CRATE DIGGER: YOUNG JESSE Lula Belle
Young Jesse Lula Belle (Capitol 1959)
This week, fresh on the heels of the horror of an over-graded record leading to a social media witch hunt comes another record collector’s worst nightmare…. OH MY GOD, I’VE BOUGHT A BOOTLEG WHEN I THOUGHT IT WAS ORIGINAL VINYL!
Now, I admit it, original vinyl collecting is a fetish, one I’m completely cemented to. I think I can spot differences in sound quality on original vinyl that with subjective comparison would turn out to be unfounded and false. But like many of my afflicted compadres, I can’t get past the nagging doubt that if I am forced to listen to a reissue or god forbid A BOOTLEG then I am somehow listening to an inferior copy of the recording. I know that this is complete hogwash as I only apply this criteria to 7” singles and couldn’t give a damn what issue an album is as long as it plays great. Go figure eh? In some cases (original ska from Jamaica for instance) the re-release on 7” is way superior in every way to the original, pressing and vinyl quality being very patchy on original Jamaican 1960’s releases. Still, I can’t get past it and I live with the doubt and horror of maybe not having an original press.
When today’s offering dropped on my mat recently I was very excited. Lula Belle is as fine a slice of conga-driven R&B groove you can listen to, complete with a driving, but smooth, horn section and the velvet tones of Young Jesse (or Jessie sometimes) sitting on the top. It’s a stone-cold banger.
I immediately freed it from its packaging and headed for my Thorens 160d to give it a spin, when I stopped dead in my tracks. The record was pristine except for a very small very clean label tear on the B side. I’d bought it from a dealer I’m familiar with, I’ve bought from them before they have a great reputation but even experts get it wrong sometimes. This tear was troubling me… it was so new looking could it have been put there to indicate age? Falsely like some dodgy antique dealer taking a sideboard back a few generations by using his dark arts… was this a bootleg?
This sent me flying for the internet, scurrying from site to site to see if I could find any mention of unofficial releases. The doubt had truly set in, I had paid close to three-figure for the disc in question and I truly believe I might have lost the majority of that figure to the bootleggers’ deception. It all proved to be false however, there is no bootleg of this disc I could find, I was panicking over nothing, I just had a very good copy of a 63-year-old record. It took some hours and a couple of cups of tea to calm me down.
2 weeks later I bought a bootleg copy of Loose Ends version of The Beatles’ song Taxman by mistake. It was obviously a boot and listed cheaply. I was just greedy when I bought it thinking I’d snapped up a bargain. It played perfectly and looked and sounded like the real thing. However, my fetish kicked in and I didn’t get to the end of the first side before I threw it in the bin. I know it’s irrational and I’m probably an idiot but I’m nearly 50… I can’t see myself changing now.
YOUNG JESSE Lula Belle
Vinyl photo by Marc Griffiths // Artist photo via WBSS Media
Written by Obie Jessie
Produced by Buck Stapleton
“Crate Digger Confidential…A Lifelong obsession with plastic discs laid bare. Don’t expect just reviews of records, it’s much more important to me than that.“