This fortnight’s favorite selection begins in a State not usually associated with Hillilly bop, that of Connecticut in the North east part of the U.S. Issued on the Starday custom Coxx label (# 588, September 1956), it hailed from Coventry and was allocated to SLIM COXX and his Cowboy Caravan. I remember the notes to Coxx 588 from the « Starday custom # 575-600 » study I had back in January 2012. « Slim’s real name was Gerard A Miclette. He played with his younger brother, Roland “Rocky” Miclette in various bands. By the time Roland came back from serving in the Navy, he joined Slim (who played fiddle like his father, George) playing bass in Slims’ Kentucky Ramblers. Eventually they came to the attention of the Down Homers, which featured Bill Haley (and Kenny Roberts) and joined them on the tidy sum of $200 a week wages. Once the Down Homers had disbanded, Slim & Rocky were playing at Lake Compounce in Slim’s new band, The Cowboy Caravan. »
»Lonely nights » is a perfect hillbilly shuffler: the vocalist has a top notch « hillbilly » voice, and steel/fiddle are both great. Rocky died on the 6th of May 2004 and Slim passed away October 13th 1999. The actual band singer was a Jimmy Stephen, who led vocals also on the other issue (either 1955, either 1957) by Coxx on the Maine Event label (# 4267), »Sitting here all alone ».
On to Dallas, Texas, and the great JOHNNY HICKS & the Country Gentlemen, recently evoked in my study of Hank Thompson’s « The Wild Side Of Life » and his sequels. Here he delivers a proto-rockabilly with « Pick up blues », great vocal and fine guitar (Columbia 21064) cut late 1952.
Talking of « The wild side of life », here is an unusual Cajun version sung in French by MARIE FALCON fronting Skuk Richard‘s band, The LA. Aces, under the title « Le cote farouche de la vic », which was issued early in 1953.
Then a completely unknown artist by the name of TIM McCLOUD on the Chesterfield label #362 on the West coast. McCloud reminds vocally one of Rex Allen for two selections, « Down Down Down » and « Mountains and mountains of lies » , both urban hillbilly style with a distinct California Western savour. Young Buck Owens had a record on that label too. The writer, Virginia Richmond, was also the owner of the label.
Back to Texas, Houston area with the singer/fiddler COTTON THOMPSON. He already had the fast Western swing-tinged « Jelly Roll Blues » in 1949 on Freedom 5010, and later went as front vocalist for Johnny Lee Wills (« Oo Oooh Daddy » on RCA 5243). Here after train effects Thompson sings with urgency a fast song – already a small classic – « How Long » (Gold Star 1381) ; flipside « Hopeless Love » is a fine shuffler : fiddle is well to the fore. Thompson is backed by an otherwise unknown to me “Deacon (Rag Mop) Anderson” and his own Village Boys.
Hillbilly BILL HALEY used to adapt race songs to his Country repertoire. Here he goes strong with the Saddlemen on Holiday 105 (July 1951) with «Rocket “88” », which has been often cited as the first Rock’n’roll record by Ike Turner‘s band (The Delta Cats) fronted by JACKIE BRENSTON on Chess 1458.
For this Xmas 2015, as a gift, you faithful visitors of bopping.org will get 13 (yes, thirteen) selections, instead of the usual only 6 ; although for several months I gradually posted more and more tunes. Merry bopping Xmas to y’all !
« Deep Elem blues » was first recorded by the SHELTON BROTHERS (Bob & Joe on vocals and mandolin/guitar) in February 1935 in Chicago (Decca 5422), before the Prairie Ramblers gave their own version in August of the same year. The song refers to the black quarter in Dallas, where you need 50 $ because of the red headed women there. It was an immediate success, revived by others over the years, namely by JERRY LEE LEWIS, whose 1957 version remained unissued in the Sun archives for 40 years ! Same year saw the WILBURN BROTHERS‘ version (Decca 29887) : Doyle & Ted do a fine job on this song. Later on Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead) and Levon Helm had their versions too, outside the scope of this blog, as they say.
Howdy, folks! Back from holydays on Italian Ligurian Riviera. Believe me, it’s hot over there, nice small towns beyond the sea but not bopping music at all, aaargh! A nice not-feeling-at-home anyhow, that’s the most important. Hope you all had good holydays too, and ready to embark for more work, more trouble – world do seem to go head-over-heels. Fortunately we have the music!
Let’s begin this favourites’ return with a strange item: a fair Hillbilly on a Boston, East Coast label. Al Hawkes had launched his Event label in Feb. ’56, recording first only Country, thus KEN FAIRLIE (# 4264) for “The Table’s Turned” – nice fiddle, and smooth vocal for a very short (1’42) tune. Later on, Hawkes would have on his stable Rockabillies/Rockers Curtis Johnson, Ricky Coyne, even young Dick Curless. Recently I posted the LLOYD McCOLLOUGH story, and repeat here one of his finest songs on the Nashville/Los Angeles EKKO label (which published in its short existence very important discs by the likes of Jess Willard, The Cochran Brothers or Johnny Tyler): “Until I Love Again” (# 1023). Entire output of McCollough can be found on a U.K. Stompertime CD. Next record he had was Rockabilly on the Nashville Republic label. This Ekko release is from ’55.
From Raymondville, Texas comes FLETCHER HANNA, with Joe “Red” Hainer and the Ozark Playboys, for the nice shuffling “Hepcat Boogie” – topical lyrics, references to “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Blue Suede Shoes“, and a very short slap bass solo – on the Valley 101 label (not to be confused with the Tennessee label of the same name – remember Reece Shipley or Darrell Glenn). Very good atmospheric (steel guitar) record. Must be from ’56.
From California on the Happy Hearts label (a very rich and interesting one), JIMMY HAYES with the Coney Ridge Ramblers for “Tom Cat Boogie” (# 141) from as late as 1961. Another shuffler with a good guitar player, who makes some nice licks.
Now on the legendary Dixie label. BILL WILLIS had Starday custom releases, such as “Boogie Woogie All Night” or “Goin’ Down To Sal’s House” (Dixie 502) (respectively on Ace or Collector CDs). Here, he is vocal duetted (Goldie Norris?) on a rattlesnake-drummed “Where Is My Baby“. Nothing spectacular, just an ordinary ’57 Southern record.
Finally a real R&B blaster! YOUNG JESSIE in a New York session with Mickey Baker on guitar and Sam “The Man” Taylor on tenor saxophone – added by (unknown) baritone sax, bass and drummer, for the fantastic “Hit, Git And Split” for the Modern label. Why this was not a hit is a mystery: without doubt, the barrier of racism in ’56 and the savagery of the record, which must have been banned by radio stations, even in the Alan Freed’s territory. One of the real all-time R&B rockers classics!
Hope you enjoy the selections! Comments welcome. Bye
Next fortnight early October – I will be out of town by mid-September.