Howdy, folks ! This is the third fortnight’s favorites selection for 2017, and as usual many a not-so-known artist or recording.
I will focus on a steel guitarist from way up North, TINY MURPHY, originally from Kentucky. He cut with his Bar 69 Boys two discs on the Chicago blues label United, a fact not so uncommon for the era (early ’50s) when small specialized labels didn’t hesitate to « cross » the invisible barrier between Hillbilly and Rhythm’n’Blues. United (founded by a Lou Simpkins) had in its stable several well-known artists like Roosevelt Sykes, Robert Nighthawk or Tab Smith and Jimmy Forrest. Tiny Murphy would cut 4 sides late 1952 for them, whose 3 are here. Vocally same, as Murphy sings in a semi-spoken style, very usual at this time ; jazzy sounding for « It’s all your fault » (# 132) and « Nicotine fits ». The latter was a ‘cover’ of Ramblin’ Jimmie Dolan who had issued May 1952 his original version on Capitol 2244. Then an instrumental, « Hot steel » (# 136) is a fast showcase for Murphy, who evokes various steel guitar virtuosi of the era, without forgetting himself ! Enclosed is a rare French issue coupling “Nicotine fits boogie” and “Hot steel boogie“, much rarer than the original United U.S. counterpart..
We found Tiny Murphy later on the Ronel label (# 109) in the same style for « 42 », while the flipside « I just can’t imagine » is a bit crooning, with an accordion backing (1954). After this issue, the track goes cold. One more detail : Tiny Murphy was steel player for Dolph Hewitt at an unknown occasion.
Finally a Starday custom from New York on the Reed (# 802) label (not the Alabama one) : BILL LOOP and his Seneca Indian Boys and «My Foolish heart » has a rural sound and a nice vocal. Disc from September 1959. “My foolish heart”
First three are exceptions to the rule. CAL DAVIS does a shuffler, with a bit of echo on the steel for »Loving lifetime » on the Mack label (# 258). No indication at all of its origin. A RCA Custom of 1954.
Second dates from 1957 on the Hilton label, yet still unknown origin. RAYBON BUSBY does the complex, half slow, half fast « I reckon so » (# no #) : A sort of talking blues, steel phrases on the slow side ; fast side reminds me much of the Blankenship Brothers.
Note: Hilton was based in Louisiana, according to DrunkenHobo.
TOMMY RIDDLE with « Rayford line » pertains apparently to the late ’50s/early ’60s on the Staircase label (# 6651), from where I don’t know. Good fast honky-tonk, a lot of echo on the lead guitar.
With a classic theme – either in Blues or Country – « Walking blues », RAY BEACH couldn’t go wrong in 1968. Solid guitar and light drums for a good uptempo. 3 backing members are listed on label (Ray Beach, really?), which don’t give any clue to the origin of this record.
Picked from my good friend Alexander’s site « Mellow’s log cabin», here is the nice « After I have broke your heart » by LEO GRAY, from Mt. Healthy, OH, in 1965, issued on Log Cabin 903. Good steel over a jumping tempo.
On the presumably Ohio Harron label, here are two fine Bluegrass duets (male/female) led by ERNEST STACEY (great vocal) and backed by HARLIN KAZY on vocal and fiddle, the fast « I do » and the dynamic « I made up my mind » from 1962 (# 995A). They had also at least one other record, « Lonesome road » on Arvis, another label from Ohio. Usual Bluegrass backup : dobro and bass.