Late November 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

The first of 7 artists is the Virginian KED KILLEN on the mythic (in Bluegrass circles) Rich-R’-Tone label (# 1064, from 1953). With the tight accompaniment of the Bright Brothers, he delivers « Crying Blues » : bluesy hillbillly bop, with wailing vocal and a very great guitar ; hooking rhythm. The flip is a fast bopper, with the same type of vocal : « No End To My Loving You ». Killen can also be found on Kyva (Kentucky-Virginia) # 707 (« You Better Take Time », elsewhere in this site), a Starday custom from 1957, as in the ’60s on Western Ranch.

From Memphis, 1957, a classic « I’ve Got Love If You Want It » by WARREN SMITH (Sun 286), crisp lead guitar (Al Hopson or Roland Janes). Typical Sun rockabilly rocker. The original had been done by Slim Harpo on Excello (swamp blues).

SMILEY WILSON next (Hamilton, K. Wilson – 1922-1988) for two tunes very, very different. On the Nashville Republic label # 7033 (cut in October 1953, according to Billboard), he launched « Barnyard Blues », an heavy bluesy, R&B influenced song ; nice vocal and insistent guitar. On now to April 1947 on the Apollo label (# 141) for the funny « Red Silk Stockings And Green Perfume », a fast typical late 40s Hillbilly which combines accordion, steel and fiddle + a short guitar solo. Wilson was a native of Gadsden, Alabama, as the well-known (at last to me, nd you faithful readers!) Lee Bonds.

« Hog Tied And Branded » (Columbia 21391, recorded or released April 1955) by BONNIE SLOAN (b. 1937). Here she is backed by the Town Hall Party Gang of Los Angeles, for example Joe Maphis on guitar and Fiddlin’ Kate (you know what she’s playing). Energetic vocal, and a welcome banjo. Typical mid-50s Country music, however she never got it big.

The next artist, CLIFF GROSS, had worked as early as 1931 with the Hi-Flyers : he was a mountain style fiddler. He recorded in duet on Conqueror. Here we find him on the Kentucky Dixiana label (# 105) « and his Texas Cowboys », (probably recorded in Dallas) for the great fast talking blues « Hog Pen Hop » in 1954 : a hot bopper with accordion and steel (short fiddle and guitar solos too).

From Mobile, Alabama, in 1959- or shortly later, here’s JOHNNY FOSTER for a great Rock-a-balllad, « Locked Away From Your Heart » on Sandy 1028. Great haunting vocal, fine steel, good piano and fiddle. Later Foster went on Capa.

Then a Rockabilly/rocker « I’ll Keep On Lovin’ You » by the VARIATONES. An average rocker, late ’50s or early ’60s, without something really cracking. Production by Billy Harlan. Is this the « I Wanna Bop » artist (Brunswick 55066)?

sources : my own archives ; Martin Hawkins notes for Warren Smith, Smiley Wilson – picture from « A shot in the dark) ; Bonnie Sloan from Columbia 20000 serie (thanks W. Agenant) ; a Tom Sims cassette for Johnny Foster .

Late September 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Hello folks, back from Summer holidays ? En route for the late September 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites’ selection.

Doug Poindexter

June 1954, exactly 18. A newcomer with his first recording. DOUG POINDEXTER came from Vendale, Arkansas. Several months ago, as he had went to Memphis, he had been noticed by a guitar player, Scotty Moore – surely the name rings a bell – and hired as front guitar man of his group, the Starlight Wranglers. His voice was very nasal, without doubt as imitation of his idol Hank Williams. On this day, he cut two sides, whose I retain « Now She Cares No More» under the producer Sam Phillips, hence Sun 202.

The record, albeit reviewed by the famous Cash Box magazine, went nowhere, and Poindexter earned his life later as a successful insurance man. « Now She Cares… » is pure hillbilly bop heaven. Fiddle and steel to the fore, and heavy bass (Bill Black). Less than 2 weeks later Black and Moore backed young Elvis. The rest is history.

Bobby Wayne

From the Washington State in 1963, here’s the very Johnny Cash styled BOBBY WAYNE. « Big Train » first on Jerden 709. During the flipside, « The Valley », the guitarist even adopts Luther Perkins (Cash’ guitarist) licks. Good vocal on both sides, and discrete chorus.

