The Houston based Whiz label was owned by Charles “Whiz” Whisenhunt, although I have read reports that Golden Eagle proprietor Charlie Booth had an interest in it too. Whiz had a half a dozen releases but I’ve not heard anything to match the couple by the obscure Gene Vell, aside from the very rare 45 by Benny Scott. His first 45 was a double sided winner and no mistake. The excellent uptempo “I’m Calling For My Baby” is as good a piece of storming R & B as you’d hear in a long time thanks to Vell’s terrific tenor vocals and the really good band with a very large horn section.
Even better was the celebrated slow blues flip Screaming All Night Long which describes Vell’s performance perfectly. Howling and shouting like a man possessed he’s just superb over the vamping band and a guitarist who’s doing his best to sound like Johnny Copeland. Sadly Vell’s only other single doesn’t quite reach the heights of this one. “I Done Got Over” is a pretty routine Texas shuffle, but the flip, a version of Earl Gilliam’s Wrong Doing Woman is very fine indeed. This is another blues ballad on which Vell again delivers the goods in sensational fashion – reaching almost into Ted Taylor territory so high does he get.
The writer credits on all four of Vell’s sides are “Roosevelt Nelson” – could this have been his real name?