On December 11, 1951, the well-established Honky tonk singer HANK THOMPSON (« Humpty dumpty boogie » on Capitol for example, and before that on Modern, Globe and Blue Bonnet) cut in Los Angeles an all-time classic, « The Wild Side Of Life » (Capitol 1942). It was an immediate success, which eventually found its way at n°2 of the most played records by Disc-jockeys Country records for 1952. Soon there were covers, and the song was enduring versions until the ’60s.
The Texan JIMMY HEAP & the Melody Masters (and his vocalist Perk Williams) did their version (issued February 1952) on Imperial # 8105. Full of energy as usual, although this time Williams adopts a plaintive way of singing.
In 1952 a strange version was recorded in Lake Charles, La. by SKUK RICHARD in French (« Le cote farouche de la vic » [sic]) with the vocal duty taken by Marie Falcon and issued on the local Khoury’s 621 label.
“le cote farouche de la vic”
Le cote farouche de la vic
Vous serait pas lire mes lettres, se j’ai écrit les
Tu me demandes de pas ta appelez de sur phone
Il ya quelque chose de vous dit, oui, asteur chere,
Je l’ai écrit dans les mots dans c’ette chanson.
?J’savais pas bon dieu a fait des anges honky-tonk,
J’aurais du connaître ce que m’a jamais fait une femme,
T’as quitte, oui, le seul l’amour qui t’aimait, chere,
Pour t’en aller sur la borde la vie farouche.
?Les lumière du le place du soir t’a attiré(?)
A la place ayou vin et whisky flux,
Bien, êtes-vous d’être le bébé a n’importe qui…..
Oublier l’amour des yeux que t’as jamais connu.
?Savais pas bon dieu a fait des anges honky-tonk,
J’aurais du connu ce que m’a jamais faite une femme,
T’as quitte, oui, le seul l’amour qui t’aimait, chere,
Pour t”en aller sur la borde la vie farouche. (lyrics translated by Wade Falcon)
Late 1959 JERRY LEE LEWIS recorded the song at Sun during a semi-R&B session with saxes, but he remains lyrically true to the first version. It was then natural for him to include the song in his 1965 album « Country sounds for city folks » (Smash), which marked a turning in his career towards Country music.
(Jerry Lee Lewis, Sun)
Finally the Rockabilly Main Man, as he liked to be named, CHARLIE FEATHERS, had a preference for the song : he recorded it several times. First in studio Select-O-Hits in 1969 : energetic version, urgent vocal, sympathetic backing (wild Marcus Van Story on double-bass) ; then on various shows during the ’70s, issued at G. Paulus label Barrelhouse.
Here he comes once more, Mr. Jack Dumery, one of the finest connoisseurs in Country music of our time. Jack is often in correspondance with artists, and he has the knack to find the more obscure, although the best talented ones.
Nuff said, here is his turn.
Over the years Charlie Thompson has always been known for the high quality of his live performances all over Europe as well as for his first-class recordings.
His latest release, « THE FOOTHILL SESSIONS’, available on CD/LP, is only here to confirm that he is a true master of Rockabilly and Hillbilly music.
Recorded in Pasadena, California, Charlie is strongly supported by top-notch musicians. We find here TK.SMITH (lead-guitar), JERRY WAKEFIELD (steel-guitar), WALLY HERSON (string-bass and also producer of the sessions), DAVE STUCKEY (drums), BOBBY FURGO (fiddle) and CARL SONNY LEYLAND (piano), a dream band if any.
“A blue million tears“download Charlie has selected 12 songs in the 50’s Hillbilly repertoire, every track a real gem whether strong boppers like « The Automobile Song » (Luke McDaniels), or « Boogie Blues » (Earl Peterson) or beautiful weepers like « A Blue Million Tears » (Carl Butler) and « I Miss You Already » (Marvin Rainwater/Faron Young). Charlie put his own touch and sensibility to the songs while every single note from the musicians is a perfect delight for the ears of the listeners. « THE FOOTHILL SESSIONS » is probably one of the best releases for 2015.
