Howdy, folks. Here is the early October 2019 fortnight’s favorites selection. There will be a unusual amount of records on major labels, all cut between 1955 and 57.
I'm On The Loose
by Paul Davis
He had first appeared in the late August 2016 fortnight’s selection for « Big Money » (1956) and the original of « Six Days On The Road » (1961). Here is the return of PAUL DAVIS for his second release on M-G-M (# 12209). « I’m On The Loose » is also a solid bopper, cut in July 1955.
Now on a Starday Custom (# 643, from June 1957) by BUDDY SHAW and the minor classic « Don’t Sweep That Dirt On Me ». A fast rockabilly, typical in Starday sound (guitar and piano are battling). Shaw had aslo Starday 609 (« No More ») and 618, similar style.
An intimate vocal on an uptempo rhythm, with prominent fiddle and an insistant rhythm guitar for BILL DUDLEY and « Wailing Wall » released on Capitol 2531.
On RCA-Victor 47-6147 now, BUDDY THOMPSON does offer « Don’t Kindle Up The Flame » : a mad fiddle (solo), a good steel solo, a fast bopping piano – a nice tune (June 1955). Thompson went later on Atco for Rock’n’Roll sides.
Cash Box 18 June, 1955
Two sides by STAN HARDIN from June 1957, and the surprisingly Hank Williams styled « Hungry Heart » : an uptempo shuffler with fiddle and steel. « Give Me All Your Lovin’, Baby », the flpside, is a fast bopper with energetic vocal. Decca 30302, obviousy backed by the Nashville cream of musicians.
ROY COUNTS is nearly unknown nowadays, except for 6 sides issued under his name at various times. He was billed on his Bel-Aire record as with his Okla. Playboys, and
he appears to have shared his session (same band) with another Oklahomian (who made his way to California), Jack Tucker. But we have already jumped to his first known issue, as two earlier tracks from the Hometown Jamboree have since surfaced on the Hillbilly Researcher serie # 26 : « I’m tired » and « I’ve got a new heartache » are two average boppers (drums present, although unheavy), and I can’t but remember hearing them of Wynn Stewart solid early sides (like « Slowly but surely », « It’s not the moon that makes a difference » or « You took her off my hands » all on Capitol Records). However these early Roy Counts sides have nothing exceptional.
Things are changing with the already mentioned split-session for Bel-Aire Records, which were located in the same town, El Monte, Ca. as the one where was aired the Hometown Jamboree from, on the airwaves of KXLA. I discuss also the Jack Tucker sides (Bel-Aire 23), « Surrounded by sorrow » and « Let me practice with you », since the sound and backing are very similar. A strong steel guitar (probably Ralph Mooney, according to his particular sounding), Don Evans on lead guitar, who was a regular with Jack Tucker ; a bass and drums, then a piano player who sounds remarkably like Bill Woods.
We jump now to 1963-64 for two sides first issued on the Jedco label, then reissued on Commerce # 5009 (same issue numbers for both labels). « Temptation » is not at all a bad record for this era, and has a very good steel (again Ralph Mooney?) over a fine piano for an uptempo ‘city’ country side. Flipside « Blue angel » is a very good medium paced rockaballad with an haunting steel. Note that both sides were produced by a certain Jack E. Downes (« Strictly drums » on Jedco 5002) : the initials are transparent of JEDco, and one can wonder if it’s he who handles drums on the Roy Counts disc, although it’s largely open to speculation and, as the saying goes, of very small interest !
Beside these records, Roy Counts failed to attain a higher stature and fell into obscurity, and that’s a pity : he was in his own right, although a minor one, a very good artist.
Sources: 45-cat for label scans; soundfiles from various sources; a great ‘thank you‘ to ‘fortyfivesfrank’ on 45-cat for “Blue angel“; Roy Counts picture from hillbilly-music.com; Wynn Stewart demo 45 from “Roots Vinyl Guide”.