In the December 2016 fortnight I came with Californian Western swing artist EDDIE DEAN and his « Rock’n’Roll Cowboy » on Sage from 1957. Here is a quieter thing (Sage 188) : « Impatient Blues » as its name doesn’t imply is a bluesy thing, nice steel and a bit of crooning.

Eddie And Chuck

« The Louisiana Ramblers », EDDIE AND CHUCK came in 1954 with a bouncing thing, « Boogie The Blues » on the Chicago Chance label (# 3012). Weird and savage steel, great vocal and solid bass. How they were acquainted with an otherwise Blues/jazz label (1100 serie with already known artists like Wllie Nix – ex- Sun Records, or J.B. Hutto) is open to conjecture.

These sides were not unknown to Stan Lewis, owner of KWKH in Shreveport, La., who also acted as talent scout for Northern companies : Dale Hawkins and Sonny Boy Williamson came from his stable of artists and were recruited by Chess/Checker.Chance had apparently a 3000-C&W serie, but I never ever heard of any more record than this in this serie.

Dottie Jones & Winston O’Neal

A real male/female duet now with DOTTIE JONES & WINSTON O’NEAL. A fast bopper , « I’ll Be Yours » has a prominent guitar – the solo comes a la Carl Perkins ! To be found on TNT 134 (San Antonio, Texas).

From unknown source, I picked up on YouTube a nice slice of fast Hillbilly bop wih « Me And My Fiddle » by BENNY MARTIN, apparently in 1954-55. Martin cut records on Pioneer, Mercury and M-G-M. One one side he was backed with  »Hilllous Butrum & his Tennessee Partners », ex-bass player for Hank Williams, and was of rural Tennessee extraction. Nevertheless a very fine Hillbilly bopper.

Cliff Waldon & his Westernaires

Not owning Boppin’ Hillbilly vol. 15, I can’t say nothing about CLIFF WALDON & His Westernaires. His « My Baby Doll », issued on Mark 107, has an agile fiddle (+ solo), a great steel, even a bass solo. Vocal is OK for this fast Bopper.

Cash Box Aug. 31, 1957

CashBox June 25, 1955

Is there any need of presenting the MADDOX BROS. & ROSE ? I chose two tracks from their mostly creative period (Columbia, 1952 onwards). « No More Time » is a fast opus, which is still near to their Four Star product. « I’ve Got Four Big Brothers (To Look After Me ) » has Rose on lead vocal, with funny lyrics, in a true Rockabilly : Columbia 21405 from June 1955.

Sources : YouTube for Benny Martin ; W. Agenant’s Columbia 20000 serie » for the Maddox tracks ; Eddie & Chuck from various good compilations ; Bobby Wayne from 45cat. Starlite Wranglers image from “706 Union Avenue” site. My own archives.S

Early September 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

For early September fornight’s favorites, Very different things this time, from 1947 to 1961.

Al Rogers With his Rocky Mountain Boys

Al Rogers and his “The Hydrogen Bomb” do come from June 1947. Rogers was a native from Pennsylvania (later on WKPA radio). During WWII, he entertained the troops in the Pacific. Later he relocated in Amarillo, Texas. From 1946 onwards, he was back on WJAS in Pittsburg, Pa.

For early September fornight’s favorites, Very different things this time, from 1947 to 1961.

June 1954, exactly 18. A newcomer with his first recording. DOUG PONDEXTER came from Vendale, Arkansas. Several months ago, as he had went to Memphis, he had been noticed by a guitar player, Scotty Moore – surely the name rings a bell – and hired as front guitar man of his group, the Starlight Wranglers. His voice was very nasal, without doubt as imitation of his idol Hank Williams. On this day, he cut two sides, whose I retain « Now She Cares No More For Me » under the producer Sam Phillips, hence Sun 202. The record, albeit reviewed by the famous Cash Box magazine, went nowhere, and Poindexter earned his life later as a successful insurance man. « Now She Cares… » is pure hillbilly bop heaven. Fiddle and steel to the fore, and heavy bass (Bill Black). Less than 2 weeks later Black and Moore backed young Elvis. The rest is history.

Doug Poindexter with the Starlight Wranglers

Bobby Wayne

From the Washington State in 1963, here’s the very Johnny Cash styled BOBBY WAYNE. « Big Train » first on Jerden 709. During the flipside, « The Valley », the guitarist even adopts Luther Perkins’ (Cash guitarist) licks. Good vocal on both sides, and discrete chorus.

