Hi ! This is the selection (ten tunes) of bopping favorites for early May 2018.
The first artist in discussion is HANK SWATLEY. He cut two records on the very small Aaron label, out of West Memphis, Arkansas : just across the Mssissipi River. Now the man is only remembered for is energetic version of Johnny Tyler’s « Oakie Boogie », and it surely is : cool vocal, harsh guitar, a fabulous record for 1959. But the man had to record three more sides, which are plainly hillbilly. « It Takes A Long Time To Forget » (Aaron 100) is a nice ballad with a sparse instrumentation : only one rhythm guitar and discreet drums. The flipside « Ways Of A Woman In Love » keeps the same format, with some heavier drums (song penned by Charlie Rich). Swatley’s high-pitched voice reminds me that of Jimmy Work.
On Google, picture tied with Aaron 101 “Oakie Boogie”
The second platter (# 101) has of course « Oakie Boogie », originally a Jack Guthrie hit of 1946 ; but the flipside is once more a bluesy ballad ; « I Can’t Help It » is of course a rendition of the Hank Williams’ song.
« Life Without You » is a good Country-rocker sung by LEON NAIL. A prominent steel, well in the Nashille fashion, and a piano player. The song itself is well sung, a sort of fast Rockaballad on Nashville # 5172, and it was released ca. 1961. Nail had at least another on the small Tennessee label (# 10002) from 1964, for two numbers in the same style.
Then the HODGES BROTHERS BAND for « Searching My Dreams On You »(1959) on the Whispering Pines label (# 200) : (Ralph Hodges, vocal) a great bouncing song with guitar, old fiddle and lead guitar. Vocal is urgent and smells all the flavor of the Appalachian Mountains, a real Hillbilly bop treat. The Brothers had indeed records issued on Trumpet, Mississipi and Starday and even later on California’s Arhoolie. They are so good that they deserve well a feature.
We are going to Texas, more precisely in Luling, home of one intriguing label : Charlie Fitch’s Sarg Records. On May 4, 1956, Fitch recorded Adolph Hofner and the Pearl Wranglers, who comprised on steel BASH HOFNER and on vocal (for this session) Eddie Bowers. The thema chosen this day was « Rockin’ And A-Boppin’ », a real slice of Hillbilly Bop/Rockabilly, well fed up with Western swing overtones. This Sarg 138 is valued at $ 100-125.
To sum up, both sides of Shreveport, La. Clif label 101 by ROY WAYNE : he delivers « Honey Won’t You Listen », a good shuffler from 1957. Sparse instrumentation, but quite effective for the lazy vocal of Wayne. Flipside « Anyway You Do » is in the same vein. The 45 attains $ 400 to 500 if you can locate it.
Hello, folks! This is the latest batch of Hillbilly bops/rockabillies I’d like to help you discover. Only unknown names, and microscopic record labels!
The exception being a 1951 Mercury recording by PAUL & ROY, the Tennessee Valley Boys. They had 4 sessions for the label, and I chose the moving, bluegrass flavored (even a mandolin) “Spring Of Love” (# 6374). From Texas probably, because “Bluebonnet Pub” appears on the label, on BOB WHITFIELD. He does a nice medium paced Rockabilly, “What Can A Man Do” on Spotlight 5018. Fine strong lead guitar (echo), an haunting steel. A fine record which grows on you everytime you listen to it.
On the Karl label (# 3022), and from I don’t know where, a cross between hillbilly bop and Rockabilly, with LACY KIRK doing the fast ” This Is Saturday Night“. Strong bass, a short fiddle solo. A good record.
From Louisville, KY. do come JIMMY SETTLE& the Blue Grass Rangers for the next song, “Admitting Defeat” on the Pier-Wats label # 1301. There is nothing pertaining to Bluegrass here, because the song is a nice Hillbilly bop dominated by steel.
On the Tycer label # 1304 we come now to JMMY BANKSTON and the “I Come From Louisiana“. No concession Rockabilly, with unobstrusive drums and fine guitar.
Finally from around 1960, one of the earliest Nashville label releases (see the story in the site) with DAVE STEWART for “Thinking About You” (# 5006). The song has fiddle and bass, and reminds me somehow of early George Jones on Starday.
After Lonnie Irving‘s 1960 success with « Pinball Machine » (Starday 486) – staying on the charts for four months, reaching Billboard’s # 13 spot -, Don Pierce realized that a lot of the custom material sent in to Starday had strong commercial potential, so he decided to set up a label that would serve as a cross between the Starday custom serie (which lasted until # 1186) and the main series. Shortly after the success of the success of « Pinball Machine » in the summer of 1961, Pierce founded a subsidiary label, Nashville Records. Just as they had a custom service, artists would generally pay for their own studio sessions. But as was the norm for the his Starday productions, Pierce would usually pay for the pressing, shipping, and promotion. The goal was to establish another successful line of singles that, similar to the rock’n’roll label Dixie, could be shopped around on a local level.(more…)
Howdy folks! Plain hot summer, so it’s time for a few more Hillbilly bop/Rockabilly tunes. Note that I will take holidays during this month, so next fortnight early September.
From California first, CHUCK HENDERSON and the fine, steel-guitar dominated 1959 romper “Rock And Roll Baby” on the Ozark label. No more info available.
Grover Franklin “BIG JEFF” Bess is a Nashville legend. He sold beer, cure-all tonics and baby chicks on the Gallatin, TN, WLAC radio from 1946 for 16 years. Appeared in two Elia Kazan films and owned several night clubs, e. g. the famous Nashville’s Orchid Lounge Club. Virtually every major session player in Nashville was a member of The Radio Playboys at one time or another. In fact, the great Grady Martin started out playing fiddle for Big Jeff in the early days. He had records on World, Cheker (sic) and Dot, and today his 1951 “Step It Up And Go” stands as one of the most early Rockabillies. I’ve chosen his first on Dot, “Juke Box Boogie” (1004), strong guitar, and a swinging tight combo.
Indeed Bess has his own CD on Bear Family 16941 “Tennessee Home Brew“, which gathers all his issued sides, plus a lot of unissued or radio extracts. Big Jeff’s story is intended in the future in Bopping.
Then, from a Dutchman’s Collector comp’, KELLY WEST & His Friendly Country Boys and the great “Grandpa Boogie“. Don’t know anything about the original label (4* 1223), or which part of the U.S. it came from. I’d assume 1954-55 (Note April10 2018. It dates from 1947!). Fine fiddle (a solo) and lead guitar. On to Nashville again, this time late ’50s on the aptly named Starday subsidiary Nashville: KEN CLARK offers a folky “Truck Driving Joe” (very early issue on the label, 5009 – he had a 45 on Starday earlier) with a nice steel-guitar, typical of the late ’50s.
From Cincinnati, OH, on the King label (# 1403) and a 4-tracks session (held Oct. 15, 1954) comes the very good “Oo-Ee Baby” by RALPH SANFORD. Typical King instrumentation for this medium uptempo Hillbilly bop. The singer is unknown to me elsewhere, here in fine form.
Billboard March 26, 1955
On July 19, the famous, although long-forgotten LIL GREENWOOD passed away at 86. I enclose a Youtube snippet of a September 2007 live gig, “Back To My Roots“. She’s in real fine form! For more information on her, go to:http://inabluemood.blogspot.com/2011/07/lil-greenwood-former-ellington-vocalist.html