Late March 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks ! This is late March 2020 fortnight’s favorites’ selection. 7 discs only this time but great ones, published between 1952 and 1961. Some originals, some covers.

Jack Turner

« Everybody’s Rockin’ but Me » is already a Rockablly classic of the genre as performed by BOBBY LORD in June 1956. Yet it had its original Hillbilly bopper in the hands of JACK TURNER, cut in Nashville April 1956. Topical lyrics (references to « Blue Suede Shoes » and « Alligators »), released by Hickory (# 1050). Turner was born in Haleyville, Alabama,in 1921 but had moved to Nashville in 1942, prior to marrying and entering in U.S. Navy. Later he became hooked to Hank Williams’ sound, and it was Williams’ mother, Mrs. Lilian Stone, who turned attention of Acuff-Rose editions to his songs.

Billboard Aust 8, 1956

Out of Cincinnati, Carl Burkhardt’s label Kentucky specialized in copying hits of the time. Here’s « Detour » (1952, (Kentucky 561) which was first cut by West coast Jimmy Walker {see his story elsewhere in this blogqite}and became a standard. So the song is copied here Hillbilly bop style : guitar, steel and double vocal.

Later on the Echo Valley Boys did the backing to Bill Browning on Island Records.

Melvin Endsley was more known for his compositions given to others; nevertheless he made some few very good records on his own.

Melvin Endsley

Here he performs the strong rocker “I Like Your Kind Of Love” (1957), backed by the cream of Nashville’s musicians. Later on, a nice sincere ballad “Sarted Out A-Walkin'” (1961). The detail has some importance, since one knows that Endsley was confined to a wheel-chair (polo).

Jerry Newton

Jerry & Wayne Newton, Virginia born (Roanake) went rarly at music (listening on Grand Ole Opry) and practicing very yon steel and guitar. Later, their family relocated in Arizona and soon they aired from a station in Phoenix. They even had their first record as The Rhythm Rascals on the Rnger label. How they came to the attention of an ABC talent scout is open to speculation. “Baby, Baby, Baby” is a showcase of their talent on electric guitar and steel. They were later booked with a long-term contract in Vegas.

The Armstrong Twins

Lloyd (guitar) and Floyd (mandolin) were exact twins, out of Little Rock, Arkansas, where they had their own radio show. In 1947 they relocated in California and soon appeared on Cliffie Stone show; around the same time they began to cut records for Four Star. “Alabama Baby” (1386) is a fast vocal duet, an impeccable tempo; solos of fiddle and mandolin: a really stomping thing.

Carl Story

CARL STORY had a long steer of sacred recordings (Old Homestead), but he failed too to the Rockabilly/Country Boogie craze with this disc “You’ve Been Tom Cattin’ Around” (Columbia 21444 – one of the very last items in the 20 000 serie). Good boogie guitar, a driving chanter.September 1955.

Sources: Willem Agenant (20 000 Columbia serie); DJM album notes to “Hillbilly Rock” (Jack Turner’s personnel); YouTube Hillbilly Boogie1 (Echo Valley Boys); Praguefrank (Bobby Lord disco); KarlHeinz Focke (“Jumpin’ Charlie”) for Melvin Endsley soundfiles.

Early March 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks ! This fortnight is the penultimate of Winter and includes real goodies and rarities.

Arvis McRae – The Texas Keys

First artist in question hailed from the East of Texas, and recorded for the Texarcana label Ranger. ARVIS Mc RAE released at an unknown date (altough stylistic evidence and the absence of drums do lean towards mi-’50s) one brillant « Me And My Love » (Ranger 823). A fine bopper, solid vocal, a demented fiddle and a short but good rockabilly guitar, all these combine for a fabulous tune. By contrast, McRae’s version of Hank Williams’ « Long Gone Lonesome Blues » (Ranger 2074) sounds average, only one clip (1’54) being preserved.

Bobby Lord

Bobby Lord took the song note-for-note, and copied even growls and hollers from Jackson (who fooled Blues afficinados thinking he was a Black artist). Jackson’s original was a fast number, sounded very rural, gravely voice and acoustc guitars. So Lord recognized his debt : if copying is the best tribute one can pay, so Lord offered the best one coud ask for : « No More – No More – No More!» (Columbia 21339 issued December 1954).

BOBBY LORD was a newcomer when he was signed by Columbia late 1954. He came from the Tampa, Flo . area, and brought a song he had learnt from another Floridian, Andy Boyett ; Originally the song was titled « Colored Boy Blues », then changed to « Go Way From My Door » when recorded by Boyett on Mercury 8127 in 1949 as Monroe ‘Moe’ Jackson.

