Hello Folks ! This is the late May 2017 bopping fortnite’s selection. It begins with a Starday custom disc on the Friendly label [from Milan, TN] (# 853) by RAY BELL : « Yodelin’ catfish blues » [what a title!], which is a cross, in my mind, between Rockabilly and Bopper. Dating from 1960 or even later. No guitar solo. A good song anyway which growns on one’s ears at every listening. Bell had another disc on Queen (obviously distributed by King), but a Jay Miller production: it is a suggestion of a Louisiana recording or at least a link. Same Queen label has a Miller protégé, Katie Webster. So the link may be strong. « Blues tavern » (# 24006, June 1961) is a decent uptempo hillbilly ballad. He also had two “leased” titles on the same date which went unissued at King.
Next selection is by three guys (brothers) also well-known, first as the Willis Brothers (led by the eldest of them, James « Guy » Willis) then later as OKLAHOMA WRANGLERS. They put between 1946 and 54 on line a fine string of Country rockers and hillbilly Boppers. I’ve chosen – an uneasy task – two boppers. First the fast «Hoot howl boogie » from April 1951, issued on RCA 20-4309. Piano accompanying throughout the tune (Vic Willis), nice guitar solo (Guy Willis) over a fiddle part (Skeeter Willis) + two unknowns : steel player and a thudding double-bassist. It has an irressistible beat.
Second song is a program per se : « Hillbilly rhythm » (RCA 20-4848, cut May 1952). Not as fast as the previous song, it’s excellent all the way. Fiddle part is more prominent, while the brothers sing the refrain in unison. Guy Willis even plays in a style Merle Travis had done famous several years ago. More on the Oklahoma Wranglers in a not too distant future, when I put my hands on biographical details.
MALCOLM PARKER seems to have migrated from Nashville to West coast (or was it the opposite). The first record noticed was on a California label, Mesa 101: a mid-tempo, nice rhythm-guitar and vocal led for « The tears you saved », stylistically from the early ’60s, although the label indicate « Stereo », which may indicate a 1970’s issue: a great record for this era! Then a second issue on Code, a Nashville label (# 301), early ’60s too. It’s a great rocker (piano and great guitar solo) for « Come along with me ». Perhaps different artists with the same name ? I found (but unheard) one side described by its vendor as « hillbilly » , « The panther den/We’re through » on the Bee (location unknown : label too much damaged), on the RootsVinylGuide site, which is usually very helpful. But not this time ! Anyone help us all?
ART ONTARIO is a well-known figure among Rockabilly circles. He had releases on Dixie (« It must be me », # 2019 (Madison, TN) in 1959, then as Art Buchanan, on sparse Dixie regional issues or on Flame during the early ’60s. Now a rare Starday custom, Illinois label (# 725) presents « Wiggle walkin’ boogie ». A great vocal, an insistant lead guitar (solo) over fine inventive drums. A nice record.
A jumping little tune now on an Atlanta Leo’s label (# 2016) for BLUEGRASS ERVIN : « I won’t cry alone ». Lots of fiddle (at times, played pizzicato, like a mandolin; at other times, duetting with steel). Steel is great, plus a clever guitar player. A great, great light country-rocker !
Finally FREEMAN ERVIN [apparently no connection with the preceding artist] in 1962 for « Living doll » on the Newbury, OH Bryte label # 241. Banjo-led, and high-pitched vocal. Good bopping Bluegrass to finish this issue.
Sources: thanks to UncleGil Rockin’ Archives (Oklahoma Wranglers files) ; HillbillyBoogie1 Youtube chain ; RootsVinylGuide for various scans, as 78rpm-world ; BF CD for Carl Butler personal on this session ; RCS for Art Ontario.
Howdy Folks ! This is the early May 2017 bopping fortnight’s favorites selection.
First rank for a mid-tempo Western swing bopper : « Alone by the telephone » from 1947 by RALPH REYNOLDS & his Dude Ranch Wranglers (vocal Curley Burns). From California, it has a lazy vocal, a bit, as you say, disillusioned. Long guitar solo and piano, fiddle parts. The record was first (?) issued on Red Bird 102, then appeared on Globe 127. A very good example of bopping Swing of the ’40s.
Then again in NYC on the Choice label (# 6504) [so, not the revered by Collectors Kansas City label] for a strong rocker: « You don’t love me like you used to do » from 1959. Loud drums, and a good duet between piano and guitar. Still a good side. Finally « Big train » (Choice 6508) from 1960, with a more folky approach (use of a prominent banjo in the backing). And again, a great record. Tommy Faile seemingly never failed ! He was reported as having worked with Arthur Smith too (« Bye bye black smoke choo choo » on M-G-M) and was having records as early as 1948 (Capitol, 40 000 serie) !
Back on the West coast on the Nielsen label (# 57-1-2) and WHITEY KNIGHT and « From an angel to a devil ». A very nice uptempo ballad, with steel to the fore. A touch of the Bakersfield sound.
PHIL BEASLEY on the Dayton, OH Jalyn label (# 349A) cut in as late as 1970 the fine « The restless wind » : the song is a bit folkish, and a fast ditty. Good guitar and vocal.
