Sunday, November 30, 2014

Vee-Jay: Uncloudy Day

Well, we have one more day in November, so I thought I’d extend our look at Vee-Jay Records one more time. Like its cross town rival Chess, Vee-Jay also signed a number of gospel artists in addition to its cadre of blues and R&B artists. One of those acts was The Staple Singers. While Vee-Jay wasn’t their first label (that was United) and it wasn’t the label of their greatest success (that would be Stax), this family band had a modicum of notoriety when they were with Vee-Jay.

One of their top sellers at the label was the 1956 recording of “Uncloudy Day.” As with most singles in the 50s, the song was released both as a 78 RPM single and as a 45 RPM single. Eventually, the 78 market diminished and was overtaken by 45 RPMs as the medium of consumers’ choice for a variety of reasons – but primarily for fidelity reasons.

“Uncloudy Day” features Roebuck “Pops” Staples and his four children: Cleotha, Purvis, Yvonne, and Mavis. “Pops’” guitar, with the amp’s tremolo turned up, is the sole instrument on this recording. “Uncloudy Day” is a loose adaptation of Josiah Alwood’s 1885 composition “Unclouded Day.” Over 90% of the original’s lyrical content is missing and the arrangement is as far away from the original as possible. This truly is a Staples’ song, by and by.

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