Late April 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hello, visitors ! Hi to old ones. The story goes on with a small dozen of tunes mostly issued during the ’50s (1950-59) with the odd item from 1965.

A short career (no more than 2 years) but a very prolific one : AL VAUGHN cut many records on 4 Star just the days before the 1948 Petrillo recording ban, and also some sides in 1950. Born Alton Faye Vaughn (1922, Arkansas), he later settled in Oklahoma, before eventually moving to California and got signed to Bill McCall’s whom he cut records for. Here’s the risqué « Right Key In The Wrong Keyhole » (# 1480) with fast pace, an agile steel which reminds one of Milton Brown’s steel-man, Bob Dunn. A tight little Western-tinged tune, of course ‘not suited for radio use’.

Next artist, HOMER LEE SEWELL, was a Southern one (Houston and Oklahoma). He first presents « She’s Mad At Me » on D 1067. A fast little country bopper, fiddle always present. From April 1959. Flipside equally good : « Whisper Your Name » is a lovely atmospheric ballad ; Willie Nelson holds the lead guitar. Sewell was also on Oakridge 104, « Country Boy Shuffle », a passable Country rocker , piano to the fore.

Mack and Gwen

We remain in Texas : Marshall. The duet of brother & sister MACK (Smith) and GWEN (Phillips) was active during 1959 and 60 and released records on their own Phil label. On # 1200 it’s their most famous track, backed by the Country Playboys, « Baby I Want Another Date With you » – fast number, good guitar and a bit of fiddle : the whole thing is energetic and moving. They recorded their production by Mira Smith’s studio (Ram Records), Shreveport, La. The flipside, « I Don’t Care What They Say About You » is a gentle bopper – loud bass, a steel solo and a welcome piano. Later they relocated to Dallas for their second issue (Phil 1201, the fast « If It Ain’t The Board Draft It’s My Baby », fine dobro) with another backing outfit (The Garlanders), finally on Phil 1203 they had « I’ll Be There With All Of You », a slow bopper, less interesting.

Ken Gabbard & the Hilltop Rangers

Nearer to us, here’s KEN GABBARD and the Hilltop Rangers for «Things Can’t Be As They Were » in 1965 on the Harp label # 15730 (a Trenton, OH label). A mid-pace opus, a weeping vocal and steel : an excellent ballad

From Oklahoma (where he’d begin with his own label Echo), JACK PADGETT went to Jesse Erickson Talent label, and released two discs between 1949 and 50. « Peppermint Sticks » (Talent 722) is a medium paced, typical late ’40s Texas bopper, good guitar and fiddle. On his second, faster issue, « Boogie Woogie Gal » (# 729), he is joined by the house pianist Aline McManus on romping piano. Great steel by the overshadowed Curley Cochran. Padgett’s base was KTMC in McAlester, South East of the State).

The Willis Brothers

The WILLIS BROTHERS (formerly the Oklahoma Wranglers) were a famous trio affiliated with KGFF in Shawnee, OK. They present an excellent instrumental – Vic Willis’ leading with his accordion – « Wrangler Boogie » on Mercury 6071, early ’50s. Then a shuffler with « Long Gone » on Coral 64175, 1953 ; this time led by the eldest of the Trio on guitar, GUY WILLS ; plus a welcome piano (solo) and steel. Later they went to Starday among other labels.

Billy Dee

Released in July 1954, here’s « I Can’t Get Enough Of You » by BILLY DEE (vocal, piano, steel) is a refreshing, joyful small bopping opus (Fabor 111B), while his other disc, « Drinking Tequila » is a bit disappointing : a good tune but average bopper – one ought to wait something better with such a title (Fabor 104)

Sources : YouTube ; 45cat ; Gripsweat ; HBR site (Talent) ; Ohio labels.

Late March 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks ! This is late March 2020 fortnight’s favorites’ selection. 7 discs only this time but great ones, published between 1952 and 1961. Some originals, some covers.

Jack Turner

« Everybody’s Rockin’ but Me » is already a Rockablly classic of the genre as performed by BOBBY LORD in June 1956. Yet it had its original Hillbilly bopper in the hands of JACK TURNER, cut in Nashville April 1956. Topical lyrics (references to « Blue Suede Shoes » and « Alligators »), released by Hickory (# 1050). Turner was born in Haleyville, Alabama,in 1921 but had moved to Nashville in 1942, prior to marrying and entering in U.S. Navy. Later he became hooked to Hank Williams’ sound, and it was Williams’ mother, Mrs. Lilian Stone, who turned attention of Acuff-Rose editions to his songs.

