Howdy folks! Here we go again with 6 other goodies. 5 are Hillbilly boppers. Gene O’Quin was from Texas, and had numerous sides between 1951 and 1954 on Capitol (he recorded for the most part on West Coast). I’ve chosen his great « You Name It (She’s Got It) » from 1954. Speedy West on agressive steel, Harold Hensley on fiddle. The title says it all! Why not Hank Williams? After all, he was the greatest of all Hillbilly singers. Here is one of my ever favorites, « Honky Tonk Blues », from 1951. Great lyrics, fine backing from the Drifting Cowboys . A singer who was underrated, then adulated in Rockabilly circles: Charlie Feathers. He came from Mississipi, hanged around Sun Studio in 1955, and recorded marvelous sides, among them « Defrost Your Heart ». Backed by the ideal Memphis Hillbilly team of Quinton Claunch (steel) and Bill Cantrell (fiddle), he delivers a fabulous vocal full of emotion. Next year he was going to sing « Get with it » on Meteor! While in Memphis, a fine Hank Williams-style vocal (even with semi-yodel) is done by Bud Deckleman from Arkansas on the top-charted « Day-Dreamin’ » – same backing as Charlie Feathers’. What a strong bass! (see elsewhere in the site for the story on Bud Deckleman). Later on we have Little Jimmy Dickens, a long time Hillbilly artist on Columbia. In 1957, on the West Coast, with a wild steel-guitar player behind him (I think he was Curley Shalker), he offers the next-to-Rock’n'Roll « I Got A Hole in My Pocket ». Enjoy the steering sound! Finally Rocking Blues with Chicago Smokey Smothers’ « I Got My Eyes On You » (mid-60s). Have a good time! Bye.
Hello folks! Here is another slab of boppers to enjoy your ears. We debut with BOB BLUM raucous « Romping Stomping Good time » – the title says it all! Fine steel-guitar. Blum also had « Say it fast » in a more Counry vein. Early in 1936, Dallas, Texas, with the fine original « Texas Sand » by the TUNE WRANGLERS. Charlie Kellogg on vocal and double-bass. This is a used (not abused!) RCA 78 rpm. Down in Mississipi, 1954 (Feature label) with MACK HAMILTON and his great Bopper « I’m A Honky Tonk Daddy ». Black label. Same period, this time on MGM, and up North (Cincinnati) for the prolific JOE ‘CANNONBALL’ LEWIS, a tune later sung by the Maddoxes: « I Wonder If I Can Lose The Blues This Way ».. .A story is en course on JIMMY SIMPSON, a great Country Bopper in his own right, for 2010. Here is his « Blues As I Can be ». Then on to piano blues/boogie with CECIL GANT and « Hogan’s Alley »(King, 1947). Bye!
Jimmy Swan was born November 18, 1912 in Alabama. After his father left the family, his mother moved to Birmingham, where young Jimmy helped support his mother by shining shoes and selling newspapers. His most famous shoeshine customer was Jimmie Rodgers, known as the Singing Brakeman, and the Father of Country Music. He won a talent contest sponsored by a local radio station at the age of 15, and decided he might have a career in music. At 17 he married Alabama beauty queen Grace Armour, and they had three children, Charles, Wanda, and Randy. Jimmy ended up riding the rails to Mississippi and working for awhile to support his family during the Great Depression. The 1940’s found Jimmy in Mobile, Alabama, where he formed the only live Country nightclub band playing in the area. Jimmy’s first lead guitar player was Hank Locklin, who would become famous in his own right with such hits as Send Me the Pillow that You Dream On, Please Help Me I’m Falling, and Country Hall of Fame.
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Though highly revered within hillbilly and rockabilly circles, the name of Lattie Moore is practically unknown outside auction lists. Even there’s a tad mysterious, Eddie Bond’s « Juke Joint Johnnie », Jerry Reed’s « If The Good Lord’s Willing » and George Jones’ « Out Of Control » have been reissued on CD but they were probably more familiar than Lattie’s versions even before they were readily available. Yet, arguably, Lattie’s records are more rewarding. His experience-laced vocals have far more expression than Jerry Reed’s or the affectless Eddie Bond and the countrypolitan elements which often diluted George Jone’s 60’s music are almost entirely absent.
