For this new rendez-vous, I’ve chosen three tracks from the ’50s, then one from…1978, the remainder being from the ’30s.
First, JOHNNY NELMS on Azalea 015/016 (Houston label), « After Today » is his finest hour, raw, emotional honky tonk. The uncredited backing band here is Peck Touchton‘s Sunset Wranglers, which includes Doug Myers (fiddle), Herman McCoy (guitar), Hoyt Skidmore (steel guitar), and George Champion (piano). I add in the podcasts his Starday offering, « Everything Will Be Alright » (# 228) from 1956. He already had records on Gold Star, Freedom, and later (briefly) on Decca. Nothing but a plain Country boy, who never made it…
Then, from the Cincinnati area, one JIMMIE WILLIAMS, I know nothing about, except this little record on the Acorn label (# 153). Here it is his original « Hey, Hey Little Dreamboat« , a nice, uptempo Hillbilly bop. Apparently the man had nothing to do with later Arkansas rocker of « You’re Always Late » fame.
From Nashville TN, April 1954, when young ERNIE CHAFFIN entered the Hickory studios, nothing really happened with his four sides; I somehow find some freshness in his « I Can’t Lose The Blues » (# 1024). Shortly after, he was to launch, with his steel player Pee Wee Maddux, the Fine label in Biloxi, MS. before moving in 1956 to Sun in Memphis.
That’s it for the ’50s! Now with a legend, ROSE MADDOX, taken live from Youtube (I just kept the sound track), for an old Jimmie Rodgers’ song, « Muleskinner Blues« . The Lady does it perfectly!
Onto the ’30s. First with ex-Governor of Louisiana (twice!) JIMMIE DAVIS. He sang Hillbilly as early as the late ’20s. Here you get his rendition of the traditional « When The Saints« , under the title « Down At The Old Country Church » (recorded Charlotte, NC, 1931), with Ed Shaffer on the lap-steel guitar. Full of emotion…
Finally, from 1936 comes a one-time associate to Davis, his Black bottleneck guitar player, OSCAR WOODS. Here he sings, on a funny cartoon, « Don’t Sell It – Give It Away« . The whole thing, recorded in New Orleans, sounds very much Western swing! Magic of internet to find those gems…
Howdy folks! For this late July 2010 fortnight, I begin with JIMMY DALLAS on the K.C. Shome label (« Crooked Cards« ). Good steel and rinky dink piano (common for the era). He was later to have two discs on the Westport label (seel elsewhere in the site for the label’s survey). Nice hillbilly bop from ca. 1952-53.
On to Texas with the very first (?) record by GLEN REEVES, « I’m Johnny On The Spot » on the T.N.T. label from 1955. Reeves would later appear on Republic and Decca, turning into R-a-B and R&R. Here he is in fine form, supported by a tight backing combo, providing uptempo rhythm. Good fiddle.
COYE WILCOX hailed from Dallas, Texas. Here it is his solitary issue on Azalea label, « Zippy, Hippy, Dippy« . Fine steel and strong lead guitar. Flipside was « You gotta quit cheatin‘ » (for another fortnight). He had earlier cut a record for Freedom in 1951, fronting Jack Rhodes‘ band. Rhodes is famous for his song writing abilities during the second part of the ’50s, i.e. Jimmy Johnson/Gene Vincent song « Woman Love », or Ronnie Dawson.
From Booneville, MS, comes HAYDEN THOMPSON, billed as « The South’s Most Versatile Singer », backed by the Southern Melody Boys, for « I Feel The Blues Coming On » on the small Von label from 1954. Plaintive fiddle, steel guitar and string-bass behind almost murmuring vocal make a very atmospheric Hillbilly Bop record. Von label had also Johnny Burnette Trio and Lloyd McCullough (the latter’s story is intended in Bopping). Thompson would later cut for Sam Phillips, hence the classic « Love My Baby », then he ended up in Chicago (Profile and Kapp labels) in the late ’50s, and a successful Country career.
HANK MILLS, whose real name was Samuel Garrett, waxed during the late Fifties in San Antonio (Blaze label) the very attractive « Just A Mean Mean Mamma« , with a prominent mandolin, which reminds me of the mid-Forties sound. Mills would later become a highly-prized songwriter, reaching a N°1 in 1965 with Del Reeves.
We come to an end in Houston with a great R&B Rocker from 1956 on the Peacock label: « Pack, Fair And Square » by BIG WALTER PRICE.