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.
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.
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).
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).
« 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).
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
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.
On Google, picture tied with Aaron 101 “Oakie Boogie”
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.
« 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 great 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.
We 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.
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.
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.
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.
Next from a more recent era (circa 1953), EDDIE SHULERand 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.
Then we jump to 1956 Rockabilly from Memphis, TN, with BILL BOWENwith 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 »).
Howdy, folks ! All you lovers of good ole’ bopping beat and hillbilly enthusiasts, here we go with another batch of goodies for this early October 2017 fortnight’s favorites’ selection.
First a strange record , I even don’t know its location neither its date of issue : late ’50s ? early ’60s ? Can anybody shed some light on this mystery ? THE NELSON FAMILY on the Olis label (# 080). A spare instrumentation, very light (electric guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and discreet drums) for the great dramatic atmospheric «You Hurt me (and say I’m sorry)». Great harmony vocals (tenor + baritone). I just found « Hillbilly Christmas » by a certain Norma Lynn [unheard] on Olis B20, and even don’t know if this is the same label.
From Flint, Michigan, on the Lucky 11 label, three tracks by CHUCK SLAUGHTER. First a minor classic from 1967 : a crisp Country rocker with « Get the best of livin’ » (# 002) – « I’m gonna get the best of livin’, before livin’ get the best of me »..Fine steel. The flipside « Woman, a pretty woman » is a decent honky-tonker, a bit spoiled by some obstrusive female chorus ; good steel anyway. Third tune is a fast rocker, « Lucky 11 Rock » (no #) : this time the vocal chorus do fit it well. A biting guitar solo. Slaughter had a further issue on Desire 113, as a J. Cash sound-a-like, « Burning in my soul » can be heard on YouTube.
Next artist do come from Colorado Springs, Colorado. GENE LEWIS and his Dude Rancher’s [sic] has two good bopping sides on the Barne’s label. « Mother Goose boogie » (# 103) is a very nice hillbilly boogie , stylistically from ca. 1953-54, while its flipside « Purple Heart of Gold » (# 104) is a slowie, full of emotion. And despite the common name, one can wonder if this is the same cat who cut in 1958 on the California label R-Dell (# 103) the great Rockabilly/Rocker « Crazy legs » [fabulous Roy Lanham solo on the electric guitar] (backed with « S’posin’ you were mine »). The question is open to anybody’s guess..but most probably no. “Mother Goose boogie“
The seventh track of the selection is done by the well-known BILL MACK, artist and D.J. from Texas. His « Long, long Train » is done in his usual style ( Starday 418), with few steel and a good fiddle.
Last track was issued in Paris, Texas [the place was the subject of a Wim Wenders’ film a couple of decades ago] , located between Dallas and Arkansas border, on the Royalty label. CHUCK TUCKER and his Texas Caravan do offer « Hog Sloppin’ Time in the Hollow » (# 607), an uptempo shuffler from the early ’50s. Fine steel, call-and-response format. The label had also among his artists Chester Odom and Hank Locklin, and was relatively prolific.
Nothing at all is known about MACK HAMILTON, (not even a picture), except he came probably from the Gulf, between Port Arthur, a mere 90 miles East of Houston, TX, and nearby Louisiana. And that is asserted only by the location of the two record labels he got to wax on between 1953 and 1954.
His first ever record was cut in Port Arthur for the Diamond Recording Company in 1953. To add much more confusion, a Diamond diskery was active during this period, which emanated from Beaumont, TX (on the Gulf too) and issued Country records, for example one by Morris Mills (Diamond # 101, “Jumbalaya answer“), a rather prolific regional artist (also 4* and Macy’s). Although you may say it’s the same company with two locations, which has nothing to do with two other Diamond Co. in New York. This « Diamond Recording Company » was also a short-lived concern with only two issues, one therefore by Mack Hamilton (vocal and guitar): (Diamond CW-1001/1002) : the lugubrious mid-tempo « Moaning in the morning » (fiddle and steel prominent) and the self-conscious very Hank Williams styled « Sweet little Rosebud », a solid bopper, with even a short accordion solo, but steel and fiddle are once more well present.
The second issue of the label was cut by Roland (R.A.) Faulk, as « Roland and his Rythm Boys » (sic). Sides CW 1003/1004 : « Send
me someone/I’d own the world ». are pleasant waltz tempo hillbillies. Nothing special, except a heay bass, a steel and a good piano and guitar. The singer is firm and confident : he was active on the Port Arthur area, and was to record in October 1956 the great Rockabilly « My baby’ gone » on Big State 592, a Starday custom, out of Port Acres, TX.(valued $ 700). But I am wandering from Mack Hamilton.
His next offerings were commited to wax in late 1953 for the Feature label, which was located in Crowley, La. and run by J.(Jay) D. Miller. Hamilton’s sides however were recorded at radio KTRM in Beaumont, TX. seemingly as a 4-tracks session. Backing Hamilton were Rusty (guitar) and his brother Doug Kershaw on fiddle, plus Louis Fourneret on steel. The tracks included two great Boppers : « I’m a honky-tonk daddy », completely Hank Williams styled with thudding bass and hot steel (Feature 1087A), and in the same pattern, « Will you will or will you won’t ?» (Feature 1095A).
Less fast were the flipsides, although very good on their part : the weepers mid-tempo « In a world without you » and « A girl with too many sweethearts ». And that was it. J. D. Miller wrote every Feature song, and must have had faith in « I’m a honky-tonk daddy », because he offered it to Wink Lewis on the very following number (# 1088). Lewis did a great version too. Later on he cut the great piano led Rockabilly « Zzztt, zzztt, zzztt » on the Texas Tone label (with Buzz Busby & his Band). I am wandering once more from Mack Hamilton, but there’s no more to relate about him : he disappeared completely from the music scene.