VANCE MORRIS & the Alabama Playboys: “Crazy ’bout the boogie”

Vance Morris and the Alabama Playboys monopolized Nashboro’s early hillbilly releases with accomplished, zestful tunes like “Crazy ’bout the boogie” and “Slap-happy pappy“. That Morris, born in 1919, grew up near Oklahoma City probably accounts for the heavy Western swing influence in the band’s repertoire. “I idolized this kind of music“, said Morris to Martin Hawkins. After 1942 he had a band which at one time had no less than 13 pieces in the Play Boys. They fielded offers from King and Mercury. vance morris & AlabamaPlayboys

He went to Mississipi in 1934, then on to Huntsville, Alabama. A local promoter, Robert ‘Big Deal’ Vann, got him on Nashboro. There were two sessions, no royalties, and only a little airplay. Vance sang and played guitar and bass; Hank “Dub” Williams played bass, rhythm guitar and sang. “Lefty” Haggard also sang on one side; Ronald Glenn played lead guitar. Malcolm “Buck” Buffalo and Cliff Luna played the fiddle.

After the Nashboro disks, the band members went their separate way. Morris at one time repaired cars, before the split of his band was complete.

from notes by Martin Hawkins for “A shot in the dark” boxset. Thanks to Ronald Keppner and his invaluable help (mp3 and label scans)

Notes from Bopping editor :

« Crazy ’bout the boogie » (# 1005) is by far the best of the 6 sides cut for Nashboro. An heavy boogie guitar (solo), the piano takes a boogie solo, and steel is driving throughout the tune. Sold recently (2016) for $ 103.

nashboro 1005B vance morris - crazy 'bout the boogie

nashboro 1005A vance morris - rainy weather

Crazy ’bout the boogie

download

Rainy weather

download

The flipside, « Rainy weather » is quieter, and a bit sentimental, with a voice reminiscent of that of Tex Williams.

Nashboro 1006 is pairing two lovely uptempos. « Some of these days » is an agreeable shuffler, while the instrumental « Boot hill drag » has the steel to the fore. A mostly danceable track.

 

Some of these days

download

Boot hill drag

download

nashboro 1006- vance morris - some of these daysnashboro 1006-B vance morris - boot hill drag

Nashboro 1009 combines again a vocal and an instrumental. « I’ll get by don’t you cry » is a shuffler, a bit sentimental, while « Slap-happy pappy » is a real showcase of the whole band. Each of the instruments (bass, piano, guitar) takes its solo, all propelled by a fine steel throughout. Add the vocal yells, and you’ve got a really fine fast Hillbilly boogie.

 

nashboro 1009-A vance morris - I'll get by don't you crynashboro 1009-B vance morris - sjep-happy pappy

 

I’ll get by don’t you cry

download

Slap-happy pappy

download

Rem Wall & the Green Valley Boys: Michigan’s Country-rock (1950-1962)

Not many things are known about Rem Wall. He was born 1918 in Frankfort, Illinois and he died 1994.rem wall

He started at an early age entertaining during the ’30s at different local radio stations and, after being graduated in 1939, decided to settle in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He performed on radios WGFG, later WKZO, where he had even a TV show, « the Green Valley Jamboree » which lasted for 36 years, himself being signed to WKZO for even 44 years.

He then recorded for a lot of companies : Wrightman in 1951 (as Rembert Wall), then Bakersfield (1957), Glenn (1960-62), Wolverine and Columbia. He even had an issue in Great Britain. His music, although hillbilly at the beginning, became more and more softer by the years ’60s. His best songs are : « Heartsick and blue », « Waiting » (lot of echo for this good ballad), « One of these days » (banjo led folkish tune) , « Time alone » from 1962 (a fine shuffler) or « Carried away ».

wrightman wall nebraska

bakerfield wall awayglenn wall lonesomeIn 1958 he was chosen by the U.S. Government to represent Country music in Germany and then he toured a lot there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He seems to have remained a regional hitmaker, having given up his career after his wife’s death during the ’60s. His son Rendal carries on the family tradition as a guitar player.