CHARLIE THOMPSON won « Best Honky Tonk Male Singer » at the Ameripolitan Music Awards 2016 » in Austin, Texas, on February 16, 2016, being the first European to win.
Flatt & Scruggs, along with Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers or Jimmy Martin were among the pioneers of traditional Bluegrass music. After playing along side Bill Monroe, Lester and Earl started their own band, The Foggy Mountain Boys, in 1948. Josh Graves joined the outfit in 1955, first as a bass player but soon switched to dobro which was then to become a defining feature of the Bluegrass sound.
Jerry Douglas, acknowledged to be the finest dobro player around these days, has put together a handful of super pickers, known as the Earls of Leicester, to pay homage to the sound of Flatt & Scruggs : SHAWN CAMP (famous singer/songwriter in Nashville), CHARLIE CUSHMAN (banjo), TIM O’BRIEN (mandolin), JOHNNY WARREN (fiddle) is himself the son of Paul Warren, a member of the Foggy Mountain Boys and BARRY POSS (string-bass).
We return to the roots of Bluegrass music with 14 classics from the Flatt & Scruggs songbook like « I’ll Go Stepping Too », « On My Mind », « Dim Lights, Thick Smoke », « You’re Not a Drop In The Bucket ».
Jim Dickerson is a Memphis singer/guitarist well known for his work with the North Mississippi All Stars and the South Memphis String Band. The Wandering is his latest project for which he has assembled the talents of four female mid-south vocalists/instrumentalists. SHANNON McNALLY (voice/guitar), VALERIE JUNE (vocal/banjo/guitar), AMY LA VERE (vocal/string bass) and SHARDE THOMAS (vocal/fife/drums). DICKERSON plays various guitars and sing harmonies on this recording.
“Mr. Spaceman“download The song selection, ’Sittin’ On Top Of The World’, opens with a quite unusual fife part played by Sharde who is probably one of the last fife players in the vanishing fife and drum tradition. Her vocal on this all-time Blues (and also Country) classic shines and she also leads an excellent version of the Gospel « Glory, Glory » with harmonies from her partners. Amy La Vere turns the Byrd’s classic « Mr Spaceman » into a jug band number full with a kazoo break, slapped string bass, Shannon’s duet vocal and Valerie’s harmonies. Shannon McNally gives a real cowboy ballad with «Outlaw » including yodel and sweet melody. Her version of «Lovin’ Him Was The Easier Thing » is without doubt the best version ever heard with a true country sound. Valerie June handles classics such as « Old Joe Clark », « You Are My Sunshine » and « In The Pines ».
« If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day » comes from the repertoire of Blues giant Robert Johnson and Valerie gives a new life to the song. The work of all those talents, vocally and instrumentally, in the Folk, Blues or Rock fields is a true success and a second volume would be much welcome.
Hear Mr Dickinson ?
Michael Hurtt’s first CD ‘Come Back to Louisiana’ was released in 2006 on the Allons label from New Orleans. Now it’s time to bring more Hurtt music to sink your teeth into. Hurtt moved to Detroit, Michigan, after hurricane Katrina hit south Louisiana in 2005. He was followed by JD Mark (lead/baritone guitars) leaving other members of the band spread around.
Early 2013 original members of the Haunted Hearts met again in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to record this new project. Michael (vocal/guitar), JD Mark (guitars), Mitch Palmer (electric/steel guitars), John Trahey (string bass) with the addition of Detroit Lonely Charles (drums). The sessions led to a perfect selection of Rockabilly and Honky-Tonk material including original songs mostly written by Michael, from the opening track « Searching For Shadows » which gives the color of the whole CD with hot vocal and lead-guitar to « This Heart is Haunted», a Louisiana colored ballad.
In between, « Rambler’s Blues » with its tribute to Jimmie Skinner, superb rockabilly; « I’ll Put The Finger On You » on which recording engineer Erik Alderink shows he can handle the lead-guitar as a true master. « You Don’t Have To Tell Me The Night Is Long » with its shadow of the Johnny Cash sound, and another Louisiana type ballad « This Heart Is Haunted ».