Billboard Aust 8, 1956

Out of Cincinnati, Carl Burkhardt’s label Kentucky specialized in copying hits of the time. Here’s « Detour » (1952, (Kentucky 561) which was first cut by West coast Jimmy Walker {see his story elsewhere in this blogqite}and became a standard. So the song is copied here Hillbilly bop style : guitar, steel and double vocal.

Later on the Echo Valley Boys did the backing to Bill Browning on Island Records.

Melvin Endsley was more known for his compositions given to others; nevertheless he made some few very good records on his own.

Melvin Endsley

Here he performs the strong rocker “I Like Your Kind Of Love” (1957), backed by the cream of Nashville’s musicians. Later on, a nice sincere ballad “Sarted Out A-Walkin'” (1961). The detail has some importance, since one knows that Endsley was confined to a wheel-chair (polo).

Jerry Newton

Jerry & Wayne Newton, Virginia born (Roanake) went rarly at music (listening on Grand Ole Opry) and practicing very yon steel and guitar. Later, their family relocated in Arizona and soon they aired from a station in Phoenix. They even had their first record as The Rhythm Rascals on the Rnger label. How they came to the attention of an ABC talent scout is open to speculation. “Baby, Baby, Baby” is a showcase of their talent on electric guitar and steel. They were later booked with a long-term contract in Vegas.

The Armstrong Twins

Lloyd (guitar) and Floyd (mandolin) were exact twins, out of Little Rock, Arkansas, where they had their own radio show. In 1947 they relocated in California and soon appeared on Cliffie Stone show; around the same time they began to cut records for Four Star. “Alabama Baby” (1386) is a fast vocal duet, an impeccable tempo; solos of fiddle and mandolin: a really stomping thing.

Carl Story

CARL STORY had a long steer of sacred recordings (Old Homestead), but he failed too to the Rockabilly/Country Boogie craze with this disc “You’ve Been Tom Cattin’ Around” (Columbia 21444 – one of the very last items in the 20 000 serie). Good boogie guitar, a driving chanter.September 1955.

Sources: Willem Agenant (20 000 Columbia serie); DJM album notes to “Hillbilly Rock” (Jack Turner’s personnel); YouTube Hillbilly Boogie1 (Echo Valley Boys); Praguefrank (Bobby Lord disco); KarlHeinz Focke (“Jumpin’ Charlie”) for Melvin Endsley soundfiles.

Early January 2020 – regular bopping sides and seasonal greetings..

Rex Zario & Country All Stars

Howdy folks ! I sincerely wish you all a happy New Year full of good mood and bopping exciting music.

The first artist ends up the alphabet : REX ZARIO & the Country All Stars did release in 1968 for the Philly Arcade label (# 202) a very fine double-sider. « Blues Stay Away From Me » is sung in unison vocal, on a strong rhythm guitar and a discreet lead guitar (which has itus own solo). The flipside « I Saw You Cheatin’ Last Night », an uptempo is a good bopper, despite an electric bass. The lead plays its solo on the bass chords for good effect, and the vocal is relax. A good disc to begin the year.

Leon Payne

Then the veteran well-known blind singer/songwriter (also as « Pat Patterson » on early Starday releases) LEON PAYNE for an all-time classic (even Hank W. had his version) from October 1948 on the Nashville’s Bullet label (# 670). « Lost Highway » is a very fine bopper, done as a shuffler : great steel and a fiddle solo. Singer is convincing to say the least.

Ramblin’ Red Bailey

Next records by RAMBLIN’ RED BAILEY on a Starday Custom from April 1957, Peach 653. Side A offers a mid-paced, very melodic « The Hardest Fall » ; good piano and vocal, a too-short guitar solo. Side B in complete contrast, is really very fast. The guitar player does a real showcase of his dexterity on « You’ve Always Got A Frown », in my mind an inferior track to side A. Bailey had also an EP on Peach, then turned out on Heap Big and Bethlehem labels between 1957 and 62 (untraced).

Lee Bell

Cut in 1953, the already unknown LEE BELL releases « Beatin’ Out The Boogie (On The Mississipi Mud) » (RCA 20-5148). A fabulous gas ! What a romping piano ! A great boogie guitar (plus a fantastic solo) ; steel and fiddle have also their solos ! Bell also did « I Get The Biggest Thrill » (RCA 20-5024), also interesting, but less than the first side reviewed. He was also to have two issues on Imperial, 8000 serie (untraced).