In the December 2016 fortnight I came with Californian Western swing artist EDDIE DEAN and his « Rock’n’Roll Cowboy » on Sage from 1957. Here is a quieter thing (Sage 188) : « Impatient Blues » as its name doesn’t imply is a bluesy thing, nice steel and a bit of crooning.

Cash Box March 3, 1955

Eddie & Chuck, the Louisiana Ramblers

« The Louisiana Ramblers », EDDIE AND CHUCK came in 1954 with a bouncing thing, « Boogie The Blues » on the Chicago Chance label (# 3012). Weird and savage steel, great vocal and solid bass. How they were acquainted with an otherwise Blues/jazz label (1100 serie with already known artists like Wllie Nix – ex- Sun Records, or J.B. Hutto) is open to conjecture. May I put forward this ? These sides were not unknown to Stan Lewis, owner of KWKH in Shreveport, La., who also acted as talent scout for Northern companies : Dale Hawkins and Sonny Boy Williamson came from his stable of artists and were recruited by Chess/Checker.Chance had apparently a 3000-C&W serie, but I never ever heard of any more record than this in this serie.

Cash Box, Feb. 15, 1954

A real male/female duet now with DOTTIE JONES & WINSTON O’NEAL. A fast bopper , « I’ll Be Yours » has a prominent guitar – the solo comes a la Carl Perkins ! To be found on TNT 134 (San Antonio, Texas).

From an unknown source, I picked up on YouTube a nice slice of fast Hillbilly bop wih « Just Me And My Fiddle » by BENNY MARTIN, apparently in 1954-55 on Pioneer 630. Martin cut records on Pioneer, Mercury and M-G-M. On one side he was backed with  »Hilllous Butrum & his Tennessee Partners », ex-bass player for Hank Williams, and was of rural Tennessee extraction. Nevertheless a very fine Hillbilly bopper.

span style=”color:#77OOO”

TONY DOUGLAS was released in 1958 on the very first D label records (# 1205, issued June 1958). « Baby, When The Sun Goes Down » is typical of mid-fifties Houston Hillbilly bop : solid steel, fine piano and guitar, and great vocal. Douglas had several other tracks on D, before switching in 1961 to « United artists »), more than 40 records between 1958 and 1965.A good seller.

Maddox bros. & Rose>/h2>

That’s it, folks. Sources: 45cat and 78worlds as usual for label scans. Several tunes do come from YouTube. My own archives, too.

Late July 2020 bopping fortnight’s favorites

howdy, folks. This is the plain summer 2020 fortnight’s favorites selection. 9 tunes cut between 1949 and 1961.

As the title implies, « Guitar Shuffle » by the guitarist HANK GARLAND i(1930-2004) is a fine bopper. The rhythm is given by Garland, who does also a good solo on Decca 46250. Recorded July 4, 1950.

Merle Matts II

On the NJ label Cool (# 111, released 1958), now the fast « Tennessee Baby » by MERLE MATTS II. Rhythm given by a banjo. An urgent vocal, good steel (played like a bottleneck).

« I’m Sorry Now » by BUD DECKLEMAN is the lastest tune this time (1961). He’d cut his most known « Daydreamin’ » on Meteor in 1954 – a fair sized hit ; then a string of hillbilly releases on M-G-M (1955-56), before dropping into semi-obscurity (according to a sideman, he wasn’t reliable). He reappears for a swansong : medium paced, good steel. A typical early 60s Country.(Stomper Time M80w-3355).

Sam Nichols

Back to 1949 on M-G-M 10440, « Keep Your Motor Hot », indeed a truck song, by SAM NICHOLS. Fast bopper, Western tinged.

On the Circle Dot label (# 1006), out of Minneapolis, DAVE DUDLEY released the fine uptempo ballad (aggressive steel) « Picture Of My Heart »(early 60s).

Dave Dudley

Out of Nashille on the very small Jamboree label (501), DICK STRATTON offers « Fat Gal Boogie »in 1950-51. A guitar boogie rocker. Steel and string bass solos. Stratton was also on Tennessee 795 for « Pistol Boogie ».

Dick Stratton

Ralph Collier

A medium shuffler now : « You’ll Come Runnin’ Home To Me » by RALPH COLLIER on the Blazon label # 105 out of Nashville.

