Howdy, y’all of you ! Here is the new early December 2017 fortnight’s favorites selection, there will be ten tunes, mostly from the ’30s, with the odd entry in the late ’20s, and the most recent being a 1956 platter.
LEO SOILEAU was a Cajun fiddler, whose intense and dramatic playing is heard in three tracks, first « Les Bleus de La Louisiane » (Decca 17009A) from 1935. When reissued, it was renamed simply « Louisiana Blues » (Decca 5116-A). The whole story is told by Wade Falcon in his super blog « Early Cajun Music », read here: “Les Blues De La Louisiane (Louisiana Blues)” – Leo Soileau. Third track by Soileau is a vocal (himself) for « Petit ou gros » (Bluebird 2197). I add as a comparison the modern and energetic version (« Petite ou la grosse ») done by AL BERARD (vocal and fiddle) with the Basin Brothers in 1996 for Rounder Records.
Another old-time duet is that of the DIXON BROTHERS (Howard and Dorsey), who came from poor areas of North Carolina. They were greatly inspired during the late ’20s and early ’30 by another duet, DARBY & TARLTON. It was Jimmy Tarlton on guitar who influenced the most Howard Dixon. They were picked out by Victor Records and recorded a mere 60 sides between 1936 and 1939, mostly blues, old fiddle pieces or versions of songs of the time given. I choose two numbers, first « Weave Room Blues » (Bluebird 6141), and old-time duet with fine dobro, and « Spinning Room Blues » (Montgomery Ward 7024) : more of the same style. This is a bit similar to Cliff Carlisle.
Next from a more recent era (circa 1953), EDDIE SHULERand his Reveliers on one of the very first TNT issues (# 103). Eddie Shuler does the leading of his group (Norris Savoie on vocal and Hector Stutes on fiddle) for a nice rendition of the classic « Grande Mamou ». He had already recorded as soon as 1946 for his own Goldband label (with his version of the evergreen « Jolie Blonde », Goldband 1012), and issued important recordings (Cajun, Hillbilly, Rockabilly and later swamp-Pop) and stuff later.
Then we jump to 1956 Rockabilly from Memphis, TN, with BILL BOWENwith the Rockets on the Meteor label. Bowen was born in 1923, and had country music shows as early as 1944 from Tennessee, to Indiana and Illinois. In 1954 he and his band were involved with Ray Harris at a radio station outside Memphis, said Harris. Bowen turned out Rockabilly in 1955-56, and Sam Phillips would demo’ him with a raw snippet of « Two timin’ baby ». He also recorded for Chess but nothing happened. It was Lester Bihari who signed him for two years at Meteor, hence the two-sided « Don’t shoot me baby » (I’m not ready to die)/ Have myself a ball » (Meteor 5033, June 1956). The lead player is Terry Thompson, a 15-years old Mississipi wonder, who had already played that role for Junior Thompson on Meteor 5029 (« Mama’s little baby/Raw deal »).
This fortnight’s favorites feature will be separated in two sections. First we will be wandering between some artists of various importance. Second we will hook up on a familiar theme in 1954-55, that of « Daydreamin’ »…
First comes the very unknown from the early days, WALLY MOORE& His Tennesseans. He cut seemingly first for the R&B indie Acorn (a subsidiary of N.J. giant Savoy label), which had its Hillbilly serie : « A dream lives on » (# 317-B) in 1951. A sweet little jumping bopper with good voice from Moore. The steel is uninspired, but the guitar takes a fresh short solo. Earlier he had been on the big concern Savoy – again in its 3000 Hillbilly serie – for the proto-Rockabilly « Down at the picture show » (# 3025). He had also a good disc on # 3023, “Tie a little string around your finger” (announced by 7th Jan. 1950 Billboard issue); I include the reverse side, “A vision of yesterday“, a weeping ballad for a change, because of the mandolin accompaniment and the Hawaii style steel (which sounds like Jerry Byrd, according to the provider of this 78rpm, Ronald Keppner). Finally Moore had another record on Regent 170 [unheard] then he disappeared from my researching antennas.
Galen Gart’s ARLD gives the date of Savoy 3024 (wedged in between the two Wally Moore issues) as issued in January 1950, and Acorn 316 on March 1951.