All too often, country composers of the 1940s and 1950s who didn’t have a substantial string of hits of their own are forgotten even if their songs have not been. Jimmy Work is a classic example. The author of three bonafide Country classics – “Tennessee Border” (1948), “Making Believe” (a simultaneous hit for both he and Kitty Wells in March of 1955) and “That’s What Makes The Juke Box Play” (1955) – Work’s records have been a little more than a footnote to the fifties, a composer’s credit on someone else’s records. That fact is truly unfortunate, for in truth, Jimmy Work was among the most expressive composers of the era. Though Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell enjoyed greater success, Work’s best songs were among the most evocative of the period: raw, unvarnished gems with an undeniable directness and beauty. Born in Akron, Ohio, on March 23, 1924, Jimmy Work moved to a farm his folks purchased near Dukedom, on the border of Western Kentucky and Tennessee, in 1926. “I started playing back when I was seven years old”, he says today. “My Dad had bought my mother a guitar, and she never did learn to play it, and that’s how I learned to play a guitar. Back then I listened to Gene Autry, and I liked Roy Acuff. He was one of my favorites.” “Around this part of the country, there were some good musicians also”, Work says. “And I was going to high school and we had a band there. They used to have fiddler’s contests, and I was playin’ in all of those and I winnin’ a lot of prizes, but I just liked country music. I started writin’ songs when I was real young. And started singin’ those songs around and people seemed to like it. And that’s been more or less a hobby of mine – sittin’ down and writin’ songs and playin’ music.” Work did not only commit himself to music. He also became an accomplished millwright, a profession he pursued on and off, alternating with music., throughout the past several decades. His first substantial musical work came at the end of World War II when he moved to Pontiac, Michigan, around 1945. Pontiac and other Detroit suburbs were a powerful wartime magnet for southerners drawn to the money they could make working in war production plants that had been adapted from Detroit’s massive auto factories. Country singers like Work gave them a taste of home, for the loneliness of displacement from the rural south to the smoky, urban Midwest, later brilliantly evoked in Mel Tillis’ classic song “Detroit City”” was very real. Work went on to work on the aptly named WCAR radio in Pontiac, had a songbook published and made his first records for the tiny Trophy label. “Detroit was a good country town, a good country record town”, he remembers.
In 1948 Work recorded an original composition, “Tennessee Border”, for the local Alben label .
“You know, I couldn’t get nobody to record that song, and I went, and recorded it myself,” he remembers. “That record got me started.” Hank Williams was among the major artists who covered it. Its rural overtones made it enormously appealing. He recalls: “All the major labels put it out (on their artists).” Decca signed him in 1949, and with Paul Cohen producing, Jimmy recorded in Cincinnati (backed by Jerry Byrd, Louis Innis and Tommy Jackson, among others) and Nashville. “Bluegrass Ticklin’ My Feet” did modestly well, but the Decca contract didn’t last.
Still working around Detroit, he recorded one single, “Hospitality”, for Bullet (out of Nashville), backed by his Tennessee Border Boys (# 699). By the early fifties, he was with Capitol, (and writing for Hill and Range), but still hadn’t followed up his success with a hit of his own. He made numerous guest appearances on the major live radio shows of the day and era, such as the WLS National Barn Dance out of Chicago, Illinois, the WWVA Original Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia, the KWKH Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana, the WFAA Saturday Night Shindig out of Fort Worth, Texas.
Work had landed a contract with Capitol in 1953, but again two singles went nowhere, and by 1954 he was signed to Randy Wood’s Dot Records of Gallatin, Tennessee. He produced his own sessions in Detroit and shipped off the master tapes to Dot for pressing and release. From that first session came not only “Making Believe”, his first Dot release, but “That’s What Makes The Juke Box Play”, along with “Don’t give Me A Reason To Wonder Why.” All the backing tracks feature austere, straight accompaniment that is strictly supportive. The lead guitarist, for example, does little more than play a pulsating dead-string accompaniment in the style of Zeke Turner or Luther Perkins with the steel guitar and fiddle the most prominent instruments.
“That’s What Makes The Juke Box Play”, the second Dot single, did not become a huge hit for Work but this quintessential honkytonk ballad, like “Making Believe”, has had a long and sustained life with honkytonk singers ever since, its sorrowful and powerful imagery being among the finest of the idiom.