Lawson Rudd

Out of Kingstone, Indiana comes the next artist, LAWSON RUDD. His only delivery on disc was « Shake This Town » . Lazy vocal, unobstrusive chorus. A good mid-paced bopper on Harvest 709 from 1960, valued $ 100-150. His second issue, « Old Love Letters » has only a soundfile. A slow opus, weeping vocal and great fiddle. Label scan untraced.

Paul Howard & his Arkansas Cotton Pickers

« Texas Boogie » by PAUL HOWARD & his Arkansas Cotton Pickers is indeed a great piano pounding tune with a Western feel to it, and a long fiddle solo, to be found on King 779 (April 1949). Vocal part was done by Red Perkins (see in this site his story).
This track has apparently nothing to do with the song of Gene O’Quin (Capitol 1708, from 1951): different composers.

Clay Allen & the Cimarron Boys

CLAY ALLEN & the Cimarron Boys cut on Decca first (# 46324 in 1951): an uptempo shuffle, a discreet fiddle and a bit steel backing Allen well to the fore in « Evalina ». Eight years later as part of the duet « The Country Dudes », he appeared on the Azalea (# 112)
label out of Houston for « Have A Ball » . A solid country rocker, with staccato guitar and implacable loud drums.

Sally Lee

SALLY LEE next does deliver on Royaty 304 a fine bopper, the rollicking « Table Hoppin’ Blues » : very solid piano, an assured vocal – a reat discovery for you !

We come to an end with « (Looks Like) Our Hearts Are Out Of Tune » on R 515 from 1961 by LARRY GOOD ; A pretty melody for a good number. A welcome steel all throughout the song.

Larry Good

Sources: Gripsweat for Arvis McRae’s clip; Ultra Rare Rockabillies for Lawson Rudd; King Project for Paul Howard; YouTube for Clay Allen; Bopping’ Hillbilly 10 fr Sally Lee; my own archives for Larry Good among others.

Leroy Jenkins, “Hard Time Hard Luck Blues” = Texas Hillbilly Bop and Ballads (1949-1954)

Payne leon profile

Leon Payne

Leroy Jenkins headThe image of the blind troubadour is a familiar one in Country music’s history. For many born this way, or struck down with blindness in infancy, music was their only tangible means to forge an independant path through life. Perhaps the most famous blind troubadour in Country, in the post years at least, was Leon Payne. Although he achieved more success through his songwriting than his own recordings. Equally prolific on the songwriting front, yet denied the Jenkins Leroy standing same degree of success, was Leroy Jenkins : he was born on July 28, 1921 in Texas. Only six months old he turned blind. From the age of seven he attended the Texas School for the Blind in Austin. Here he learned to play the guitar. In 1942 he entered “Abilene Christian College”, to become a priest, meanwhile preaching in churches in the neighborhood. A year later he quit college and moved in with his wife, a blind woman he recently had married. He wanted to become an artist and he and his wife moved to Dallas, Texas. He found a job in a nightclub where he sang and played guitar with fellow artists. He was a popular act and consequently he was offered a contract to host his own show at a local radio station.

In 1946 he had his first success when he wrote the song “Tell Me Now Or Tell Me Never”, which Roy Acuff recorded for Columbia (# 37099). He was then part of Miss Ludy & her Crazy Gang who were performing on KRLD, Dallas.Columbia Acuff tell

Tell me now or tell me never

billboard Jenkins 1946

Billboard November 9, 1946

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talent Jenkins timedJenkins made his first recordings in September 1949 for the Talent label from Dallas [it’s unclear if it concerns the famous Star Talent/Talent label, which had only a 600/700 serie]. It’s however likely these recordings were made at Jim Beck’s studios in Dallas.

You two timed me three timed me

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Beck was a key figure in the development of country music in Dallas. Another question appears when it comes to master # (BB 164/165) for « You two timed me three timed me » and « Forever and ever », as these numbers do seem Blue Bonnet (another Dallas label) cuts. Note that the B-side was also given at an earlier stage of research (by Al Turner) as another version of Wayne Raney’s « Why don’t you haul off and love me ».

Too fat boogie

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Next Jenkins record with his Texas Showboys was made also in Dallas for the Jim Beck’s own Dude label (# 1507), and « Too fat boogie » is a hillbilly bop romper. Note that the flipside “If I could buy your love” (untraced) was cowritten with Beck and (apparently) Riley Crabtree.

dude Jenkins fatdude Jenkins buy

Nevertheless it was probably Beck who arranged an audition for Leroy with Columbia’s A&R man Don Law.

Leroy Jenkins signed his Columbia contract on March 1, 1951. It was a contract for one year and four songs. He would get 2% of 90% of the sales. There were two options for an additional year against 3%.

