Howdy folks ! Over here in France, it’s the final run for Soccer’s Europ Cup – that’s not really Hillbilly !
First a mostly known artist for his Rock & roll and Pop records. He went with 2 aliases to pursue 2 careers at least. Originally from Canton, OH, DICK GLASSER first fronted for one record the Pee Wee King band in 1956, and sang on two tracks full of energy and dynamism (without noise, all is fluid and lowdown although uptempo) : « Catty town » and « Hoot scoot », to be found on the RCA-Victor 47-6584 label. A cross between Hillbilly bop and Western swing. Later Glasser renamed himself Dick Lory on the Liberty label.
Next four tracks were cut in 1959-60 and issued on the Demorest, GA.Country Jubilee label. The city is at the upper north limit of the State, very near of Virginia and Tennessee frontiers.
# 517 is done by BILL ALEX and the Dixie Drifters : « I‘m just a nobody » is a typical late ’50s medium uptempo country-rocker. It’s flipside, « I’ll remember you » was untraced by me, but issued along with the A-side on Top Rank EP 2055 in 1960.
BILL WATSON on # 525 has here two selections, « I’m dying darling » is a soft uptempo country-rocker, while the reverse side « You’re the onefor me» is a bit bluesy, with a sort of hypnotic guitar throughout.
Finally for the Country Jubilee label, we jump to # 539 by BILL LEATHERWOOD and « My foolish heart », a slow uptempo ; nothing exceptional, although the man has a sort of treble in his voice. Steel present. I’ve added as a bonus his « Hillbilly blues » issued by Peach (# 756), also in Georgia, well into 1961-62, a good country rocker with lotsa steel and a fiddle solo.
Last record I review this fortnight is done by MASON GAY on the Country Music label, from Forest, MS (# 501). Confident vocal for a country rocker (no drums), « I never have the blues », while the flipside is catchy (« The girl I met at the bar ») which is part-spoken. Has a Rite number, dating the record from 1960.
Hello, folks. This fortnight’s favorites selection will be very various and pointing in different directions.
First artist whom a virtually nothing is known about, and not more on his band. DON HAGER & the Hot Tots had in Autumn 1957 several sides cut for the Oak label out of the very small (ca. 800 souls) town of Whitakers, N.C. These guys had a tendency to Calypso rhythm, fact is obvious with « Bebop boogie » (Oak 0357), and it brings a lot of freshness to their composition. Fine rinky-dink piano, an hopping drum and a good (although discreet) steel make it a very fine Rockabilly, yet different..That very same song had been cut by Mustard & Gravy in 1950 and issued on Gotham 403, a sign of its later popularity. I already posted their fine version in the early June 2011 fortnight’s favorites selection And even earlier back, it had been recorded by Harry Gay, and published on…Oak 1000 [untraced, but according to the notes to « Long gone daddy », a compilation on Collectables 6335]. Hager had also « Calypso boogie », same style, on a ’70s Rockin’ Stars issue and « I love you dear forever », from a 1990 compilation (Oldies 5374) – this is an alternate take – with the steel much more to the fore. Finally « Liza Jane bop » (Oak 0358), also strange in its rhythm, yet is a more conventional Rockabilly. Nobody knows what happened to Hager and his group afterwards.
From Alabama comes the second artist : NORRIS MIMS [not to be confused with the Texan of similar name Morris Mills] in 1959 on the custom pressed (CP-1987) Birmingham, AL, Arlington label (# 101B) for « Sweet sweet baby ». It has an urgent vocal over a very fast backing, a fine guitar and a piano break. It is stunning such a good record is not worth an entry in Tom Lincoln’s book, as I am sure it’s very highly treasured. Incidentally the tune had been first cut in 1956 by Buddy Hanes [according to « 50sRock’n’roll » Youtube chain], but had remained unissued until our era (I didn’t find on which support).
