Early September 2016 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Back from Summer holidays, we begin with the incomparable MERLE TRAVIS with a little known opus cut on December 4, merle travis1952, « Louisiana boogie » (flipside « Bayou baby »), which permits the pianist Billy Liebert (long-time musician at Capitol sessions) to shine with a boogie 12-bar pattern. This side can be found on Capitol # 2902. Two fiddles are also heard, these of        « Buddy Roy » Roy and Margie Warren, while Travis is in good form both on guitar and vocals.

Louisiana boogie

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lou graham pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOU GRAHAM was one of the earlier rockabilly-style artists to show up on record, courtesy of Ivin Ballen’s Philadelphia-based Gotham Records. Born in rural North Carolina, and one of 10 children, his full name may have been Lou Graham Lyerly. He showed an early interest in country music, and following a hitch in the United States Navy, he entered radio as a singer and disc jockey. Vocally, he was similar to his somewhat older contemporary Hank Williams. Graham spent 18 months at WPWA in Chester, PA, he made the acquaintance of Bill Haley, leader of a locally-based country band called the Saddlemen, who helped Graham get a recording contract with Gotham. Graham cut “Two Timin’ Blues” and “Long Gone Daddy” at a 1951 session with an unknown backing band, but early the next

Please make up your fickle mind

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My heart tells me

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year, he was backed by Bill Haley‘s Saddlemen on a quartet of sides, “I’m Lonesome,” “Sweet Bunch of Roses“, “Please make up your fickle mind” and “My Heart Tell Me.” all issued on Gotham 429 and 433. Graham kept busy working as a deejay at WTNJ in Trenton, NJ, and on television as an announcer, on WDEL in Wilmington, DE. By the late 1950’s, he was also working regularly in nightclubs, parks, and western jamborees playing country and hillbilly music, playing on the same bills with Webb Pierce, Hank Thompson, and Ernest Tubb. In 1957, he made his most lasting contribution to recordings with his single “Wee Willie Brown” for the Coral Records label.

Salty Holmes and Jean Chapel

court. Imperial Anglares

 

SALTY (HOLMES) & MATTIE (O’Nell) had a long, long career, either as single artists, either in duet, like with this « Long time gone » (M-G-M # 11572, recorded July 7th, 1953). In fact, Salty only wails his harmonica, while Mattie has the vocal duty on this marvelous fast Hillbilly bopper (good picking guitar a la Merle Travis and a steel reminiscent of Hank Williams’ Don Helms). Of course Mattie O’Nell was also known (RCA, Sun) as JEAN CHAPEL.

 

 

 

Long time gone

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mgm salty & mattie gone

 

 

We jump in 1963 on the K-Ark label # 296 (Cincinnati, OH) with HARVEY HURT and his « Stayed away too long ». An aggressive vocal on the front of a chorus (handclaps during the solo), and a nice guitar+steel solos, make this a very agreeable record, even not listed in 45rpmrecords.com.

From Avery, Texas, Chucklin’ CHUCK SLOAN offers his « Too old to Rock’n’roll » (Cowtown # 806) cut in 1961 . A fast Rockabilly/Country-rock novelty issue : very, very fine guitar, indeed influenced by blues guitarists. The song appeared long ago on a Swedish Reb bootleg.

k-ark hurt - stayed

Stayed away too long

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Too old to Rock’n’roll

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More from Fort Worth, Texas in 1958 on Majestic (# 7581). J. B. BRINKLEY (aka Jay Brinkley) gives a splendid bluesy  « Buttermilk blues »: really biting and agile guitar, backed by a solid piano, over a powerful voiced singer.

Buttermilk blues

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 majestic Brinkley - buttermilk

Brinkley also had previously issues on Dot (# 15371 « Crazy crazy heart/Forces of evil » – both pop rockers) in March 1955, and Algonquin 712/3 (a New York label) (« Go slow baby », a fine bluesy rocker, with a thrilling guitar) in 1957, plus some instrumentals. first on Kliff 100 (1958) , the good « Guitar smoke » which reminds one of Bill Justis‘ monster « Raunchy » ; then on Roulette 4117 (« The creep/Rock and roll rhumba »).

Go slow baby

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Guitar smoke

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alconquin brinkley slowklliff brinkley smoke


Brinkley had actually begun his career as singer/guitarist fronting the Crystal Springs Ramblers in 1937 for « Tell me pretty mama », Vocalion 03707) with Link Davis on fiddle/sax, and a full Western swing combo. More with the Light Crust Doughboys in 1941, or backing (electric guitar) Patsy Montana for her 1941 Decca sessions. He even cut at a Al Dexter session in 1941. Seems he was in great demand..He was part of recordings in the Dallas/Fort Worth area by the number of litterally hundreds during the ’50s and ’60s. Just an example : Andy Starr on his Kapp sides (« Do it right know ») from 1957. The perfect replica to Houston’s Hal Harris !
vocalion crystal mama

Tell me pretty mama

download(addition on Jan. 19th, 207. Thanks to Pierre Monnery)

DAYTON HARP cut records as soon as 1952: his « Foot loose and fancy free » (Gilt-Edge 5038) is a good dayton harp bopper with excellent mandolin over a really ‘hillbilly’ vocal. He hailed from Florida, and he recorded there a duet (with Dot Anderson who gives Harp the replica) in 1958 for the Star label (# 695) « Man crazy woman » : a nimble guitar and a too short steel solo. A really good record. The flipside sees Harp alone : « You’re One in a million » is a fine uptempo ballad with the same instrumentation (really good guitar!). Both these tracks were issued as Starday customs.

Foot loose and fancy free

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Man crazy woman

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You’re one in a million

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gilt-edge harp- foot

 

star harp man star harp million (58)

 

Sources : the Capitol label discogaphy (Michel Ruppli a.o.) ; 45rpmrecords.com ; YouTube ; Terence Gordon’s Rockin’ Country Style ; 45-cat ; rocky52.net ; Tony Russell’s « Country music » (1921-1945) ; Bruce Elder’s Lou Graham biography on Allmusic.com.

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

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Johnny & RayMaybe I should have cheated too

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Ray SmithGone baby gone

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Ray SmithSwinging boogie

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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)

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David RayLonesome baby blues”(Kliff)

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David RayJitterbugging baby

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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

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David RayWhy can’t you and I

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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

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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

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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