Covers include « Breaking Hearts » (Bill Browning), the obscure « I’ll Move Along » (Red Lewis), « My Hamtrack Baby » (Ray Taylor) and, last but not least, one of the best Rockabillies ever «Teardrops Valley » (The Lonesome Drifter). Unfortunately, JD Mark passed away in July 11, 2013, a few months after these sessions were held in Ann Arbor (RIP).
Howdy folks ! This is the last post on bopping duets. As surely you did notice it, my English is far from fluent ; actually I don’t dream neither think « in English », because it is not my natural language. I really hope you can understand it, and excuse me for writing such intricate phrases yet very common. But I LOVE this bopping music, and let’s keep it first ! My aim is to figure the music posted with record labels and odds and ends on the artists.
The McCORMICK BROTHERS were a Tennessee/Kentucky family affair. Lloyd and Kelly held the guitars, younger Haskel was on banjo, Hayden Clark on bass and Charlie Nixon on dobro. They cut for Hickory in Nashville between 1954 and 58 a fine line of Bluegrass and Rockabilly boppers, among them this « Big eyes » (1958, Hickory 1080). Strong strumming boogie electric guitar and vocals in unison. They even had a full album, « Songs for home folks » on Hickory 102 (1961) and still are playing today.
Chester and Lester, the BUCHANAN BROTHERS were another duet group. They hit big in August 1946 with the pioneering « Atomic power » on RCA, and revived a similar theme in November 1947 with « (When you see) Those flying saucers ». (RCA-Victor 20-2385) « You’d better pray to the Lord when you see those flying saucers, it may be the coming of the Judgement Day ». Good vocal and guitar duet. The song was used in 2009 in the animated release of « Monsters VS. Aliens ».
PAL (or Palford) BRADY (1922-1988) was a native of Tennessee ; himself relocated too in Michigan, where he had records on Lucky 013 (Cincinnati), Clix (Troy, MI), Bragg, among others (late ’50s to mid-60s). His « More lovin ‘ » (Conteste 45-2) from 1961 has two voices for a good « city hillbilly bopper ».
Charlie & Wallace, the MERCER BROTHERS came from Metter, GA and began a professional career during the late ’30s. After the WWII they had their own radio show on WMAZ before joining in 1948 the prestigious « Louisiana Hayride ». From 1951 to 1954 they cut a dozen sides for Columbia in Dallas, with their Blue Ridge Boys (Clyde Baum on mandolin and Doyle Strickland (fiddle) + Wayne Raney (harmonica). I chose from their equally constant in quality output « No place to hang my hat » (Columbia 20927, 1952-53), very Delmore Brothers styled. After 1954 they settled in Macon, GA, and WIBB radio station before completely disappear.
JOHNNIE (Wright) and JACK (Anglin) were regulars on the ’50s charts, before Anglin was killed in a car crash in 1963. Their «Oh boy ! I love her » (RCA 47-6932) from ’57 is an enjoyable jumping little opus. Earlier on they had cut the C&W classic « Ashes of love » (revived during the ’80s by the Desert Rose Band), and « Cryin’ heart blues » in 1951, supposed to have been recorded (but lost) by Elvis Presley on Sun Records.
“Oh boy, I love her”
On the Kentucky Dixiana label # 105 from 1954, CLIFF GROSS offer a sort of fast talking blues (with the band chanting in unison) with « Hog pen hop », probably recorded in Dallas. Gross was a mountain type fiddler, and Dixiana emanated from Bowling Green, Wayne County.
PAUL & ROY, The Tennessee River Boys, already discussed in another « Duet » feature (they had a two-sider on Nashville Pace label), have recorded for Mercury in 1953 « Spring of love » (# 6374) : it’s a fast Bluegrass influenced ditty – lead vocal & backing vocal.
Next track GOLDEN STATE BOYS‘« Always dreaming » was already posted here in April 2013. But I like very much this tune with its urgent vocal, the dobro part of Leon Poindexter, the vocal/mandolin of Herb Rice, and the energetic banjo of Don Parmley [personnel given by a visitor]. Date : early to mid-62, Shamrock 717, Artesia, California.
A solid rocker (with drums), « Good gosh gal » on the Nashville Briar label # 111 by PHIL BEASLEY & CHARLIE BROWN. Nice guitar and steel solo, 1961.