 

Sources: various. Wrightman sides and label scan do come from Hillbilly Researcher. Glenn label scans from “45rpm” blogsite. Picture from hillbilly-music site

glenn wall days

 

 

top-rank glenne blueglenn wall waitng

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The girl on the matchbox cover“[1950]

download

Heartsick and blue

download

Waiting

download

I’m losing my tears over you

download

One of these days

download

Carried away

download

Time alone“[1962]

download

 

 

 

You can read a lot more on RemWall by clicking this link: http://www.visioncouncil.org/bobrowe/rem_wall.htm

Louisiana Lannis, rockabilly (“Tongue twister boogie”)

Lannis Trahan, born in 1923, hailed from Louisiana, hence his artist name « Louisiana Lannis », and was also a songwriter: he wrote his 6 sides. He had three singles in 1956 before disappearing. The one on Starday is pure hillbilly rock : « Muscadine eyes » is a fast ditty opus, with a furious fiddle, apparently cut at Goldstar in Houston, Texas while its flipside « Much too much » (Starday 268, actually A-side) has more than a Latin appeal with its hopping rhythm. “Muscadine eyes” is not a common track, only being revived moons ago on the U.K. Ace album “Stars of Texas honky tonk” # 703 (1987)

starday lannis muscadine

Muscadine eyes

download

Much too much

download

starday lannis much

 

 

 

 

Lannis will however be best remembered today for his second offering, this time on Snowcap 1215/1216 : « Tongue twister boogie » has a great wild steel guitar and is a really fast rockabilly rocker, not dissimilar to Jimmy Lee & Wayne Walker « Love me ». A demented piano player comes for a short solo. « Walking out » is no less good, and just a little less furious. Both sides prefixed « GS » surely were cut at Goldstar. As fiddle is the main instrument on the 4 previous sides, one can wonder if it’s Lannis playing ? The Snowcap issue fetches $ 700-800, and is only currently available on collectors’ reissues.

Tongue twister boogie

download

Walking out

download

snowcap lannis tongue

snowcap lannis walking

 

 

 

 

BB 16-2-56 lannis

Billboard Feb. 16, 1956, “a good country novelty”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alas « Fido/Doomed to love » (Snowcap 101) are, according to Pascal Perrault, pop songs to escape (weepers), and of no interest at all. Strange that a man capable of such songs as « Tongue twister boogie » could do pop songs in the same period. Trahan, whose name is common among Cajun area (see Cornelius “Pee Wee Trahan“, who made a career also as Jericho Jones and Johnny Rebel), died in February 1983 (age 59, cause of death unknown), and was buried in the Marine’s veteran branch of the Houston National Cemetery. The Trahans had came from France, maybe Burgundy during the XVI° or XVII° century.
snowcap lannis fido
snowcap lannis doomedSources: various and Internet thing!

small and bopping “Little” Jimmy Dickens

little jimmy dickens

Born in Bolt, W. Va, Jimmy Dickens began his musical career in the late ’30s, performing on WJLS radio station in Beckley, W.a. While attending West Va. University. He soon quit school to pursue a full-time music career, and traveled the country performing on various local radio stations under the name « Jimmy the Kid ».

 

In 1948 Dickens was heard performing on WKNX, a radio station in Saginaw, Michigan, by Roy Acuff, who introduced him to Art Satherley at Columbia Records and officials from the Grand Ole Opry. Dickens signed with Columbia in September and joined the Opry in August. Around this time, he began using his nickname, Little Jimmy Dickens, inspired by his short stature (4 “11, 150 cm).