Lattie’s voice is absolutely perfect in a coarse, grainy, ragged sort of way and there’s the odd device like a half yodel when he sings about doleful effects of drink. Country traditionalists go for the light, twangy vocals on hillbilly songs like « Don’t Trade The Old For The New ». Rockabilly enthusiasts bid big bucks for Lattie’s very scarce records on Arc and Starday. Lattie, however, admits to singing about drink more than anything else. Read the rest of this entry »
Jack Dumery has perhaps the finest knowledge in France of multiple forms of Country music today. He’s well and lives near Orléans, France. Here are three of his best discoveries over the last months. Thanks, Jack, for this post!
WILLIE NELSON/Willie and the Wheels (Bismeaux Records)
WILLIE NELSON goes back to his roots with this new Texas Western Swing CD. RAY BENSON, ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL were pioneers of the style revival in the early 70’s and they bring strong support to Willie on this one. Nobody could have dreamed of such a musical team.
The singer and musicians have selected 12 classics, here brilliantly revisited, from « SWEET JENNY LEE », « OH YOU PRETTY WOMAN » to « CORINNE, CORRINA ». Every player (RAY BENSON, guitar – JASON ROBERTS, fiddle, mandolin – FLOYD DOMINO, piano – EDDIE RIVERS, steel-guitar), a strong rhythm section, WILLIE’s relaxed and jazzy vocals (with shades of FLOYD TILLMAN, one of Willie’s early influences) make this CD one of the best Country releases from the last decade.
« FAN IT » came from Jazz before entering the Western Swing repertoires. Young Rock’n’Roll pioneers like Bill Haley probably found their inspiration in such numbers .
ELISABETH McQUEEN is the regular singer/guitarist with A.A.T.W. and here brings her assistance to Willie for a superb and bluesy « SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD », while an instrumental number, « SOUTH », shows the talents of two great musicians, PAUL SHAFFER on piano and Nashville star VINCE GILL on guitar.
There is also a deluxe edition of « WILLIE AND THE WHEEL » featuring an additional song, « I’LL HAVE SOMEBODY ELSE » with the phenomenal young fiddle player from Austin, RUBY JANE.
Liner notes were written by RAY BENSON himself and pay tribute to the late legendary producer JERRY WEXLER who was the originator of this product in 1979.
THE SIDE-WINDERS/ROMPIN’N’STOMPIN’ WITH (Bop’n’Stomp Records)
Over the last few months, a new type of Rock’n’Roll, performed by Young CaMex musicians, meet the favors of audiences. Wild vocals and high speed temps are opposed to traditional Rockabilly. That is why this new release on the Bop’n’Stomp label from San Diego will be a pleasant surprise to the fans of the latter with deep Hillbilly-Bop/Country-Boogie roots.
RENE EDSON CERVANTES (vocals, guitar), RAMON IBAN ESPINOZA (lead-guitar, vocals), EDWARD GIOVANNI GRANADENO (string-bass) and CARLOS ANDRES VELASQUEZ (drums) are the writers of 11 songs on this CD, the only cover being « FEEL LIKE A MILLION » (EMERY BLADES on ARVIS). JEFFREY MORGAN (steel-guitar) guests on 4 titles, his sound being much welcome.
Twelve gems in Rockabilly style, from « ONE OF THESE DAYS » to « SWEET DREAMS ».
This is undoutedly a group to pay great attention to. Let’s hope this first release will not be their last one.
TIM HUS/BUSH PILOT BUCKAROO (Stony Plain Records, Canada)
Here’s one of my best discoveries over the last few months and this canadian artist has already 4 CDs to his credit, « BUSH PILOT BUCKAROO » being the last one.
With shades of JOHNNY CASH, RAMBLIN’ JACK ELLIOTT and TOM CONNORS in his own style, TIM takes us all on the road of real life with a strong and craggy voice, original songs and a first-class backing band usic Telecaster, steel-guitar, dobro, fiddle and string-bass. Nobody should be well unaware of such a talent.
