The first of 7 artists is the Virginian KED KILLEN on the mythic (in Bluegrass circles) Rich-R’-Tone label (# 1064, from 1953). With the tight accompaniment of the Bright Brothers, he delivers « Crying Blues » : bluesy hillbillly bop, with wailing vocal and a very great guitar ; hooking rhythm. The flip is a fast bopper, with the same type of vocal : « No End To My Loving You ». Killen can also be found on Kyva (Kentucky-Virginia) # 707 (« You Better Take Time », elsewhere in this site), a Starday custom from 1957, as in the ’60s on Western Ranch.
From Memphis, 1957, a classic « I’ve Got Love If You Want It » by WARREN SMITH (Sun 286), crisp lead guitar (Al Hopson or Roland Janes). Typical Sun rockabilly rocker. The original had been done by Slim Harpo on Excello (swamp blues).
SMILEY WILSON next (Hamilton, K. Wilson – 1922-1988) for two tunes very, very different. On the Nashville Republic label # 7033 (cut in October 1953, according to Billboard), he launched « Barnyard Blues », an heavy bluesy, R&B influenced song ; nice vocal and insistent guitar. On now to April 1947 on the Apollo label (# 141) for the funny « Red Silk Stockings And Green Perfume », a fast typical late 40s Hillbilly which combines accordion, steel and fiddle + a short guitar solo. Wilson was a native of Gadsden, Alabama, as the well-known (at last to me, nd you faithful readers!) Lee Bonds.
« Hog Tied And Branded » (Columbia 21391, recorded or released April 1955) by BONNIE SLOAN (b. 1937). Here she is backed by the Town Hall Party Gang of Los Angeles, for example Joe Maphis on guitar and Fiddlin’ Kate (you know what she’s playing). Energetic vocal, and a welcome banjo. Typical mid-50s Country music, however she never got it big.
The next artist, CLIFF GROSS, had worked as early as 1931 with the Hi-Flyers : he was a mountain style fiddler. He recorded in duet on Conqueror. Here we find him on the Kentucky Dixiana label (# 105) « and his Texas Cowboys », (probably recorded in Dallas) for the great fast talking blues « Hog Pen Hop » in 1954 : a hot bopper with accordion and steel (short fiddle and guitar solos too).
From Mobile, Alabama, in 1959- or shortly later, here’s JOHNNY FOSTER for a great Rock-a-balllad, « Locked Away From Your Heart » on Sandy 1028. Great haunting vocal, fine steel, good piano and fiddle. Later Foster went on Capa.
Then a Rockabilly/rocker « I’ll Keep On Lovin’ You » by the VARIATONES. An average rocker, late ’50s or early ’60s, without something really cracking. Production by Billy Harlan. Is this the « I Wanna Bop » artist (Brunswick 55066)?
sources : my own archives ; Martin Hawkins notes for Warren Smith, Smiley Wilson – picture from « A shot in the dark) ; Bonnie Sloan from Columbia 20000 serie (thanks W. Agenant) ; a Tom Sims cassette for Johnny Foster .
Howdy folks ! This is the last post on bopping duets. As surely you did notice it, my English is far from fluent ; actually I don’t dream neither think « in English », because it is not my natural language. I really hope you can understand it, and excuse me for writing such intricate phrases yet very common. But I LOVE this bopping music, and let’s keep it first ! My aim is to figure the music posted with record labels and odds and ends on the artists.
The McCORMICK BROTHERS were a Tennessee/Kentucky family affair. Lloyd and Kelly held the guitars, younger Haskel was on banjo, Hayden Clark on bass and Charlie Nixon on dobro. They cut for Hickory in Nashville between 1954 and 58 a fine line of Bluegrass and Rockabilly boppers, among them this « Big eyes » (1958, Hickory 1080). Strong strumming boogie electric guitar and vocals in unison. They even had a full album, « Songs for home folks » on Hickory 102 (1961) and still are playing today.
Chester and Lester, the BUCHANAN BROTHERS were another duet group. They hit big in August 1946 with the pioneering « Atomic power » on RCA, and revived a similar theme in November 1947 with « (When you see) Those flying saucers ». (RCA-Victor 20-2385) « You’d better pray to the Lord when you see those flying saucers, it may be the coming of the Judgement Day ». Good vocal and guitar duet. The song was used in 2009 in the animated release of « Monsters VS. Aliens ».
PAL (or Palford) BRADY (1922-1988) was a native of Tennessee ; himself relocated too in Michigan, where he had records on Lucky 013 (Cincinnati), Clix (Troy, MI), Bragg, among others (late ’50s to mid-60s). His « More lovin ‘ » (Conteste 45-2) from 1961 has two voices for a good « city hillbilly bopper ».
Charlie & Wallace, the MERCER BROTHERS came from Metter, GA and began a professional career during the late ’30s. After the WWII they had their own radio show on WMAZ before joining in 1948 the prestigious « Louisiana Hayride ». From 1951 to 1954 they cut a dozen sides for Columbia in Dallas, with their Blue Ridge Boys (Clyde Baum on mandolin and Doyle Strickland (fiddle) + Wayne Raney (harmonica). I chose from their equally constant in quality output « No place to hang my hat » (Columbia 20927, 1952-53), very Delmore Brothers styled. After 1954 they settled in Macon, GA, and WIBB radio station before completely disappear.