Billboard Feb. 18, 1950
The name CURLEY SANDERS surely rings a bell to many. He had first waxed for Dallas’ Star Talent label (« Last on your list », # 749), then he came to Imperial in 1951, Concept later, finally on Jamboree. That’s when in 1956 he cut his most famous track « Brand new Rock’n’Roll », a fiery slice of wild Rockabilly (# 590). I’ve chosen his second issue on Jamboree (# 1833A) « Heartsick and blue », again with the Kentucky Rangers : backing of piano, a rockabilly picking guitar solo, a good steel solo and a welcome mandolin solo over a urgent vocal. Sanders story was told in this site in March 2013.
From West Monroe, La. comes the back-to-back Dos record by AL DOSS (# 944). Fine uptempo of « That’s my baby ». Quieter is the double-voiced flipside « Everytime you waltz again ». A nice little record. Doss had another good record on Dos # 945 with two boppers: “Why do dont” and “Everytime you waltz“.
Both sides have a “GS” written in wax; so a Gold Star recording location (Houston) is probable.
In 1954 on Meteor # 5014 BUD DECKLEMAN had a mammoth hit with « Daydreamin’ », the quintessential Hillbilly bop heard even in New Orleans [n° 2 in Cashbox charts], or Des Moines (Iowa), not to say Memphis [n° 1] of course. Sam Phillips had previously turned down Deckleman and was bitterly biting his fingers..Les Bihari (Meteor label’s boss), who had renamed Daydreamers the label’s house-band (for Jess Hooper, Barney Burcham and Jimmy Haggett), was very cutup when Deckleman agreed to the offer made by M-G-M, still in the hunt for another Hank Williams. Bud Deckleman waxed a dozen sides [all were released] between 1955 and 1956, and athough he had a small success with « No one dear but you » (M-G-M 11952, March 1955), his style really out of date at the time being eluded him the renewal of his contract with M-G-M. Here it is « I gotta find a way », the very last song he cut for M-G-M on October 18, 1956 (# 12419), and the penultimate issue (before # 12552, « I done fell too fer/As long as I can dream », a prophetically title !). Good, excellent bopper, very confident and driving. The story of Bud Deckleman can be found in this site, as it has been told in May 2009. Unfortunately Deckleman’s career gradually came at its end in 1957, because he was out of date and, according to Q. Claunch « You’d never be quite sure you could rely on him ». Final record in 1961 on Stompertime # 1400, « I’ll be the one/I’m sorry now », a fine swansong in the M-G-M days mould. Deckleman died in February 1998.
And that’s when the story of « Daydreamin’ » begins, thanks to its writers, Mrrs. Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch. (respectively guitarist and fiddler on the « Daydreamin’ » session) : led by Sam Phillips in astray, they wrote the follow-up, « Daydreams come true » for Maggie Sue Wimberly at Sun (# 229) and Buddy Bain, Kay Wayne and Merle (Red) Taylor at Meteor (# 5027). Note that both of them played on the two sessions!
In the meantime « Daydreamin’ » had been covered at least 7 times, first by Jimmy Newman (Dot), who hit to # 7 in early 1955 with it; then by Wanda Jackson, Carl McVoy, and later by Tibby Edwards (on Todd) or Warren Storm. I include the version made very early by DOUG BRAGG on Coral (# 61364) – recorded January 1955, it’s a carbon copy of Deckleman’s, which went unsuccessful. He liked the theme, as he even had also his sequels to « Daydreamin’ » on Houston, Tx. D Records 3 years later : « Daydreaming again » (# 1018)[with little yodels..] and its reverse, « If I find my dream girl » ! Of course Bragg also recorded for Dixie and Skippy. His story was told in this site in December 2012.
Sources : my own archives ; notes by Martin Hawkins to Ace CD « The complete Meteor rockabilly and hillbilly recordings » ; 45cat and 78rpm-world. Michel Ruppli’s « The M-G-M label » (session details). As usual thanks to Ronald Keppner for his precious help on Wally Moore 78rpm. Thanks DrunkenHobo for the press snippet.