From his first song, « DEMPSEY HIGHWAY », we travel through the vast canadian spaces to meet fascinating characters and admire grand sceneries. California will not be overlooked with « BAKERSFIELD MUSIC », a tribute to MERLE HAGGARD and BUCK OWENS. Every track is a real tale.
« MAN WITH THE BIG HAT » is a cowboy song from present times with GARY FJELLGAARD appearing on a duet with TIM on this one, while « COAL MINE » sounds more like real bluegrass, as opposed to the other songs on the CD. « ROADHOUSE BAND » would have fit WAYLON JENNINGS or HANK WILLIAMS, Jr. in their best days.
Twelve great numbers by an artist who deserves more recognition and larger broadcast on so-called « Country » stations.
Jack Cardwell, « The Singing D.J. »
Born in 1927 in Georgiana, near Chapman, Alabama. When he’s 10 years old, his family moves to Mobile. At this age he’s already a guitar player. At 15 he plays in clubs. After discharge from the Navy, he’s lucky to get a job as DJ for WCAB radio. The manager wanted « rural humor », and Jack succeed, so much that his early morning show « Tunes & Times » got on television. He had a regular guest, soon to become friends : Luke McDaniel.
King records offered him a recording contract in October 1952. Almost all his sessions took place in Mobile, at the WCAB radio station ; one in Shreveport, Louisiana, and only one in Cincinnati.
Cardwell scored a # 3 hit with the Death of Hank Williams, which was just about the first tribute to make it out after the singer’s untimely death on the very first day of 1953. His best King sides are in Hillbilly bop style : You’re looking for something (fine steel guitar)
and the raunchy Whiskey, women and loaded dice. These sides have been recently reissued on Cactus Cds. Dear Joan also reached the Top Ten before Cardwell cut his final session in January of 1955, under primitive conditions, with his own band in Mobile. The music cut at this date was right at the moment when the direction of rock’n’roll was still uncertain, and white Southern musicians interpreted the new rhythm in differents ways. Hillbilly bands would often play R&B and R&R songs while still retaining the traditional instrumentation of fiddle and/or steel guitar. Jack Cardwell’s covers of two R&B hits – Ko Ko Mo and Whadaya Want – would seem a perfect case in point. There is a tremendous energy to the entire session which include the contribution of a precocious 13 years old Jackie Hill. Ko Ko Mo easily beats the rather polite R&B hit by Gene & Eunice in the energy stakes. Day Done Broke Too Soon This Morning ( King 1444) is actually…Rock’n'Roll! Unfortunately all this effort amounted to little in terms of success and Jack had to wait for two years before an isolated, but superb, record on Starday (# 310 Hey, hey Baby/Once every day), two sides penned by Luke McDaniels. Finally, with McDaniels’ help, he tried a pop record on Sandy – again to no avail. Jack Cardwell gave up in 1958.
Recommended listening: Jack Cardwell (Cactus CD) Jack had two more records in the ’60s, it seems, both political and dedicated to Alabama Governoship candidate Big Jim Folsom. They are to be found on the Cinema (« The Ballad Of Big Jim Folsom ») and Le Noir labels (« Big Jim Folsom »). After that, Cardwell disappears completely.
article revised December 5th, 2011
Not enough time to have long comments this time; Just the music, various styles…
Darby & Tarlton open the sequence with « SWEET SARAH BLUES » from the Hillbilly early days; WILD dobro. Then onto Bluegrass with Frank Hunter from Tennesse for « TENNESSEE BOY ». West coast, and Terry Fell (singer & songwriter) and the classic Hillbilly Bop « GET ABOARD MY WAGON » (Harold Hensley on fiddle, Speedy West on steel, Jimmy Bryant on guitar!). Back to Kingsport, Tennessee, with Reece Shipley and the original to Red Foley’s « MILK BUCKET BOOGIE », complete with clockwork alarms and that wonderful sound of the milk pouring in the steel bucket…On to Blues? Elmore James with « LOOK ON YONDER WALL » (Sammy Myers on harmonica). We come to an end with Steve Young’s recent « ALABAMA HIGHWAY ». Comments welcome, folks!