“Just Like Downtown” has much of the rollicking feel of Hank Williams’ numbers like “Settin’ The Woods On Fire”, an idealized, sanitized portrait of a southern house party. “That Cold, Cold look In Your Eye” and “Blind Heart” were typical unrequited love ballads. He recorded “Blind Heart” twice. The first recording, recorded at his second session, wound up on a Dot album, the second (done at his final session) was one side of his last Dot single in 1956.
Thirty years have dimmed his memories of specific details of the records themselves, though Jimmy does remember some basic data. “The Dot sides were cut in Detroit. I used United Sound studio, and I used Casey Clark and his band; Casey played fiddle, and Buddy Emmons played with me on some of those (Emmons was working in Detroit, before joining Little Jimmy Dickens in July 1955). Casey, his boys kind of switched around with him, you know. He had different ones here and there. The band had lead guitar, bass fiddle and a piano on some of them. I don’t know if there were drums in there or not. We recorded about four songs at a time. I’d cut ‘em in Detroit and send ‘em to Randy Wood at Dot.” The band sounded at times as if they were consciously patterning their accompaniments after those of Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys (note the high-register Don Helms-styled steel guitar licks on “That Cold, Cold Look In Your Eye”.)
As a vocalist, Work was among the least polished, most overtly rural of the era aside from Hank and Lefty. His phrasing was understated, and his voice quavered in places. None of it was affectation, his voice was nasal (he could have done well had he pursued a bluegrass career) and his delivery was relaxed and easygoing, putting the lyrics up front.
Virtually all his Dot recordings were original numbers and the majority were ballads in the late 40s/early 50s style. Yet he also did some fine uptempo novelties like “When She Said You All”, or “Don’t Knock, Just Come On In” a bluesy novelty number in the Hank Williams style, the only Dot number never issued (until now). (…) was “Puttin’ The Dog”.
“Making Believe’s” popularity expanded his horizons. After a stay in Nashville, he headed south to WVOK in Birmingham, Alabama, which became his new home base for a time. It also got him some substantial tours, including a string of bookings handled by the popular Memphis C&W disc jockey Bob Neal, then booking Elvis Presley around the South. “Elvis was a good entertainer,” he says. “That’s when he was on the Sun label. When his first records came out, a lot of disc jockeys thought it was Rhythm and Blues, you know. I took ‘em back to Detroit and the (country) disc jockeys wouldn’t play ‘em. And I told ‘em, “Well, someday you’ll play them, and I don’t think it’s gonna be too long.” And those same disc jockeys remembered. Later they said “Jimmy, you was right.”
He stayed in Alabama until 1957, then played around the country music parks in the northeast, including some in Pennsylvania. Dot continued releasing records during 1956, none of them, however, had the impact of “Making Believe”, good as they were. “Digging My Own Grave” was particularly interesting. Much in the style of Hank’s “I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive”, it had the same easygoing fatalism.
However, Work’s performing and recording career effectively ended by the late fifties.(…) Some tried recording rock and roll; others were forced into it by producers. But Work never tried to do that. “I was just a few years too late, maybe four or five”, he reflects. (…) For a while, he moved to Southern California, where he sold real estate, and made his final two singles (one a cover of “Tennessee Border”) for the Whittier, CA based “All” label. In the end, he returned to Dukedom and millwrighting, apparently without bitterness or rancor. He does not performing, even locally these days. “But I still write songs for Acuff-Rose”.
Hi ! This is the late November 2018 bopping fortnight’s favorites selection : I try to add regularly this section of bopping.org. Obscure artists and record labels, as better known ones, but the emphasis is done on lesser known tunes. They do represent anyhow my feeling for the Hillbilly Bop music between 1945 and 1965 (occasionnally I am sticking these time limits out).
First artist is DICK DYSON, whom I still doesn’t know anything about. I had posted a tune (« I Work In The Daytime, (She Works At Night) » in the early July 2018 faves’ selection, here is one more : « Warmed Over Coffee And Woke Up Kisses » is a fast song, a lot of steel and a very agile lead guitar. Vocal by Johnny Pearson. This was released in 1947 on Tri-State 103.
