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.

Late October 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hello, this is the late October 2019 favorites’ selection, and very different things this time.

These are two tracks of the nearest JIMMY MURPHY ever bordered to Rockabilly. A veteran (his 1951 sides on RCA-Victor) of Country bluesy sides, with an appeal to religious ones, like « Electricity ».(RCA 21-0447), and his two-sided November 1955 « Here Kitty Kitty »/ »I’m Looking For A Mustard Patch » (Columbia 21486) sounded (with Onie Wheeler on harmonica) as if they had been recorded in..1945. That was the main problem for Jimmy Murphy, always behind the times. Nevertheless great acoustic guitar and assured,vocal. A must for Rockabilly fans.

Next HANK CADWELL and the Saddle Kings on the West coast D’Oro label (# 103) do come with a Western swing tinged opus, « Alibi » from late ’40s : accordion solo, fiddle solo, lovely assured vocal and chorus.

Then ABE LINK, or A. BLINK (he went under both names) on the Ohio Canton label. « Skeleton Bookie », « and the Western Spotlighters » (S.T.R.C Canton 106) has beautiful steel effects for a Halloween (?) disc, while « Yodelin’ Blues » (Canton 107) is very different. A classic shuffling bopper from 1955. Lot of yodel of course, and a lot less steel.

We jump to 1961 for a male duet. A nice country-rocker by PHIL BEASLEY and CHARLEY BROWN on the Briar (# 111) label, from unknown location. « Good Gosh Gal » has loud drums, and a nice guitar throughout (a fine solo).

On the B.W. label (location unknown), here’s KENNY BIGGS (B.W. 615) for a nice Country-rocker « There’s No Excuse » (early ’60s). One expects in this very melodic tune some chorus (very unobstrusive if ever present).

Col. Tom Parker paid the Norfolk, Va. and Jacksonville, Fl. radio stations not to play PHIL GRAY’s disc on Rhythm 101, and even gathered the copies to destroy from a too Elvisy (Sun style) Rockabilly. He even had done to prevent Gene Vincent to be unplayed in vain. Gray was 15 years old when he cut « Pepper Hot Baby » and « Bluest Boy In Town ». Great guitar, Elvis-style hiccups (the song is like « Baby Let’s Play House »), a real success. This disc is so rare that a copy, when it comes on auction, may get as high as $ 3000 !

Finally a romper with AMOS MILBURN and his great rendition of the Don Raye’s classic, « Down The Road Apiece » (Aladdin 161, 1946-47). Great vocal, fabulous boogie piano.

Sources : YouTube ; 45cat, 78worlds, various compilations, W. Agenant « Columbia 20000 » serie, Gripsweat (A. Blink)

Fred Kirby, the N. Carolina Troubadour (1937-1952)



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cliff Carlisle & guitar

Cliff Carlisle

Fred (Frederick Austin) Kirby was born on July 19, 1910 in Charlotte, North Carolina. His father worked as a preacher and he had nine brothers and sisters. When he was a kid, Fred’s mother taught North Carolina maphim to play the guitar, and she later also helped him to master the fiddle. Fred became involved in the music business by accident: in 1927, while living in Florence, South Carolina, he joined his nephew to visit a friend at local radiostation WBT, and while singing some of his songs in the lobby of the station, Fred got noticed by a WBT employee. Fred was hired on the spot to make regular appearances on one of the station’s shows, and would remain to work for almost 20 years. In the early 1930s Fred lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he worked with people like Cliff Carlisle and with bands like “The Briarhoppers”, “The Smiling Cowboys” and “The Carolina Boys”.fred Kirby pic

Fred’s first recordings date from 1932 for the ARC label, but none of them have ever been released. In 1936 Fred signed with Victor’s Bluebird. His first recordings with Bluebird were “I’m A Gold Diggin Papa” and “The Lonesome Lullaby“. Next year he’d cut a session for Bluebird with Cliff Carlisle, which saw him duetting with Carlisle for « Cowboy’s Dying Dream ». It was even released in U.K. on Regal Zonophone. In 1938 Fred got signed by Decca where he recorded 16 songs. Quite a prolific artist in those days..Everyone then was yodeling, from Jimmie Rodgers to Gene Autry; so also did Kirby.

I’m A Gold Diggin’ Paparegal Kirby cowboy'sbluebird Kirby diggin'

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“Cowboy’s Dying Dream”

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In 1939 he and Don White, a musician from West Virginia with whom he had gotten acquainted in the early 1930s, moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to work for radiostation WLM as the “Carolina Playboys”. The following year, Fred moved to St. Louis to join radiostation KMOX. In St. Louis he gained local fame for selling over 5 million dollars worth US War Bonds during the war

In 1943 Fred moved back to Charlotte, North Carolina and returned to his previous employer : WBT radio. Shortly after, he and Don White regrouped as the Carolina Playboys and in the years after the War they both recorded for the Sonora label, both as the Carolina Playboys and separately. It was with Sonora that Fred recorded his most successful song, “Atomic Power” (Sonora 7008) in May 1946: that song was later recorded by many other artists, including Rex Allen and Red Foley. Later on Kirby released a Decca issue, «  Precious Lord I’ll Be There  » (Decca 46083), giving an indication of his forthcoming career, secular as well as religious.

sonora Kirby atomicKirby standing corralAtomic Power”

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 During 1949, he was approached by M-G-M executives and signed a contract for 4 tunes to be recorded. The very best of them were the coupling of M-G-M 10474, the energetic «  Juke Box Jackson From Jacksonville  » and the amusing «  My Little Dog Loves Your Little Dog  ».m-g-m Kirby Jacksonville

Juke Box Jackson From Jacksonville”m-g-m Kirby dog

My Little Dog Loves Your Little Dog”

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Next year, on July 25, 1950 Fred signed a contract with Columbia to record 4 songs during the very same year. His first recording session was done some ten days later, on August 4 and Columbia released all four songs that were recorded on that occasion. «  My Zig Zaggin’ Baby  » (Columbia 20764) and «  My Red Hot Potato  » were good boppers (fine guitar).