 

Dickens recorded many novelty songs for Columbia, including « Country boy », « A-sleeping at the foot of the bed » and « I’m little but I’m loud ». One day, after having told Jimmy he needed a hit, Hank Williams wrote « Hey, good lookin’ » in only 20 minutes while on a plane with Dickens, Minnie Pearl and her husband. A week later Williams cut the song himself, jokingly telling Dickens « That song’s too good for you ! »

 

In 1950, Dickens formed the Country Boys with musicians Jabbo Arrington, Grady Martin, Bob Moore and Thumbs Carlile. It was during this time that he discovered future Country Music Hall of famer Marty Robbins at a Phoenix, AZ television station while on tour with the Grand Ole Opry road show. In 1957 he left the Opry to tour with the Philip Morris Country Music Show.

 

Dickens was active in music until nearly his death on January 2nd, 2015.

 

Good solid early ’50s Honky tonk music as shown in the several examples below :

 

« F-o-o-l-i-s-h me, me » (Columbia 20692), a nice honky-tonker, was cut in February 1950, and covered the same year by Charlie ‘Peanut’ Faircloth [see a previous fortnight’s favorites section for the latter’s version). It has definitely the crisp guitar sound of Grady Martin.

F-o-o-l-i-s-h me, me

download

Rock me

download

columbia 20692 L. Jimmy dickens - f-o-o-l-i-s-h me, me

columbia 21206 l. jimmy dickens - rock me

 

 

« Rock me » (Columbia 21206), also known as « She sure can rock me », was an old Willie Perryman R&B belter, well adapted here by Dickens, obviously conscious of the « double-entendre » of the lyrics. As intended, piano is prominent instrument.

 

 

 

 

« Hillbilly fever », cut at the same session as « F-o-o-l-i-s-h me, me », was initially a Kenny Roberts song (Coral). Here Dickens is doubled on vocal by his rhythm guitar player. Note the rare label scan of a Japanese issue (« American folk music ») !
Hillbilly fever

download
columbia jp j.dickens - hillbilly fever

« Salty boogie » (Columbia 21384) is almost rockabilly. Fiddle is still present, but lead guitar is well to the fore as in « Hey worm (you wanna wiggle) » (Columbia 21491), and indeed there are drums.

Salty boogie

download

Hey worm !(You wanna wiggle)”

download

columbia 21384 78 l. jimmy dickens - salty boogiecolumbia 21491 dj l. jimmy dickens - hey worm!
Final foray in pure Rock’n’roll comes with the dynamite of « I got a hole in my pocket » (Columbia 41173) from 1958, and its furious Buddy Emmons licks on steel guitar.

 

I got a a hole in my pocket

download

columbia 41173 dj l. jimmy dickens - I got a hole in my pocket

Little_Jimmy_Dickens_1955

1955

Jitterbugging baby: the short story of David Ray Smith (1956-58)

David Ray, a top singer and song stylist of Texas/Oklahoma Rockabilly and Honky-tonk, was born Oscar Ray Smith in Duncan, Oklahoma on March 14, 1934. When he was at an early age, his family moved to Roswell, New Mexico. At age 8, he learned to play guitar, and in his youth became friends with Lefty Frizzell, who on many occasions invted David to his recording sessions. In 1950, the family moved back to Duncan, and David formed a country music band. Early employment included a D.J. Program on radio station KRHD, and a live show on Channel 12, KXII-TV. How he got the forname “David” is unknown.

David Ray got his first records on Heart (# 245), a Four Star custom label out of Oklahoma, in 1956. Two fine sincere Hillbilly duets by himself and Johnny Doggett, « Farewell goodbye » and « Maybe I should have cheated too » ; then two Rockabillies (Ray Smith solo) « Gone baby gone » and « Swinging boogie », both fine rockers (# 250). Many thanks to John Burton (53jaybop) for posting these songs on Youtube.
heart johnny&ray farewell

heart johnny&ray maybe

heart smith gone

heart smith boogie
Johnny & RayFarewell goodbye

download
Johnny & RayMaybe I should have cheated too

download

Ray SmithGone baby gone

download

Ray SmithSwinging boogie

download

In 1957 he signed a recording contract as David Ray with Gainesville, Texas recording executive Joe M. Leonard, Jr. His early recordings of « Jitterbugging baby » and « Lonesome baby blues » (Kliff 101 and 105) were instant successes on the Kliff Records label. Not only did Ray’s first records releases sell well in the United States, but they attained immense success in Europe when reissued by Ronnie Weiser on his Rollin’ Rock label. Personal for these sessions were Johnny Baggett or Joe Dean Evans on guitar and Paul Jorgenson on bass, including a wild piano player.