JOHNNIE (Wright) and JACK (Anglin) were regulars on the ’50s charts, before Anglin was killed in a car crash in 1963. Their «Oh boy ! I love her » (RCA 47-6932) from ’57 is an enjoyable jumping little opus. Earlier on they had cut the C&W classic « Ashes of love » (revived during the ’80s by the Desert Rose Band), and « Cryin’ heart blues » in 1951, supposed to have been recorded (but lost) by Elvis Presley on Sun Records.
“Oh boy, I love her”
On the Kentucky Dixiana label # 105 from 1954, CLIFF GROSS offer a sort of fast talking blues (with the band chanting in unison) with « Hog pen hop », probably recorded in Dallas. Gross was a mountain type fiddler, and Dixiana emanated from Bowling Green, Wayne County.
PAUL & ROY, The Tennessee River Boys, already discussed in another « Duet » feature (they had a two-sider on Nashville Pace label), have recorded for Mercury in 1953 « Spring of love » (# 6374) : it’s a fast Bluegrass influenced ditty – lead vocal & backing vocal.
Next track GOLDEN STATE BOYS‘« Always dreaming » was already posted here in April 2013. But I like very much this tune with its urgent vocal, the dobro part of Leon Poindexter, the vocal/mandolin of Herb Rice, and the energetic banjo of Don Parmley [personnel given by a visitor]. Date : early to mid-62, Shamrock 717, Artesia, California.
A solid rocker (with drums), « Good gosh gal » on the Nashville Briar label # 111 by PHIL BEASLEY & CHARLIE BROWN. Nice guitar and steel solo, 1961.
It’s useless to present the YORK BROTHERS (their story is on this site). Here is one of their rarest issues on their own York Bros. Records # 600Y-100, from 1963, and the great « Monday morning blues ».
We are going to the end with FRANKIE SHORT & DEE GUNTER on the Balto, MD Wango label (# 201) : again a solid version of Don Reno‘s « Country boy rock’n’roll » . Remember L.C. Smith and « Radio boogie » (2nd version) on this label.
The Kentucky based DIXIANA label was a short lived concern, maybe operating from Bowling Green (Warren County). Launched in 1953, the label appears to have only lasted 6 months or so. However, during that relatively short time, the owners released some first rate Hillbilly, some of which can be found on various White Label « Boppin’ Hillbilly » albums.
Kentucky and Warren Cty
102. Southern Harmony Boys – Hattie Mae Fleming (piano)
That great mansion DA 12
The Lord and I DA 13
103. The Renfro Brothers and the Valley Sta. Playboys
Ever ready (BH 2821) no mtx
Just over a girl (BH 2821) no mtx
Both tracks are superior hillbilly boppers. Very fast tracks, over assured vocals. Backing is superb : sawing fiddle, steel, piano, even an accordion solo. The « Girl » side reminds me of the Carlisles.
104. Odis Blanton and his Blue Star Rangers
Steppin’ High Wide and Handsome (BH 2807) no mtx
Don’t move the moon no mtx
Both sides are superior Hillbilly boppers too. Over a fast fiddle routine, an assured vocal is backed by accordion, steel and piano. The « Moon » side is an excellent medium rock-a-ballad, with the piano well to the fore.
Odis Blanton, DJ
Odis and Hugh would handle the vocal turns as solos. When they did their trio numbers, it usually included John, Gene and Odis.
The Blue Star Rangers had a 45-minute show that aired every day except Sunday over WLBJ called “The Farm And Home Hour”. They also did the usual personal appearances throughout the area of western Kentucky and northern Tennessee, including stage shows and square dance engagements.
Group Members included:
Odis Blanton, leader and manager, rhythm guitar
John Blanton, steel guitar
Gene Kitchens, violin
Hugh Poteet, bass
“Pappy” Jones, saxophone
Gwen Dalton, piano (she had several records on her own on Republic)
105. Cliff Gross and his Texas Cowboys
Hog pen hop (BH 2822) no mtx
Smokin’ and jokin’ (and pokin’ along) no mtx
I only heard « Hop » side : a fine hillbilly boogie, sort of talking blues, with the band singing the refrain in unison. Western swing overtones. The side had surely been recorded in Dallas (Jim Beck’s studio), even “Beck” co-written. Gross was a mountain style fiddler, who had played as early as 1929 with the Hi-Flyers, then in 1932 with the Light Crust Doughboys.
106. Jack Bybee and the Rhythm Wranglers
Drifting down the stream no mtx
You don’t love me no mx
(N.B. This label shot was unearthed by Drunken Hobo. Thanks to him)
107. Jimmy Smith
Does he love you no mtx
It ain’t no fun to say I told you so no mtx
Nothing is known about this fine singer. I only heard « Does he love you », which is a fine heavy rockaballad, again over accordion, fiddle and piano accompaniment. Smith (according it’s the same person) has an excellent “First choice” – very fine guitar picking – on Cactus “Rockin’ Hillbilly” vol. 1 (included here).
One then can wonder if the backing members are not the same at least for the known sides.
based on Hillbilly Researcher # 13 issue (mid-1990s). Additional research and comprehensive musical appreciation by Bopping editor.