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J.C. Davis — ?A New Day!? — [Cali-Tex] — (33 rpm)

36 years ago, tenor sax player J.C. Davis and his band went into the Mus-I-Col Studio to record a few tracks. The results of this session have been re-mastered by Josh Davis (aka DJ Shadow, no relation) and released on his Cali-Tex Records.

J.C. Davis would be completely obscure except for the fact that he led James Brown’s Famous Flames for a few years. Four of the tracks on this album were released as 45s, which are highly sought after and can be had for a few hundred dollars. Only 1,500 of these were pressed, so this album will become a rarity as well ‘I’m sure.

The music is not as funky or outrageous as one might expect from someone who led James Brown‘s band. There’s plenty of funk and ‘I’m sure we’ll be hearing the breakbeats from these tracks on future recordings that we add. The band sounds relaxed and disciplined at the same time. (Maybe they are relieved that they aren’t going to get fined for coming in late or missing a note, like JB used to do.) Shelly, notable for its unselfconscious singing, and A New Day (is Here at Last) are the slowest tracks.

The recording quality is amazing. I wouldn’t have known that this was recorded 36 years ago unless it said it on the back of the album. The drums sound fat and Mr. Davis‘s sax in particular sounds full.

–Hunter Gatherer

  • Reviewed by Hunter Gatherer on April 9, 2005 at 8:45 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,Soul
  • 4 comments

  • 4 Comments

    John:

    Here?s what I know about JAMES ?J.C.? DAVIS, along with a scanned photo from a 1960 tour program booklet:
    He seems to have hailed from Burlington, N.C. but somehow ended up living in Ohio where he first met James Brown, just as Brown?s career had progressed enough to afford hiring a road band to accompany his Famous Flames. (Contrary to popular belief, the Famous Flames were Brown?s original group – consisting of 4 other singers and a guitarist. Several of the singers alternated – with Brown – on piano and drums until they could afford to hire back-up musicians). The Famous Flames NEVER designated Brown?s actual band.
    Around October, 1958, Davis joined Brown?s road show in Columbus, Ohio, as band director and chief soloist.
    While with Brown, Davis appeared on many recording sessions – frequently taking sax solos – and even recorded a solo single with the Brown band as JAMES DAVIS on Federal Records. Davis also recorded a series of instrumental singles for Chicago?s Chess family of labels, under his own name.
    Sometime in late February, 1961, Davis quit Brown?s band to assume a similar position with ETTA JAMES until May, 1962.
    By now a veteran and trusted leader for tour-worthy back-up bands, when Etta was not working, Davis hired out his group and backed up JACKIE WILSON in February-March, 1962.
    After leaving Etta James, he toured the 1962 summer months with LITTLE WILLIE JOHN.
    Davis continued to free-lance and other ?sightings? have his ?quintet? backing a December, 1962, one-nighter package that consisted of THE DRIFTERS, GENE CHANDLER & MAXINE BROWN, and a string of May, 1964 dates with JACKIE WILSON.
    I?ve been told he settled in Cleveland, Ohio, in the mid-60?s. Unfortunately, that?s all I know.

    PARTIAL DISCOGRAPHY:

    DEC. 18, 1958-LOS ANGELES as JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES
    GOT TO CRY
    IT WAS YOU
    I WANT YOU SO BAD

    JAN. 30, 1959-NEW YORK as JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES
    IT HURTS TO TELL YOU
    DON’T LET IT HAPPEN TO ME
    BEWILDERED
    as JAMES DAVIS (Federal 45-12360)
    DOODLE BEE
    BUCKET HEAD

    JUNE, 1959-NEW YORK as JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES
    GOOD GOOD LOVIN’

    NOV. 11, 1959-CINCINNATI as JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES
    WONDER WHEN YOU’RE COMING HOME
    I’LL GO CRAZY
    THIS OLD HEART
    I KNOW IT’S TRUE

    NOV., 1959-NEW YORK as LITTLE BOBBY ROACH & HIS COMBO (Fire 45-1013)
    MUSH
    MORE MUSH
    This was the Brown band instrumentally recorded under guitarist Roach’s name

    NOV., 1959-MIAMI as NAT KENDRICK & THE SWANS (Dade 45-1804)
    (DO THE) MASHED POTATOES PT.1
    (DO THE) MASHED POTATOES PT.2
    Another project of Brown & band under drummer Kendrick’s name

    DEC., 1962-NEW YORK as KIP ANDERSON (Everlast 45-5021)
    I FEEL GOOD
    I WILL CRY
    Davis & the Brown band backing singer Anderson.