Around 1948-49, several big R&B concerns, like Apollo, Modern, Imperial began to squint from the East and West coasts at the lucrative Country music market of the South. Major labels (RCA, Decca, M-G-M) were already running it, but without being locally positioned, they were losing sales, and could not exploit completely this rich soil. So people like Modern’s Bihari Brothers, Imperial’s Lew Chudd, or Specialty’s Art Rupe did seek for D.J.s and A&R men to help them to recruit good talent. And studio for recording locally. The Biharis concluded contracts with Sam Phillips, who leased them a good amount of Blues, which not prevented him to sell other sides to the Chess Brothers in Chicago. Finally Les, one of the Biharis, launched on place in Memphis Meteor records in 1952. The label found immediate success with Elmore James, and later in 1954 in the Country charts with Bud Deckleman. The Chesses came to an agreement to furnish them with masters with local promoter in Shreveport, La. Stan Lewis, who used the facilities of recording at night in the KWKH radio studio. Lew Chudd liked Jim Beck’s studio better in Dallas, Texas and found a certain commercial success with Texan artists : Billy Briggs or Jimmie Heap to name only two. Art Rupe (Specialty) preferred KWKH for its East Texas/Louisiana border position. It has been suggested that his first Southern sides had been engineered by Johnny Vincent in Jackson, MS. But the aural evidence show the very distinctive Stan Lewis feel. Billboard (January 12, 1949) gave notice that Rupe had just inked his first 4 artists on the new Specialty 700 label. All of them were barely known, no doubt they had been approached by Stan Lewis’ relations or talent scouts. Actually only Earl Nunn may be localized with his band, the Alabama Ramblers, for the first issue. Previously he had co-written in 1944 with Zeke Clements the controversial (for its racist words) « Smoke on the water » for Red Foley (Decca 6102). He was probably vocally fronted by Billy Lee, who would have his own record (# 704) a little later.
EARL NUNN offers an enjoyable lazy mid-paced « Double-talkin’ woman », with a steel well to the fore (# 701). Actually the very same steel appears on these early sessions, and one can wonder if this is a studio man, possibly Shot Jackson ; the latter was indeed hanging around at KWKH, and even had his own issues (# 704 and 710, discussed below), not to talk about his work on Pacemaker with Webb Pierce. JOHNNY CROCKETT (# 702) has «Just a minute », a very fast talking blues in the manner of Tex Williams with piano and steel effects, that could easily fall into the novelty category. BRUCE TRENT third (# 703) delivers a jumping sad « Alimony » and the medium paced bluesy « River blues ». It can be noted that he had backed with his Western Tunesters some Hal Carey on a Ca. Jewel label (# 7002).
BILLY LEE does the ordinary hillbilly « I don’t know why I love you » (# 704), while LEO STANCIL had to wait July 52 for the release of his excellent effort « Why don’t you quit hangin’ around »(# 707)(two sides penned by Earl Nunn). Long steel solo for an awesome bopper, with sweet Southern accent !
It seems that the first 4 issues were released in a relatively short time after the label was launched, for example Specialty 703 (Bruce Trent) was reviewed by Billboard in March 1949, 704 in June 1949 although both the full years 1950-51 were blank in releases. Maybe Art Rupe was expecting more sales before cutting more records.
Things began to change a bit in 1952 with the advent of three new artists in the roster : namely CLAUDE KING, BIFF COLLIE and SHOT JACKSON. Collie has been discussed in full earlier in this site, so I omit him here. Claude King (born in Louisiana in 1923,deceased 2013) was not a newcomer. As soon as 1947, he had teamed with guitarist Buddy Attaway and bassist/entrepreneur Tillman Franks as « Buddy and Claude » for an issue on the small President label (HB-10), and a frequent theme for the era, « Flying saucers »
“Buddy & Claude“”Flying saucers“
In December 1950, he recorded 4 tunes for the local Pacemaker label, which were also leased to the big Gotham East coast concern. On Specialty he cut three sessions, 10 tunes in all (2 remained unissued) – he wrote them all – between Spring and December 1952. « She knows why » (# 705) is an uptempo sad ballad (the same old story of the broken-hearted guy), which became seemingly the first hit of the Specialty Country & Folk label. At last, it had good sales and spinning reports in the South. So much so that it even had its answer song « He knows why » by Jeanette Hicks (Okeh 18021). « Take it like a man » (# 708) : the second release of Claude King has more rhythm and an insistant bass, a prominent piano and nice steel solo. Vocally King is in fine form, as in the next song « Got the world by the tail » (711), a little faster although in the same format as 708. Indeed King and his Hillbilly Ramblers had already found their way to the Louisiana Hayride saturday night show that had strong connection with KWKH radio. Actually Claude and Buddy Attaway were cast members of the Hayride since 1948, and wrote songs at the turn of the decade for Kitty Wells and Webb Pierce, who got them through Tillman Franks. Last Specialty 716 by him, « Now that I have you », remains untraced.