Finally in Hollywood, TOMMY SARGENT’s Range Boys do come with three tunes. First a good revamp of the old traditional « Frankie and Johnnie », a good jumping version, fiddle-led, on the Corax 1328B label from 1947-48 (vocal Gabe Hemingway). The steel guitar is played by Sargent , as noted on the next track sticker « featuring Tommy Sargent and his Steel Guitar » : « Steel guitar boogie » (# 1328A) is a quite good instrumental, a serious contender in this category. The third and final track by Sargent is also cut on Corax # 1084B (non consecutive serie, but same period!). It’s a prettily different affair : « Night train to Memphis » (vocal Gabe Hemingway) is a very fast call-and-response romper. The accordion imitates a train, we even have a solo of a seemingly welcome clarinet (or is a flute?). A fabulous Western bopper !
Howdy folks ! This time two Ladies, and we begin with CHARLOTTE ARDEN, « The Ozark Sweetheart ». on the Flint, MI Dixie label (# 948). She delivers a good uptempo track, « Alone with you » with a fine nuanced voice, good steel. Arden had other issues on Starline 1003 and Glenn 2900 circa 1962-63.
The TEXAS TOP HANDS were an outfit formed in 1945 which lasted until 2009 ! On their own Everstate label, they had more than 50 sides issued. Here we have « You’re rocking the boat », cut in 1949 (Everstate 136) : singer Buck Buchanan is backed by the fine boogie piano of Walter Kleipas and the steel of Wayne Rusty Locke.
We remain in Texas, Beaumont with an early Starday issue (# 107). The fiddler BOB HEPPLER, accompanied by members of « Blackie » Crawford’s Western Cherokies, lets him loose on vocals, as the embroidering steel player (possibly Bobby Black) and the pianist Milton « Burney » Annette with the great uptempo « One step ahead » from September 1953.
A lazy vocal, that of BIG SLIM & the Oklahoma Playboys, over a solid backing, give us « Wheeling boogie ». It’s a romping piano and accordion boogie tune from 1949 on the Page label (# 503). Big Slim had another disc on Page 507 (untraced).
The second woman of this selection came from California on the Fabor label (# 119) : VONNIE FRITCHIE has an energetic vocal for the fast « Sugar booger avenue » (1955). Steel is barely audible.
“Sugar booger avenue”
Finally DAVE DUDLEY in 1960 had the fine « Picture of my heart » on Circle Dot 1006 from Minneapolis. An aggressive steel (great solo). This is 3 years before « Six days on the road »..The Circle Dot label has also the Houle Brothers with the great rocker «Dream night » (#1012).
“Picture of my heart”
Hi ! To everybody visiting this website. This is the last fortnight’s favorites selection of 2016, and I hope you will find something of interest in this serie. Not much inspired (and not enough researches) this time, I’ll add very few comments on each record.
The SEVEN ROWE BROTHERS were 7 brothers (and a younger sister) who came originaly from Oklahoma, but settled in California after WWII. They did cut first on Pioneer 607 a fine romping instrumental, an hybrid Western swing/hillbilly boogie in « Spring boogie blues », piano led with solos by steel (Guy Rowe)l and fiddle.
On Pioneer 608, Jack Rowe takes the vocal duty for this good Billy Hughes‘ classic « Birthday cake » : twin fiddles are in the hands of Earl and D.L. Later on the song was revived first by Skeets McDonald on Fortune, then by Jimmy Ballard on Kentucky.
A fast Hillbilly boogie now with BUSTER PACK on the Campbellville, KY. Rich-R’-Tone label (# 1051). « Indian boogie » came in 1952. He had previously recorded in vintage Bluegrass style with “Better late than never” (# 1050).
Howdy folks ! Another selection concentrating between 1954 and 1957, but with the early odd side from…1929 and the latest from 1964.
Here we go with SKEETER BONN (born 1923 Junior Lewis Bougham) he had a long serie of sides cut early to mid-’50s for RCA. I’ve chosen the two-sider #(21-6352 from 1955) « There’s no use now », a good medium paced opus with a Bonn in fine extrovert and exuberant voice over a classic backing of discreet steel and bass. The flipside « Rock-a-bye baby » is faster, fine guitar, for this eternal kiddie (?) theme.
His next came in 1957, « Chained » has a harsh vocal and a lot of echo for a real fast song. I don’t know where it was first issued, on Admiral 1007 out of Wheeling, W.Va. or on Town and Country 129, a Polan Springs, Mo. label.
During the late 40s a basically Bluegrass group, that of the McCORMICK BROTHERS, originally from Westmoreland, TN. had their show on WHIN in Gallatin and WKYS on the Hayloft Jamboree. They (Harold, rhythm guitar – Haskell, banjo – Kelly, mandolin – and Lloyd, guitar – backed by Benny Clark on fiddle and Hayden Clark on bass) enjoyed so much success that in 1954 they entered Hickory studio on Franklin Avenue in Nashville to cut their first sides : « Red hen boogie » (# 1013), and later « TheBilly Goat boogie » (# 1024) are fine duelling banjo and fiddle tunes, largely inspired by the vocal harmonies of the Delmores. These quaint although swinging performances led straight to Rock’n’roll.
Another personality well-known during the ’80s in Europe was GLEN GLENN (rn Glen Trout). He had a few records in 1957-58 on Era in California, but managed to publish (in Sweden) earlier sides more in the Hillbilly vein. From 1957 came « I saw my castles fall today » recorded at Cal’s Corral from KCOP, Modesto, Ca.: a fine ballad full of emotion, with the guitar playing of Gary Lambert. Now to a demo from September 1956, « It rains, rains », a superb shuffler. Ralph Mooney is on steel. Finally on Doré (# 717), « I didn’t have the sense to go « is more of a Country-rocker from 1964.