The Mike Hanks Story
1967: Premium Stuff & Wee 3

The Premium Stuff label was named after Martha Jean "The Queen", a popular DJ on WCHB. The Wee 3 label put out just three 45's, all in 1967.

During 1967 Mike Hanks got involved in Rudy and Cody's setup at Ram-Brock records and doesn't appear to have had any direct involvement in the Wee 3 and Premium Stuff labels. Many - perhaps all - of the Premium Stuff tracks were cut in Memphis with Willie Mitchell's taking care of the sessions. The vocals were then overdubbed in Detroit, although Lee Rogers and The Peps actually travelled south to record.

   Two young brothers, Curtis and Moses Boone, had had "What Can It Be" as the last disc on D-Town and it was also released on Wheelsville USA. It was then re-released with a different flip - "Been So Long" - as the first one on Wee 3, but unfortunately it wasn't third time lucky for the high-pitched duo: The Lil' Soul Brothers.

Buddy Lamp's two Wee 3 songs - "Confusion," and "I Wanna Go Home" - were from his Wheelsville days and could possibly have been Pete Hall's attempt to recoup some of his investment: it didn't happen.

By this time Pete had developed a close relationship with Martha Jean Steinberg, who used "The Queen" as her radio name in Detroit. She hailed from Memphis where her deejaying title had been "Premium Stuff" and the pair tried to strike it rich with this label towards the end of '67.

Premium Stuff's ten-record lifespan started out with a couple of vinyl platters by The Fabulous Peps and recordings by other ex-D-Towners and Wheelsvillers soon followed. And The Peps later had a third 45, their version of The Impressions' classic song, "Gypsy Woman."

Lee Rogers's "Jack The Playboy" and "Sweet Baby Talk" are in the same punchy mould as his earthy D-Town recordings. The A-side was later put on the flip of "I Need Your Love," a tune that has a distinct echo of The Temptations' 1966 hit, "I Know I'm Losing You." That's possibly because Lee's song was produced by one of Motown's Funk Brothers, Jack Ashford, who'd started his own independent company: Just Productions.

Lee's other Premium Stuff record is his must-hear "Sock Some Love Power To Me," which has a tambourine and guitar dominating a vibrant, must-dance track.     

 Another former D-Towner, Dee Edwards, recorded a couple of songs that were arranged by Sonny Sanders. And the Godmother of Detroit Soul, Johnnie Mae Matthews, was behind Timmy Shaw and Little Melvin's impassioned deep soul disc, "Can't We Make This Love Last." This is one my personal favorites, with the two singers soulfully intertwining their voices over a simple, southern-flavored guitar session.

The last Premium Stuff 45 was released in February '69 and by then Mike had been busy re-launching his MAH'S label and scoring a hit with The Magic Tones. 

Notes thanks to Graham Finch

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photograph credits at end of webisode




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