Howdy, folks! Hello to past visitors, hi! to new ones. Here it’s the new fortnight’s favorites selection of bopping music (early April 2020), and you’ll be treated with tunes as early as 1934, to immediate early ’60s.
Zeke Clements & his Western Swing Gang
An early Grand Ole Opry star, ZEKE CLEMENTS (1911-1994) was an immensely popular artist with songs like « Smoke On The Water » or « Oklahoma Blues ». Here he is on the Blazon klabel (# 10B) from the late ’40s for « It’s My Life », an uptempo a bit jazzy/Western swing : clarinet all through along the tune, piano and jumping vocal. Clements even adapted himself in 1959 to Rock’n’roll on his own Janet label.
Even earlier (1934) by HOMER CALLAHAN part of the Callahan Brothers duo (the other was Walter). This is crude Hillbilly ! « Rattlesnake Daddy » has a raw power, only singer and his guitar, with some yodel. Vocalion 04362, cut in NYC.
A fast hillbilly now in the hands of RANDY ATCHER, a Louisville, Ky artist. « Flying High » (M-G-M 11954), released iin 1955, is a fast number that moves, with a nice fiddle. More of the same for « You’re A Living Doll » (# 12058) : steel effects and also moving. Atcher cut an « Indian » classic hillbilly in 1956, « Indian Rock » (M-G-M 12347). He was also on Contract Records.
Another Indian Hillbilly is « Mohawk Squaw » (King 1468, recorded May 1955) by the YORK Brothers, Leslie and George. It’s a fine novelty « Mohawk Squaw, Hugh-hugh »..), well in their usual manner : good guitar and some spare drums. Released also on UK. Parlophone.
From Oklahoma on the Razorback label (# 103) in 1958 we are treated with a fast Hillbilly bopper by BILLY PARKS : « Four Leaf Clover » is a lively opus, string bass well to the fore, boogie guitar and a discreet steel (too short solo), chanter in good form. The flipside, « Why Shoud I Keep On Trying » is similar in essence and tempo, as well as the UBC 1015 « If I Shoud Tell You I’m Sorry » (issued November 1960).
Finally a master in Rocking Blues : JIMMY REED with two tracks from a July 1955 session for Chicago’s Vee-Jay Records Company. W.C. Dalton on lead guitar, Milton Rector on bass, Earl Phillips on drums, plus the very great Henry Gray on piano (later with Howling Wolf). The two tracks have Reed on vocal and harmonica : « She Don’t Want Me No More » and « I Don’t Go For That » – neither me !
Sources : YouTube for Randy Atcher ; HBR 19 (Razorback) for Billy Parks’ songs ; Google Images for Randy Atcher and Jimmy Reed ; Ron Keppner for Zeke Clements on Blazon ; 45cat for Billy Parks and Bob Dean ; my own archives.
Howdy folks ! This is the 5th bopping fortningt’s favorites selection of the 2019 year, that of early March. Mostly made of late ’40s and very early ’50s recordings in very various styles.
Blue Ridge Playboys (Moon Mullican)
Let’s begin with a San Antonio recording from November 1936 : « Swing Baby Swing » is a Blue Ridge Playboys tune, described on the label (Vocalion 034160) as « Hot String Band And Singing » : Moon Mullican (vocal and piano) is driving the Blue Ridge Playboys with this lively tune, only a pretext for piano, fiddle (Leon Selph) and guitar solos.
Further on with two later sides by MOON MULLICAN on the King label (recorded in Cincinnati on March 6th, 1953), : « Grandpa Stole My Baby »(written by a R&B giant, Roy Brown) and « I Done It » are obvious attempts to sound R&B (a lovely saxophone and drums, played by Boyd Bennett) and predate vintage Rock’n’roll by 3 years. Lazy rhythm, haunting tracks at every listen, of course the piano is great.
Next artist is a legendary songwriter, with classic songs from the 1946-48 era like « I’m Tellin’ You », « It’s Too Late To Change Your Mind », « Tennessee Saturday Night » or « Stealin’ The Blues ». Bopping.org devoted him an article (in October 2014), and here’s a tune that escaped to the post, BILLY HUGHES’ PECOS PALS and « Out Of Town Boogie » (4* 1202 from 1947) : it’s an uptempo mid-paced, vocally halfspoken.
WALT McCOY was a West Coast artist : he was backed by his Western Wonders, and had records on Cristal and Broadway among others. Here he delivers first a « Cowboy Boogie », a solid rhythm over a boogie guitar pattern, taken over by an uninspired steel solo, and piano, issued on the rare O and W label (# 237). Then on a 4* custom OP- record (on Pacific 145), « I’m Gonna Get A Honky Tonk Angel » is a slow thing, a bit crooning and disillusioned vocal over a good steel.