The Perkins Brothers band (1954)
Carl Lee Perkins (1932-1998) is too well known, and information on him is easily available. Search with your engine or go direct to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Perkins also Rockabilly Hall Of Fame site http://www.rockabillyhall.com/CarlPerkins.html. The Perkins Brothers (Jay B. rhythm guitar, Clayton, bass – later W.S. Holland, d) band began performing in the Covington, Tennessee, area in 1953 and quickly found success with a Hillbilly-boogie type music heavily based on Blues. When they heard in July 1954 Elvis’ Blue Moon Of Kentucky on radio, they decided to go see Sam Phillips to record. First they were cut in Country vein (Turn around, a ballad, being their first disc on Flip 501), because Phillips would not them rivalling with Elvis. With the latter’s departure in November of 1955, they were given freehand, and the result was « Gone gone gone » (Sun 224) in September 1955 : a romping Hillbilly bop, almost a Rockabilly. Three months later, Perkins cut Blue suede shoes, the rest is history…
Smokey Joe (Baugh), vocalist and piano player for the Clyde Leoppard Snearly Ranch Boys (see part 1) had one single (Sun 228, reissued as Sun 393 in the 60s) under his name taken from the 4 sessions he cut on his own between August 1955 and 1956. His style is heavily based on R&B, there is even his raucous voice which reminds one of Fats Waller. « The Signifying Monkey » is a sort of amusing recitation, and a whole lot of then hip animals like monkeys and baboons is cited. The steel-guitar (played by Stan Kesler) is very unobstrusive, and there’s even a trumpet on the B-side « Listen To Me » ! All in all a record on the border of Hillbilly and R&B, the sort of thing Phillips was still looking for, even after the departure of Presley and the crossover success of « Blue Suede Shoes ». He cut similar nature material left in the can (and later issued in Europe) with tracks like « Hula Bop » and « She’s A Woman ».
Little is known about Maggie Sue Wimberly who went to Sun in October 1954 and cut a solitary single (Sun 229) : « How Long/Daydreams Come true ». In the early part of 1954, Sam Phillips had turned down Bud Deckleman and his song (co-penned by the team Quinton Claunch/Bill Cantrell) « Daydreamin’ ». Deckleman had been to Lester Bihari of Meteor and had a huge hit with this record. Phillips tried to catch up on the success and recorded a follow-up, « Daydreams Come True » by Wimberly, which came nowhere. One of the rarest Sun records ever…A fine Hillbilly weeper though.
Charlie Feathers (1932-1998) is also well known. See his official site : http://www.charliefeathers.com/ for a very detailed biography. He arrived at Sun from Mississipi in 1955 and recorded with the duet Quinton Claunch (fiddle)/Stan Kesler (steel) one bopping fast novelty « Peepin’ Eyes » (Flip 503). He claimed later to have directed Elvis Presley’s late Sun sessions, and actually wrote and gave him I Forgot To Remember To Forget (Sun 223) ; Sam Phillips wanted Feathers as a Country singer, and he was not allowed to sing anything else than the great « I’ve Been Deceived » (Flip 503) or the beautiful Defrost Your Heart (Sun 231). Even his demos of Rockabilly songs (Bottle To The Baby, complete with hiccups, later re-cut for King in July 1956 ; or Honky Tonk Kind) were rejected by Phillips. That is why he came, through his brother-in-law, in touch with Meteor Records, and cut the classic Rockabilly « Get With It/Tongue Tied Jill » on April 1rst, 1956.
Jimmy Haggett was inspired by the phrasing of Jim Reeves, and took (without knowing it) a Luke McDaniels’ song, « No More » (from 1952), although with different lyrics. Flip was « They Call Our Love A Sin » (Sun 236). The record had sold 448 copies a year after release, and the songs are pretty tame. Shortly after, Haggett tried his hands at Rockabilly but felt uneasy and hired a front singer to replace him. But that’s another story.
