Early September 2016 bopping fortnight’s favorites

Back from Summer holidays, we begin with the incomparable MERLE TRAVIS with a little known opus cut on December 4, merle travis1952, « Louisiana boogie » (flipside « Bayou baby »), which permits the pianist Billy Liebert (long-time musician at Capitol sessions) to shine with a boogie 12-bar pattern. This side can be found on Capitol # 2902. Two fiddles are also heard, these of        « Buddy Roy » Roy and Margie Warren, while Travis is in good form both on guitar and vocals.

« Louisiana boogie »

download   capitol 2902 travis - louisiana boogie

 

 

lou graham pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOU GRAHAM was one of the earlier rockabilly-style artists to show up on record, courtesy of Ivin Ballen’s Philadelphia-based Gotham Records. Born in rural North Carolina, and one of 10 children, his full name may have been Lou Graham Lyerly. He showed an early interest in country music, and following a hitch in the United States Navy, he entered radio as a singer and disc jockey. Vocally, he was similar to his somewhat older contemporary Hank Williams. Graham spent 18 months at WPWA in Chester, PA, he made the acquaintance of Bill Haley, leader of a locally-based country band called the Saddlemen, who helped Graham get a recording contract with Gotham. Graham cut « Two Timin’ Blues » and « Long Gone Daddy » at a 1951 session with an unknown backing band, but early the next

« Please make up your fickle mind »

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« My heart tells me »

downloadgotham 433a lou graham- please make up your fickle mindgotham 433b lou graham- my heart tells me

year, he was backed by Bill Haley‘s Saddlemen on a quartet of sides, « I’m Lonesome, » « Sweet Bunch of Roses« , « Please make up your fickle mind » and « My Heart Tell Me. » all issued on Gotham 429 and 433. Graham kept busy working as a deejay at WTNJ in Trenton, NJ, and on television as an announcer, on WDEL in Wilmington, DE. By the late 1950’s, he was also working regularly in nightclubs, parks, and western jamborees playing country and hillbilly music, playing on the same bills with Webb Pierce, Hank Thompson, and Ernest Tubb. In 1957, he made his most lasting contribution to recordings with his single « Wee Willie Brown » for the Coral Records label.

Salty Holmes and Jean Chapel

court. Imperial Anglares

 

SALTY (HOLMES) & MATTIE (O’Nell) had a long, long career, either as single artists, either in duet, like with this « Long time gone » (M-G-M # 11572, recorded July 7th, 1953). In fact, Salty only wails his harmonica, while Mattie has the vocal duty on this marvelous fast Hillbilly bopper (good picking guitar a la Merle Travis and a steel reminiscent of Hank Williams’ Don Helms). Of course Mattie O’Nell was also known (RCA, Sun) as JEAN CHAPEL.

 

 

 

« Long time gone »

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mgm 11572 dj salty & mattie - long time gone(11-7-53)

 

 

We jump in 1963 on the K-Ark label # 296 (Cincinnati, OH) with HARVEY HURT and his « Stayed away too long ». An aggressive vocal on the front of a chorus (handclaps during the solo), and a nice guitar+steel solos, make this a very agreeable record, even not listed in 45rpmrecords.com.

From Avery, Texas, Chucklin’ CHUCK SLOAN offers his « Too old to Rock’n’roll » (Cowtown # 806) cut in 1961 . A fast Rockabilly/Country-rock novelty issue : very, very fine guitar, indeed influenced by blues guitarists. The song appeared long ago on a Swedish Reb bootleg.

k-ark 296 harvey hurt - stayed away too long (63)

« Stayed away too long »

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« Too old to Rock’n’roll »

download  cowtown 806 ch. Chuck sloan - too old to R&R(61Avery Tx)

More from Fort Worth, Texas in 1958 on Majestic (# 7581). J. B. BRINKLEY (aka Jay Brinkley) gives a splendid bluesy  « Buttermilk blues »: really biting and agile guitar, backed by a solid piano, over a powerful voiced singer.

« Buttermilk blues »

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 majestic 7581 J.B. Brinkley - buttermilk blues(FtWrth58)

Brinkley also had previously issues on Dot (# 15371 « Crazy crazy heart/Forces of evil » – both pop rockers) in March 1955, and Algonquin 712/3 (a New York label) (« Go slow baby », a fine bluesy rocker, with a thrilling guitar) in 1957, plus some instrumentals. first on Kliff 100 (1958) , the good « Guitar smoke » which reminds one of Bill Justis‘ monster « Raunchy » ; then on Roulette 4117 (« The creep/Rock and roll rhumba »).