kliff ray lonesome

 

kliff ray jitterbugging

 

kliff ray feeling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David RayLonesome baby blues” (original version)

download

David RayLonesome baby blues”(Kliff)

download

David RayJitterbugging baby

download

 

 

Other songs were « Lonesome feeling » and the less fast, almost poppish « I’m a fool », while « All the time », « Why can’t you and I », « No, oh no », all ballads, « Too fast, too wild » and the original gutsy, less fast « Lonesome baby blues » were withheld until their release on Collectables.
David RayLonesome feeling

download

David RayWhy can’t you and I

download
In 1962 Ray Smith had a Country-rocker « A place within my heart » on the Toppa label (# 1071)
, honest honky tonk, a far cry from his Kliff sides (Thanks to Uncle Gil to have provided this song). Alexander Petrauskas points out this may be a different artist, because of songwriting credits. Thanks, Alex!

toppa smith place

 

Ray SmithA place within my heart

download

Since David Ray’s voice has remained strong and vibrant over the years, Leonard productions decided to record him on some new Texas songs. In August 1993 a session was held in Tyler, Texas. The songs were « Long cold winter », « You make my day », « Ways of a woman » and « Package deal ». The musicians were Ronnie Redd (keyboards), Jim Holley (bass), Greg Hough (drums), Bobby Garrett (steel guitar), Donny McDuff and Jerry Tiner (electric guitars), Ken Shepherd harmonica and rhythm guitar) as well as Lonnie Wright (producer, engineer and rhythm guitar). Back-up vocalist : David’s ex-wife, Lavinia Smith.

David RayYou make my day

download

 

David Ray was then living near Ft. Worth, Texas, where he continued to compose and entertain. He died in 1997.

 

Freely adapted from the notes to Collectables CD 5770.collectables-david Ray Smith

Roy King, yodeler in Detroit and Chicago (1949-51)

photoRoy King is a completely unknown artist from the very early ’50s, who acted in Illinois (Peoria, WWXL), and whom anything is unknown today about. London16031 roy king freight train blues 

London 16031B roy king everybody knewLondon 16049B roy king new tennessee babyLondon16049 roy king mule skinner blues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yodelin’ way up there

download

 

Rambling

download

He had a string of releases, probably cut in Detroit, MI, or Chicago, on the London and Mercury labels between 1949 and 1951, and disappeared after this year. He was billed as a yodeler, and eventually yodeled a lot throughout his records, « Yodelin’ way up there » or « Yodelin’ polka ». He was backed by a regional outfit, Hal Fuller’s Tennessee Ho-Downers, usual guitar, bass, fiddle, and steel. Billboard cited him as a promising artist between April and October 1951, although there were no hits. He used to sing old favorites, as Jimmie Rodgers ‘s « Mule skinner blues », Roy Acuff’s « Freight train blues », a fine hillbilly shuffler, “Rambling” or old-timey songs like « St. James infirmary ». His voice is always smooth, a lead guitar is well to the fore, but the whole thing is certainly not hillbilly boogie, although nice yodeling songs. Indeed his style is similar to that of Kenny Roberts.

mercury 6338B yodelin'Mercury6401 roy king st. james infirmary

Any help to document this artist would be welcome!

As usual, Ronald Keppner’s help was indispensable. Thanks Ronald. Also Peter Mohr of Switzerland for the disco and support.
Freight train blues

download

Mule skinner blues

download

 

 

 

 

 

Roy King-Billboard-Aug-51