[two_fifth_last][/two_fifth_last]Howdy folks ! It’s never been done before : this fortnight will begin with two R&B Rockers. HARMONICA FATS (rn. Harvey Blackstone) appears to have cut a good amount of records in Los Angeles during the early to late ’60s. His output vanished in obscurity, except for those die hard Blues buffs, and he’s mostly remembered today for his best well-known song « Tore up ». Brawny R&B, heavy harmonica over solid backing of guitar and saxes on Skylark 602, reissued on the more affordable Darcey 5000 label. The original song had been issued in 1956 on Federal 12270 by the Midnighters (lead and writer : Hank Ballard) in a typical vocal group style. Sometime later Sleepy LaBeef covered « Tore up » as Tommy LaBeff on Wayside as a solid rocker – watch out his harsh vocal ! Finally Harmonica Fats had also his wild version of J. B. Lenoir’s « Mama mama talk to your daughter for me » on Darcey 5003, a song he credited to himself and seen on Youtube…He covered Hank Williams‘ “Mind your own business” on Kris.
Harmonica Fats, “Tore up”
The Midnighters, “Tore up over you”
Tommy La Beff, “Tore up”
Second R&B artist is even more obscure : AL SIMMONS with Slim Green & the Cats from Fresno cut in 1957 on the (I believe) Johnny Otis‘ Dig label a great « Old folks boogie » (# 138). An half screaming/half spoken vocal over an hypnotic lead guitar and a nice sax solo for a Little Junior Parker’s/ John Lee Hooker “Feeling good” type song..
Al Simmons, “Old folks boogie”
We turn now to usual Country records in this site. EVERETT SPEARS has his own version of the Terry Fell‘s classic «Truck driving man » on the Epto (no °) label. A cool vocal , lot of echo and heavy drums do combine a very nice mid-60’s country rocker, although of unknown area.
Everett Spears, “Truck driving man”
RAYMOND WEBB now is an unknown artist from the Kentucky or Tennessee. He had only two records. On Rich-R’-Tone 1063 issued in 1953, he gives us a very bluesy track, « Hot water blues » : wailing vocal and a great piano backing. The flipside, « Bucket special » noted on labeI « Instrumental boogie woogie », is a good side too. I ought not be surprised if the piano player was a Black one.
Raymond Webb, “Hot water blues”
Raymond Webb, “Bucket special”
Raymond Webb, “Wherever you are”
He can also be heard 5 years later on the microscopic label Kyva [KentuckY–VirginiA] (the only other record known on this is Luke Gordon‘s) and « Wherever you are ». On a waltz tempo with a prominent steel, it’s a good record for 1958.
GEORGE STOGNER cut in Miami, FL ca. June 1953 on the Rockin’ label # 522 the great double-sider « Hard top race/Big yellow moon », arguably the best ever and the fastest hot rod type song. Label’s owners Henry Stone and Andy Razaf sold it to King’s Sid Nathan in August of the same year. The latter reissued part of the Rockin’ masters on his own DeLuxe label, hence Stogner had the honour of opening the new Deluxe 2000 serie. Back to « Hard top race », with its urgent vocal, fabulous piano and steel, it’s really a berserk wildie taken at an ultra-fast tempo, while the flip « Big yellow moon » is an uptempo ballad with sentimental words, written by Rod Morris : a good song anyway.
George Stogner, “Big yellow moon”
Finally here is the unknown HAROLD MORRISON, who seemingly never got to issue any commercial record ; only remains an acetate of the fabulous « I gotta have her », a supercharged Rockabilly : great vocal, very fine guitar. I wonder if someone ever took notice at the time of such a talented guy.
Harold Morrison, “I gotta have her”
Note: the indefatigable visitor Phil Watson sent about Harold Morrison (March 27):”Not sure if it’s the same man, but Harold Morrison was a respected singer/comedian who recorded for several labels including Starday. I have two LPs by him. He started out with Red Foley on the Ozark Jamboree, then worked for the Wilburn Bros for seven years, followed by six years with George Jones & Tammy Wynette, up to 1975 when a now-single Tammy fired him.” also, “Yes, according to Praguefrank, this acetate is by “the” Harold Morrison, and was his first recording in 1956. He recorded for RCA and Decca but not Starday. He died in 1993.”. Thanks Phil!
Sources : Raymond Webb material provided by Allan Turner – thanks to him ! Other selections from my collection (Harmonica Fats and Tommy LaBeff, George Stogner reissues). Label scans as usual from 78rpm-world or YouTube.
Comments or corrections/additions welcome !