Morris Pejoe & Arthur "Big Boy" Spires - Wrapped
  • 01 Let's Get High
  • 02 You Messed Up
  • 03 I Wish My Baby
  • 04 Move It Out and Go
  • 05 May Bea
  • 06 Treat Me the Same
  • 07 Baby, You Know That's Wrong
  • 08 Let's Get High (Alternate)
  • 09 You Gone Away
  • 10 She Walked Right In
  • 11 Dark and Stormy Night
  • 12 Moody This Morning
  • 13 You Can't Tell
  • 14 Wrapped in My Baby
  • 01 Let's Get High
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (02:36) [8.12 MB]
  • 02 You Messed Up
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (02:26) [7.77 MB]
  • 03 I Wish My Baby
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (03:08) [9.37 MB]
  • 04 Move It Out and Go
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (02:57) [8.92 MB]
  • 05 May Bea
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (03:05) [9.24 MB]
  • 06 Treat Me the Same
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (02:50) [8.66 MB]
  • 07 Baby, You Know That's Wrong
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (03:19) [9.76 MB]
  • 08 Let's Get High (Alternate)
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (02:36) [8.12 MB]
  • 09 You Gone Away
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (02:17) [7.41 MB]
  • 10 She Walked Right In
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (02:37) [8.17 MB]
  • 11 Dark and Stormy Night
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (02:47) [8.54 MB]
  • 12 Moody This Morning
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (03:45) [10.75 MB]
  • 13 You Can't Tell
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (03:03) [9.17 MB]
  • 14 Wrapped in My Baby
    Genre: Blues
    MP3 (02:49) [8.64 MB]
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Morris Pejoe / Arthur "Big Boy" Spires
Wrapped In My Baby
Delmark DD-716

Chicago's prestigious Universal Studios was the site for the vast majority of recording sessions held by United Records but there were a few exceptions along the way. The two United sessions on this album were recorded in the basement digs of producer Al Smith. Guitarist Morris Pejoe's sound was distinguished by the bouncy rhythmic feel of his native Louisiana and a blasting Texas-tinged guitar style. Pejoe made his first recordings for Checker, Chess' subsidiary. His Gulf Coast approach was a rarity around Chicago but guitarist Arthur "Big Boy" Spires's Delta-driven sound was tailor-made for the city's blues mainstream. Born in Mississippi, Spires also made his debut on Checker. After listening to this motherlode of vintage Chicago blues-- all of it unissued prior to its original Delmark vinyl unearthing --you'll be inclined to agree that Bob Dylan's fabled "basement tapes" now have some stiff competition!

1. Let's Get High 2:31
2. You Messed Up 2:19
3. I Wish My Baby 3:03
4. Move It On Out And Go 2:52
5. May Bea 3:00
6. Treat Me The Same 2:46
7. Baby, You Know That's Wrong 3:13
8. Let's Get High 2:30
9. You Gone Away 2:12
10. She Walked Right In 2:32 11. Dark And Stormy Night 2:41
12. Moody This Morning 3:39
13. You Can't Tell 2:58
14. Wrapped In My Baby 2:48

Morris Pejoe, vocals, guitar
Henry Gray, piano
Milton Rector, bass
Earl Phillips, drums
Stanley Grim, alto sax
unknown, tenor sax
Recorded in December, 1954

Morris Pejoe, vocals, guitar
Andrew McMahon, bass
remainder unknown
Probably recorded in 1959 or '60

Arthur "Big Boy" Spires, vocals on 11 &12, guitar
Willie "Long Time" Smith, vocals on 13 & 14, piano
Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, harmonica
Edward El, guitar
Ted Porter, drums
Recorded in late '54 or early '55

