As if running his
various enterprises wasn't enough to cope with, Mike also
opened a record store called Music City around 1965. It was
located on Grand River Avenue - a couple of blocks from Joy
Road - and would have been the best place to pick up some of
the rare and valuable records that Mike was releasing back
"Find A Quiet Place" is the most sought-after of Wheel
City's eight 45s and typifies Mike's Pig Pen sessions with
its beating rhythm and unbridled Detroit verve. It was
Melvin's only single with Mike and he told me about his
spell at D-Town:
"I wasn't getting
my money for one thing and songs weren't being recorded fast
enough. I didn't really have a contract with Mike Hanks. I
was doing some production for Carrie Records at the same
time I was at D-Town. The reason for that was D-Town didn't
open up until like two or three o'clock in the afternoon.
They always started real late and stayed real late. So from
nine o'clock in the morning until like around eleven -
twelve o'clock I would work at Carrie Records. They put me
on salary. I think I was getting something like seventy-five
bucks a week. Sometimes I'd have to pick up Edward Hamilton
(and the Arabians). I'd work with them till about
eleven-thirty, and then that's when Edward Hamilton had to
go to work. So then I would bowl at a little place between
14th and Linwood, which the Pig Pen was like
about maybe a mile away. So I'd bowl maybe twelve or
fourteen games then I'd go to the Pig Pen and stay there the
rest of the day. It'd fill in my day. Then at night I'd go
around the clubs and sit in and create as much of a ruckus
as I could."
Little Sonny had "Let's Have a Good Time" released on both
Wheelsville USA and Wheel City. Other instrumentals include
Rudy Robinson's "The Mustang" and The Twiners' "Twine Baby,"
- which is probably Rudy using a different name for his
USA, the Wheel City label also dates from '65, although its
illogical catalogue numbering system makes it hard to be
100% sure: Mike was never meant be a librarian.
Three of the 45s
were pressed at Columbia's plant in Indiana and consequently
have ZTSC matrix numbers, but many of Mike's discs were
pressed at Sheldon's plant in Chicago. And some have a
catalogue number prefixed with "MW," which stands for
another Chicago company called Mid West. It would send
master tapes to Sheldon's for it to cut a lacquer - the
initial stage of pressing a vinyl record - and then they or
Mid West would make the 45s.
put out two 45s; one is an instrumental of Sam and Dave's
1967 Stax hit, "Soul Man," credited to John R and featuring
"Tony Newton on Bass" - a rare occasion when a musician is
credited on the record label.
The other U.S.D.
record is Toby Lark's seductive, mid-tempo song, "Lots of
Heart," that was probably cut in '66: the year she appeared
on Wheelsville's Review.
With a name like
"HOG" and production credited to "Four Pigs" it appears
someone was making fun of Mike's Pig Pen. The one known HOG
label release is an ultra-rare and expensive piece of vinyl
by The Moments. This isn't the Detroit group that had a
single on the Hit label and probably came from
Washington; the record was also released with an orange
label bearing a DC address.
Cody Black's "It's
Our Time To Fall In Love" was the only GIG 45 and he had no
idea why it didn't come out on either D-Town or Wheelsville.
It could be because Mike found a new financial backer to
fund this pressing, and they started a new label: but it's
Melvin's, Cody's and Toby's 45s now change hands for
four-figure sums, and in July 2004 a copy of The Moments'
disc sold on Ebay for a staggering $5,500!
Notes thanks to Graham
image must not be
reproduced, used or copied photograph
credits at end of webisode