This favorites section begins with NEAL JONES. Born in the small community of Tywhop, TN, in 1922, he began his career with the Johnson Brothers on Kingsport and Chattanooga radio stations as lead guitarist as soon as 1940. He then moved to Montana, then back to Tennessee. 1953 saw him guitarist for Eddie Hill and Sonny James in Dallas, TX. That’s where he gained a contract with Columbia, and followed a long string (6) of releases with this major until mid-1955. I chose one of his earliest efforts, « Foolin’ women », (# 21292) and the double-sider nearest to Rockabilly, (# 21415) « High steppin’ baby » and « I’m playing it cool », both cut at Jim Beck’s studio in Dallas with WFAA staff musicians. Later on, Jones had his own T.V. show, and was more and more involved in a D.J. work . He finally had one record on « D ».
Next we find the former lead guitar player for the Maddox Bros. CAL MADDOX on the Flat-Git-It (# 700) label from California. I suspect the label was his own label. « Hey Bill » is a fast Hillbilly rock from 1960 : strong guitar as expected, sawing fiddle. Shortly before that, Cal and his sister Rose had cut « Gotta travel on » on the Black Jack label.
From Columbus, OH, comes the next record, « Hobo baby » by JOE & RAY SHANNON on the Shenandoah label # 246. Obviously brothers – it’s Joe singing -, they offer a strong guitar rockabilly tune, surprisingly good for 1964.
On one of the many Dixie labels that flourished everywhere in the U.S., there’s this one « I guess I’m wise » (# 833) by MALCOLM NASH (with the Putman County Play Boys). Probably issued 1960. An harmonica is the prominent instrument, over a powerful rhythm guitar, while the band (2 voices) sings in unison. This record reminds me much of the Delmore Bros. On the label however there is no clue as to where do come the artist neither the label from, except it’s a Rite pressing, so probably from the Cincinnati area.
Welcome for a new serie of honky tonk/bopping hillbilly recordings.
A certain Lyle recently asked me if I know Red Smith. Of course I know him. He was a D.J. On several stations, in New Orleans and Shreveport, then for KLLL in Lubbock, Tx, and even for WCKY in Cincinnati, Oh. He cut a very nice version of Luke McDaniels‘ « Whoa Boy » (issued on Trumpet out of Jackson, Ms) on Coral 61312 (1953). Snare drums, energetic fiddle and steel. I believe he never recorded anything else. But he wrote “All Because of You” for Rocking Martin (Starday 658). Could it be him?
Now in Indianapolis, In for the Nabor label (many rockabilly goodies, « Speed Limit » by Tommy Lam for example). Bob Hill and his Melody Boys had « This Old Train (Is Leaving My Blues Behind) » (# 105) : a fast fiddle led song, train effects done by the steel and a good guitar.
Then to Texas, and very probably out of Jim Beck’s studio in Dallas, a nice honky tonk, « Foolin’ Women » by Neal Jones. It’s shuffling, it’s solid. Columbia 21292.
From Franklin, Pa, a completely unknown Ralph Ryan and the Country Boys on the rare Process label # 132 does the very sincere ballad « Cry A Million Tears ». Intimate guitar.
1959 on the Georgia Country Jubilee label # 541, Richard Morris & the Morrisettes (!) has « Rosetta », apparently an Indian love song – strumming drums and fiddle. An haunting side.
Finally Ken Marvin on Mercury 6391(1954) has an husky voice for a good honky tonk « I’ve Got My Love » over fiddle and steel backing.
As usual, have a listen and send comments, please…