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
Very little is known about GORDON JENNINGS. He seems to have spent some time in Philly as well as West VA. , Tennessee and Missouri. He was for sure D.J. for certain stations in Saint-Louis, MO (KMOX and WEW), and Bluefield, W.Va. (WHIS and WKOY). He made between 1954 and 59 four records in a Hillbilly style and all four are very good boppers.
West Va. bordering Ky, Tn. and Pa.
Bluefield, Mercer Cty, bottom of the State of W. Va.
What follows is what « Johnn Maddy », seemingly from Arkansas, wrote about Jenning’s « I saw you cheatin’ last night » (Skyrocket) in his YouTube chain :(additions in  by bopping’s editor)
« A tune Gordon co-wrote with two other artists, and released on a Skyrocket single in 1959. He was born on Oct. 21st 1916 and came to a very serious Bluegrass group called The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers back around 1938-39. Together they really became popular on W.H.I.S Radio in Bluefield West Virginia [but they never recorded on discs at this time]. Jennings had several Radio shows out of St Louis as well, when is unknown, but we did find another single Gordon done in 1958 for another label in Philly called ”Arcade”, but that is the extent of what we learned of Gordon Jennings and his singing career, friends, but still looking for more. Enjoy it Folks, I’ve heard this one done by several artists [Rex Zario on Arcade 202 – other versions by Skeets Yaney and Marty Collins have different credits], but now hearing Gordon the lead composer do it, a good one it is.!!! »
His first record was done in Kingsport, Tennessee for the famous, although quite scarce now, tiny Kingsport label, primarily devoted to Bluegrass (Jimmy Gregg), with some advances towards Hillbilly bop (Reece Shipley, L. C. Smith). It’s the last record of the label, cut around 1954 (#112), and it combines a great bopper « Quit teasin’ me » (uptempo – a bluesy guitar led and a boogie piano – and a nice vocal) and « The telephone girl » (unheard, Allan Turner collection). How Jennings came to this Tennessee label is unknown: one can speculate a leasing of masters by Kingsport label due to radio relations. Anyone has got an idea ?
His second offering was cut in Pittsburg for the tiny Alba label (# 400), and coupled two good sides again, backed by a « String quartet » : the mid-paced « Drivin’ home » and the faster «Three day pass ».
Well-assured vocal fronting a solid backing. The Alan Schafer named in the credits could have been the label’s owner as well as co-writer of the songs. The short Billboard snippet is learning that the disc was going strong in the Pittsburg area.
We jump to 1958 for a third Jennings issue on the famous Philly label Arcade. « Is it yes or is it no » (# 146) is a fine bopper, and has, for the first time in a Gordon Jennings record, a steel guitar, while the lead plays on the bass chords for good effect. The flip side « I wonder if you miss me too » is unheard (Allan Turner collection = unavailable).
Next and final record is to be found again in Philadelphia on the new up-and-coming Skyrocket label, in 1959 [other good records are Rex Zario’s « Go man go, get gone »(# 1001) and Ray Coleman’s « Toodle-oo mambo » (# 1002)]. First side of the Jennings’ disc bears a very good version of Hank Williams’ « My sweet love ain’t around » (Skyrocket 1003), and the flipside is an original, written by Jennings, aided by Tex Zario (himself being an artist and owner of the label) and the unknown to me Lucky Taylor. The song « I saw you cheatin’ last night » is a nice country-rocker (insistant drums) backed by a good embroidering steel guitar, the lead guitar is fine too over a wave of fiddle.
So popular must this song have been that in 1968 on Arcade 202 it was revived by Rex Zario (it’s unclear if Rex and Tex are the same person) in a more rocking style: drums are louder, the steel is more discreet (a short solo), the vocal is a bit smooth. Rex Zario, “I saw you cheatin’ last night”
Sources : YouTube (Johnn Maddy, CheesebrewWax Archives) ; Hillbilly Researcher (Alba) ; 78rpm-worlds (Kingsport) ; 45rpm-cat (Arcade and Skyrocket) ; my own record (Rex Zario) ; Hillbilly-music.com for radio stations and Gordon Jenning’s picture; Billboard archives for personal data.
Note (Jan. 22nd, 2020). Adam Komorowsky points out a second Alba issue (# 411): “Monday Morning Blues”/”Strolling’ Home With Mary”. Anyone has got this record? An mp3 recording would be fine. Just let me know in the Comment section. Thanks beforehand! Xavier, bopping.org editor.
Howdy folks! Let’s begin in Ohio with a native (Portsmouth, 1919), HOWARD PERKINS, early in 1960 on the Shawnee label (# 102) for the fine fast, energetic “It’s A Cryin’ Shame” – nice rhythm, welcome short guitar & steel solos. Shawnee 101 was Lucky Boggs‘ “Drillin’ Rig Boogie“. Later in 1964, “It’s A Cryin’ Shame” reappeared (re-recorded with a lovely fiddle well to the fore – long guitar solo) on Bob Mooney’s Rem (# 346) Lexington, Ky. label. Finally PERKINS had another goodie with “Under control” on the Indianapolis Juke label (# 2012, 1969).
Now a real stomper perfectly sung and played: that’s how a real honky tonk should sound in 1956. WYNN STEWART, fronting the Skeets McDonald Orchestra with the solid “Slowly But Surely” (Capitol 3515).
Very near to Rock’n’Roll, the Rockabilly tinged “I won’t be able to make it” by GLENN CANYON on the Cincinnati Adco label (# 781) from 1965. Stinging guitar, haunting riff.
Back to early ’50s with JACKIE DOLL and the topical “When They Drop The Atomic Bomb“. A fast classic honky tonk: piano, guirar, steel, even a landolin solo. It’s on the Mercury label # 6322 (1952)
Now an excellent fast atmospheric Hillbilly Rockaballad “Courtin’ Under The Moon” by RONDELL BARKER (Excellent 804). Great steel & guitar.
Finally on Philly’s Arcade 163, “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Your Own” by REX ZARIO. A medium steady rhythm over a firm baritone vocal. Zario deserves to be researched.
P.S. Thanks Drunken Hobo for sending me the second version (Rem) of Howard Perkins’ “It’s A Cryin’ Shame”.