Warren Smith (1932-1981) is well documented too. See : http://www.rockabillyhall.com/WarrenSmith.html. He went from Mississipi as lead singer of Clyde Leoppard Snearly Ranch Boys and was presented to Sam Phillips early in 1956 by Johnny Cash who gave him his very first song: Rock’n’Roll Ruby (Sun 239) – which George Jones claims to have written, instead of Cash. Anyhow the demo of it by Cash was published in U.K. in the 80s. But Smith was an ably Country singer – the best he heard at Sun, to quote Phillips – and his renderings are quite good flavored Rockabilly/Hillbilly Bop songs : I’d Rather Be Safe Than Sorry (Sun 239), Black Jack David (Sun 250), So Long I’m Gone (Sun 268), Tonight Will Be The Last Night (unissued at the time) or later effort Goodbye Mr. Love (Sun 314). Disappointed by a constant rivality with Jerry Lee Lewis, he moved to Hollywood and Liberty Records in 1959 as a Country singer and succeed a little.
The Miller Sisters (Elsie & Jo) were a local Memphis act, discovered by Phillips in 1955. Elsie Jo Miller and Mildred Wages did originate from Elvis’ hometown, Tupelo, Mississipi ; they were offered to record for Sun at 5 occasions between March 1955 and July 1957, so Sam Phillips must have been confident enough in them as a duet. First they cut a passable Hillbilly weeper on Flip 504 (Someday You Will Pay), backed by the then cream of Sun studio musicians : Stan Kesler on guitar, Quinton Claunch on steel-guitar, Bill Cantrell on fiddle, Marcus Van Story on bass ; even Charlie Feathers used spoons on this tune ! Later in 1956 they embarked on the Rockabilly bandwagon and cut a little classic, Ten Cats Down (Sun 255), with the accompaniment of members of Clyde Leoppard Snearly Ranch Boys, aptly augmented by the sax of Ace Cannon. They were also involved as vocalists on Cast King 1956/1957 session (originally unissued) which produced the beautiful « Can’t find time to pray ». They did disappear after 1957.
Slim Rhodes (Ethell Cletus ‘Slim’ Rhodes) (see part 1) had a Hillbilly boogie romper on Sun 238 with « Gonna Romp and Stomp » ; he had well adapted from the wild sounds of Hillbilly Bop instrumental « Skunk Hollow Boogie » (Gilt-Edge 5015, recorded at Sun in July 1950) to the new trends of 1956. « Romp… » is still Hillbilly Bop in essence, but the pace is Rockabilly (note the classic guitar solo), as is their next effort (Sun 256) : Take And Give/Do What I Do (vocal Dusty Rhodes). Two very fine Sun records ! Last recording of Rhodes for Phillips was in 1958, and of far lesser interest (I’ve never been so blue), hence unissued then.
Billy Riley (Pocahontas, Ark., 1933 ; dead August 2, 2009). Born to a poor sharecropping clan, Riley developed a passion for blues and learned to pick guitar watching the older black musicians his family worked alongside. Although he made some early appearances performing on local radio, Riley’s career took shape after he was discharged from the Army in the mid-’50s. Moving to Memphis, Riley soon hooked up with a crew of fledgling country musicians that included « Cowboy » Jack Clement. He and his truck driver partner, Slim Wallace, founded the tiny Fernwood label in a South Memphis garage and cut Riley’s debut recordings, « Trouble Bound » and « Think Before Your Go« (still unissued today). Clement took the tapes to Sam Phillips over at Sun Records so he could master a single. Impressed by what he heard, Phillips ended up hiring Clement to work at Sun, and signed Riley. Hence « Trouble Bound/Rock With Me Baby » (Sun 245). Riley and his group – which included drummer J.M. Van Eaton and guitarist Roland Janes — would also become the de facto house band at Sun, providing the backing on numerous hits. Another Hillbilly song recorded at a Rockabilly pace is the underrated « I Want You Baby » (Sun 260), overshadowed by the A-side which made Riley famous until today, the classic « Flyin’ Saucer Rock’n’Roll ».