Although Chicago's prestigious Universal Studios was the site for the vast majority of the many recording sessions held by Leonard Allen's United and States labels during the early-to-mid-1950s, there were a few notable exceptions along the way.
Two of the three dates comprising this album would be prime examples. Both United sessions were conducted in the basement facilities of producer Al Smith, probably in an attempt to save a little money during the latter days of the label's existence. Smith's production credits for United mostly involved various doo-**** aggregations, and he was still a few years away from inaugurating his lengthy managerial relationship with blues legend Jimmy Reed when he supervised these sides in late 1954 or early '55.
Guitarist Morris Pejoe's sound was distinguished by the bouncy rhythmic feel of New Orleans and a blasting Texas-tinged guitar style. Born in Palmetto, La. in 1924, Pejoe (real name Pejas) initially took up the violin, trying his hand briefly at country music before moving to Beaumont, Texas in 1949. There he changed over to guitar, inspired by Lone Star stalwarts Lightnin' Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, and especially lightning-fast axeman Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. The jump blues format so prevalent in the music of Gatemouth and T-Bone remained a dominant factor in Pejoe's work throughout his career.
Pejoe relocated to Chicago in 1951, where he met Kenner, La.-born pianist Henry Gray at the Upstairs Lounge. The pair stayed together for the next four years. Gray introduced Pejoe to the Chess brothers, and Pejoe cut his debut single for Checker, "Tired Of Crying Over You" (a thinly disguised remake of Fats Domino's 1951 Imperial outing "Tired Of Crying"), in late 1952. His Checker encore, "Can't Get Along," emerged shortly thereafter, but it failed to equal the relative success of its predecessor. 11 more Pejoe songs for Chess were exiled to the vaults, as were two 1953 cuts by Gray with Pejoe backing him.
Pejoe's December '54 United session suffered the same undeserved fate. The marathon affair yielded seven songs ranging from straightahead Chicago blues to Crescent City-tinged R&B and two takes of the rollicking "Let's Get High." Gray's rock-ribbed 88s keep things in control for the most part as Pejoe lays down "Baby, You Know That's Wrong" (redone by Pejoe the next year for Vee-Jay as "Hurt My Feelings") and "May Bea" (a Pejoe perennial-- he'd waxed it for Chess in '53 and would revive it again for Abco in 1956, both times as "Maybe Blues").
Morris moved on after United sat on his basement session, making solitary releases for Vee-Jay ("You're Gonna Hurt Me") and Eli Toscano's short-lived Abco label ("Screaming And Crying"). After a four-year recording hiatus, Pejoe returned to studio action in 1960 for Rev. H.H. Harrington's Atomic-H label; both "She Walked Right In" (a romping homage to Gatemouth Brown) and "You Gone Away" were later reissued on Delmark and now appear on CD for the first time here. Pejoe occasionally appeared on Big Bill Hill's popular radio program during the same period.
Throughout the 1960s, the guitarist was coupled musically and romantically with singer Mary Lane. They were a regular attraction at the fabled West Side nightspots Silvio's and the Squeeze Club, and often gigged in north suburban Waukegan. Pejoe provided accompaniment for Lane's 1963 single for the Friendly Five imprint, "You Don't Want My Loving No More." An obscure 45 for Kaytown in 1969 and the breakup of his union with Lane predated Pejoe's relocation to Detroit in the early '70s. He died there on July 27, 1982. Henry Gray has proven more resilient. After a 12-year stint with Howlin' Wolf's band ended in 1968, the two-fisted pianist returned to Louisiana. He made his domestic album debut in 1988 with Lucky Man for Blind Pig, and remains a stalwart of the Baton Rouge blues circuit.
While Pejoe's Gulf Coast approach was a rarity around Chicago, guitarist Arthur "Big Boy" Spires's Delta-driven sound was tailor-made for the city's blues mainstream. Spires's visit to Smith's subterranean setup proved to be his final shot at reaching the R&B market, by then gravitating to an enticing rock 'n' roll beat at the expense of veteran bluesmen such as Spires.
Born in 1912 in Yazoo City, Miss., Spires's musical career got off to something of a slow start. He didn't begin to play guitar until the late 1930s. Contrary to some previous accounts, Spires said at the time of Wrapped in My Baby's 1989 vinyl release that he never played behind Texas great Lightnin' Hopkins in 1939-40. "I knew about him, but I didn't never play with him," said Spires. "I didn't play his type of music. I played Muddy Waters' type of music. I like that Muddy Waters, because that was what I made all my records under, his style of music."
Arriving in the Windy City in 1943, Spires took his sweet time furthering his musical ambitions. "I wasn't playing no place then but little house parties," he said. "I didn't start to play in night clubs until about '50 or '51." Spires soon began taking guitar lessons from the more accomplished Eddie El, who also became a member of Spires's combo, the Rocket Four.
"We was playing straight blues, and I learned how to play jazz," said Spires. "He taught me how to play orchestrated music." The Rocket Four held down a three-year engagement at the Be Bop Inn on Princeton Ave., and also played extended runs at McKie Fitzhugh's nightspot at 64th and Cottage Grove and Stormy's at Root and Princeton.
Spires made his recording debut for Checker in 1952 with "Murmur Low" b/w "One Of These Days," sharing guitar duties with El and Earl Dranes. It was Leonard Chess who gave Spires his enduring nickname. "See, he was recording Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup," explained Spires, "and he gave me 'Big Boy' Spires." The following year, Spires switched to Art Sheridan's Chance Records, where he waxed "About To Lose My Mind" b/w "Which One Do I Love."
Spires's sole date for United found him backed by teenaged harpist Little Willie Smith, who had left his hometown of Helena, Ark. only the year before. Smith was in a studio for the first time, so he wasn't put off by the extreme informality of the facilities. "Somebody had something set up in their basement, and you used to have those big tape recorders," said Smith. "That's the way we did it."
Little Willie's wide-open amplified blowing on Spires's "Dark And Stormy Night" and "Moody This Morning" emulated his main influence on harmonica. "Everybody's idol then was Little Walter," said Smith. "I was really into it. That was all I was into then." Smith spent a year with the Rocket Four before taking up the drums. By 1959, he was a valued member of Muddy Waters' unparalleled band. Muddy bestowed his longtime drummer with the enduring nickname of "Big Eyes" and kept him employed until 1980, when Smith and most of Muddy's combo split to form the Legendary Blues Band. More recently, Smith recorded an album for Blind Pig under his own name, exhibiting a blossoming penchant for singing in addition to keeping impeccable time on his traps.
Willie "Long Time" Smith had waxed eight sides for Columbia in 1947 (personnel on those Chicago dates included guitarist Willie Lacey and bassist Ransom Knowling) prior to receiving a last chance behind the mike for United. Alas, like the Spires tracks, "Long Time's" efforts were doomed to languish in United's vaults.
Apart from a 1965 date for Pete Welding that also went unissued domestically, Spires was inactive on the Chicago blues circuit from the late 1950s on. "I got arthritis in my fingers, and I can't make the notes no more," explained Spires. "My fingers drawed up, tightened up on me then, and I can't use 'em to make notes like I did when I was playin'."
After listening to this motherlode of vintage Chicago blues-- all of it unissued prior to its original Delmark vinyl unearthing --you'll be inclined to agree that Bob Dylan's fabled "basement tapes" now have some stiff competition!
Bill Dahl