Claude also worked one of Hank Willams’ last tours, as his driver and opening act. He also toured in the Shreveport area with Johnny Horton, but they spent more time fishing and hunting together than in the studio ! Record wise, he remained without a contract until 1957, when he cut the famous rockabilly/rocker « Run baby run » for Dee-Jay (# 1248), and turned in 1961 on Columbia in Nashville for « The comancheros » and « Wolverton mountain » ; but this is another story..It’s interesting to note that, if King wrote all his material, he’d publish his songs sometimes at a curious « Ark-La-Tex » publishing house other than the regular « Venice music » for Specialty recordings.
The third new artist to appear in 1952 on Specialty is SHOT JACKSON (1920-1991), a steel guitar player. He did hang around at KWKH in 1950 and was the player (even sometimes singer on « Beautiful Hawaiian shores », or solist on some instrumentals) for all the Pacemaker sessions of Webb Pierce between December 1949 and January 1951. So it’s him playing steel on « California blues » to name only 1 of the score (circa 23) tunes cut by Pierce at KWKH. Jackson even had his Pacemaker record (# 1004) although sung by Pierce uncredited ! Needless to say, since Pierce, except 2 or 3 occasions, never used a fiddle, that Shot Jackson was the real force behind Pierce. He was indeed naturally intended to record for Specialty as soloist.
His 4 sides are uptempo honky-tonks, nothing spectacular, except in a negative way : the machist « I’m trading you in on a later model » (# 706), and the deceiving « You can’t get the country out of the boy » (# 710) – such a title did merit a better treatment. Barely audible steel (short solos), an omnipresent fiddle; the voice of Jackson is forgettable. Note that current Hayride artists Johnnie & Jack gave him 3 of his 4 songs ; in return Jackson was to play dobro for them on numerous records onwards. Surely he was better on instrumentals, and after he built, with the help of Buddy Emmons (house steel-player at Starday), a double-neck steel baptized « Sho-Bud », he was to come again in light in 1962 on a compilation dedicated to steel guitarists (Starday EP 236).
Shot Jackson “I’m trading you in on a later model“(706)
The third generation of artists on the Specialty 700 serie begins with the Texan JERRY GEEN. (born 1931) He was signed by Art Rupe early in 1953 and cut 4 sides.
« Naggin’ women and braggin’ men » (# 712) is a real good bopper, a tinkling piano well to the fore, followed by a nice steel and a rather embarrassed lead guitarist. « Are you going my way » (# 714) is a shuffler, well-sung and agreeable, with the same backing format. Leader is still shy ! Luckily piano and fiddle come to rescue the solo ..Green was also active indeed on the La. Hayride, before being drafted into the Army until 1955. He then relocated in Arkansas for a radio show « Country Capers » on a Fort Smith KFPW station. Then later he hit the big time with « Tripod the three leggged dog » which led him to Grand Ole Opry in 1967.
Next artist was SMOKEY STOVER, D.J. in Baytown, Tx. He liked Claude King « She knows why », according to a Billboard snippet! Very few details came to light about him, except these : a native of Texas (Huntsville, 1928), he had his own band at 16 and began a long carreer Country D.-Jaying in Pasadena in 1948 only to retire from radio in 1995 in Gallatin, TN! In the meantime, he had been on numerous stations out of Texas, Mississipi, Louisiana (where he tried a career as singer), even New Mexico. He had records on Starday, Ol’podner, Stampede, Sage, Toppa. So now let’s value his Specialty product, cut at KWKH on November 15, 1952. « What a shame » (# 715) is a mid-paced opus ; nothing particular, a nice shuffler as too many in this era. Soli (guitar and fiddle) are interplayed and welcome. Vocal is firm but without any personal touch.
This is not the case with JOHNNY TYLER, a veteran (first sides in 1946 : « Oakie boogie » on Stanchel) whose story has been told in this blog before. He offers the bluesy partly double-voiced mid-paced « Take your blues and go » (# 713) ; good surprise : a spare harmonica a la Wayne Raney, without a sufficient volume. « Hillbilly preacher » (# 715) reminds me at times of someone sounding like, say, Luke McDaniel : fine guitar over an insistant rhythm backing. This type of material predates Tyler’s Ekko sides of March 1955.
