Howdy, folks ! All you lovers of good ole’ bopping beat and hillbilly enthusiasts, here we go with another batch of goodies for this early October 2017 fortnight’s favorites’ selection.
First a strange record , I even don’t know its location neither its date of issue : late ’50s ? early ’60s ? Can anybody shed some light on this mystery ? THE NELSON FAMILY on the Olis label (# 080). A spare instrumentation, very light (electric guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and discreet drums) for the great dramatic atmospheric «You Hurt me (and say I’m sorry)». Great harmony vocals (tenor + baritone). I just found « Hillbilly Christmas » by a certain Norma Lynn [unheard] on Olis B20, and even don’t know if this is the same label.
From Flint, Michigan, on the Lucky 11 label, three tracks by CHUCK SLAUGHTER. First a minor classic from 1967 : a crisp Country rocker with « Get the best of livin’ » (# 002) – « I’m gonna get the best of livin’, before livin’ get the best of me »..Fine steel. The flipside « Woman, a pretty woman » is a decent honky-tonker, a bit spoiled by some obstrusive female chorus ; good steel anyway. Third tune is a fast rocker, « Lucky 11 Rock » (no #) : this time the vocal chorus do fit it well. A biting guitar solo. Slaughter had a further issue on Desire 113, as a J. Cash sound-a-like, « Burning in my soul » can be heard on YouTube.
Next artist do come from Colorado Springs, Colorado. GENE LEWIS and his Dude Rancher’s [sic] has two good bopping sides on the Barne’s label. « Mother Goose boogie » (# 103) is a very nice hillbilly boogie , stylistically from ca. 1953-54, while its flipside « Purple Heart of Gold » (# 104) is a slowie, full of emotion. And despite the common name, one can wonder if this is the same cat who cut in 1958 on the California label R-Dell (# 103) the great Rockabilly/Rocker « Crazy legs » [fabulous Roy Lanham solo on the electric guitar] (backed with « S’posin’ you were mine »). The question is open to anybody’s guess..but most probably no. “Mother Goose boogie“
The seventh track of the selection is done by the well-known BILL MACK, artist and D.J. from Texas. His « Long, long Train » is done in his usual style ( Starday 418), with few steel and a good fiddle.
Last track was issued in Paris, Texas [the place was the subject of a Wim Wenders’ film a couple of decades ago] , located between Dallas and Arkansas border, on the Royalty label. CHUCK TUCKER and his Texas Caravan do offer « Hog Sloppin’ Time in the Hollow » (# 607), an uptempo shuffler from the early ’50s. Fine steel, call-and-response format. The label had also among his artists Chester Odom and Hank Locklin, and was relatively prolific.
Howdy, friends ! This is the last selection of fortnight’s favorites for September 2017. I didn’t post a fortnight selection early this month, I was away from my Macintosch and could not but release the story of Freddie Frank, a Texan Hillbilly bopper – I hope you visiting friends and followers have just noticed the article…and liked it! I will be out once more during October, and don’t know how I will manage the blog. In the meantime here I am and well, and ready for this late September 2017 selection, which will last from the early ’50s until 1965.
Here we go with the earliest track, « Why not » on the B&C label # 500 by PAPA CAIRO (misspellt Cario on the label). Indeed he was a Louisianian. Real name Julius Lamperez. He was a steel guitar player and band leader during the early fifties (records on Feature and Colonial among others) and was long associated with the Cajun Chuck Guillory (« Grand Texas » on Modern 612). Here he delivers a decent uptempo ballad, a bit crooning, piano-led with fiddle and steel solo.
From Marshall, Missouri on the Jan label (# 6-58) two tracks by F. D. JOHNSONwith the Missouri Valley Boys. First « Be my baby » is a well-tempered (as you would say for Bach’s harpsichord – rock on, J.-S. !) rockabilly with vocal hiccups and a nice guitar solo. The flipsde is « Great big moon », and a good hillbilly weeper : vocal, fiddle solo. One little record to watch, and one wonders if he did something else.
On the Black side (or the man is White??? vocally he sounds at last) with WILBUR STEINBERG on the Memphis, TN, Hut label (# 4401) for a fast side, « Mop bop boogie », a mover with sax and screams, then a bluesy uptempo « Ramblin’ blues », which goes for the same comment. Two good sides !
Then on to Del Rio, Texas on the Hacienda label. Here he comes, SKEET WILLIAMS for a pleasant ballad (with chrorus and steel), « Lonesome rain » (# 0001). He’s backed by Bob Haltern’s Swing Kings, moreover a band unknown to me. The side was released in 1965 and coupled with « Mary, Mary, Mary Jane », a fast Rockabilly belter with chorus and loud drums. Thanks bebopcapitol !The record had apparently an early release on Royal Scot 102.
We are reaching the end with VON STEPHENS on the Karl label (London, OH) and « Huckleberry junction » : a decent Hillbilly bopper, steel is present, a short guitar solo. Clay Eager production : someday, I will search on the very interesting Clay Eager.