Malcolm Yelvington and band, 1956
Malcolm Yelvington (see part 1) had well adapted to 1956 trends with his unique brand of Western Swing/Hillbilly Bop for a February 1956 session which produced the uptempo « Rockin’ With My Baby » (full of reference to then R&R hits) and the slower, much more interesting « It’s Me Baby » (Sun 246). Later Yelvington recorded mainly mainstream Country, always flavored of Western swing : tracks (unissued then) like « Trumpet » or « Goodbye Marie », to be found on 1990’s Bear Family compilation « Sun – The Country years » 10-LP boxset. It also included a different version of « Yakety Yak » to that Meteor Records released in 1956.
It was not before October 1956 that Sam Phillips (too busy cutting Rockabilly and Rock’n’Roll sessions) recorded more Hillbilly, this time with Ernie Chaffin. The latter went from Biloxi, MS. and had had records from 1954 on Fine and Hickory labels. « His style was as unique as Johnny Cash’s : he depended on a percussive, repeated rhythmic pattern and minimal instrumentation. Unlike Cash’s work, however, Chaffin’s songs (most often composed by his acoustic guitar player Murphy ‘Pee Wee’ Maddux) were highly melodic and his voice had considerable range. While the songs were lyrically more conventional than the stark lonesome ballads of Cash, Chaffin’s songs drew much of their power from unusual and arresting chord changes. » (Hank Davis) Between October 1956 and June 1958, Chaffin had 7 Sun sessions, resulting in 4 Sun singles, the best being the first two, and the most memorable and accomplished tracks being « Feelin’ Low » (Sun 262) and «Laughin’ And Jokin’ » (Sun 275). Both are on the border of Hillbilly Bop, and announce the future Country music of the late 50s/early 60s, when Rock’n’Roll and Rockabilly were integrated into it. All in all Ernie Chaffin recorded 15 songs for Sun, and they are all on the Bear Family boxset .
Ernie Chaffin 'left)
Sam Phillips made relatively few mistakes in his choices, but after the discovery of Cast King (Joseph Dudley King) tapes in the Sun vaults, it is surprising why he didn’t release ANYTHING by him, like another mystery, the now famous Jimmy Wages. Maybe too busy with Rock’n’Roll bands ! Cast King cut one convincing religious narration (« Can’t Find Time To Pray ») in 1956 with the Miller Sisters as backing vocals, but the most interesting track was to come in June or July 1957 with « When You Stop Loving me » : « It is a splendid song and must have stood a fair chance of success. Although neither the composition nor the performance are really polished, the end product is quite spectacular (…) Instrumentally it’s a gem, featuring standout steel-guitar work and some nice dobro. » (Hank Davis/Colin Escott). It’s a « Country waltz beautifully sung, which stands alongside Sun’s finest Country records and his non-appearance is a mystery. »
Mack Self was a real Country singer, and although he tried a variety of other styles when at Sun, he always retained a country purity in his vocals and his band was never going on rough edges. He had 5 sessions between 1955/1956 and 1959 and only had two singles (from which one on Phillips International), the other being (Sun 273) « Easy To Love/Everyday » . The solitary Sun release had very little chance of success in 1957, and actually sounded anachronic for the times being. Beautifully sung Country ballads ; and Phillips allowed Self to sing that, when he released at the same period pounding rockers by the likes of Carl Perkins, Tommy Blake, Wade & Dick, Ray Harris ! But a real treasure was unearthed in the 1990s on the aforementioned Bear Family boxset : Self had recorded a Hillbilly session in 1955/1956, complete with steel-guitar and fiddle. « Easy To Love » is plaintive, and the fiddle of Bill Cantrell well to the fore. The same session gave us a near-Rockabilly Hillbilly Bop, « Goin’ Crazy », complete with slapping bass (Jimmy Evans – is he the same guy as the one later on Rivermont and « The Joint Is Really Jumpin’ » rasping piano rocker ?).