Then on a major label (RCA-Victor # 21-0357 cut –), a cheerful, although on a bluesy type tempo, « Tom Cat Blues » by an unknown but prolific artist : EDDIE MARSHALL & His Trail Dusters. The steel-guitar goes throughout the song, and the vocal is yodeling at times.The dude had several other good records, namely « Mobilin’ Baby Of Mine » (also by Gene O’Quinn on Capitol 2075), « Honky Tonk Blues » (not the Hank Williams song), a version of « Coffee, Cigarettes & Tears » (also by Charlie ‘Peanuts ‘ Faircloth on Decca 46271) . Eddie Mashall really deserves a complete research and a publication.
Later on Ohio’s Acme 1230 (1950’s, it’s difficult to date this particular issue), AL BRUMLEY & The Brumley Brothers do release « You’ve Been Tellin’ Me Lies », a good uptempo with steel present (+ solo), over a vocal well suited to this rural type of song.
Finally a great fiddle and mandolin led bopper from a very unusual place : Missoula, Montana. The Snake River Outlaws do « I Won’t Go Huntin’ Jake (But I’ill Go Chasin’ Women)[vocal Orville Fochtman] with good fiddle and mandolin (solo), I’d assume a ’50s disc, but may also be a ’60s one ! On their own label, Snake River Outlaw 101.
Nothing is known about this important, although quite obscure artist of the 1940’s and ’50’s. Even not any statistic of birth or death, although he was certainly livng in the Dallas, TX area, and was born there during the ’20s. Nothing more is known about his childhood and beginnings in music, so we are forced to deal only with the records he appeared on.
From 1939 until 1952 he was closely associated with another Texan, AL DEXTER and worked with him either as washboard player (in the ’30s), sometimes harmonicist, and in some cases held the vocal duties into the Dexter’s band, « The Troopers », not forgetting he was also songwriter : he was co-writer (with Tex Ritter) of the all-time Hank Williams‘ classic, « Dear John ». But more about that later.
In 1939, he was a member of the Al Dexter’s Troopers, as said before, and offered the group a good selling disc : « Wine, women and song » – recorded in December 1939 and issued on Vocalion 5572, it was covered by Texas Jim Lewis in September 1940 (Decca 05875), and by the Prairie Ramblers (Decca 05878) – the song must’ve looked to Decca’s executives a lucrative seller). When re-recorded by Dexter on Columbia 37062 in April 1945, he was a second time covered (a reissue) by Jim Lewis (Decca 46021). It attracted two more versions in 1946 by Frankie Marvin (San Antonio 107) and Dick James (Coast 234).
Gass gave Al Dexter (or co-wrote with him) two more songs in 1941/42 : « The Money You Spent Was Mine » (Okeh 6206) and « Honky Tonk Chinese Dime »(OKeh 6604). He played the harmonica on « Diddy, Wah, Diddy With A Blah !Blah ! » (Vocalion 6255) – which Dexter re-recorded later on King as « Diddy Wah Boogie » (# 885). Gass also held the vocal duty for « Sunshine » (Vocalion 04988, reissued in 1946 on Columbia 20240), both coming out of a long 8-track June 13th 1939 session.
As far at it concerns records, Aubrey Gass disappeared from the music scene between 1941 and 1946. Was he drafted in U.S. Army during W.W. II such a long time is improbable. Anyway, his first record under his real name was issued mid to late 1946 in Houston by Gold Star (# 1318) and coupled a then-famous for veterans couplet, « Kilroy’s Been Here » and « Delivery Man Blues ». Backed by the Easterners (guitar, bass, fiddle, steel and piano), Gass on alert vocal and harmonica delivers a joyful A-side, although the bluesy B-side is equally at home. Indeed both sides were written by Gass, who saw the following year a reissue of his Gold Star disc on the new DeLuxe (#6001) label, a proof of the popularity of the record.
It must also be noted that a song « Kilroy Was Here » was recorded and released by Paul Page on Enterprise; reviewed by Billboard on August 31, 1946, no one can say who came first for sure.