    FEB. 20, 1960-HOLLYWOOD as JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES
    THINK
    I’LL NEVER, NEVER LET YOU GO
    YOU’VE GOT THE POWER
    IF YOU WANT ME

    Late MAY, 1960-MIAMI as NAT KENDRICK & THE SWANS (Dade 45-1808)
    DISH RAG PT. 1
    DISH RAG PT. 2
    As BABY LLOYD (Atco 45-6175)
    WAIT AND SEE
    I NEED LOVE
    The Brown band backing Famous Flame Baby Lloyd (Stallworth)’s solo single

    SEPT. 27, 1960-HOLLYWOOD as JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES
    BABY YOU’RE RIGHT
    LOVE DON’T LOVE NOBODY

    SEPT. 29, 1960-HOLLYWOOD as JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES
    COME OVER HERE
    JUST YOU AND ME, DARLING
    SO LONG

    OCT. 4, 1960-HOLLYWOOD as JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES
    TELL ME WHAT YOU’RE GONNA DO (alto sax solo by Al Corley)
    THE BELLS
    As JAMES BROWN PRESENTS HIS BAND
    HOLD IT
    THE SCRATCH

    LATE, 1960-MIAMI as NAT KENDRICK & THE SWANS (Dade 45-1812)
    SLOWDOWN
    HOT CHILE

    DEC., 1960-Probably CHICAGO as J.C. DAVIS (Argo 45-5382)
    THE SPLIB PT. 1
    THE SPLIB PT. 2
    The Brown band recording under Davis’ name

    FEB. 9, 1961-CINCINNATI as JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES
    DANCIN’ LITTLE THING
    YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO
    LOST SOMEONE
    SHOUT AND SHIMMY
    NIGHT TRAIN
    As JAMES BROWN PRESENTS HIS BAND
    SUDS
    STICKY

    FEB. 10, 1961-CINCINNATI as JAMES BROWN & THE FAMOUS FLAMES
    I LOVE YOU, YES I DO

    Ci. MARCH, 1962-CHICAGO as J.C. DAVIS (Chess 45-1831)
    THE CHICKEN SCRATCH
    SHAKE WITH ME
    Davis recording with his own (unidentified) band

    MAY-JUNE, 1963-CHICAGO as J.C. DAVIS
    LISTEN TO THE MUSIC (Chess 45-1885)
    SWEET SWEET LOVE (Chess 45-1858)
    THE MONKEY (Chess 45-1858)
    COOLIN’ OUT (Chess LP 9293)
    Davis with unidentified accompaniment

    JANUARY, 1964-CHICAGO as J.C. DAVIS
    FRENCKY (Chess 45-1885)

    There were several unissued titles also recorded at the above Chess Records sessions as well as one additional date in 1965.
    Hope this helps somewhat. Let me know if you need any data on other James Brown (or Ray Charles) associated saxists.
    See attached photo.

    ALAN LEEDS

    2/26/05??Thanks for the CD. Fascinating, great stuff!!! Kudos!!
    Here is an update on J.C. Davis……as irony would have it, just today I discovered a newly issued vinyl LP compilation of some tracks he cut and released on an indy Ohio label in 1969! The label has a brief bio;
    He settled in Columbus, Ohio in the mid-60?s, retiring from the road after tours with Etta James and Linda Jones. There (in Columbus) he cut 2 indy singles for his own New Day label with his Ohio-based band in May, 1969, the titles of which are: ?A New Day (is Here at Last)?, ?Circleville?, ?Coconut Brown? and ?Buttered Popcorn.? These and several previously unissued tracks from the same sessions were recently compiled and released on a vinyl LP A NEW DAY! THE COMPLETE MUS-I-COL RECORDINGS OF J.C. DAVIS on the Cali-Tex label CT-103. The sidemen are listed on the album but none are recognizeable ?names?…probably just local cats in Columbus at the time.?
    Best regards,
    Alan Leeds

  • Comment by John Laughter, September 7th, 2006 1:54 am
  • You said in your article that JC Davis led James Brown’s FAMOUS FLAMES. By THAT, I assume you mean James Brown’s BAND .

    Just one problem.

    James Brown’s BAND was not , is not , and HAS NEVER BEEN called THE FAMOUS FLAMES.

    The FAMOUS FLAMES were the name of his SINGING GROUP.

    His BAND was simply called THE JAMES BROWN BAND.

    This is a common mistake that someone started as a lie some 50 years ago, and people are making the SAME mistake today.

    James even attempted to correct the error himself once , on the DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW back in the Eighties….Yet, people are STILL making THE SAME MISTAKE TODAY. THE FAMOUS FLAMES are: BOBBY BYRD, BOBBY BENNETT, LLOYD STALLWORTH, and JOHNNY TERRY. They were SINGERS…NOT BAND MEMBERS.
    The FAMOUS FLAMES were just inducted into the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME in 2012. The men I mentioned were the ONLY inductees.Not FRED WESLEY, MACEO PARKER, JABO STARKS, BOOTSY COLLINS, CLYDE STUBBLEFIELD, and 15 other guys playing instruments on stage.