We came to an end with the Hillbilly Bop sides cut by Elvis Presley. Actually he cut at least 8 Hillbilly sides in his own unmistakingly style, and 5 went their way as B-sides of his Sun singles. They are too well-known, but listen to them closely as Hillbilly Bop sides…Johnny Cash was also near Hillbilly, although he never used steel-guitar neither a fiddle – but his style was really his own and did in fact owe very little to Hillbilly…Do not forget The Rhythm Rockers (Sun 250) and « Fiddle Bop/Juke Box, Help me find my baby » – actually Hardrock Gunter. Phillips leased them from Emperor Records, it wasn’t his production.
Credits: all the color pictures that bear « The Country Years » do come from the Bear Family boxset BCD 15211 « Sun – The Country Years »
All label pictures do come from www.rockincountrystyle.com
Sam Phillips never had much chance with Country music. From 1950 to 1956 he cut Blues and Black R&B; from 1956 on he cut Rockabilly and Rock’n'Roll. Here below are his only attemps in the early years to record Hillbilly Bop. In the second part however, we will see names like Carl Perkins, Charlie Feathers, Malcolm Yelvington, Ernie Chaffin, Warren Smith, Mack Self doing Hillbilly Bop or Country music with much more success than Sam had had in the early days of SUN Records….
Harmonica Frank Floyd (1909 in Tacapola, Mississipi ; died 1984). A phenomenon, who spent 30 years with medicine shows all around the South. He went in 1951 to see Sam Phillips and recorded several Country Blues : Swamp Root, the traditional Step It Up And Go, Goin’ Away Walkin’ and Howlin’ Tomcat, soon sold to Chess in Chicago. He sounded black, and many Blues collectors until the seventies (his rediscovery by Steve LaVere) were wrong with him…In 1954, Sun issued two sides (Sun 205) : Rockin’ Chair Daddy and The Great Medical Menagerist. « …Daddy » from 1951 is proto-rockabilly with strong rhythm guitar, wild vocal, and mouth harmonica. He had a strong career when rediscovered in 1974 and recorded for Adelphi.
Earl Peterson (Feb. 24, 1927 in Paxton, Illinois. died 1971). made his beginnings at a radio station in Michigan. Become popular, he cut a first disc on Nuggett records, before signing at Sun in 1954. He recorded 4 titles, the best being « Boogie Blues » (Sun 197): sewing fiddles, steel-guitar, drums and bass, and a vocal very reminiscent of Jimmie Rodgers ; and the song itself derives from pre-war Country songs, like Gene Autry’s « Lowdown Blues ».
Doug Poindexter & The Starlite Wranglers. Born in Arkansas, he too went to Sun in 1954 and cut (May 25, 1954) two sides of Hillbilly weepers : Now She Cares No More For Me and My Kind Of Carrying On. Published on June 1rst, 1954 on Sun 202. Two of the Wranglers were…Bill Black (bass) and Scotty Moore (lead-guitar), soon to back up the young Elvis less than two months later. Good hillbilly sides, tending towards Rockabilly. Poindexter then left for insurance business..
Howard Seratt in April 1964 (rare picture from Martin Hawkins)
Howard Seratt, from Arkansas. Country gospel. Two sides (Sun 198), alone with his guitar & harmonica for Troublesome Waters/I Must Be saved. Nice sincere vocal. 1954
Hardrock Gunter (Feb. 17, 1925 in Birmingham, Alabama). He had a long recording story behind him when he sold two songs to Sam Phillips in 1954 (Sun 201) : Gonna Dance All Night was a proto-Rock & Roll song, and a recut of a previous 1950 Bama issue. Fallen Angel is far quieter. Gunter had a long career afterwards, recording prolifically and still entertaining afficionados in Europe in 1995 !
Slim Rhodes (Pocahontas, Arkansas, 1913 ; March 10, 1966 – thanks for the death info, Alex)). Guitar player and bandleader, very popular in the Memphis area in the late 40s/early 50s. Phillips leased several of his 1950-1951 recordings to Gilt-Edge. His first Sun single (Sun 216) was sung by Brad Suggs and billed « ordinary » by Billboard in May 1955. Rhodes would afterwards cut Romp and Stomp (Sun 238), a romping Hillbilly Boogie with steel-guitar and fiddle. It must have been a good seller, as the guitar solo was taken note-for-note on Harold Shutter’s « Bunny Honey » (Goldenrod 300 from May-June 1957), then Do What I Do (Sun 256), a superb Rockabilly in 1956 (vocal Sandy Brooks). He had several issues on Gilt-Edge. For Sun 238 and 256, please see SUN Records: Hillbilly sides (part 2).