A staple of the Odessa country music scene for 50 years, guitarist-fiddler Freddie Frank (1931-2005) spent his formative years in Kilgore. Part of the same circle that included Jack Rhodes, Red Hayes, Jimmy Johnson, Curtis Kirk, Al Petty, Bobby Garrett, and Jim Reeves, Freddie, like Johnson, was not able to translate his vocal talents into the sustained recording career that he deserved. Instead, there was the all-too-predictable pattern of a few scattered releases on oddball labels in the ’50s and early ’60s, including his own Permian label. A Capitol session c. 1955 could have turned things around for him — but it went unissued (and no one has got a trace of it).
Mineola, Wood Cty
“12,000 Texas Longhorns” was Freddie’s debut, from early 1953, and issued on Fabor Robinson’s Abbott label (# 125). A memorable Jack Rhodes-J.C. Lile song, “Longhorns” was recorded superbly by the pros at KWKH Studio in Shreveport with Red Hayes’ band providing the solid support: Joe “Red” Hayes and Kenneth “Little Red” Hayes (fiddles), Al Petty (steel guitar), and Leon Hayes (bass). Freddie supplies his own rhythm guitar. Flipside « Off to parts unknown » is slowlier, although a vigorous slice of hillbilly bop. Red Hayes seems to have been everywhere in the early ’50s. He would eventually follow Freddie to Odessa. Next Abbott issue (# 126) by Curtis Kirk was presumed as having been recorded at the same place and occasion as Freddie Frank.
As for Jack Rhodes, he remains a controversial figure. Some people loved him; others hated him. Freddie’s comments, made to me in a 1999 interview, are revealing:
“I went to work at the Reo Palm Isle (in Longview). I played lead guitar for Jim Reeves there when he was first starting out. When I left there, Red (Hayes) came in there and started working. He introduced me to Jack Rhodes. I moved up to Mineola and was staying up there helping him write songs. Jack had a bunch of people writing song-poems. We’d go and collect those and bring ’em back, and I’d write the tunes for ’em. Make ’em meter out, and doctor ’em up. They could put “DS” after my name — doctor of songs. Jack didn’t write very much of nothing. Jack was a manipulator. He reminded me of Boss Hog on ‘Dukes of Hazzard.’ Jack owned the motel (the Trail 80 Courts), and was bootlegging (liquor), and he could afford to do what he wanted to.
“I think Jack had the sheriff paid off in Mineola. I don’t think he was arrested there. But I think he did get raided when he lived in Grand Saline. They were making their own whiskey up there. I think that’s why he moved to Mineola, ’cause he couldn’t manipulate the law in Grand Saline. I told him when he died, they’d probably screw him in the ground like a corkscrew.
“But he put the con on just about everybody. When I got enough of it, I got enough, and I left…never called him, never spoke to him again. I think that was the same thing with Red (Hayes).”
Freddie is listed as co-writer with Jack Rhodes on Gene Vincent‘s “Five days, five days » (Capitol 3678), but received no credit for writing the music to Vincent’s “Red Blue Jeans and a Pony tail” (Capitol LP T 768 « Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps »). “Five Days, Five Days“, credited by Rob Finnis to Jimmy Johnson, may actually be Freddie with Leon Hayes on tremendous bass. Franks had been quickly adapting his voice (he even adopts hiccups) and playing to new trends. From the same sessions came a version of the evergreen « Trying to be my baby »[see the story of this song in this site]. On the other hand, Frank was not listed among artists involved in the “Louisiana Hayride“, according to Imperial, who runs an ambitious reedition program (20 CD) of tapes saved from this famous radio/live show.
Earlier in 1953 the team Jimmy Rhodes-Freddie Frank had been cutting two sides for Starday in Beaumont, Texas. The very fast « Gypsy heart » (# 117) has fine fiddle and guitar, and vocal credited to Franks, while the flipside « Al’s steel guitar wobble » is a showcase for Al Petty, supported by a good piano (is this Starday house-musician Doc Lewis?). Both sides have Frank on rhythm guitar.
Next stop in Freddie Frank’s career is in Odessa (West Texas) in 1961. Unable to find a label proper to release real Hillbilly at this time, he then launched his own label, Permian, apparently a common venture with Slim Willet. Frank had 3 issues on this label. First «This old rig »(1001-A) has energetic rhythm and voice over very fine fiddle and steel. : a great Bopper. The flipside (« I want to be) On the bayou tonight », has, as expected, Cajun overtones (without accordion yet),
With thanks to HillbillyBoogie1 (biography); John Burton (Abbott issue) : Armadillo Killer for one Permian issue ; Uncle Gil for the Starday project ; notes by Rob Finnis to the CD (Ace) « Gene Vincent cut our songs ».. May “HillbillyBoogie1” get in touch please to get us more details from his corresponding with Freddie Frank. I really don’t know what happened to him between his Permian sides from 1961 and his death in 2005.
