Hello, folks. This fortnight’s favorites selection will be very various and pointing in different directions.
First artist whom a virtually nothing is known about, and not more on his band. DON HAGER & the Hot Tots had in Autumn 1957 several sides cut for the Oak label out of the very small (ca. 800 souls) town of Whitakers, N.C. These guys had a tendency to Calypso rhythm, fact is obvious with « Bebop boogie » (Oak 0357), and it brings a lot of freshness to their composition. Fine rinky-dink piano, an hopping drum and a good (although discreet) steel make it a very fine Rockabilly, yet different..That very same song had been cut by Mustard & Gravy in 1950 and issued on Gotham 403, a sign of its later popularity. I already posted their fine version in the early June 2011 fortnight’s favorites selection And even earlier back, it had been recorded by Harry Gay, and published on…Oak 1000 [untraced, but according to the notes to « Long gone daddy », a compilation on Collectables 6335]. Hager had also « Calypso boogie », same style, on a ’70s Rockin’ Stars issue and « I love you dear forever », from a 1990 compilation (Oldies 5374) – this is an alternate take – with the steel much more to the fore. Finally « Liza Jane bop » (Oak 0358), also strange in its rhythm, yet is a more conventional Rockabilly. Nobody knows what happened to Hager and his group afterwards.
From Alabama comes the second artist : NORRIS MIMS [not to be confused with the Texan of similar name Morris Mills] in 1959 on the custom pressed (CP-1987) Birmingham, AL, Arlington label (# 101B) for « Sweet sweet baby ». It has an urgent vocal over a very fast backing, a fine guitar and a piano break. It is stunning such a good record is not worth an entry in Tom Lincoln’s book, as I am sure it’s very highly treasured. Incidentally the tune had been first cut in 1956 by Buddy Hanes [according to « 50sRock’n’roll » Youtube chain], but had remained unissued until our era (I didn’t find on which support).
The third record is not by a newcomer. The song « Chili dippin baby » was issued twice : on Blue Hen and on Raymor by its composer, Raymond McColister with different singers. Here is the Raymor version (# 6004A) with vocal by Mz. Melody Mack.
JIMMY HEATH & the Rhythm Rollers did record « Little darlin’ » for the Modesto, Ca. Mega label (# 2261) . It’s a typical late ’50s bopper. Lot of steel (a solo which reminds a bit of Ralph Mooney), a jumping little tune with a good expressive vocal and a fine Rockabilly guitar.
Now on to Texas, in the apply named town of Center, with REGGIE WARD & his Sons of Texas. They do offer a fast bopper « Juke box baby » from early 1951 with vocal by Jack Ford. Could the latter be the same man who cut « No not now », backed by Curley Williams (Columbia 20633, January 1950), or the Hayrider who recorded the fine hillbilly bop « That’s all you gotta do » (Chess 4858) in 1954 ? A final detail on Nemo Records (owned by Mrss. Jack McLendon and Leon Sanders) : the Wilburn Brothers [Theodore & Doyle] (later on Decca) apparently cut their first sides for this label.
BILL WATSON on the Demorest, GA Country Jubilee label (# 525) recorded a fine double-sider reviewed by Billboard in February 1960. The songs are similar in structure : over a strong guitar, a very melodic vocal partially sung in unison, they are very enjoyable and catchy « You’re the one for me » and «I’m dying darling ».
Despite a long career that spanned almost 45 years, comparatively little is known about Earl Peterson. He was born in Paxton, Illinois, on February 24, 1927 and moved to Michigan when he was 18 months old. He apparently became proficient on both guitar and drums and formed his own band, the Sons of the Golden West, when he was still in high school. The group secured a regular spot on WOAP, Owosso, then moved to WMYC in Alma, Michigan, before settling at WCEN, Mount Pleasant. WCEN gave Earl and his group a regular show, Earl’s Melody Trails, and made him the talent director, staff announcer and farming news editor. Earl was to study Law after high school but he switched to a musical career instead.
Earl made his debut in the record business when he formed a record label, Nugget Records, with his mother, in January 1950.
Peterson also undertook road trips to publicise his record and, at the same time, worked guest dee-jay spots at various stations. It seems as though his mother, Pearle Lewis, was the driving force behind Peterson. Sam Phillips recalled that the pair arrived on his doorstep early in 1954 pitching « The Boogie blues ». Phillips located some country session musicians to work with Peterson and the result of the session was released in the Spring of 1954. “Boogie blues“(Sun 197)download
“In the dark“(Sun 197)download
The story becomes more convoluted from that point. In October of that year Peterson, with a healthy disregard for contracts and AFM regulations, re-recorded the same song for Columbia. The song was re-copyrighted and probably sold more than the 2500 copies that Phillips had shipped.
“Be careful of the heart you’re going to break” (Columbia 21406)download
In 1960 Peterson and his family established radio station WPLB in Greenville, Michigan. In 1962, they switched to the FM frequency and the following year saw Earl’s retirement from the performing side of the music business. By that point there was an undeniable quotient of rock and roll in country music and, in Bob Lewis’ words, « Earl wasn’t crazy about that stuff ». In 1965 Earl learned that he had cancer but he continued to work at the station until his death in May 1971.
