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.

The “Tall, Dark And Handsome Man” BOBBY SISCO (1955-1963)

Born Robert W. Sisco, 24 August, 1932, Bolivar, Tennessee
Died 17 July 2005, Munster, Indiana

Bobby Sisco attended Central High School in Bolivar and graduated alongside his close friend Ramsey Kearney, the singer who cut “Rock the Bop” on Jaxon and co-wrote “Emotions” for Brenda Lee. The family, including two sisters, listened to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights and Sisco’s mother taught him how to play guitar.

In 1948, Sisco the Singing Farmboy hustled up his own sponsors for two slots on radio WTJS in Jackson, Tennessee, By 1949 he was playing in Jackson’s rawest honky-tonks with Carl Perkins and his brothers. Shows on the more powerful WDXI increased Sisco’s exposure but when his father quit the farm Sisco followed his parents to Calumet, Michigan and found the atmospheric “Sin City” nightclub scene to his liking. Uncle John Ellis, the premier DJ on WJOB in Hammond, Indiana, introduced Sisco to Mar-Vel Records owner, Harry Glenn.

In order to fully understand the Mar-Vel’ legacy, one must not only look at Harry and his vast body of work, but also consider the social and economic factors that were contributing or affecting the American culture during his most creative period. (The Northern life, Black migration, and Chess records) During the same time, Harry was recording the songs and emotions of Southern Whites, or « Hillbillies ».
One such area that acted as a magnetic force throughout the South was Calumet City. It was close to Chicago and at the same time had a reputation for being very open. As these newly transplanted Southerners arrived, more nightclubs sprung up. This environment enabled many musicians to support themselves by playing the music that they loved.

In 1955 Sisco cut “Honky Tonkin’ Rhythm” (Mar-Vel 111) at Chicago’s Universal Studios. of 4-Star helped finance the session in return for the publishing rights. The record did well in the mid-West and Sisco made personal appearances with Johnny Cash, George Jones and Little Jimmy Dickens. «Honky Tonkin’ Rhythm» really captures the true feeling of the era.. .slappin’ bass and wild steel guitar really set your feet a tappin’. The flipside, «Wrong Or Right» is a Hillbilly weeper, well in the style of the period.

Sisco made contact with Leonard Chess in 1956. “Rockabilly had started coming in strong and I was gonna get in on the trend like everybody else. I set up an interview with Chess and they were all enthused. They wanted to make another Bill Haley out of me. They had big plans. I only had ‘Tall, Dark and Handsome Man‘ and they told me ‘ Well, go home and write three more songs and we’ll do our first session.’ I had kinda got baffled and didn’t come up with anything I really liked except ‘Go, Go, Go‘ which I liked real well. So I wrote that and they said ‘ Well, come on down. We need to get something out.’ They set up the studio time at Universal and they furnished the musicians except Johnny Hammers who was my lead guitar player. He was working with me on my road tours and my nightclub shows. He knew my material and fitted in with that twangy rock guitar so they let him play on my session. I worked harder on that session that any session I’ve ever been in. I worked until I was completely exhausted. And we got two sides cut.

Leonard Chess signed Sisco to a one-year contract with a one-year option, but his tenure at Chess was very short-lived. According to Sisco, someone told him that Chess had given his song (“Tall, Dark and Handsome Man“) to Chuck Berry. “I didn’t pay attention and thought for sure they’d let him have my song and hadn’t released mine. I got very upset and we had a very serious argument. They finally released my record but they nullified my contract.” Harry Glenn tried to rectify matters but Leonard Chess said he wouldn’t lift a finger to help Sisco who had cussed him out and called him a lot of bad names. “I thought they’d stolen my song” said Sisco whose informant had confused “Tall, Dark and Handsome Man” with Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man“. “Anyway“, added Sisco, “I shouldn’t have done what I done.

Leonard Chess

Following his disassociation from Chess, Sisco pitched a couple of Nashville-recorded masters to Vee-Jay Records. The band on “Are You the Type” (Vee-Jay 544) included Floyd Cramer, Grady Martin and Buddy Harman. He also recorded several fine C&W songs for Harry Glenn’s Glenn label during the same period and, in the mid-1960s, he fetched up on Brave, a company owned by Marvin Rainwater and Bill Guess. Sisco helped to write “The Old Gang’s Gone” recorded by Marvin Rainwater and Lefty Frizzell.

During the 1970’s Sisco headed his own company, Wesco, and made a slew of singles for that imprint. He promoted “Long Shaggy Hair” (Wesco 2107) on a show with Buford Pusser whose life story, “Walking Tall”, was filmed among the clubs and bars in Jackson where Sisco had played as a teenager.

Acknowledgements : Bill Millar, Entry for Bobby Sisco in the liner notes for “That’ll Flat Git It, Vol. 10 : Rockabilly From the Vaults Of Chess Records” (Bear Family BCD 16123). This CD includes both sides of Chess 1650 (“Tall, Dark and Handsome Man” and “Go Go Go”), but they are also available on several other compilations. Biography by Dik De Heer (Black Cat Rockabilly Europe) (used by personal permission)

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