Howdy folks ! This is the mid-summer fortnight’s selection. All the tunes were recorded between 1956 and 1961. With the last one we begin : 1961, in London, OH on the Karl label (property of Clay Eager) # 3022. LACY KIRK does a very fine job on « This is saturday night », fast tempo, nice steel and fiddle. Value $ 100-200. The flipside « What happened to our love » is a great sincere ballad.
Next from Chicago: BILLY PRAGER & his Caravans and a wild double-sider from December 1958 on the (R&B) Crystal label (# 106) . The steel guitar is particularly effective and does very strange sounds for « Do it bop », while « Everybody’s rockin’ » is a bit more conventional Rockabilly/rocker. $ 300-400. This Crystal label has nothing to do with the Memphis one of the same name : serie 500 (Jimmy Knight and « Hula bop » or Jimmy Pritchett « That’s the way I feel » – with great swooping piano by some player who sounds very, very much like Jerry Lee Lewis !/Nothing on my mind »).
ONIE WHEELER was a Great. Born in 1927 in Senath, MO. he pursued his career during nearly 50 years, just ending it on the stage of the Friday Night Opry one day of 1984. Here are two sides aimed by collectors, and for good reasons : they are among his best tunes of the ’50s, cut in Dallas in June 1956 for Columbia : « Onie’s bop » and « I wanna hold my baby » (Columbia 21523) are good examples of the commercial Rockabilly a massive major had to offer, the B-side being in my mind the better one.
CLYDE BEAVERS next, on the Georgia (Starday custom) label # 532 from Tennga, Ga. « I won’t always love you » is a bluesy tune over a drivin’ medium rhythm, in all cases a primitive bopper from 1955. Later Beavers specialized himself (’60s) in drinking or smoking songs, like Lattie Moore‘s « Here I am drunk again » or Webb Pierce‘s « Cigarettes and whiskey (and wild, wild women) ».
« Sal’s house » was declined back-to-back of another Dixie (# 121) by CARSON WILLIS from Greer, South Carolina. This « Sal’s house # 1» seems to be a real mess ! Date : 1959.”
A blues with a yodel : it may not sound much now, but in the 1920s a lot of careers were carved out of that curious amalgam. Jimmie Rodgers started it, and after him went Gene Autry, or Jimmie Davis, or Cliff Carlisle. The latter yodeled the longest and the best.
Raised in the countryside outside Louisville, Kentucky, Carlisle would say later : « My music is a cross between hillbilly and blues – even Hawaïan music has a sort of blues to it. » Teaming first in the early Thirties with the singer-guitarist Wilbur Ball, he went on the vaudeville tent show circuit, and afterwards he told they had actually been the first yodeling duet.
Then in 1930 he recorded in a Jimmie Rodgers vein (« Memphis yodel »), but with a distinctive touch on the Dobo resonator steel guitar. At this point he was also making a name on Louisville stations (WHAS and WLAP), billing himself and Ball as the « Lullaby Larkers ». That’s how his career took off.
In 31 or 32, he was in New York, extending his own port-folio, and recalling Jimmie Rogers singing a number about a rooster : « What makes a Shanghai crow at the break of day ? To let the Dominicker hen know the head man’s on his way.. » Ralph Peer wouldn’t let him record that, because it was kind of a risqué tune at that time, but finally he let Carlisle go. Hence « Shanghaï rooster yodel n°2 ».
In 1932 Carlisle was working solo, but in the years that followed he was often partnered by his younger brother Bill. On one of their records they even staged a fight over who would do what. « Hold it, buddy, » says Cliff indignantly as Bill starts to yodel. « This is my « Mouse’s ear blues », and I’ll do the yodeling. » It isn’t the only unusual feature. « Moose’s ear blues » is, probably uniquely in the corpus of recorded hillbilly music, a song about defloration. « My little mama, she’s got a mouse’s ear, but she gonna lose it when I shift my gear. »
By the mid-’30s, when he was working on WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina, and recording for Bluebird and Decca, Cliff was making a fair bid to corner the hillbilly disc market in sniggery songs about roosters and ashcans (there was an occasional double entendre loitering in this vicinity), and humorously violent tales of marital discord like « Hen pecked man », « Pay day fight » or « A wild cat woman and a tom cat man », where Cliff’s boisterous flights of fancy are powered by the twin engines of his Dobro and Bill’s inventive flat-picked guitar. By the end of the decade he had been on four record labels and made almost 200 sides. He and Bill had a cross-section of country music just prior to WWII. So it was hardly surprising that their family group, the Carlisles, with various sons and dauhters, was popular on the Grand Ole Opry and had hits in the ’50s with « Too old to cut the mustard » and « No help wanted ».
In the mid-’50s Cliff retired to a quiet life of painting, fishing and church work. He did the occasional comeback on not very memorable albums for small labels, even reuniting with Wilbur Ball and playing for college audience or folk festivals.
(Freely adapted from the chapter devoted to Cliff Carlisle in Tony Russell’s « Country music originals – The legends and the lost »)
Here are some selections of Carlisle’s work in very different styles.
From 1932, backed by a wild slapping-bass, for the evergreen « Goin’ down the road feelin’ bad ».