For this new serie I have chosen to focus on 7 releases on the Imperial label. Indeed they all will be from the famous 8000 serie, and more precisely (with one exception) in the 8200.
Imperial 8000 had begun in 1947 with releases from Danny Dedmon or Link Davis, and the serie had pursued throughout the late 40s and early 50s with varying success. Sides appeared by Jimmy Heap, Tommy Duncan or more obscure artists as Ed Camp or Harry Rodcay. All had a label adorned by 5 stars, and were issued in red (78 rpm) or blue (45 rpm). Majority of sides were cut in Dallas (Jim Beck’s studio).
In 1953, Imperial had a huge success with the first white cover of Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog” by BILLY STARR (# 8186). It’s a very nice version: belting vocal, haunting guitar, nice piano and accentuated drums. Actually it’s almost a rocker. Recorded in March 1953, it had contenders by Eddie Hazlewood, Betsy Gay and Tommy Duncan, all on Intro. Herald in NY had Cleve Jackson’s version (actually Jackson Toombs — full story elsewhere in the site).
Then comes up CURLEY SANDERS, who cut “Too much loving‘” in April 53. A good, fast hillbilly, in average (steel,piano, fiddle, guitar and bass) format.(# 8226). GENE HENSLEE next (# 8204) in June 53 had “I’m like a kid a-waitin‘”, similar to his other releases, “Dig’n’datin’” or “Rockin’ baby“. July 1953 saw cut the nice, very effective (bass) medium paced “Talking to the man in the moon” by BILLY Mc GHEE (# 8214).
Hello folks. Yes I am back, having moved and from a trip in Prague. Beautiful city, yet no Hillbilly sounds over there! Anyway, let’s go back to our favorites. This time I’ve chosen 5 artists. Let’s begin with an interesting late ’40s/early ’50s one, ZEKE CLEMENTS. I know very little about him, except he had many records on Blazon, Liberty (not the L.A. pop concern), Gold Standard, even in 1960 on his own Janet label. He was a prolific songwriter, and should be noticed “Smoke On The Water” for Red Foley. Here he delivers a fine shuffling (piano and guitar led) ditty on Liberty 8, “Oklahoma Blues“.
Early 60s and on to Cincinnati area with the rather unknown SLIM FOSTER. I posted both sides of his K-Ark single (# 613), one side uptempo, the other medium, with a lovely steel-guitar for “Never Be Untrue” and “I Wish I’d known“. Good Country bop.
From Texas I’d assume comes now CURLEY SANDERS and a nice bopper on the Imperial label (# 8226), “Too Much Lovin’“, complete with piano, fiddle and guitar and that immediately recognizable Imperial sound. Sanders would later (1956) have a Starday issue, “Brand New Rock And Roll” in the famous custom serie (# 590): see elsewhere in the site for this side.
On to Louisana, early ’60s: BILL MATTE & the Five Classics for the presumably hard-to-understand for English speakers: “Parlez-vous l’francais” (Do you speak french) is sung in Cajun patois, and myself have trouble understanding all the lyrics!
Finally another inreresting artist from the Cincinnati area, AL RUNYON, on Kentucky for a revamp of Hank Snow‘s “I’m Moving On“. Not a bad version, as Runyon was covering others’ hits, as his labelmate Delbert Barker. He was also later on Starday for the famous Jimmie Skinner’s penned “Baby Please Come Home“. His story is a bit intricated, but I hope to have it posted in the future.
As a bonus. I just heard BILLY STRANGE passed away on Feb. 22th (aged 81). He cut many records and played on innumerable sessions from the late ’40s ‘way into the ’70s. Here is one of my favorite trucker songs, “Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves” on Capitol 2032 from 1952.