On March 13, 1951 he had his first Columbia session in Beck’s studio. Four powerful songs were recorded of which « Hard time hard luck blues » (# 20815) was a strong rhythm-guitar led country-blues tune. Its flipside however was a weeper, « I’m crying but nobody cares».

Hard time hard luck blues

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I’m crying but nobody caresjim beck & law

billboard 1951 Jenkins

Billboard June 9, 1951

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The remaining tracks of this first recording session were “Time Passes By” and “Please Don’t Tell Me That You Love Me” (# 20853) both weepers, although good examples of classic honky tonk ballads out of Texas in the early ’50s. During his second and final Columbia session (8/2/51) again four songs were recorded. Out of the 4 tracks, the two weepers « You’re talking to a broken heart » (# 20931) and « Don’t be a home breaker » (# 20878) were striking a balance between the two uptempos « I just don’t know » and most of all the fast « Tennessee sunshine ». Jenkins of course wrote all of his material.

I just don’t knowcolumbia Jenkins know

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columbia Jenkins breakerDon’t be a home breaker

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billboard Jenkins 1952

Billboard, April 26, 1952

Tennessee sunshine

downloadcolumbia Jenkins Tennessee

His four records in the 20000 series didn’t have any commercial success and Columbia didn’t exercise the options. Jenkins stayed in Dallas until 1954, writing over a hundred songs.

He had a final record on Flair [Texas small label, not the big California R&B concern]flair Jenkins wagon

Why don’t you get on the woo wagon with me

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The girl on page 83

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# 1013 circa 1953/54. The strong shuffler « Why don’t you get on the woo wagon with me » was paired with the equally good « The girl on page 83 ». At an unknown date, he was affiliated with Nashville’s WLAC radio station.

jenkins WLAC Nashville

After that last record Jenkins disappeared from the music scene, and maybe returned to priesthood. He died December 18, 1990, and must not be confused either with the jazz violinist, or the Ohio televangelist of the same name. Nor of course with current artist Leeroy Jenkins.

Sources : 78rpm for label scans (thanks to Ronald Keppner) ; W. Agenant’s site « Columbia 20000 » for Columbia sides ; also his biography of L. Jenkins was of great help, as Al Turner’s in Hillbilly Researcher # 10 ; Uncle Gil Rockin’ Archives for Dude and Flair sides; Roots Vinyl Guide for some label scans. My own researches (photographs, various data, personal appreciations and additions).

Late December 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks ! This is the last 2019 fortnight’s favorites selection. It’s been another 23 this year : one per fortnight, usually showing up 8 to 10 records (a short reckoning gives a total sum bewteen 175 and 240 records, mainly uncommon or frankly obscure). The greats are too well-known, and I have a preference for so many Unknown Soldiers of bopping music, who made but one record, generally not a second one – but they gave us Country boogie (or bopping ballads) of very high content and level. This time you will have 10 records cut between late ’40s and 1968.

Both sides of 4 Star 1286 were selected by the West coastian AL VAUGHN, who offers fine crossings between Hillbilly and Western bop. He was backed by the cream of California musicians for a typical late 1940’s sound. « I Can’t Believe You (Cause You Lied) », a lovely uptempo, has a lazy backing, a steel prominent, and a relaxed vocal. The flip, « Why Kid Myself About You » is a faster side.

Does the second artist need an introduction ? BILL HALEY & the Saddlemen was rocking the Western country in 1951 for already several years. Actually they deliberately copied black music for White people. Here’s, from July 1951, their great rendition of the Jackie Brenston/Ike Turner’s hit « Rocket 88 » on Holiday 105 out of Pennsylvania. Solid swooping piano, car effects ; even Haley has already his breathless voice. A fabulous Country boogie ! Later on he went in the same format on Essex (« Rock The Joint »).

Out of Texas, JOHNNY HICKS (born in Missouri in 1918) was not a newcomer when he cut at the tail end of 1951 in Dallas, Tx. (Seller’s studio) for Columbia the fine « Rainy Night Blues » (# 20900) ; he was backed by the great ubiquitous Paul Blunt on steel, Lefty Perkins on lead guitar, and received his band chorus for this bluesy opus. Actually as a D.J. he entertained listeners of KRIM, later of KRLD for 5 or 6 years before, and was going to launch as co-producer the Big D Jamboree. He’d retire in Salina, Ca. and entertained on KTOM before his death in 1977, aged only 59.

All the remaining tunes will have a distinct ’60s feel.

EARL WATKINS issued in 1960 on Rem # 307 a fast bopper in Cincinnati, Oh, « One Night Of Happiness » : a strong rhythm guitar, a fiddle solo – a too short guitar solo. A record worth watching for.