The November period is favourable to witches and haunted houses. JACK RIVERS on Coral 64072 cut in 1954 the classic half-sung tune of the genre with « Haunted House Boogie : piano, steel, and skeleton’s clinketings.
From Columbia, TN, came in 1960 the rousing « The Drifter », released on Maid 1000 by the Tennessee Drifters (with TOMMY MORELAND on vocal). Great trembling guitar over an high-pitched vocal. More of the same with « The Tennessee Blues » on the Columbus (located in…Columbia, TN, near Nashville) label # 1501. He released also the out-and-out rocker « » in 1962 on Skoop 1054.
On the West coast, GENE O’QUIN delivers « I Specialize In Love » (Capitol 2578), cut in December 1954. A fast bopper, steel played by Speedy West and fiddle by Harold Hensley.
In West Monroe (La.)(near Shreveport) was cut the good « Just Me And The Jukebox » by the veteran BUZZ BUSBY on vocals and mandolin. A fast song, a banjo solo as expected on the small Jiffy label # 207.
Next artist was primarily a ballad singer. RUSTY McDONALD, a native of Lawton, Texas (1921-1979, aged only 57 years) worked with Bob Wills, the Callahan Brothers, Tex Ritter as guitarist or front singer. Here he appears on the 1951 released « Baby Sittin’ Boogie » (Intro 6035) : lazy vocal, shufflin’ and sympathetic rhythm. He scored big the same year with « Postage Due », a very styled uptempo tune.
The veteran TEX RITTER has an assured vocal and a dreamed backing behind him, that of Speedy West on steel, Merle Travis on guitar, Cliffie Stone on bass and Harold Hensley on fiddle for « Boogie Woogie Cowboy » (Capitol 928, from January 1950)
Sources : as usual, YouTube, Uncle Gil’s Rockin’ Archives, Internet.
Howdy folks ! This is the early November 2018 fortnight’s bopping favorites selection. They are limited from 1955 to 1959 and they include labels like Ekko, Ram, Poppy or Capitol.
First we get JAMES WILSON & the Jimmie Cats. As the time of recording (August 1956), being born in 1940, he was still student at the Shreveport, La. University. His track «Wilson Blues No. 1
» (Ram no #) is a raw bluesy rockabilly: harsh vocal (stop-and-go), great guitar and piano. The flipside is nearly also good, and is backed by a very young (actually his debut) James Burton on guitar. «You Won’t Know Why ’til I’m Gone». The record will cost $ 600 to 700.
At the time he cut those songs below, LOU MILLET was not a newcomer, in regard with records. He had already more than one issue on Columbia, and actually cut as Louis Millet on the Rouge label (1949). From 1955/56 do come his sides cut for Ekko Records out of Nashvlle, TN. «When I Harvest My Love» and «Chapel Of My Heart» are superior boppers (Ekko 1024) – although medium-paced.
On the same label you can find two interesting sides by LLOYD McCOLLOUGH. The man had an abundant dscographical production, under his actual name, or his pseudo («Lloyd Arnold). He realeased several great discs on Von and Republic. Here are two goodies, «Until I Love Again»> and «What goes on in your heart» (Ekko 1023).
On the West coast now with CHESTER SMITH, born in Wade, Oklahoma in 1930 – moved at an early age to California. He settled as a DJ during the latter part of the ’50s for the famous KTRB radio station out of Modesto and he had a long string of releases (many sacred ones) on the Capitol label. In 1957 he duetted with Del Reeves for a minor classic (does this song ring a bell? By Gene Vincent!), «Love, Love, Love» (valued at $ 100-150). We find him a couple of years later on the Riverbank, Ca. label Poppy and «Tennessee Saturday Night», a light country rocker. In the meantime he had also cut for Decca «You Gotta Move», which is clearly Rock’n’roll, as did the unissued-at-the-time «Rock Go Around».
More on the West coast by a great: SKEETS McDONALD . Two tracks out of a January 1955 session. Both are very good examples of shuffling, bouncing Hillbilly bop, «I Can’t Stand It Any Longer» and (my favorite of Skeets for years) «You’re Too Late“.