Raymond Washington may well have been related to the great Earl King, brother in law has been suggested, and there are certainly some musical similarities in their gruff vocals and axe playing styles. The Invicta single gives the writer as “George R Washington” which may have been his real name. Anyway his first 45 for Johnny Vincent’s Vin label “I Know” is an infectious piece of good time New Orleans R & B, but his other early cut for Invicta Keep On Trying is considerably better. A fine slow R & B song which features good vocals from the man – a shame they are almost drowned out at times by a female chorus way too high in the mix.
Ray cut four singles for Hot Line in he mid 60s and apart from the disappointing two sided “Funky Pete” are all of a very high standard indeed. True Love Of A Man has some strong piano and rhythm guitar over a beat so slow it almost loses momentum, but Ray has never sounded better – nearly bursting into tears as he gets more wound up emotionally as the song builds. New True Love sounds as though it could well have been cut at the same session, and is almost as good a deep soul performance. A purist might want the female chorus toned down a bit though. Ball And Chain is outstanding – a superbly structured ballad of great power. The stop/go style works well and Ray’s bluesy inflections are really fine. Listen to him howl his passion. The arrangements by the NOLA maestro Wardell Quezergue on all these tracks are excellent, especially the way he handles the large horn sections.
His final single for Shagg is a very famous Northern cut, but the flip "I Am Never Gonna Break His Rules Again" is a high quality straight ahead slow blues on which his guitar playing really comes into its own.
Shake it to the East / Can't help loving you ~ TULANE 103 (late 50s)
I know / I never realized ~ VIN 1017 (as RAY WASHINGTON) (1959)
Little red spinning wheel / Keep on trying ~ INVICTA 501 (1960?)
Ball and chain / You've got something ~ HOT LINE 904 (1966?)
New true love / Patty cake shake ~ HOT LINE 912 (1967?)
Funky Pete Pt 1 / Pt 2 ~ HOT LINE 914 (1967?)
Ain't that soul / True love of a man ~ HOT LINE (no number) (1968?)
I am never gonna break his rules again / You're gonna wreck my life ~ SHAGG 711 (early 70s)
Note ~ "Ball And Chain" and "Patty Cake Shake" are both on the Funky Delicacies CD "Wardell Quezergue Sixty Smokin' Soul Senders" but as always beware of the appalling sound quality from that source.
Thanks to Brain Pearson for the suggestion and to Terry Patterson for the info on the Tulane relase which he says was probably owned by Billy Tate - the address of the label was 2770 Marengo St. New Orleans, La.