It’s useless to present the YORK BROTHERS (their story is on this site). Here is one of their rarest issues on their own York Bros. Records # 600Y-100, from 1963, and the great « Monday morning blues ».
We are going to the end with FRANKIE SHORT & DEE GUNTER on the Balto, MD Wango label (# 201) : again a solid version of Don Reno‘s « Country boy rock’n’roll » . Remember L.C. Smith and « Radio boogie » (2nd version) on this label.
For this third feature specialized in bopping duets, we begin with the aptly named HARMONY BROTHERS. Their « Baby, tonight » fom 1959 was cut for St-Louis, MO label Bobbin 109, and it’s a very solid backed Everly Brothers styled opus. They had another one « Saturday night bop » on Bobbin 116 which sounds good (alas, untraced). March 22nd, 2018: I tracked both tunes of Bobbin 116. They are below: “Saturday Night Bop” and “Don’t Be Cold“. Very good Everlyish rockers!
On the Minneapolis, MN Circle Dot label (# 1012) , again from the late ’50s, we chose « Dream night » by the HOULE BROTHERS. Again Everly Bros. influenced, it fetches up to $ 250-300. Mike & Bob, the Houle Brothers, had another record on Bangar 642 in 1965, « I heard the bluebird sing ».
Jimmy Lee & Wayne Walker “Love me”
download Now a great wild thing with the classic « Love me » (Chess 4863) from Spring 1955, cut at KWKH studio in Shreveport, La. by JIMMY LEE & WAYNE WALKER. It has urgent vocals and a ferocious steel (Sonny Harville), all propelled by the thuding bass of Tillman Franks and the jumping drums of D. J. Fontana.
Let’s go west with the FARMER BOYS, and the very special Western rockabilly style from the Capitol studio on « My baby done left me » (# 3476). The staff is composed by Bobby Adamson and Woody Murray (vocals), Roy Nichols on lead guitar, Fuzzy Owen on steel and Cliffie Stone on bass, and the tune was out May 31, 1956.. The story of the Farmer Boys is on this site.
An unusual duet of uncle and nephew were the JACOBY BROTHERS on TNT 1004, from San Antonio, TX. Great harmonies and backing (guitar and mandolin) for « Warmed over love ».
From N. Wilkesboro (S.C.) we turn now on the CHURCH BROTHERS and « Broken vows and a broken heart » (Blue Ridge 209), a typical 1953 bluegrass bopper: nice vocal and chorus in unison. I’ve read that the lead was Buffalo Johnson, an important figure not so well known today. Research goes on him.
From N. Charleston, (S.C.) and July 1954 BILLIE AND GORDON HAMRICK, a sacred tune on Rangeland 504 (one of the very first Starday customs). « He’s gonna take his children out » has a lead vocal male) and a chorus, plus a good banjo solo.
Billie & Gordon Hamrick “He’s gonna take his children out”
PAUL (Boswell) & ROY (Pryor) out of Nashville on the Pace label (# 1004) had previously cut a dozen sides for Mercury. The Pace issue date from late ’50s, and offer two medium tunes, « Free, twenty one and ambitious » and « I wish you’d be a country girl ». Good, a bit above average boppers.
Finally the terrific sacred « I’m a millionaire » by the Tennessee Harmony Boys (Dillard Anderson & Solon Maynard) on the Fortune label out of Detroit (# 209). A great, great mandolin solo, and a lot of excitement.. They had previously cut on their own « The Tennessee Harmony Boys » label, and even had an E.P. on Fortune (# 1334).
More of these Hillbilly bop duets, even a foray into Rock’n’Roll (country overtones)
It’s useless to present the DELMORE Brohers (Rabon & Alton). They began their career in 1931 ! When they stopped at King studio in Cincinnati in 1946, they cut many, many Hillblly boogies, either as vocal duet, or with spare instrumentation (Wayne Raney and Lonnie Glosson on harmonica). It’s been a real task to choose « Down home boogie » (King 784AA) : the Brothers sing in harmony for this romper cut in November 1947 in Cincinnati. Lead electric guitar player could be Roy Lanham or Zeke Turner.
