Howdy folks ! I sincerely wish you all a happy New Year full of good mood and bopping exciting music.
The first artist ends up the alphabet : REX ZARIO & the Country All Stars did release in 1968 for the Philly Arcade label (# 202) a very fine double-sider. « Blues Stay Away From Me » is sung in unison vocal, on a strong rhythm guitar and a discreet lead guitar (which has itus own solo). The flipside « I Saw You Cheatin’ Last Night », an uptempo is a good bopper, despite an electric bass. The lead plays its solo on the bass chords for good effect, and the vocal is relax. A good disc to begin the year.
Then the veteran well-known blind singer/songwriter (also as « Pat Patterson » on early Starday releases) LEON PAYNE for an all-time classic (even Hank W. had his version) from October 1948 on the Nashville’s Bullet label (# 670). « Lost Highway » is a very fine bopper, done as a shuffler : great steel and a fiddle solo. Singer is convincing to say the least.
Next records by RAMBLIN’ RED BAILEY on a Starday Custom from April 1957, Peach 653. Side A offers a mid-paced, very melodic « The Hardest Fall » ; good piano and vocal, a too-short guitar solo. Side B in complete contrast, is really very fast. The guitar player does a real showcase of his dexterity on « You’ve Always Got A Frown », in my mind an inferior track to side A. Bailey had also an EP on Peach, then turned out on Heap Big and Bethlehem labels between 1957 and 62 (untraced).
Cut in 1953, the already unknown LEE BELL releases « Beatin’ Out The Boogie (On The Mississipi Mud) » (RCA 20-5148). A fabulous gas ! What a romping piano ! A great boogie guitar (plus a fantastic solo) ; steel and fiddle have also their solos ! Bell also did « I Get The Biggest Thrill » (RCA 20-5024), also interesting, but less than the first side reviewed. He was also to have two issues on Imperial, 8000 serie (untraced).
« Quarter In The Juke Box » was sung on the Louisiana Hayride in 1958 by LONNIE SMITHSON. The original, a bit like Johnny Cash, was released earlier on Starday 359. The guitar player sounds consciensly like Luther Perkins !
Finally we get to Louisiana, with two latter tracks. In 1967 the BALFA BROTHERS (Dewey, lead vocal and fiddle) released on the « Earl Gibson Transport, Inc. » a good « Indian On A Stomp ». Good Cajun music (let’s get attention to the rhythm given by the ‘ti’fer’ (= small iron triangle).
And now the rollicking « Mowater Blues » (sung of course in French) by the multi-instrumentist ROBERT BERTRAND from 1971-72 on the Goldband label # 1221 (Lake Charles, La.) : “Cajun style” steel guitar, fiddle, el. bass, accordion and solid, impeccable/implacable drums + great vocal and fiddle by Bertrand .
That’s it, folks.
Sources : Gripsweat for Lee Bell second issue ; YouTube for Lonnie Smithson, Leon Payne and Rex Zario ; Starday project for Ramblin’ Red Bailey ; 45cat and 78-worlds ; my own archives
Howdy folks ! Over here in France, it’s the final run for Soccer’s Europ Cup – that’s not really Hillbilly !
First a mostly known artist for his Rock & roll and Pop records. He went with 2 aliases to pursue 2 careers at least. Originally from Canton, OH, DICK GLASSER first fronted for one record the Pee Wee King band in 1956, and sang on two tracks full of energy and dynamism (without noise, all is fluid and lowdown although uptempo) : « Catty town » and « Hoot scoot », to be found on the RCA-Victor 47-6584 label. A cross between Hillbilly bop and Western swing. Later Glasser renamed himself Dick Lory on the Liberty label.
Next four tracks were cut in 1959-60 and issued on the Demorest, GA.Country Jubilee label. The city is at the upper north limit of the State, very near of Virginia and Tennessee frontiers.
# 517 is done by BILL ALEX and the Dixie Drifters : « I‘m just a nobody » is a typical late ’50s medium uptempo country-rocker. It’s flipside, « I’ll remember you » was untraced by me, but issued along with the A-side on Top Rank EP 2055 in 1960.
BILL WATSON on # 525 has here two selections, « I’m dying darling » is a soft uptempo country-rocker, while the reverse side « You’re the onefor me» is a bit bluesy, with a sort of hypnotic guitar throughout.
Finally for the Country Jubilee label, we jump to # 539 by BILL LEATHERWOOD and « My foolish heart », a slow uptempo ; nothing exceptional, although the man has a sort of treble in his voice. Steel present. I’ve added as a bonus his « Hillbilly blues » issued by Peach (# 756), also in Georgia, well into 1961-62, a good country rocker with lotsa steel and a fiddle solo.
Last record I review this fortnight is done by MASON GAY on the Country Music label, from Forest, MS (# 501). Confident vocal for a country rocker (no drums), « I never have the blues », while the flipside is catchy (« The girl I met at the bar ») which is part-spoken. Has a Rite number, dating the record from 1960.
This first batch of duets will concentrate on bopping Bluegrass tunes. Indeed the choice of tunes is entirely mine, and I post the ones I like very much. The main instruments, as expected, are fiddle and banjo or mandolin, all pushing often an urgent vocal.
The DIXIE DRIFTERS were a small Bluegrass group from Houston, TX ; actually they were the first one to make Bluegrass music so far from Kentucky or Tennessee. Hank Wilson (guitar/vocal & composer) was the leader when they cut « Lies, lies and alibis », a fast ditty on the Minor label (# 112). Enjoy the dobro part! (According to ARLD, this record came out in October 1958). No label scan available, sorry: I’ve just got the music from a Tom Sims’ cassette. Earlier on the boys had another issue on Azalea 110, same style (« Gone forever »). Hank Wilson, as “Slim Wilson” recorded probably one more single for Minor (# 117)”The ring around your finger/Bring a wall around Texas“. And I really don’t know if Hank Wilson and Leon Russell are the same person.
Way up north with the THOMAS BROTHERS (Melvin and Erwin) for an oustanding « Way high, way low » on the Hammond, IN. Mar-Vel’ label (# 355 from 1956). Each voice (3 actually) compete strongly : the highpitched, then the bass man, finally the medium singing « Right in the middle, that’s where I want to be ». A pity they never had another issue. March 22,2018. Actually I found a clip of their EP on Atwell 173, “Let The Light Shine Down“, below.
Third we have a decisive ‘Vocal duet’ on the label : Rena 803 (sub-label to Cozy) from Ripley, WV by RALPH & RUTH. « Hard hearted girl», great rhythm guitar. It’s difficult to assume a date for the issue, maybe late ’50s, or even 1961, as suggested by HillbillyCountry45 (Youtube).
From Pico, California on the Sundown label # 106 : TOMMY GUESS & BILL LOWE do give a lot of energy in their « My foolish heart ». Mandolin solo. They disappeared afterwards 1958. March 22,2018. I’ve added a clip of the flipside, “Unwanted and Alone“. Enjoy!
A beautiful harmony with the NASH BROTHERS, probably from Georgia on the Peach label (# 569) : « My prescription refilled » from March 1959.