Late December 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks ! This is the last 2019 fortnight’s favorites selection. It’s been another 23 this year : one per fortnight, usually showing up 8 to 10 records (a short reckoning gives a total sum bewteen 175 and 240 records, mainly uncommon or frankly obscure). The greats are too well-known, and I have a preference for so many Unknown Soldiers of bopping music, who made but one record, generally not a second one – but they gave us Country boogie (or bopping ballads) of very high content and level. This time you will have 10 records cut between late ’40s and 1968.

Both sides of 4 Star 1286 were selected by the West coastian AL VAUGHN, who offers fine crossings between Hillbilly and Western bop. He was backed by the cream of California musicians for a typical late 1940’s sound. « I Can’t Believe You (Cause You Lied) », a lovely uptempo, has a lazy backing, a steel prominent, and a relaxed vocal. The flip, « Why Kid Myself About You » is a faster side.

Does the second artist need an introduction ? BILL HALEY & the Saddlemen was rocking the Western country in 1951 for already several years. Actually they deliberately copied black music for White people. Here’s, from July 1951, their great rendition of the Jackie Brenston/Ike Turner’s hit « Rocket 88 » on Holiday 105 out of Pennsylvania. Solid swooping piano, car effects ; even Haley has already his breathless voice. A fabulous Country boogie ! Later on he went in the same format on Essex (« Rock The Joint »).

Out of Texas, JOHNNY HICKS (born in Missouri in 1918) was not a newcomer when he cut at the tail end of 1951 in Dallas, Tx. (Seller’s studio) for Columbia the fine « Rainy Night Blues » (# 20900) ; he was backed by the great ubiquitous Paul Blunt on steel, Lefty Perkins on lead guitar, and received his band chorus for this bluesy opus. Actually as a D.J. he entertained listeners of KRIM, later of KRLD for 5 or 6 years before, and was going to launch as co-producer the Big D Jamboree. He’d retire in Salina, Ca. and entertained on KTOM before his death in 1977, aged only 59.

All the remaining tunes will have a distinct ’60s feel.

EARL WATKINS issued in 1960 on Rem # 307 a fast bopper in Cincinnati, Oh, « One Night Of Happiness » : a strong rhythm guitar, a fiddle solo – a too short guitar solo. A record worth watching for.

« Trucker’s Lament » was released on the chanteur’s own label in Cleveland, Oh. in 1965. FRANK BELL releases a strong countryish song.

In 1965 (on the Tamm label # 2015 – unknown location) NORMAN WOOD did deliver his « Black Lake Boogie » : a great rocker, with bluesy voice and bass chords played guitar (a solo). Another record to look for.

Finally out of Franklin, Pa. in 1965, on the Process label # 129, here’s a vocal duet given by HOWARD (NICK) FOLEY & the Rambling Esquires : « If You’ll Be Mine I’ll Treat You Kind » has an harmonica, a mandolin, a banjo – the whole thing is bordering Bluegrass music.

Cousin Zeke

COUSIN ZEKE, out of Memphis, Tn. in 1968 offers on the Tri-State label (# 1924) what it appears to be an adult-only record. « Get Your Fingers Out Of It » is labelled « Party Record ». It’s a stop-and-go type fast song – voice does sound old – lot of echo on the guitar – loud drums. The flipside, « Lover Man Minus Sex Appeal » is more Countryish : steel and guitar – same ‘old’ voice. A very good record for the era.

That’s all folks. Have a nice Christmas and a bopping New Year.

Sources : YouTube, Gripsweat, Ronald Keppner for rare Al Vaughn 78rpm ; Will Agenant « Columbia 20000 serie » for Johnny Hicks ; 45cat and 78worlds for labels.