The third record is not by a newcomer. The song « Chili dippin baby » was issued twice : on Blue Hen and on Raymor by its composer, Raymond McColister with different singers. Here is the Raymor version (# 6004A) with vocal by Mz. Melody Mack.
JIMMY HEATH & the Rhythm Rollers did record « Little darlin’ » for the Modesto, Ca. Mega label (# 2261) . It’s a typical late ’50s bopper. Lot of steel (a solo which reminds a bit of Ralph Mooney), a jumping little tune with a good expressive vocal and a fine Rockabilly guitar.
Now on to Texas, in the apply named town of Center, with REGGIE WARD & his Sons of Texas. They do offer a fast bopper « Juke box baby » from early 1951 with vocal by Jack Ford. Could the latter be the same man who cut « No not now », backed by Curley Williams (Columbia 20633, January 1950), or the Hayrider who recorded the fine hillbilly bop « That’s all you gotta do » (Chess 4858) in 1954 ? A final detail on Nemo Records (owned by Mrss. Jack McLendon and Leon Sanders) : the Wilburn Brothers [Theodore & Doyle] (later on Decca) apparently cut their first sides for this label.
BILL WATSON on the Demorest, GA Country Jubilee label (# 525) recorded a fine double-sider reviewed by Billboard in February 1960. The songs are similar in structure : over a strong guitar, a very melodic vocal partially sung in unison, they are very enjoyable and catchy « You’re the one for me » and «I’m dying darling ».
Welcome for a new serie of honky tonk/bopping hillbilly recordings.
A certain Lyle recently asked me if I know Red Smith. Of course I know him. He was a D.J. On several stations, in New Orleans and Shreveport, then for KLLL in Lubbock, Tx, and even for WCKY in Cincinnati, Oh. He cut a very nice version of Luke McDaniels‘ « Whoa Boy » (issued on Trumpet out of Jackson, Ms) on Coral 61312 (1953). Snare drums, energetic fiddle and steel. I believe he never recorded anything else. But he wrote “All Because of You” for Rocking Martin (Starday 658). Could it be him?
Now in Indianapolis, In for the Nabor label (many rockabilly goodies, « Speed Limit » by Tommy Lam for example). Bob Hill and his Melody Boys had « This Old Train (Is Leaving My Blues Behind) » (# 105) : a fast fiddle led song, train effects done by the steel and a good guitar.
Then to Texas, and very probably out of Jim Beck’s studio in Dallas, a nice honky tonk, « Foolin’ Women » by Neal Jones. It’s shuffling, it’s solid. Columbia 21292.
From Franklin, Pa, a completely unknown Ralph Ryan and the Country Boys on the rare Process label # 132 does the very sincere ballad « Cry A Million Tears ». Intimate guitar.
1959 on the Georgia Country Jubilee label # 541, Richard Morris & the Morrisettes (!) has « Rosetta », apparently an Indian love song – strumming drums and fiddle. An haunting side.
Finally Ken Marvin on Mercury 6391(1954) has an husky voice for a good honky tonk « I’ve Got My Love » over fiddle and steel backing.
As usual, have a listen and send comments, please…
Let’s visit the “contact me” page: I am selling albums and CDs – some 45s too – at very reasonable prices!
