JACK MORRIS had three claims to fame. As a D.J. first on Pasadena, Ca. KXLA radio station ; then as founder of a successful California country recording label, Toppa (and his subsidiaries Toppette and Fedora). Then he had also 4 records on his own between 1955 and 57 on legendary labels such as Starday, Pep and Sage.
About his involvement with KXLA, he got the honour at least 2 times by the Billboard magazine, which held him up as « one of the five top C&W D..J.s in Southern California » between 1956 and 1958. His show had been going on 6 nights a week from midnight until 5.00 AM, that is in itself an uncommon achievement.
As founder of Toppa, a complete article on this label (the beginnings) is on this site. As a D.J., Morris undoubtly coasted as D.J. along young and unknown musicians out of the rich California state. He chose to record them in a Country vein, not without a more than precise pop touch. Anyway the label had its moments for the hillbilly bop fan : records by Bill Brock, Ernie Andrews, Johnny Leon don’t remove from a late ’50s Country collection. More about that in the article devoted to « Toppa Tops ‘Em All » label.
As an artist in his own right, Jack Morris (his real forname seems to have been « George », according to the credit of Capitol 3311 : Merrill Moore ‘covered’ (or
Hu-se-co was founded by Odell Johnson in Hobart, Oklahoma. The label apparently lasted from late 1956 to early 1958, and the main issues were issued in 1957. No label listing does exist, so I don’t know if my presentation is complete, as Hu-se-co was a pretty small label for the time being.
First record was cut in Autumn 1956 by DERAL CLOUR and Charley Drake and coupled the very fine primitive Hillbilly bopper/Rockabilly « Sundown (boogie) » with the ballad « Winter(in my heart) ». Clour has said in an interview published by the RockaBilly HOF that the record was cut at Gene Sullivan’s studio on Capitol Hill in Hobart. Deral Clour was to appear at Ernest Tubb’s in Nashville in 1959.
Then in 1957, three singles of equal musical value. Most important is the rollicking/jumping//western sides by DOYLE MADDEN, backed by Merl Lindsay‘s Oklahoma Nightriders, « Gonna learn to rock » and « Tonights the night for love » (1-757), both written by Lindsay and one Vonnie Mack. The latter (rn Yvonne deVaney) was at one time Yvonne O’Day on Capitol, then in 1956 Vonnie Mack in 1956 on Columbia, where she turned more or less pop. Later she fronted vocally Merl Lindsay’s band. Doyle Madden “Gonna learn to rock“
Second record backed by Merl Lindsay’s Oklahoma Night Riders is by JIM RAY: average ’50s country/honky tonk, main instruments being fiddles and steel. « A little too late » and « My heart belong to you » are on (# A-557). Jim Ray, “My heart belongs to you”
The third 1957 issue (if the « 57 » sequence has some sense) is a very nice country rocker by FLOYD ANDREWS, « Buy myself a rubber doll » (3-757), with strong guitar and steel to the fore. Floyd Andrews, “Buy myself a rubber doll”
Hello folks. Yes I am back, having moved and from a trip in Prague. Beautiful city, yet no Hillbilly sounds over there! Anyway, let’s go back to our favorites. This time I’ve chosen 5 artists. Let’s begin with an interesting late ’40s/early ’50s one, ZEKE CLEMENTS. I know very little about him, except he had many records on Blazon, Liberty (not the L.A. pop concern), Gold Standard, even in 1960 on his own Janet label. He was a prolific songwriter, and should be noticed “Smoke On The Water” for Red Foley. Here he delivers a fine shuffling (piano and guitar led) ditty on Liberty 8, “Oklahoma Blues“.
Early 60s and on to Cincinnati area with the rather unknown SLIM FOSTER. I posted both sides of his K-Ark single (# 613), one side uptempo, the other medium, with a lovely steel-guitar for “Never Be Untrue” and “I Wish I’d known“. Good Country bop.
From Texas I’d assume comes now CURLEY SANDERS and a nice bopper on the Imperial label (# 8226), “Too Much Lovin’“, complete with piano, fiddle and guitar and that immediately recognizable Imperial sound. Sanders would later (1956) have a Starday issue, “Brand New Rock And Roll” in the famous custom serie (# 590): see elsewhere in the site for this side.
On to Louisana, early ’60s: BILL MATTE & the Five Classics for the presumably hard-to-understand for English speakers: “Parlez-vous l’francais” (Do you speak french) is sung in Cajun patois, and myself have trouble understanding all the lyrics!
Finally another inreresting artist from the Cincinnati area, AL RUNYON, on Kentucky for a revamp of Hank Snow‘s “I’m Moving On“. Not a bad version, as Runyon was covering others’ hits, as his labelmate Delbert Barker. He was also later on Starday for the famous Jimmie Skinner’s penned “Baby Please Come Home“. His story is a bit intricated, but I hope to have it posted in the future.
As a bonus. I just heard BILLY STRANGE passed away on Feb. 22th (aged 81). He cut many records and played on innumerable sessions from the late ’40s ‘way into the ’70s. Here is one of my favorite trucker songs, “Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves” on Capitol 2032 from 1952.