Lonnie Smithson

« Quarter In The Juke Box » was sung on the Louisiana Hayride in 1958 by LONNIE SMITHSON. The original, a bit like Johnny Cash, was released earlier on Starday 359. The guitar player sounds consciensly like Luther Perkins !

Finally we get to Louisiana, with two latter tracks. In 1967 the BALFA BROTHERS (Dewey, lead vocal and fiddle) released on the « Earl Gibson Transport, Inc. » a good « Indian On A Stomp ». Good Cajun music (let’s get attention to the rhythm given by the ‘ti’fer’ (= small iron triangle).

Robert Bertrand

And now the rollicking « Mowater Blues » (sung of course in French) by the multi-instrumentist ROBERT BERTRAND from 1971-72 on the Goldband label # 1221 (Lake Charles, La.) : “Cajun style” steel guitar, fiddle, el. bass, accordion and solid, impeccable/implacable drums + great vocal and fiddle by Bertrand .

That’s it, folks.

Sources : Gripsweat for Lee Bell second issue ; YouTube for Lonnie Smithson, Leon Payne and Rex Zario ; Starday project for Ramblin’ Red Bailey ; 45cat and 78-worlds ; my own archives

Early May 2018 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hi ! This is the selection (ten tunes) of bopping favorites for early May 2018.

The first artist in discussion is HANK SWATLEY. He cut two records on the very small Aaron label, out of West Memphis, Arkansas : just across the Mssissipi River. Now the man is only remembered for is energetic version of Johnny Tyler’s « Oakie Boogie », and it surely is : cool vocal, harsh guitar, a fabulous record for 1959. But the man had to record three more sides, which are plainly hillbilly. « It Takes A Long Time To Forget » (Aaron 100) is a nice ballad with a sparse instrumentation : only one rhythm guitar and discreet drums. The flipside « Ways Of A Woman In Love » keeps the same format, with some heavier drums (song penned by Charlie Rich). Swatley’s high-pitched voice reminds me that of Jimmy Work.

aaron hank swatley it take a long time to forgetaaron hank swatley ways of a woman in love

Hank Swatley

On Google, picture tied with Aaron 101 “Oakie Boogie”

It Takes A Long Time To Forget”

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Ways Of A Woman In Love

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The second platter (# 101) has of course « Oakie Boogie », originally a Jack Guthrie hit of 1946 ; but the flipside is once more a bluesy ballad ; « I Can’t Help It » is of course a rendition of the Hank Williams’ song.

Oakie Boogieaaron hank swatley oakie boogie

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I Can’t Help it
aaron hank swatley I can't help it

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Next selection is done by a specialized-in-covers, I mean PRESTON WARD. He’d cut many hit tunes of other artists on Carl Burkhardt labels : Gateway, Worthmore, Big Four Hits. Here he’s backed by the Echo Valley Boys (no, not the guys on Island of « Wash Machine Boogie » or « Ramblin’ Man » fame) and their disc was issued in 1961 under the Echo label (# 284B). « Old Man In The Moon » is raw, unpolished Honk-tonker, a very fine steel, a rolling piano. A real surprise !

Old Man In The Moonecho preston ward  old man i the moon

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Life Without You

downloadnashville leon nash life without you

« Life Without You » is a good Country-rocker sung by LEON NAIL. A prominent steel, well in the Nashille fashion, and a piano player. The song itself is well sung, a sort of fast Rockaballad on Nashville # 5172, and it was released ca. 1961. Nail had at least another on the small Tennessee label (# 10002) from 1964, for two numbers in the same style.

Then the HODGES BROTHERS BAND for « Searching My Dreams On You »(1959) on the Whispering Pines label (# 200) : (Ralph Hodges, vocal) a hodges brothers bandgreat bouncing song with guitar, old fiddle and lead guitar. Vocal is urgent and smells all the flavor of the Appalachian Mountains, a real Hillbilly bop treat. The Brothers had indeed records issued on Trumpet, Mississipi and Starday and even later on California’s Arhoolie. They are so good that they deserve well a feature.

“Searching My Dreams For youwhispering pines hodges brothers band searching my draams for you

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luling rexas sarg recordsWe are going to Texas, more precisely in Luling, home of one intriguing label : Charlie Fitch’s Sarg Records. On May 4, 1956, Fitch recorded Adolph Hofner and the Pearl Wranglers, who comprised on steel BASH HOFNER and on vocal (for this session) Eddie Bowers. The thema chosen this day was « Rockin’ And A-Boppin’ », a real slice of Hillbilly Bop/Rockabilly, well fed up with Western swing overtones. This Sarg 138 is valued at $ 100-125.

bash hofner

Bash Hofner

“Rockin’ And A-Boppin'”

downloadsaeg bash hofner rockin and a boppin'

To sum up, both sides of Shreveport, La. Clif label 101 by ROY WAYNE : he delivers « Honey Won’t You Listen », a good shuffler from 1957. Sparse instrumentation, but quite effective for the lazy vocal of Wayne. Flipside « Anyway You Do » is in the same vein. The 45 attains $ 400 to 500 if you can locate it.