This time I will focus on an unknown Hillbilly/Rockabilly singer, who cut only 4 sides between 1953 and 1957. His story was covered in depth on the Rockabilly all of Fame site. So all I have to do is to let Shane Hughes speak. The singer is BILL BLEVINS. So here we go:
Biographical facts on Bill Blevins are pretty well scant. The meager details that have surfaced indicate that Bill was born in 1932, but exactly where is not known. His influences and inspirations are open to conjecture. Aurally, he draws an uncanny similarity to Jimmy Swan and, from a broader perspective, Hank Williams. This is borne out in Bill’s first recordings made for Lillian McMurray’s Jackson, Mississippi based Trumpet label in 1953. McMurray had arranged a series of sessions at Bill Holford’s ACA studio in Houston during the first week of February 1953. She had recorded a handful of masters by Werly Fairburn (sub-credited as The Delta Balladeer on what would be his debut recordings), Jimmy Swan, R. B. Mitchell (Jimmy Swan’s guitarist) and ‘Lucky’ Joe Almond on February 3. The following day, Bill Blevins was brought into the studio to record four sides, followed by brief sessions by Tex Dean and Glen West. Exactly how Bill came to the attention of McMurray is not known, but he was teamed with an aggregation of studio musicians, most of whom were well known Houston players. Indiana born steel guitarist Herb Remington, who had arrived in Houston three years earlier, led this group of top flight musicians, that included guitarist Bill Buckner, fiddle player Douglas Myers and seasoned bass player ‘Buck’ Henson, who had earlier worked with Dickie McBride, Deacon ‘Rag Mop’ Anderson, Richard Prine and Cliff Bruner. Of the four sides cut, McMurray chose to release only two numbers on Trumpet 200. ‘An Hour Late And A Dollar Short’ is reminiscent of Jimmy Swan’s lightly swinging ‘Juke Joint Mama’ (recorded for Trumpet the previous year) and is an interesting precursor to Billy Barton’s ‘Day Late And A Dollar Short’ (Billy Barton 1007).
After one release on Trumpet in 1953, Bill was not heard of again until ’57 when he surfaced on the one off Houston based National label. According to Andrew Brown, two titles were cut during the early months of ’57 in a garage somewhere in Houston. The backing on both tunes is fairly sparse, indicating only lead guitar and bass accompaniment. Brown continued, “Bill was drunk at this session, hence the excessively abused phrase ‘drunken southern rockabilly’ actually is applicable for once”. After listening to the National disc, particularly « Baby I Won’t Keep Waitin’ », it’s easy to hear in Bill’s slurred pronunciation that he had more than just a tipple before kicking off the session. Both tunes, however, are premium examples of lazy Lone Star rockabilly. ‘Baby I Won’t Keep Waitin” is as salacious as the title suggests and the second cut from the session, the self-penned ‘Crazy Blues’, is a slow burning moody piece that draws from the rich musical melting pot of Texas. In ‘Crazy Blues’, a well cultured listener will detect hints of early country blues, like those hollered by Texas Alexander, Blind Lemon Jefferson or Ramblin’ Thomas during the nineteen twenties. Indeed, ’30’s steel guitar wizard and one time Jimmie Davis sideman, Oscar Woods, could have laid down a version of ‘Crazy Blues’ that would not have been unlike Bill’s. Both titles were mastered at Bill Holford’s ACA studio on April 8 and released shortly after on the short lived National label. National may have been a vanity label that Bill established solely for the release of this disc, as no other releases on this label have been traced. Subsequent discs by Bill are unconfirmed, although rumor suggests one further release appeared sometime during the nineteen sixties or seventies. If this disc does exist, discographical data is unknown. Bill is now believed to be deceased, but his National sides are still very much cherished by collectors of the Big Beat, who have been treated to the occasional reissue of ‘Crazy Blues’ and ‘Baby I Won’t Keep Waitin”.
I’ve included in the podcasts all that is available by BILL BLEVINS.
Not more known is RICHARD MORRIS on the Country Jubilee label (# 541) with “Rosetta“. Insistent fiddle and guitar, heavy Indian style drumming make this a gem.
Finally Texan J.B. BRINKLEY, whose career goes back to the ’30s, when he was guitar player for the Crystal Spring Ramblers, or the ’40s for the Light Trust Doughboys. Here he delivers the fine, powerful “Buttermilk Blues” , piano-led, scintillating guitar on the Majestic label (# 7581). Indeed he had also “Guitar Smoke”, instrumental on Lin. It is believed however that this J.B. Brinkley was Jr. to the ’30’s artist.