« Dear John » […] was his biggest song ; in fact, it was the only hit he ever wrote. The first version was by Jim Boyd, younger brother of Dallas-based western swing artist Bill Boyd. Gass apparently knew Jim Boyd, offered him « Dear John », and Boyd recorded it on March 11, 1949. Soon after, Tex Ritter got his finger in the pie. Ritter probably promised to get the song cut by a big name, like himself, or to get Gass a contract with his label, Capitol, if he could get a piece of the song. The fact that Gass recorded « Dear John » for Capitol (# 40239, or # 1427) some five months after Boyd suggests that Ritter lived up to his half of their convenant. Hank Williams later picked (early 1951) up the song, this time co-written « Ritter-Gass ». Note : Jim Boyd’s version is already written by Gass and Ritter…
The session for Capitol took place in Dallas on August 9th, 1949 (Billboard announced both the contact signing and the recording session on Sept. 17) and supplied four more Gass-written songs. The backing of Wesley Tuttle and Group (specially come to Dallas) was made of Gass himself (vocal/harmonica), probably Tuttle (rhythm-guitar), a steel, a bass player and a drummer. First came the already discussed « Dear John » : Gass is full of energy on harmonica, has a husky voice, as on the fast « Look Me Up » and (by far the most hard-rocking tune of the lot) « K.C. Boogie ». The last song, « Gee But I’m Lonely Tonight », is a slowie and Gass doesn’t seems at ease here.
« Dear John » had numerous versions, among them an R&B rendition by Dinah Washington, which climbed at n°3 in the charts. It also had a follow-up in 1953 as « A Dear John Letter », first by Jean Shepard (Capitol 2502).
Next recording session Aubrey Gass collaborated for was done on May 19, 1950 by Al Dexter and his Troopers again. Gass was present, and played some harmonica on several tracks, but still being contracted to Capitol, could not sing at all. He plays (distinct style easily recognizable) on « Blow That Lonesome Whistle, Casey » (King 875)[very near in essence to “K. C. Boogie“], « Walking With The Blues » (which he co-wrote) (King 884), then both sides of King 913 : « Diddy Wah Boogie » and « You’ve Been Cheatin’ On Me ».
Al Dexter & His Troopers, “Blow That Lonesome Whistle, Casey”
At unknown dates he cut several demos at Sellers Studio in Dallas, between 1950 and late 1951. Three of them found their way on the British/Nederland Boppin’ Hillbilly compilation n° 2810. Due to legal rights, we are not allowed to offer these great sides. They are : « Columbus Stockade Blues », « Here Today And Gone Tomorrow » and « Walkin’ Out Of Town ».
But « Counting My Teardrops » and « Fisherman Boogie », cut late 1951 or early 1952, were issued under Gass’ own name by Sellers as acetates, and released just as they were under Al Dexter’s name (« Vocal by Aubrey Gass») on Decca, respectively 28345 and 28137 during the first half of 1952. Both tracks were probably recorded (given date by Michel Ruppli’s book « The Decca label » as Feb. 7, 1952) with the Al Dexter band : trumpet, rhythm-guitar, piano (particularly rolling in « Fisherman’s boogie»), steel, bass and drums and no harmonica at all. This 14 tunes session has no less than 8 unissued tracks, and could well reveal some surprises.
A recent discovery on eBay has surfaced an unissued Audiodisc dated (as handwritten on label) May 23,1956. « Garbage Man » by Gass is a strange novelty : only vocal, harmonica and rhythm guitar. The acetate was gone on December 19, 2017 for $ 118,00.
In 1962 (June) Aubrey Gass gave Tom O’Neal « Two Many Tickets » (released first on Cheatham 104, then reissued on Starday 607), a country rocker ; it’s probably Gass who played the harmonica in this song, as well as on the flipside « Sleeper Cab Blues ».
Further research has unearthed a demo of « Corn Fed Gal », cut for the « Boyd Recording Service » in Dallas. The strange thing is that this version runs at 2 mn 05, while the Helton version has a duration of 2 mn 22. So then, are they the same ? Could it be that the lucky owner of the Boyd record please stand up and say the truth about this point. I am inclined personnally towards two different versions. This demo was sold on eBay in 2010 for $ 136,00.
Last record is on the Swansee label # 1908 (mid-’60s) by Mr. G. « Pork-N-Beans » and « Sittin’n’Thinkin’ » are unheard, both written « Aubrey A. Gass », so cannot comment. Remember (see above) his actual name was Aubrey Andrew Gass.
Sources : my sincere thanks to UncleGil for Bronco Buster, the King Project, the Starday project and BACM music ; many (if not all) label scans do come from 78rpm-worlds ; thanks to ole’ Ronald Keppner for Sellers acetates ; Dave Sichak of hillbilly-music.com for Aubrey Gass only known picture ; Gripsweat site for 1956 acetate ; Colin Escott, « Hank Williams, The Biography » for the « Dear John » story. Billboard books for notifications of releases (Thanks Imperial!).