“I ain’t gonna fall in love” (Columbia 21467) download
any Columbia issue coupled an uptempo and a slowie. The vocal is firm and assured, and the backing is on a par with the best what Nashville did offer at the time. Although unknown musicians, there was a steel, a fiddle and on « Boogie blues » (remake of the Sun version) a welcome rinky-dink piano. I posted the tracks side-by-side to let yourself judge.
« Boogie blues » on Sun 197 has sewing fiddle, steel and drums. Peterson’s voice is very reminiscent to that of Jimmie Rodgers, and the song itself derives from pre-war country songs, like Gene Autry’s ‘blues’ songs. Its flipside « In the dark » is a strong shuffler.
« Alimony blues », although in the past (N.L. Redita LP) credited to Peterson, is in fact done by Gene Steele.
« You just can’t be trusted », found on Youtube (Mr. Honky tonk chain), is evidently a ’60s recording, nice done, although I don’t know the original label neither the flipside.
WANDA BALLMAN is no unknown. She had more than one issue, e.g. on Starday custom serie # 528 (August 1955) for « Think it over », which bears on label a collective personnel. Very solid mid-paced vocal, a short steel guitar solo over basic instrumentation.
SALLY MASSEY obviously on her own Sa-Ma label (no #). Two well sung hillbilly weepers : « « Ole Michigan moon » and « Saving all my kisses ».
On the Arkansas Vaden label (# 101), one JERRI PATTERSON tells « That’s why I think of you » in a lovely bopping style.
Another unknown MARY ANN JOHNSON has a bluesy weeper with « Blue teardrops » (MGM 11927). Nothing spectacular, a nice little record.
LITTLE RITA FAYE does offer « Rock City boogie » – I don’t know if it’s the Tennessee Ernie’s song – on MGM 11505. It’s a bluesy shuffler, with steel and a barely audible fiddle. Little Rita Fayedownload
Howdy folks! Well it’s been quite some time since I last posted. Lot of work this Summer, down in Marseille (south of France) where I’d set my younger daughter as student in her flat up. Last post (today): an important article on the JACOBY Brothers (TNT and Columbia recordings). Nearly all their output is posted in a new presentation. I hope it will please you. Let me know. By now, for this fortnight, we begin with the guitar player of the Miller Brothers, EDDIE MILLER. He lets his bass player Jim McGraw take the lead on this April 1956 4 Star 1693 issue, “Patty cake man“, a typical 4 Star pano led honky tonker.
Another important artist on the West coast was ROCKY BILL FORD, mostly known for his 1951 “Beer drinking blues”, easily found on many compilations. Lesser known is his “Willie Dum Dee” on Gilt-Edge 9 from 1951: typical baritone voice for this fine shuffler.
Rocky Bill Ford: Willie Dum Dee
From Joliet, Illinois, 1957, comes JIMMIE LAUDERDALE for a joyful, hopping “Right away, quick! quick!” country-rocker on the Jopz label. Nice guitar. Right away, quick quickDownload Now BEN BAKER for two tracks on the Cool label from Harrison, NJ. Atmospheric hillbilly bop (one waltz tempo). Lots of echo on the steel and fiddle. Nice tunes: “Tomorrow your leaving“(sic) and “Too late now“. strong>Tommow you_re leaving/span> Download
Too late now
Finally a R&B romper with CECIL GANT and “Nashville jumps“, one of the early sides on Bullet out of Nashville. Enjoy the selections! Bye. Nashville jumps
From Phillips J. Tricker’s article in « Roll Street Journal » # 19 (Spring 1987)
Ramblin’ Jimmie Dolan – the very name evokes to me pictures of a man of travel, a man of the West. His name turns up frequently on record lists and he had sole thirty four releases issued on at least three different labels, and the majority on the major CAPITOL. Those thirty plus discs were put out over the comparatively short period of 7 years and much of his material has been overlooked by many collectors as a few of his later less inspiring releases are those that surface most frequently and I believe a some what false picture has emerged, musically, on an artist who contributed much to our kind of record collecting [hillbilly bop/hillbilly boogie].
As often happens, the early years of the singers we investigate are shrouded in mystery. Jimmie is no exception. In fact by our comencing at the start with his birth on the 29th October 1924, we meet our initial problem. I have seen two versions in print. The first said rural part of Missouri while in a radio interview in 1952 Jimmie’s reply was « Wyoming ». As his first reported radio work was at KWK in St. Louis, Missouri ; and as a boy he was a great fan of Western movies, I tend to place a little more credence on the former location. This thought is supported by these two points. During his earliest days in the music business, he did not use that tag – Ramblin’ – but by the time of 1952 interview, not only he was using that word in his name, but was often billed as « America’s Cowboy Troubadour ». In that case, maybe it was considered a better ploy to give impression of coming from a state synonymous with cowboys – Wyoming. A third version comes from www.hillbilly-music.com. Dolan would have been born largely earlier, same day and month in 1916 and…California, which would be his musical base during the ’40s and ’50s. Who knows ?