Early March 2017 bopping hillbilly fortnight’s favorites

rusty roamblers

courtesy HillbillyBoogie1 YouTube chain

This fortnight’s favorite selection begins in a State not usually associated with Hillilly bop, that of Connecticut in the North east part of the U.S. Issued on the Starday custom Coxx label (# 588, September 1956), it hailed from Coventry and was allocated to SLIM COXX and his Cowboy Caravan. I remember the notes to Coxx 588 from the « Starday custom # 575-600 » study I had back in January 2012. « Slim’s real name was Gerard A Miclette. He played with his younger brother, Roland “Rocky” Miclette in various bands. By the time Roland came back from serving in the Navy, he joined Slim (who played fiddle like his father, George) playing bass in Slims’ Kentucky Ramblers. Eventually they came to the attention of the Down Homers, which featured Bill Haley (and Kenny Roberts) and joined them on the tidy sum of $200 a week wages. Once the Down Homers had disbanded, Slim & Rocky were playing at Lake Compounce in Slim’s new band, The Cowboy Caravan. » 

“Lonely nights”

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“Sitting here all alone”

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»Lonely nights » is a perfect hillbilly shuffler: the vocalist has a top notch « hillbilly » voice, and steel/fiddle are both great. Rocky died on the 6th of May 2004 and Slim passed away October 13th 1999. The actual band singer was a Jimmy Stephen, who led vocals also on the other issue (either 1955, either 1957) by Coxx on the Maine Event label (# 4267), »Sitting here all alone ».

coxx Coxx Slim  Nightsevent Coxx Sliml Alone

 

 

 

 

On to Dallas, Texas, and the great JOHNNY HICKS & the Country Gentlemen, recently evoked in my study of Hank Thompson’s « The Wild Side Of Life » and his sequels. Here he delivers a proto-rockabilly with « Pick up blues », great vocal and fine guitar (Columbia 21064) cut late 1952.

columbia Hicks Pick“Pick up blues”

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Talking of « The wild side of life », here is an unusual Cajun version sung in French by MARIE FALCON fronting Skuk Richard‘s band, The LA. Aces, under the title « Le cote farouche de la vic », which was issued early in 1953.

“Le cote farouche de la vic”

khoury's  Skuk (Marie Falcon)  vic

courtesy earlyCajun (Wade Falcon)

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Then a completely unknown artist by the name of TIM McCLOUD on the Chesterfield label #362 on the West coast. McCloud reminds vocally one of Rex Allen for two selections, « Down Down Down » and « Mountains and mountains of lies » , both urban hillbilly style with a distinct California Western savour. Young Buck Owens had a record on that label too. The writer, Virginia Richmond, was also the owner of the label.

Down down down

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Mountains and mountains of lies

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chesterfield  McCould  downchesterfield McCloud  Lies

Back to Texas, Houston area with the singer/fiddler COTTON THOMPSON. He already had the fast Western swing-tinged « Jelly Roll Blues » in 1949 on Freedom 5010, and later went as front vocalist for Johnny Lee Wills (« Oo Oooh Daddy » on RCA 5243). Here after train effects Thompson sings with urgency a fast song – already a small classic – « How Long » (Gold Star 1381) ; flipside « Hopeless Love » is a fine shuffler : fiddle is well to the fore. Thompson is backed by an otherwise unknown to me “Deacon (Rag Mop) Anderson” and his own Village Boys.gold-star Thompson Longgold-star Thompsons Love

         cotton thompson                               “How long”

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Hopeless love

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Hillbilly BILL HALEY used to adapt race songs to his Country repertoire. Here he goes strong with the Saddlemen on Holiday 105 (July 1951) with «Rocket “88” », which has been often cited as the first Rock’n’roll record by Ike Turner‘s band (The Delta Cats) fronted by JACKIE BRENSTON on Chess 1458.hillbilly bill haleyholiday Haley Rocket

Bill HaleyRocket “88

chess Brenston "Rocket 88"

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Jackie BrenstonRocket “88

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Sources : mainly 45-cat, 78rpm-world and YouTube ; my own archives. Wade Falcon’s “earlycajunmusic” blogsite for Khoury’s issue.