« Trucker’s Lament » was released on the chanteur’s own label in Cleveland, Oh. in 1965. FRANK BELL releases a strong countryish song.

In 1965 (on the Tamm label # 2015 – unknown location) NORMAN WOOD did deliver his « Black Lake Boogie » : a great rocker, with bluesy voice and bass chords played guitar (a solo). Another record to look for.

Finally out of Franklin, Pa. in 1965, on the Process label # 129, here’s a vocal duet given by HOWARD (NICK) FOLEY & the Rambling Esquires : « If You’ll Be Mine I’ll Treat You Kind » has an harmonica, a mandolin, a banjo – the whole thing is bordering Bluegrass music.

Cousin Zeke

COUSIN ZEKE, out of Memphis, Tn. in 1968 offers on the Tri-State label (# 1924) what it appears to be an adult-only record. « Get Your Fingers Out Of It » is labelled « Party Record ». It’s a stop-and-go type fast song – voice does sound old – lot of echo on the guitar – loud drums. The flipside, « Lover Man Minus Sex Appeal » is more Countryish : steel and guitar – same ‘old’ voice. A very good record for the era.

That’s all folks. Have a nice Christmas and a bopping New Year.

Sources : YouTube, Gripsweat, Ronald Keppner for rare Al Vaughn 78rpm ; Will Agenant « Columbia 20000 serie » for Johnny Hicks ; 45cat and 78worlds for labels.

Early December 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Howdy, folks ! This is the latest batch of bopping goodies – and the penultimate 2019 selection. You will have to be comprehensive with label scans, that don’t match the usual bopping.org criteria : as a matter of fact I am experiencing the latest Photoshop version and not completely familiar with it. Anyway the music is still intact and ready for listening/downloading. So let’s go.

Ted Daffan’s Texans

TED DAFFAN (1912-1996) was a bandleader and prolific songwriter (and steel guitar player) since the mid-30s. Backed by his Texans, he wrote many hits and classics: just one among others, the abundantly revised later « Born To Lose » from 1941. Here he is with « Car Hop Blues », orginally published on Okeh 6452, then reissued in June 1947 on Columbia 37438 then 20165 : a fine shuffler, indeed adorned by Daffan’s steel, plus accordion and a bluesy guiar. The vocal is done by the disillusioned Chuck Keeshan. A short note : Daffan had his own label in ’55-’58, which released fine records by Jerry Irby « Clickety Clack »), Jerry Jericho (« These Hands »), Fidlo (« Triflin’ Heart ») or William Penix « Dig That Crazy Driver » .

Jimmie Ballard

As vocalist for Buffalo Johnson & His Herd on Kentucky 520 (1950, Cincinnati), JIMMIE BALLARD cut the two risqué « Tappin’ Boogie » and « T’ain’t Big Enough ». Great boppers, the fastest being the A-side – great walking bass for a combination of guitar and steel over a non-sense vocal. The B-side is slowier, although equally good.

Billboard Sept. 27th, 1952

Billboard, Dec. 20th, 1952

This time two years later on King, as JIMMY BALLARD, he once more had very fine records. The double-sided « I Want A Bow-Legged Woman » and « Shes Got Something » are both superior boppers, drums present – actually pre-rockabilly tunes. Nice steel and vocally fluent.(King 1118). His later amusing « The Creek’s Gone Muddy (And The Fish Won’t Bite ») (# 1143) is done in a similar style. The agile guitar player in these sides could be the great Al Myers, who adorned several days before a Bob Newman session (« Phht ! You Were Gone »).

Adam Colwell, Tex White & the Country Cousins

Less and less known are both next artists. ADAM COLWELL is delivering in 1962 (Cincinnati) the fast « Open the Door » (some chorus, but great steel) on Ark 219, while TEX WHITE — is doing a medium nice uptempo on Nayco 2526 (location and date unknown – do you have any clue, Drunken Hobo?) with « You’re Wasting Your Tears ».

“Little Willie” Littlefield

Finally we got fabulous piano walking basses and tremendous high-pitched notes by LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD : his first record from 1948 on Houston’s Eddie’s 1202, « Little Willie’s Boogie » is very reminiscent of Amos Milburn great Aladdin wildies like « My Baby’s boogeing » or « Amo’s Boogie » ; Littlefield’s « Jim Wilson Boogie » on Federal 12221 is done in the same style.

Sources : HBR « Kentucky label » ; Will Agenant « Columbia 20000 serie » for Ted Daffan ; King Hillbilly Project (Jimmy Ballard) ; Gripsweat (Tex White, Adam Colwell) ; my own archives.