Columbia Kirby zig“My Zig Zaggin’ Baby”Columbia Kirby potato


Cash Box Feb. 9th, 1950

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“My Red Hot Potato”

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In June 1951 Columbia prolonged Fred’s recording contract for another year, but it wasn’t until July 9, 1952 before Fred did another recording session. During that session, eight songs were recorded Columbia Kirby souland six of them were actually released by Columbia., among them the religious bopper «  My Soul Is Not For Sale  », also «  When The Devil Sends His Columbia Kirby devilCalling Card  » (Columbia 21056) ; “We’re No Longer Sweethearts” and “A Pocket Full Of Candy” remained unissued. This 1952 session turned out to be his last one for Columbia: due to the lack of success of his records, Columbia decided not to renew his contract. Later on Fred had a release on Gotham (a NYC/Philadelphia label) with the evergreen “Wreck Of The Old 97” (# 404), a very good version.l

My Soul Is Not For Sale”Gotham Kirby wreck

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When The Devil Sends His Calling Card”

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“Wreck Of The Old 97”

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In the early 1950s Fred again started working for WBT radio, but this time he mainly concentrated on radioshows for the younger audience. Later, when television became more popular he was very successfully as a producer and presenter of specialised kiddie shows: his “Junior Rancho” would run for over 20 years. Nevertheless, Fred’s radiowork lasted even longer: his shows were broadcasted until the spring of 1991. In the 1990s, Fred’s health progressively declined: he suffered from Parkinsons disease, which eventually forced him to move to a nursing home where he died on April 22, 1996.

 

Sources: biography mainly from W. Agenant “Columbia 20000 serie”; additions from “hillbilly-music.com”; pictures from google. Soundfiles and label scans from the indefatigable Ronald Keppner: my warmest thanks to him, whom the feature could not have been written and completed without. ; also some help from UncleGil Rockin’ archives. The rest is a matter of time and…love! Please leave a comment below!

Late April 2019 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hello, folks ! Hello to past visitors ; hi ! to new ones. This is the late April 2019 fortnight’s selection.

Henry McPeak

Let’s begin with a Starday custom record issued mid-1959 by HENRY McPEAK on the HG label (# 771). McPeak was born 1929 in Snowville, Va. « I Feel Like Yelling » is a fast bopper : lots of guitar ( a great solo picking), an assured vocal (which reminds me of The Lonesome Drifter, alias Tommy Johnson). McPeak had another disc the next year on HG # 851 with « When You Kissed Me »: very different, more melodic. Again that good guitar, even a Rockabilly solo. The record goes on sale from $ 280 to 380.

Bob Burton

BOB BURTON next (aided by Rex Jennings and Shorty Ashford) delivers on Harry Glenn’s owned Mar-Vel 952 (issued 1954 in Hammond, IN) the good « Forty Acres Of My Heart » : a fast fiddle solo and a short steel solo. The three musicians join unison in the chorus. Of course, Burton had other good records on Mar-Vel as « Boogie Woogie Baby Of Mine » (Mar-Vel 951) or « Tired Of Rockin’ » (Mar-Vel 953, 1956).

Johnny Dollar

Next was issued in 1961 on the D label # 1185. Good bopper is « Crawling Back To You » by JOHNNY DOLLAR, great steel led on a fast number. Dollar (his real name), despite many a good record, never got it big, and remained a minor artist. He had several occupations : truck driver, life insurance salesman, lumber yard man among others when he could. He was also dee-jaying (thanks Merle Kilgore) on Shreveport’s KZAE, and finally cut for D, aided by Shelby Singleton.

Johnny Bond

An oldie (1950) on Columbia 20704 now : JOHNNY BOND was a constant Bopper in the early ’50s with things like this « Mean Mama Boogie », cut on the West coast. Great harmonica by Jerry Adler, a little guitar by Jerry Scoggins ; Bond is in particularly good voice.

Jim Oertling

On the Hammond label and as late as 1965, here’s JIM OERTLING & the Bayou Boys for two selections. « Old Moss Back » (# 267) has a terrific guitar intro, an urgent vocal and a fine guitar solo. « Back Forty » (# 268) is a mid-tempo with nice vocal and a Rockabilly guitar solo.

Tommy Elliott

Finally back in the early 50s with TOMMY ELLIOTT and the Line Riders. « Same Dog Bit Me » was released on Texas Time label (# 130) and is a hillbilly bopper, fast fiddle-led with a nice upright bass.

Sources : YouTube ; Notes to D Singles vol. 1 (BF) ; the autobiography of Johnny Bond (a JEMF book) ; «Ohio river » for Bob Burton details ; 78-worlds for Tommy Elliott.