Lee ‘Red’ Melson

Lee ‘RED’ Melson did « Boss Man Blues » on the Grand Prairie label # 501 : a very expressive vocal for a medium uptempo with solid fiddle but uninventive guitar. Melson was also on the Georgia Ridgecresst label.

Jimmy Boyd

JIMMY BOYD, singer/actor, releases « Rockin ‘ Dow The Mississip », a Country rocker from June 1956 (Columbia 21471).i

Sources : my own archives. « Rockailly Hoodlums, vol. 2 (Collector); Bert Martin’s old tapes (Hank Garland, Dick Stratton, Sam Nichols, Bud Deckleman); Tom Sims’ cassette (Dave Dudley); eBay 45s (Lee ‘Red’Melson, Merle Matts II).

Rockin’ Rollin’ Marty Robbins (1953-56)

When a Rockin’ Know-all thinks about a record company that through its record releases brought the Southern states its own brand of Rock’n’roll over the airwaves, he (or maybe she) thinks of Sun Records in Memphis.
Sun were there, because in order to survive like most independant all over the States they catered for markets not generally seved by the Majors ; in the process they gave the white youth the sounds they wanted to jitterbug and bop to. Whilst it s true to say that Majors were doing big business with pop artists, they were pretty well involved with country (and/or Rhythm’n’blues) from fairly early on. In fact Columbia’s C&W output in the ’50’s was run from Nashville and under the cortrol of Mitch Miller. Certainly, when given the lead, Columbia Broadcasting quickly latched onto the potential of what was virually a more raucous version of country music. They soon amassed a Rockabilly catalog second only to Sun.
Of course, in the early ’50s, Columbia had recorded country boogies, which had a great beat for dancing, but still had hillbilly vocals (« Wild Cat Boogie » – Johnny Bond, 21160 – « Rock Me » – Little Jimmy Dickens, 21206, « Go Boy Go » – Carl Smith, 21266 and « Mama!» – Lefty Frizzell, 21328 are typical examples)

It was not until a certain truck driver from Tupelo recorded « That’s All Right Mama», that true Rockabilly look off. Columbia covered the song with a version by Marty Robbins. Whilst others did cut sides without the hillbilly vocals (« Juke Joint Johnny » – Lattie Moore on Speed for example), they were sparse and generally on very minor labels with local distribution. It was Elwood Pretzel that brought it to wider attention, in fact the South and the vast country areas of the Northern States were more than ready ; in 1954 during a Cash Box interview Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records stated that from 1952 white high school and college kids in the South were picking up R&B records primarily to dance to. The trend was started by youthful hillbilly fans rather than the pop bobby-soxers, who just followed right along.

Robbins, of Polish ancestry, was born on September 26th 1925 at Glendale, Arizona. 1937 saw his family move to Phoenix, where he attended high school. Then at 19 he signed up wit the Navy for a 3 years stint. Posted on the Pacific, he developped an interest in the guitar until he got to the stage of composing his own songs. This eventually led him to perform professionnally after his discharge with one of his friends who had a band, and they performed at a local night club. He served his apprenticship in he mid-40’s playing in small around Arizona. He joined Columbia Records in 1952, recording solo performances as well as duetting with his manager Llee Emerson, in a style reminiscent of early Eddy Arnold, featuring a semi-crooning vocal and sparse instrumentation.

Marty Robbins and band – 1950’s

It was at Jim Beck’s studio (Dallas) in September 1953 that Robbins recorded « It’s A Long, Long Ride ». It wasn’t Rock’n’Roll of course, but Robbins’ performance had a restless energy, presaging much that followed.The drums, still rarely heard on Nashville recodings, gave an added edge to the performance. During the first break, the fiddle player hums in unison with his instrument, a trchnique that Slam Stewart and others had popularized with the bowed upright bass during the ’30s, but one rarely heard in country music.

Ray & Roy

Pain And Misery

by Ray Edenton & Marty Robbins

between Dallas and Nashville (1954)

Much bluesier was « Pain And Misery », an anomalous duet that Robbins recorded in May 1954 with Ray Edenton. It was logged in the Columbia files with three other songs under the artist-name «Ray & Roy ». None of the cuts were released at the time, although « Pain And Msery » was later re-cast by Robbins as « Mean Mama Blues ».
Aside of the cloak of anonymity, wasn’t really surprising is the hard-edged blues feel. The use of two electric guitars – one of which takes an unusually aggressive solo (Chet Atkins or Louie Innis)– points unerringly towards future developments. “Call Me Up” (21291) (by Marty alone) was also a nice uptempo precursor.

