Howdy folks ! Eleven selections (yes, 11) this time of small labels and very minor artists, who made for the most part of them only one known record then vanished into obscurity or did something else than a career in music.
From California on the Pico Sundown label (# 113, very late ’50s, let’s hear at BOBBY AUSTIN‘s « Fool, fool, fool » : a jumping little tune, very expressive vocal – the singer knows what he’s talking about, of course. A prominent steel guitar, whose style must BE Ralph Mooney‘s.
A lively « It’s money » by MIKE CLAY follows on the National Sounds label (# 1501), mid ’60s. It’s an uptempo with a harsh guitar. The record itself is produced by « Jack Rhodes », famous producer and songwriter residing in Mineola, TX.
From Louisville, KY, here they are, back-to-back of the Hood label # 1031 by CARL DIXON. More ‘Country’ than hillbilly, however two fine medium-paced Country rockers : « Carry me back to Ark. » and « Hunting out of season ». Surely Dixon has to watch for gamekeepers.. A harmonica throughout is the main instrument.
DICK BILLS began seemingly his career in Arizona on the Vicki label in 1954-55 (an OP- custom issue, « Beggars can’t be choosers »)[see elsewhere in this site my feature on the Four Star OP-serie]. We find him later on the Morgan label (# 107) in California for two medium paced numbers (one is sung by Buzz Burnam – I can’t for Heaven’s sake remember him where/when, but his name rings familiar to my ears). Tracks are « Lost without you », an ordinary bopper, while « Old dusty sun » has a surprising hawaiian-style steel guitar.
Finally Bills reappears in 1961 on the Crest label for a solid « Rockin’ and a rollin’ » (# 1091), backed on the lead guitar by his nephew Glen Campbell.
JIMMY RINGO next artist offers a very nice bopper as late as 1958 on the big concern W.C. Dot (reputed for its pop orientation). « I like this kind of music » (# 15787) has everything Boppers’ addicts could wish for : a nice guitar (a short solo), an interesting vocal, a prominent fiddle, of course no drums and even a banjo solo.
The following artist had a long career as Red River Dave, mostly songwriter, he takes here his real name of DAVE McENERY for a solitary single on a subsidiary label to T.N.T., the aptly named Yodeling # 500. I wonder if they are more numbers in the serie. Both tracks are unusual. « Did the gypsy lie ? » is an intense ballad, while « Jailhouse blues » (backing is made of 2 guitars and a bass) is a sort of folkish hillbilly, very pleasant with its yodel efforts.
Note: Phil Watson, a visitor, had noted what follows: “I heard this was recorded when T Texas Tyler was jailed in 1958 for a drugs offence (he was found carrying weed) and, quick off the mark as always, Red River Dave wrote a song about it – Jailhouse Blues. The lyrics mention a couple of Tyler’s songs.”. Thanks Phil!
Last artist is a completely unknown from Kansas City, MO : ROY BEEMER comes with a shuffler, « Cheatin’ don’t count » has a guitar solo « a la Hank Garland », solos of steel and fiddle. A real good disc on the Artists label # 1459.
“Cheatin’ don’t count”
First selection is a fine bopper (sincere vocal, strong rhythm and good fiddle, even pizzicato played) : « I was standing too close to a heartache » (sounds familiar?) by BILLY TIDWELL, who cut a very good version of « Folsom prison blues » on the White Deer, TX Ko Co Bo label in 1964.
Billy Tidwell, “I was standing too close to a heartache”
Second odd issue is first ever Tommy Collins‘s song, « Campus boogie », when Collins was still known as LEONARD SIPES in his native Oklahoma. The song can be found on Morgan 106, and is very Hank Williams styled.
Then we enter in back-to-back series. JIMMIE DAVIS, also politician for Louisiana Governoship, cut a whole string of early boppers in the ’30s. Here I selected « You’ve been tom cattin’ around », issued on Bluebird in 1933.
A good 22 years later, CARL STORY had his own version, although the mandolin player is himself, on Columbia 21444 (1955). The flipside is the equally good, Rockabilly style, « What a line ». Strong boogie guitar, a fiddle solo. Really a masterpiece.
« What a line » derives from the original by JIMMIE WIDENER, who had this on his first King session in 1946 (# 536B) on the West coast, backed by such luminaries as Joaquin Murphy on steel or Jimmy Wyble on electric guitar. Harold Hensley is also present on fiddle, and co-wrote the song with Merle Travis. Widener had had been vocalist for Tex Williams, Spade Cooley and Bob Wills.
The song was revived first in 1953 by CLYDE MOODY on Decca. Usual style. Moody does it fast, with fiddle and guitar solo. Then in the mid-60s by GLENN THOMPSON, the most obscure artist of them all, who came from North Carolina. Guitar player is modern, but has a fine bluesy solo.