Howdy ! This is the early February 2018 fortnight’s favorites selection.Let’s begin with a Western swing Houston scene veteran : DICKIE McBRIDE, here late in his career ( October 1951). Billed with his wife Laura Lee (who is absent here), he delivers a powerful and moving « I love you boogie » on M-G-M 11056. Fine steel and piano, and a lot of yells and whistles from apparently McBride himself.
Another veteran, out of the Gospel and Bluegrass field : MAC ODELL (rn Odell McLeod), who was born in 1916 in Roanake, Alabama. His career had a large stretch between New Orleans and Michigan, before he settled down in Nashville, as « Ole Country Boy » in the late ’40s. He recorded first at Mercury, then landed at King , but had poor sales as an artist. More as a songwriter for others : « The battle of Armageddon » for Hank Williams, or « The glorybound train » for Roy Acuff. At King, he was firmly Bluegrass, backed by Don Reno and Red Smiley. Here is his fast half-talked «Penicillin » from September 1953 on King 1251. O’Dell has deceased in 2003.
Red Barn was a regional Kansas City concern, important for example for the first Jimmie Skinner sides of the late ’40s. The name ELMO LINN may be an obscure one ; he had however two interesting issues on this label. « Lorita » (Red Barn 1188A) is a medium paced shuffler with steel. Vocal reminds a bit Ernest Tubb. The flipside « Line on the highway » is a fast guitar backed tune. « Heart full of love » (Red Barn 1195) comes next, with again that shuffling rhythm. Later on Linn went to Westport (pop country).
From Lorain, Ohio, VERN TERRY on the Athena label (a Starday custom) from 1959. « Miss you » is a good slowie, the instrumentation is minimal, echo is on the vocal, and steel is to the fore. (# 804). The flipside « Someone new » is an uptempo shuffler. Good steel and fiddle.
From Nashville, RAY BATTS in 1954 for two sides on the Excello label # 2028. The marvelous bopper « Stealin’ sugar » : complete with steel and piano. It has moreover nothing to do with the Merle Lindsay tune (MGM 10795) of the same name. The flipside, « Maybe it’s you, sweetheart » is a shuffler. Batts had also on Bullet 754 the great double-sided « Bear cat daddy/Wild man boogie », reviewed in « Bullet – always a smash it », published here in May 2012.
Jackson Cleveland Toombs was born in Murfreesboro, TN (Rutherford Cty), on September 2, 1925.
He came to Nashville with his family in 1937. He started driving a cab in 1950 but his first music job was on WHOP in Hopkinsonville, KY in the mid-forties, and he started writing with Vic McAlpin around 1950 . Their first hit was « Almost », given to George Morgan.
About his session on Speed, Toombs doesn’t remember how he got acquainted with Frank Innocenti. « Pin Ball Fever » (Speed 111) anyhow had a black bass player, and a black piano player, and was a Tennessee Ernie-styled boogie that came very close to greatness. The idea of a pinball novelty hillbilly boogie refers to Red Foley‘s 1954 own « Pinball Boogie ». While at Speed, Toombs offered “Little Bit Late For Loving” to Bob Rogers (Speed 115).
label scan courtesy Udo Frank
Then Toombs had three records on Excello, and the first, « You’re the Only Good Thing » (# 2033), was a big hit. Alas, he didn’t collect the royalties, having sold the song to Innocenti. It was one of these great country love ballads. Gene Autry, Ernest Tubb, Billy Walker had their own version issued. Jim Reeves and Georhe Morgan (twice, a pop and a hillbilly version) hit big with this song.
After his Speed record, Jack had gone to Detroit and worked the bars as a joint act with the York Brothers. Shortly after returning to Nashville, he cut a spirited cover version of « Hound Dog », which was issued as Cleve Jackson and his Hound Dogs on the N.Y.C. Herald label (# 6000) , backed with « Has A Chicken Got A Leg » in 1953. The same piano player seems to be the one who backed Toombs on Speed, and the drummer could be black, having such an unorthodox style in country, almost a rumba beat.
Another Excello issue, « My Imagination/Foolish Jealousy” (# 2041) is far more pop oriented : more of the love ballad, well sung, but backed by an organ !
Finally, in March or April 1956, Toombs cut (this time with his full name) « Kiss-A Me Quick », a real splice of Rockabilly, complete with hiccups and a nice lead guitar (Excello # 2083). The man was very versatile, able to do weeping pop ballads nearly at the same time as out-and-out rockabilly.
After rock’n’Roll had exploded, he began using another pseudonym, Jackie Trent, and had an almost-national hit on the Excello subsidiary label Nasco with « Little Andy » (# 6012, 1958), a pop rocker with chorus, and never recorded again. However he kept songwriting for Cedarwood, and never gave up his day job with the cab company.
label scan courtesy Udo Frank
Article based on notes by Martin Hawkins for the boxset “A Shot In The Dark”. Label scans from various sources, e.g. Terry Gordon’s Rockin’ Country Style, or Udo Frank. Thanks to them!.
The story of Frank Rice and Ernest W. Stokes goes back to 1933, when they were known as “Mustard and Gravy“. They came from Virginia, and discovered by Smiley Burnette, doing minstrel-shows. In 1950, they cut for Gotham the fine “Be Bop Boogie“, accompanied by a trombone! The song found its way several years later in a Calypso style by Don Hager on the Oak label.
Nothing is known on Les Willard, surely a Nashville singer, here backed by Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys, for the romper “Double Up And Catch Up” in 1955.
Red Mansel was from Texas, and had a contract with Dan Mechura‘s Allstar label ca. 1958 for the equally fine “ Johnny On The Spot“. He had already cut for Starday Custom (# 523) in 1955, the piano-led medium tempo “Broken Fickle Heart” (see elsewehere in this site for “Starday Custom serie (# 500-525).
From Texas came also on the T.N.T. (“Tanner’n’Texas”) label the duet The Jacoby Brothers (George, the uncle and Boy, the nephew), respectively on mandolin and guitar. They offer here the very fast “Bicycle Wreck“, with a fantastic mandolin solo.
Red Woodward and his Red Hawks were familiar in the period 1945-1950 on WBAP radio from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I’ve chosen his “Cowboy Boogie” from 1947, on Signature label. Relaxed vocal, fine backing, and a guitar solo which seems being acoustic one!
Finally a R&B Rocker from 1954 by the great Lightning Hopkins. Hope you enjoy the selections. Don’t forget to have a look at my “contact Me” section, for records and books for sale from my collection. You could be amazed! Bye