By the end of 1954 all of Robbins’ sessions were being held in Nashville, and on November 7, he cut a cover version of « That’s All Right ». Elvis Presley had released it in July, and although it did no more than crack a few local charts, it created a buzz. Robbins had heard the record and figured Presley was black. In October, Robbins discovered that he wasn’t when Presley okayd a less-than-successful guest spot on the Opry. By November, Presley had his second record on the market, but Robbins decided to cover « That’s All Right » ayway. It became a fair-sized hit for him, peaking at number 7 in the Spring of 1955.

Cash Box Jan. 6, 1955

August 9, 1955. Nashville, Tennessee: the pure rockabilly recording session

Chuck Berry’s « Maybellene » mispelled « Maybelline » by Columbia, hadn’t even cracked the R&B charts when Robbins covered it. He had obviously started tuning the car radio to the R&B stations, sensing the coming storm.
If there’s ever a need to illustrate the difference between uptempo country and rockabilly, then Robbins’ versions of « That’s All Right » and « Maybelline »will show the demarcation line. It was more than the addition of drums, there was a twitchy energy to « Maybelline » that announced the dawn of a new era.

Cash Box Nov. 5, 1955

Cash Box, Jan. 7, 1956

November 3rd, 1955. More rockabilly and country. After Robbins had met Melvin Endsley, he adopted the latter’s “Singing The Blues”, which proved a million seller for him.

If there’s ever a need to illustrate the difference between uptempo country and rockabilly, then Robbins’ versions of « That’s All Right » and « Maybelline »will show the demarcation line. It was more than the addition of drums, there was a twitchy energy to « Maybelline » that announced the dawn of a new era.

Columbia didn’t have much faith in « Singing Te Blues », possibly thinking it was too country. It was kept in the can for eight months, and two other singles were dhipped in the interim. In November 1956 though, « Singing The Blues » beat out « Hound Dog » for the number one slot on the country charts, and it remained there until February 1957.

Before « Singing The Blues » was released, Robbins went back into the studio with two more uptempo songs on the schedule. The first was a cover of Little Richard’s « Long Tall Sally », which hadn’t even cracked the R&B charts ; the other was an odd original, « Respectfully Miss Brooks » with an organ piping way in the background.

Robbins decided it was time to revisit the Melvin Endsley songbook. He cut « Knee Deep In The Blues », which proved to be his ticket back to the charts, but unfortunately was beaten by Guy Mitchell’s pop version.

From Late 1955 thru’ 1956 he performed Rockabilly on stage as this was in demand with audiences. Did he in fact rock the joint ? – well, there is in fact an LP of Marty Robbins on the Artco label (LPC 110LD) which is described as coming from « The Hall Of Fame » motion pictures soundtrack. In truth it’s almost certainly some form of live concert which is from around 1956. All 12 tracks are different to recorded versions, the latest of which are « Mr. Teardrop » and « I Can’t Quit » – significantly no « Singing The Blues ». Other tracks include « Pretty Mama », « Tennessee Toddy », « Pretty Words », Castle In The Sky », « Times Goes By ». « Tennessee Toddy » and « Pretty Mama » not to mention « I Can’t Quit » are all superb : yes Marty did really rock.

However Marty wasnt really a rocker ; he was just cashing in on a trend, and he soon left for pop/country records. These are anyhow some reat stady backings in « Knee Deep In The Blues », « Long Gone Lonesome Blues », although « Moanin’ The Blues » and « Loveick Blues » are in the same great style.

Sources: main article set up from an article by Bob Airlie, originally published (June 1977) by “New Kommotion”, then from the notes by Colin Escott for Bear Family “Rockin’ Rollin’ Robbins” triple CD (1999); music primarily from Willem Agenant site ‘Columbia 20 000 serie’, many thanks to him. Remaining music and videos from YouTube.Thanks Uncle Gil for his help, providing sound files.
Labels from 45cat and 78worlds sites.Discographical details from Praguefrank great site.

Several boppers have been excluded, because lack of space. Otherwise the article would have been double sized. Anyway they all are well worth seeking, songs like: “I’ll Love You Till The Day U ie” (21414), “Time Goes By” (21324) or “Where’d Ja Go” (40868) with Lee Emerson.