b/w You’re Doing Me Wrong [12/2]

18. Ron 342 (released 1961)
Mama Don’t Allow [14/2] b/w There’s Only One Of You [13/2]

19. Imperial 5882 (released 1962)
My Southern bell [18/2] b/w When First We Met [15/2]

20. Imperial 5923 (released 1963)
I Don’t Want To Be A Wheel No More [21/2] b/w Got To Call That Number [19/2]

21. Rip 576 (released 1963)
Walking in Circles [22/2] b/w You Got The Nerve [23/2]

PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED and exclusive to this box:
18/1 – I Fell For You (recorded January 1956)
24/1 – How Long (Must I Wait) (recorded April 1956)
16/2 – I’ll Fiddle While You Cry (recorded September 1962)
17/2 – Oh Yeah (recorded September 1962)
20/2 – I Never Knew What Hit Me (recorded January 1963)

Musically somewhere between those other two Imperial giants of New Orleans R’n’B – Fats Domino and Smiley Lewis – Mitchell had the same kind of tenor-baritone voice and that delicious mischievousness to his personality. Stuff like “School Boy Blues” (“…You say I’m just a school boy…go back and learn the rules…”) and his Little Richard vocal hiccups in “Goin’ Round In Circles” are great fun. And his “real gone cat” gem “I’m Gonna A Wheel Someday” is legendary amongst collectors. The Chuck Berry-ish appeal of “Try Rock And Roll” finally saw him dent the US Rhythm ‘n’ Blues charts in March 1956 –rising to Number 14. A song I particular love is “Mama Don’t Allow” – it was first aired by JULIA LEE in 1951 on Capitol – even J.J. Cale did a stunning version of it on his 1981 “Shades” album. Here Mitchell gives it a brassy feel. Very nice…


In 2014 it’s sad to say that the likeable Bobby Mitchell is largely forgotten now. Well not if the mighty Bear Family has anything to do with it. A lovely release – and classy like the man himself…

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