Album: Various artists

The Instant & Minit Story, CHARLY
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The Independent Culture

An interesting model for the probable future of the record business - in which a few large corporate distributors cherry-pick individual hits from small, independent labels - can be found in the American R&B scene of the Fifties and Sixties, which operated in similar fashion. Back then the record industry was still in its infancy, and most labels were small enterprises lacking the funds to service more than a local market. The result was a diverse collection of small labels reflecting local tastes. Nowhere was this regional idiosyncrasy more pronounced than in New Orleans, where a cluster of local labels - among them Jewel, Swallow and Ace - put out music that sounded like nothing else in America, pulsing with the influences of Creole and Cajun cultures. Pre-eminent among them were Joe Banashak's Instant and Minit labels, which spewed forth local curiosities which became national, then international, hits: The Showmen's "It Will Stand", Ernie K-Doe's "Mother-in-Law", Benny Spellman's "Fortune Teller", Chris Kenner's "I Like It Like That" and "Land of 1000 Dances". The wheels came off the wagon in the mid-Sixties, but this three-disc compilation nevertheless stands as an advertisement for the efficacy of localised music production.