Honey Won’t You Listen”

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Anyway You Do”

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clif roy wayne honey won't you listenclif roy wayne any way ou do

Sources: as usual, mainly YouTube; also my own archives

Early December 2017 bopping fortnight favorites (’30’s to 1956)

Howdy, y’all of you ! Here is the new early December 2017 fortnight’s favorites selection, there will be ten tunes, mostly from the ’30s, with the odd entry in the late ’20s, and the most recent being a 1956 platter.

LEO SOILEAU was a Cajun fiddler, whose intense and dramatic playing is heard in three tracks, first « Les Bleus de La Louisiane » (Decca 17009A) from 1935. When reissued, it was renamed simply « Louisiana Blues » (Decca 5116-A). The whole story is told by Wade Falcon in his super blog « Early Cajun Music », read here: “Les Blues De La Louisiane (Louisiana Blues)” – Leo Soileau. Third track by Soileau is a vocal (himself) for « Petit ou gros » (Bluebird 2197). I add as a comparison the modern and energetic version (« Petite ou la grosse ») done by AL BERARD (vocal and fiddle) with the Basin Brothers in 1996 for Rounder Records.

decca Soileau LouisianaLes Bleus de la Louisianedecca Soileau bleus

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Louisiana Blues”

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Petit ou gros

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Al Berrard, “La Petite ou la grosse

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al berard picture

Al Berrard

bluebird Soileau gros

 

 

Another old-time duet is that of the DIXON BROTHERS (Howard and Dorsey), who came from poor areas of North Carolina. They were greatly inspired during the late ’20s and early ’30 by another duet, DARBY & TARLTON. It was Jimmy Tarlton on guitar who influenced the most Howard Dixon. They were picked out by Victor Records and recorded a mere 60 sides between 1936 and 1939, mostly blues, old fiddle pieces or versions of songs of the time given. I choose two numbers, first « Weave Room Blues » (Bluebird 6141), and old-time duet with fine dobro, and « Spinning Room Blues » (Montgomery Ward 7024) : more of the same style. This is a bit similar to Cliff Carlisle.

Weave Room Blues

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Spinning Room Blues

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bluebird dixon Weave
montgomery Dicxon roomNext from a more recent era (circa 1953), EDDIE SHULER and his Reveliers on one of the very first TNT issues (# 103). Eddie Shuler does the leading of his group (Norris Savoie on vocal and Hector Stutes on fiddle) for a nice rendition of the classic « Grande Mamou ». He had already recorded as soon as 1946 for his own Goldband label (with his version of the evergreen « Jolie Blonde », Goldband 1012), and issued important recordings (Cajun, Hillbilly, Rockabilly and later swamp-Pop) and stuff later.

Grande Mamoutnt Shuler mamou

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bill bowen pctureThen we jump to 1956 Rockabilly from Memphis, TN, with BILL BOWEN with the Rockets on the Meteor label. Bowen was born in 1923, and had country music shows as early as 1944 from Tennessee, to Indiana and Illinois. In 1954 he and his band were involved with Ray Harris at a radio station outside Memphis, said Harris. Bowen turned out Rockabilly in 1955-56, and Sam Phillips would demo’ him with a raw snippet of « Two timin’ baby ». He also recorded for Chess but nothing happened. It was Lester Bihari who signed him for two years at Meteor, hence the two-sided « Don’t shoot me baby » (I’m not ready to die)/ Have myself a ball » (Meteor 5033, June 1956). The lead player is Terry Thompson, a 15-years old Mississipi wonder, who had already played that role for Junior Thompson on Meteor 5029 (« Mama’s little baby/Raw deal »).

Two-timin’ baby“(possibly not Bill Bowen)

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Don’t shoot me baby
meteor Bowen shoot

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Have Myself A Ball
meteor Bowen ball

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Sources : AMM 136 for Bill Bowen info (with permission) ; « Early Cajun Music », the website of Wade Falcon for Leo Soileau information ; « Cajun Records 1946-1989 – a discography » by Nick Leigh for Eddie Shuler information ; 78rpm-worlds for various scans, also the invaluable Ronald Keppner (Leo Soileau, Dixon Brothers).