The Mellows – 1 – How Sentimental Can I Be? – 2 – Nothin’ To Do – Jay-Dee Records 793 – August 1954 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Diving into the sadly neglected room full of 78’s tonight and coming out with a few gems from the early R&B/Doo-Wop period. This one, the first two sides The Mellows recorded for the small New York Label Jay-Dee Records in August of 1954: How Sentimental Can I Be and Nothin’ To Do.
The Mellows were a New York R&B Vocal group consisting of Lillian Leach, Harold Johnson, Johnny Wilson and Norman Brown. They recorded several sides for Jay-Dee starting with this one in 1954 for Jay Dee, a small New York-based label owned by Joe Davis. Davis was a popular figure in the R&B world; in addition to running his own labels (Beacon was another of his top-notch indie labels), he ran his own management company and even worked for MGM Records for a time.
In addition to this 1954 session, The Mellows recorded several other songs for Jay Dee, including “Smoke From Your Cigarette” in January 1955, and “I Still Care,” issued in April 1955 and probably the high point of their career. They later moved over to Brooklyn’s Celeste Records, covering classics like “Lucky Guy,” “My Darling,” “Sweet Lorraine” — and a song called “I’m Gonna Pick Your Teeth With an Icepick” — then moved over to Candlelight for one last single before disbanding a few years later.
Sadly, much of this material has been overlooked by later generations of collectors -it’s a genre that struggled against the racial makeup of the 1950s as well as the initial rejection by the mainstream. Although considered the stuff of nostalgia now, it was considered pretty “undesirable” by the more conservative elements of our society at the time. This disc dates from 1954 – fully two years before anything remotely resembling acceptance from the mainstream was anywhere to be found – and even at that, there was a lot of sanitizing going on. This is a very rich vein of music history which may seem odd, almost foreign to ears not accustomed to it.
But keep an open mind (as always) and give it a listen, for even a minute. You might find something here worth investigating.
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