Chicago Breakdown, by Mike Rowe (New York: Drake Pubs., 1975) Blues Records 1943-1970 Volume Two L to Z, by Mike Leadbitter, Leslie Fancourt, and Paul Pelletier (London: Record Information Services, 1994)
The Big Book of Blues, by Robert Santelli (New York: Penguin Books, 1993)

Album Production: Robert G. Koester
Original Supervision: Al Smith (except 9,10)
Original Supervision 9, 10: H.H. Harrington
Photos courtesy of Jimmy Dawkins
Design: Kate Hoddinott

Other Delmark albums containing United masters include:
Junior Wells, Blues Hit Big Town (640) with Muddy Waters,
Elmore James, Otis Spann...
Honkers & Bar Walkers, Volume One (438) with Jimmy Forrest,
Tab Smith, Doc Sausage...
The Four Blazes, Mary Jo (704) with Tommy Braden, Floyd McDaniel
Working The Road - The Golden Age of Chicago Gospel (702) with
Robert Anderson & The Caravans, Lucy Smith Singers...
The Danderliers & Other Great Groups on States, Chop Chop Boom
(703) featuring Chicago doowop groups
J.T. Brown, Windy City Boogie (714)
Robert Nighthawk, Bricks In My Pillow (711)
Memphis Slim & His House Rockers featuring Matt "Guitar" Murphy,
Memphis Slim U.S.A. (710)
Jimmy Forrest, Night Train (435)
Tab Smith, Top 'n' Bottom (499)
Ace High (455)
Jump Time (447)
Paul Bascomb, Bad Bascomb (431)

Call or write for a free catalog of jazz and blues:
Delmark Records, 1 800 684 3480, 4121 N. Rockwell, Chicago, IL 60618
C P 1998 Delmark Records

United Records was the first successful black-owned record company. Operated by Leonard Allen, tailor, retired policeman and obviously one of exceptionally wide taste in music, the two labels (United and States) issued some of the best performances in the jazz, blues, gospel and R&B idioms between 1951 and '57. Delmark is proud to release this important body of masters, including many previously unissued, recorded in studios which pioneered high fidelity recording in the '50s.

  • Members:
    Morris Pejoe, Arthur "Big Boy" Spires, Henry Gray, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith
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  • Profile Last Updated:
    09/22/23 02:58:58

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