Malcolm Yelvington (1927, Covington, Tennessee) led his first band, The Star Rhythm Boys, during the late 40s, wih pianist Reece Fleming. He cut his first sides in 1954 for Sun, among them his personal Western swing treatment of Sticks McGhee’s R&B classic Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee (Sun 211). The guitar player follows Brownie McGhee’s solo, and Reece Fleming plays the Your Red Wagon theme (it was then adapted for Rock around the clock). All in all, it is a pretty proto-Rockabilly song, a fine blend of black & white styles. Later on (see part 2), Yelvington came close to Rockabilly (Sun 246) with Rockin’ With My Baby.
Clyde Leoppard & the Snearly Ranch Boys were a group firmly associated with Sam Phillips during 1955-1957. Clyde Leoppard (steel), Johnny Bernero (d), Smokey Joe Baugh (p), vocalist Bill Taylor, Buddy Holobaugh (g) backed Smokey Joe, Warren Smith, and numerous other artists during this period. They had a solitary issue on Flip 502 (Sun subsidiary label) in 1954, and they handle right the charming piece of nonsense « Split personality », a romping Hillbilly bop. Smokey Joe had his own issue on Sun 228 in 1956 with « Signifying monkey ». His vocal is crude, and, as once said, a sort of Rockabilly Fats Waller (see part 2).
See part 2 for 1956-1958 Sun Hillbilly sides elsewhere on this site!
Howdy folks! Back from holidays in Rocking Italy, here I am again, this time more piano to the fore. Let’s begin with the now famous CURTIS GORDON and the classic Hillbilly Boogie from 1953, « ROMPIN’ AND STOMPIN’ – fine walking basses (Floyd Cramer, really??), a relaxed vocal, call & response type, steel and bass, everything is perfect here. From a 78 rpm.
Then we go West Coast with DICK LEWIS and his uptempo « BEALE STREET BOOGIE ». Good left hand, while a nice sax takes the first row for a good solo. 1947, Imperial 8004
The HODGES BROTHERS are well known – I really don’t know if this is the same outlet as on Arhoolie (Watermelon Man). Nevertheless their « HONEY TALK » is already a classic. Rockabilly indeed. Urgent rural vocal, nice interplay during the solo between guitar and fiddle. A great one! Whispering Pines 200 label, from Indiana. They also appeared on Starday custom serie (see elsewhere in the site)
Then a mistery. Famous French collector Henri laffont (R.I.P.) told me he thought it was Red Smith (same guy who cut « Whoa Boy » on Coral) but was unsure. Anyway « RED HOT BOOGIE » is a very solid slice of Hillbilly Bop, almost Rockabilly (because the hiccups of Smith); 3 solos (fiddle, guitar, bass, again fiddle). Which was the original label? This track is one on my all-times favorites! Please take a listen and let me know how you feel it. MYSTERY SOLVED on June 22nd, 2012 (thanks to a faithful visitor, Drunkenhobo from U.K.). The artist is Scotty Stevenson & the Edmonton Eskimos, a Canadian issue on RCA 55-3309-A, from 1950. I’d never thought a Canadian outlet could sound so »Southern hillbilly bop »!
Way down South. LAWRENCE WALKER and Cajun « Allon Rock and Roll » (sung in English); Lot of cliches, a corny sound: I would have assumed the tune was recorded in late 40s, however it goes back to …1962!
Finally ROD MORRIS and « Weary Blues » (Deadwood). When a Hillbilly got the Blues…WHO the hell may be the SUPERB guitar player ? He obviously heard much Magic Sam and T. Bone Walker, and he’s very aggressive during the solo.
Enjoy, and comments welcome!