    JAMES BROWN himself was a member of The Flames. He was their LEAD SINGER. He was NEVER A MEMBER of The James Brown Band. Ask ALAN LEEDS. He is well familiar with this fact: THE FAMOUS FLAMES was ALWAYS the name of Brown’s VOCAL BACKING GROUP ….never his BAND….EVER.
    On the group’s belated 2012 Induction, Here is what The Digital Dream Door Website said:

    Though for years people believed the Famous Flames were James Brown’s backing band, those instrumental giants had no official credit on record and in fact had NO RECOGNIZED NAME until they were dubbed the J.B.’s in the 70′s for lack of anything else to refer to them as. The Flames in fact were the (name of the) VOCAL GROUP Brown joined in the mid-50′s and with his presence making them Famous, they continued to use that moniker for a dozen years. They were led by Bobby Byrd, one of the most important side figures in a major star’s career, and while they featured fluctuating membership over the years, the most prominent members included Johnny Terry, Bobby Bennett and Eugene “Baby Lloyd” Stallworth. The combination of the gospel-derived harmonies of the Flames and the intense leads of Brown made the group the undisputed leaders of the soul movement and the most explosive act in all of rock.”

    Bobby Bennett, The last surviving member of The Famous Flames, accepted the induction for the group in Cleveland on April 14, 2012.

    You can see his YouTube comment at this site:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDTJaDUaoVM

    You can see the FAMOUS FLAMES ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME PAGE HERE:

    http://rockhall.com/inductees/the-famous-flames/

    And see them perform live on stage with James Brown on the 1964 concert film The T.A.M.I. Show HERE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujwknJYrEm4

    …and on the 1965 Frankie Avalon l motion picture SKI PARTY HERE:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GzMQxxFICc

    If you need still more proof , check out these sites:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Famous_Flames

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVWFq_gPXNA

    Here is what Wikipedia said about The Famous Flames:

    “Although the passing of time, and attempts made by certain groups and individuals to re-write history, (not to mention many uninformed DeeJays nationwide) who have in recent years unfairly tended to credit James Brown as the sole artist on their songs, it should be made clear that they were recorded and made hits by the entire group, “James Brown and The Famous Flames”,. These were the songs that established Brown’s career, and they were recorded by all of them …not just him. The Famous Flames were a “group”, and Brown was initially just one of the members…just like all of the rest. In addition, claims made by uninformed individuals that the Famous Flames were a “band” or were backup musicians are also incorrect . The Famous Flames were a singing group . The “band” was the James Brown Orchestra…a totally separate entity from The Famous Flames.”

    Again, The Famous Flames were a VOCAL GROUP…NOT BACKING MUSICIANS.

    Why the confusion? Wikipedia explains :

    ” In 1964, the group recorded another successful live album, Pure Dynamite! Live at the Royal, but as before with the Apollo album, the group’s name was not placed on the cover though they were clearly on the record, and were included in the album’s intro. The Flames also contributed to the recording of the 1964 studio album, Showtime. Again, Brown, and not the Flames, was included in the credit alone though they were featured on the cover of the album. King Records caused further confusion by listing some James Brown solo recordings as recordings by The Famous Flames when the group wasn’t on it; this had started back in the group’s Federal days with the ballad “I Want You So Bad”. This confusion made fans of Brown believe for years that the Famous Flames was actually Brown’s backing band. In 1964, James & the Flames had another top 40 hit with the blues ballad, “Oh Baby, Don’t You Weep”, which reached # 23 Pop on the Billboard Chart, and # 4 R&B on the Cash Box R&B chart, and later released their last recording together, “Maybe The Last Time”, which was a b-side of James Brown’s Smash recording, “Out of Sight”, for which, ironically, The Flames did not receive label credit.”

    When The Flames recorded albums with Brown, Their name, but not their faces , graced the album covers …so unless you saw the group in concert, You didn’t know what they looked like, while at the same time, several later singles were credited to them on the labels (King Records’ mistake) that they didn’t actually sing on, because Brown stopped using them on record after 1964, although the group still continued to tour together until 1968.

    Again, The Famous Flames were a SINGING GROUP…NOT A BAND.
    i hope that clarifies things.

  • Comment by Topkat, July 30th, 2012 1:28 pm
  • Is there a way to contact Alan Leeds, I’d like to get a look at that pic of J.C. Davis he mentions here.

  • Comment by John, September 22nd, 2012 8:36 am
  • I worked with J.C. Davis at the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority in the late 1980′s and the early 1990′s He was a maintenance area foreman and a fascinating man. There was a 8″ x 10″ glossy black & white publicity “head-shot” of him framed near his desk, the only reminder of his colorful past. J.C. was really laid back, very cool and down to earth. We went to lunch a few times and I would always ask him about his time on tour etc. I saw Little Richard play at the International Childrens games in Cleveland in the early 2000′s and he was amazing.
    I do not know if J.C. Davis is still alive, but he was a very cool guy.

  • Comment by Dan McCann, October 24th, 2012 4:46 am

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