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Hello, this is a full Summer 2017 (early August) fortnight favorites’ selection, with 10 tunes. The first two are by an unknown artist on a famous label. HARRY CARROLL on the Starday label # 277 (issued December 1956). A waltz tempo for « Checkerboard lover », a mid-paced sentimental « Two-timin’ » for the flipside. Typical Starday atmosphere, but nothing exceptional. Carroll seemingly co-wrote « The trail of the lonesome pine » for Jimmy Donley (Decca 30392), and that was over. “Checkerboard lover”
GLENN & JODY, the Singing Buddies were backed by Larry Nolen & the Bandits for this fine WS flavored bopper « I’m even with you » on the San Antonio label Eagle # 3772. It’s for you, Bill S. Larry Nolen was a veteran of the S.-A. scene, having records issued on Sarg as early as 1954 (« Hillbilly love affair »), Starday in 1956-57 (« Lucky lady », « King of the ducktail cats »), then later on Eagle (apparently his own label, or one he was involved in – backed by Herby Remington on steel) or Renner in 1961.
RED MANSEL had previously cut for Starday custom # 523 (« I’ve crossed you off my list ») in July 1955, and was the first to appear on Dan Mechura’s new label, All Star # 7165, with a fine medium paced ballad, « Changing heart ». Very great vocal.
KEN GABBARD & The Hilltop Ramblers cut in 1965 on the Trenton, OH Harp label (no #) the very nice « Thing’s can’t be as they were » (sic). Uptempo ballad, and typical early ’60s hillbilly sounds.
Howdy, folks ! This is the early June 2017 bopping fortnight’s selection, between 1937 and 1947, with some projections in the very early ’60s.
Here we go before WWII with BILL NETTLES & his Dixie Blue Boys for his first recording session, held in Dallas, TX on June 22nd, 1937 (nearly 80 years ago…) His story has already been written in this site, and I will focus on one track, « Oxford (Miss) Blues », described on the label as « hot string band with singing ». Really hot fiddle (Dock Massey, who’s also singing, among cheers and yells) and strong slapping bass (by Nettles’ brother Luther). They didn’t do such great tracks so often, even in the ’40s and ’50s.
ALSIE « REX » GRIFFIN (1912-1959) made most of his career during the ’30s on Decca, as a follower of Jimmie Rodgers, and a fine yodeler too. Here on the decline (one of his last records) in Cincinnati on King 584 (February 1947), I chose « I’m as free as the breeze » : nice hot guitar player (obviously inspired by the late Django Rheinhart) and a discree steel for a good mid-paced bopper.
Griffin was also responsible for three classics, « Everybody’s trying to be my baby » (one feature in this site is devoted to this song and its continuation), « Won’t you ride in my little red wagon » (the signature song of Hank Penny), and the morbid « The last letter ».
HANK STOLLINGS went on the RCA-pressed 1961 Versatile 101 « Date with the blues » (vocal Chuck Louis) with a deep-voiced country rocker ; 2 fine fiddle solos, and a good loud guitar too.
From the same or similar era (late 1959) we find also BEN JACK & Country Boys for «I’m entitled to your love», a mid-paced light country rocker with fiddle emanating from Tulsa, OK, to be found on the Cimarron label # 4048. This label was owned by Leon McAuliffe, former steel player in the Bob Wills’ Playboys.
Back to TOMMY FAILE (reviewed early May with « That’s all right » on Lawn 104, NYC label) and the flipside of this December 1960 issue, « The rest of my life ». Arthur Smith is seemingly on lead guitar (on bass chords) for this baritone-voiced, female chorus backed (unobstrusive) country rocker.
Indiana born, on a Chicago label, comes BOB PERRY for two tunes. First a famous small Rockabilly classic,« Weary blues, goodbye » on the Bandera label (# 1303, from 1959), valued at $ 150-200, it has a very strong rhythm guitar (obviously played by Perry himself) and a fantastic steel guitar solo . So tame in comparison is the second Perry issue on Cool 158, « Gone with the wind », which is a gentle Rockabilly/rocker (all the same attaining $ 75-100). Perry went later on Top Rank and BandBox.
Jimmie Dale got his start in hillbilly music with the guidance of Dave Miller, who was a famous New Jersey-Newark disc jockey.
He organized his own band and they made personal appearances in the New York night club circuit. Jimmie also appeared at Carnegie Hall, Frank Daly’s Meadowbrook and the top spot on Dave Miller’s television show. By 1953, he was being heard over radio station WAAT in Newark, New Jersey.
Dale had other boogies in the same style.
Sources : 45cat and 78rpm-worlds, YouTube (e.g. Rockin’ TomKat for Bob Perry on Cool) ; Hillbilly-Music.com (picture of Rex Griffin and Jimmie Dale) ; also Wikipedia for Rex Griffin bio. My own archives.