Howdy folks, I am back from Corsica isle (“l’île de Beauté”) where I visited my girl friend and did help her to set up her fairytales’ exhibition in front of children. While I was there I couldn’t get access to my files, thus not allowing to myself to set up early June fortnight’s favorites.
Let’s begin in Texas with GLENN REEVES, born 1932 in Shamrock, TX. He had his first two records on the T.N.T. Label (owned by Bob Tanner, who billed proudly his labels records as « Tanner’n’Texas »!). « I’m Johnny on the spot » (TNT 120) is already a proto-rockabilly classic. But its reverse, the plaintive hillbilly « The blues are out tonight », is not so well known, although a very good ballad. Listen to the real hillbilly pronunciation of Reeves, over a nice fiddle and steel. I love such a record like this.
“The blues are out tonight“
Later he had on TNT 129 « I ain’t got room to rock », before switching to Republic (the great « That’ll be love ») and Atco (« Rockin’ country style »/ »Drinkin’ wine spo-dee-o-dee ») in 1956, yet before turning teen on Decca in 1957. Meanwhile, he had relocated in Florida, pushing himself as a performer and D.J. On WPDQ out of Jacksonvile, FL. That’s where he met Mae Axton, her fellow-composer, and Tommy Durden, who both looked for someone who could demo their « Heartbreak hotel ». At first, Reeves denied, before agreeing – and the result was presented at a Nashville D.J. convention late 1955 to Elvis as his first million seller (the promise of Mae Axton), which he cut January 1956, in a style very close to Reeves. Here is the Reeves’ demo.
Glenn Reeves “Heartbreak hotel“
The third compere was TOMMY DURDEN. He had a long story as steel player for Tex Ritter, and later for Johnny Cash, and composer (e.g. « Honey bop » for Wanda Jackson). In 1951 on the Sahul Kahal’s Freedom label out of Houston, Texas, he cut the great « Hula boogie » (# 5025). Later on, he had his own version of « Heartbreak hotel » (« Moods » LP, religious songs), before relocating in Michigan. He retired in the early ’90s.
Tommy Durden “Hula boogie”
On the next artist, GEORGE HEFFINGTON, I know litterally nothing, except he was one of the first to record on the growing Toppa label (owned by Jack Morris, out of Covina, Ca.), and is backed for the fast « Ghost of love » (# 1007, 1958) by, among others, Ralph Mooney on steel. Good piano too.
George Heffington “Ghost of love”
Real name to next artist was Wilcoxson, but he’s known now as JIMMIE DALE. And there were in the ’50s two different men with the same name. The first to jump on my mind is an Indiana artist, who cut two Starday custom records in 1958. First on Jeffersonville, IN Saber label (# 707), he cut the fabulous two-sider « Baby doll » (great slap bass, energetic drums and lead guitar) and « Darlin’ » (very nice piano, à la Teddy Reddell over a mambo rhythm). In Louisville, KY, he had in 1958 too on the Farrall label (# 687) « Man made moon », more of a country record. Nice vocal, and again a rinky-dink piano and good steel. I couldn’t locate the flipside « For a day ».
The second JIMMIE DALE was a Nashvillian, who cut « Tennessee ghost train » in 1953 on the Original label # 501. The credits don’t give any clue. Lot of echo on the steel, a train song of course.
Jimmie Dale “Baby doll”
Jimmie Dale “Darlin’”
Jimmie Dale “Man made moon”
Jimmie Dale [different artist]”Tennessee ghost train”
That’s all for this fortnight, folks. Comments welcome, as usual.
Sources and credits : internet, RCS, Youtube, lot of labor !