A dozen years later or so, a man led a typical Hillbilly combo : JERRY DOVE (instrument unknown). He had already put a minor rockabilly classic in 1956, « Pink bow tie » on T.N.T. Label (# 144), but he was more a producer and musician than a singer. Here he gathers the duet (male/female) of Ray Stone and Dove’s wife, Peggy. First side is bluesy, and very atmospheric : « Losin’ the blues » (# 173), paired with an uptempo « Why don’t you love me » from 1959.
Let’s get back to December 1947 with the Arkansas born real ARMSTRONG TWINS. They recorded for 4* a serie of boogies showing the prowesses of Lloyd on mandolin, Floyd backing on guitar, especially on « Mandolin boogie » (4* 1231), a fast and furious piece of Bluegrass.
More of the same with RUFUS SHOFFNER & JOYCE SONGER, clearly billed « Vocal duet » although both join on chorus only, with the powerful « It always happens to me » on the Detroit’s Hi-Q label (# 17) from 1962. Awesome and driving guitar playing by Earl Songer’s ex-wife. Both seem unlucky in the song.
Next is « Truck driver’s boogie » by the MILO TWINS (Edwin and Edward), originally from Arkansas. Their style is pretty close to that of the DELMORE, the CALLAHAN, the SHELTON or the YORK Brothers. Released December 947 on Capitol 40138: fine harmony vocals over a good harmonica playing.
Finally GENE PARSON’S BAND, who’s backing Kimble and Wanda Janes on vocals in a classic, « Night club Rock’n’roll » from March 1959 on Southfield label (# 4501) from lllinois. Parson was the owner of this small label. He already had cut for Chicago’s Eko label. I’m pretty sure this Gene Parson has nothing to do with the member of Byrds or Flying Burrito Brothers bands of the ’60s. The Southland issue falls into a collector’s hands for $ 400-500.
This first batch of duets will concentrate on bopping Bluegrass tunes. Indeed the choice of tunes is entirely mine, and I post the ones I like very much. The main instruments, as expected, are fiddle and banjo or mandolin, all pushing often an urgent vocal.
The DIXIE DRIFTERS were a small Bluegrass group from Houston, TX ; actually they were the first one to make Bluegrass music so far from Kentucky or Tennessee. Hank Wilson (guitar/vocal & composer) was the leader when they cut « Lies, lies and alibis », a fast ditty on the Minor label (# 112). Enjoy the dobro part! (According to ARLD, this record came out in October 1958). No label scan available, sorry: I’ve just got the music from a Tom Sims’ cassette. Earlier on the boys had another issue on Azalea 110, same style (« Gone forever »). Hank Wilson, as “Slim Wilson” recorded probably one more single for Minor (# 117)”The ring around your finger/Bring a wall around Texas“. And I really don’t know if Hank Wilson and Leon Russell are the same person.
Way up north with the THOMAS BROTHERS (Melvin and Erwin) for an oustanding « Way high, way low » on the Hammond, IN. Mar-Vel’ label (# 355 from 1956). Each voice (3 actually) compete strongly : the highpitched, then the bass man, finally the medium singing « Right in the middle, that’s where I want to be ». A pity they never had another issue. March 22,2018. Actually I found a clip of their EP on Atwell 173, “Let The Light Shine Down“, below.
Third we have a decisive ‘Vocal duet’ on the label : Rena 803 (sub-label to Cozy) from Ripley, WV by RALPH & RUTH. « Hard hearted girl», great rhythm guitar. It’s difficult to assume a date for the issue, maybe late ’50s, or even 1961, as suggested by HillbillyCountry45 (Youtube).
From Pico, California on the Sundown label # 106 : TOMMY GUESS & BILL LOWE do give a lot of energy in their « My foolish heart ». Mandolin solo. They disappeared afterwards 1958. March 22,2018. I’ve added a clip of the flipside, “Unwanted and Alone“. Enjoy!
A beautiful harmony with the NASH BROTHERS, probably from Georgia on the Peach label (# 569) : « My prescription refilled » from March 1959.