Last but not least, the elusive EARNEY VANDAGRIFF, whose story is hard to write. The details on him are near zero, except he came from Texas, and that he had records on Starday and Rural hythm between 1954 and 1957, among them the famous « Atomic kisses ». Here he delivers in a duet with Joyce Lowrance the happy and fast bopper « Hush money » (# 718), with a fine steel throughout and insistant fiddle.
And that was it, Art Rupe decided after 18 issues it was time to close a relatively not so lucrative affair, and concentrate his hopes (and money) on black music, be it Gospel (e.g. Soul Stirrers), R&B (a huge catalog) or, before long, Rock’n’Roll. A sign moreover of poor sales is given by the rarity of these Specialty 700 sides. Rupe’s rivals of Chess, Modern and Aladdin had come to the same conclusion for their part. Sole Meteor in Memphis remained open with the smash success of Bud Deckleman (« Daydreamin’ ») in 1954, before the advent of Rockabilly in 1956, and closed in 1957. But Sun was then at the right position to take advantage in the race for the hits.
Sources : Cactus CD « Specialty hillbilly » for music and CD tracks. Iconographic material : 78tpm.worlds for 78rm scans. Youtube for President Claude King 78 (scan & msic). Various entries on Internet for Art Rupe, Speciaty logo, Smokey Stover, Billboard records reports. Dominique Anglarès (warm thanks !) for Jerry Green and Shot Jackson pictures, also a full Bllboard page and interesting precisions. David House for Shot Jackson picture with Mr. House on Shot’s knee.
I found the story on RaB-HOF site. It’s not that often a relative to an artist offers such a complete and accurate story. It even goes back to the beginning of 20th century! So I decided to let its author speak by herself. Here it is:
LLOYD ARNOLD McCOLLOUGH STORY
by: Annette Wondergem (Lloyd’s niece)
with additions from Dave Travis, Al Turner, Terry Gordon & Bo Berglind
A raw December wind sent an icy chill through the tall, lean young man who stared longingly at the mandolin in the display window of the music store. Just a few more dollars saved from odd jobs and sacrificed lunches and that fine instrument would be his. He pulled his collar closer about his throat and turned wistfully homeward. The year was 1950, the place was Memphis, Tennessee and the young man was Lloyd Arnold McCollough. At this point Lloyd had a lifetime ahead of him and he could imagine the possibilities that a mandolin could bring. Twenty years later the pressure of a touring musician had begun to take it’s toll. But, let’s not go ahead of time, the story of Lloyd Arnold, who became a pioneer of early Memphis music, began many years earlier.
Hello, folks, howdy, visitors! Below are my favorites of the last 15 days which I’d like you (maybe) discover, both by music and my own words – what I know about these records, sometimes nearly nothing!
We begin in Nashville, early Sixties, with the DIXIELAND DRIFTERS and “HOT TO TROT” cut for the B.B. label. The presence of a dobro, and an unusual infectious rhythm, plus the unisson vocal, make this record very particular. I know the tune had a commercial impact, because, without doubt, its unlikely Bluegrass nature.
Then a decade earlier in Texas. JIMMIE STONE had this solitary “MIDNIGHT BOOGIE” on Imperial (8000 serie) in 1951. Firm vocal, a fine backing, and a completely stunning guitar solo. Surely the man knew the Blues!
On to Memphis and Meteor label. BARNEY BURCHAM is a real unknown, only for his solitary “CAN’T STEAL MY WAY AROUND“. Typical Memphis Hillbilly bop from 1955.
Next two choices are more Rock’n’Roll oriented. First, GRAHAM B. and “ROCK AND ROLL FEVER“. It’s been suggested that the man had connection with Buzz Busby, so a Washington, D.C. location is possible.
Second, for the well-known Bandera label out of Chicago, we find another unknown, certainly a pseudonym: LONESOME LEE and the cool 1958 “CRY OVER ME” – very nice guitar solo.
Finally a R&B classic, “CALDONIA“, sung and played on piano by the 8-years old wonder SUGAR CHILE ROBINSON in 1951. He disappeared afterwards.