« Go slow baby« 

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« Guitar smoke »

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alconquin 712 go slow babyklliff 100 jay brinkley guitar smoke


Brinkley had actually begun his career as singer/guitarist fronting the Crystal Springs Ramblers in 1937 for « Tell me pretty mama », Vocalion 03707) with Link Davis on fiddle/sax, and a full Western swing combo. More with the Light Crust Doughboys in 1941, or backing (electric guitar) Patsy Montana for her 1941 Decca sessions. He even cut at a Al Dexter session in 1941. Seems he was in great demand..He was part of recordings in the Dallas/Fort Worth area by the number of litterally hundreds during the ’50s and ’60s. Just an example : Andy Starr on his Kapp sides (« Do it right know ») from 1957. The perfect replica to Houston’s Hal Harris !
vocalion 03707 crystal spring ramblers - tell me pretty mama

« Tell me pretty mama »

download(addition on Jan. 19th, 207. Thanks to Pierre Monnery)

DAYTON HARP cut records as soon as 1952: his « Foot loose and fancy free » (Gilt-Edge 5038) is a good dayton harp bopper with excellent mandolin over a really ‘hillbilly’ vocal. He hailed from Florida, and he recorded there a duet (with Dot Anderson who gives Harp the replica) in 1958 for the Star label (# 695) « Man crazy woman » : a nimble guitar and a too short steel solo. A really good record. The flipside sees Harp alone : « You’re One in a million » is a fine uptempo ballad with the same instrumentation (really good guitar!). Both these tracks were issued as Starday customs.

« Foot loose and fancy free »

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« Man crazy woman »

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« You’re one in a million »

download

 

 

gilt-edge 5038 dayton harp- foot loose and fancy free(51)

 

star 695a dayton harp (dot anderson) man crazy woman(58,Fla)star 695-B dayton harp - you're one in a million (58)

 

Sources : the Capitol label discogaphy (Michel Ruppli a.o.) ; 45rpmrecords.com ; YouTube ; Terence Gordon’s Rockin’ Country Style ; 45-cat ; rocky52.net ; Tony Russell’s « Country music » (1921-1945) ; Bruce Elder’s Lou Graham biography on Allmusic.com.

Bobby Roberts: « I’m gonna comb you outta my hair » ! (1955), from pure Hank Williams-style honky-tonk to wild rock’n’roll..

One of the newest members of the King country andEP sky

western roster is eighteen year old Bobby Roberts.

Young Bobby was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on

September 12, 1937. Bobby always dreamed of becoming a

recording artist and he started getting his experience

young. He appeared in a musical show when only nine.

Both his mother and father encouraged Bobby in his

chosen career. Young Bobby Roberts did part time work

to help him through high school. He was graduated in

June 1953 and began going about the task of gaining

experience in the music world. His biggest thrill was

when over three thousand persons attended one of his

personal appearances. Roberts has worked as a grocery

clerk, car hop, shined shoes, polished cars and washed

dishes, always dreaming of becoming a professional

musician‘.(as written on the DJ bio copy of King 4868)

 

At least some factual data can now be gleaned on

Roberts’ origins. He recorded one session for King in August

1955 and I’m assuming that it is the same Bobby

Roberts that recorded for the Memphis based Hut label

in 1958. However, I’m not entirely convinced that the

Roberts on Sky is the same person. I base this

assumption on aural evidence (the vocalists on both

records contrast distinctly) and the fact that Sky was

based in Mississippi. Having said that, from a logical

point of view it most likely is the same Roberts on

all three labels, as Joe Griffith, a high school

friend of Roberts, covered both of Roberts’ Sky

recordings and both were apparently based in Memphis

at the time. Further, considering Roberts Tennessee

origins, it possibly is the same Roberts on all four

discs.

 

My query here is, can anyone confirm that the Bobby

Roberts on King, Sky and Hut is the same person? Or

can anyone else shed any light at all on this? It has to

be noted Roberts wrote all his material.

 

Using a number of different sources, I managed to

compile the following Bobby Roberts discography,

 

19 August 1955. Cincinnati, Ohio

Bobby Roberts And The Ozark Drifters.

Bobby Roberts – vcl, other personnel unknown : steel, fiddle,st-bass.

 

K3995 ‘Her And My Best Friend’ King 4868

K3996 ‘I’m Gonna Comb You Outta My Hair’ King 4837

4868 her

king 4837I'm gonna comb you
« Her and my best friend« download

« I’m gonna comb you outta my hair« download

bb 5 nov 55 B. Roberts

billboard Nov. 5, 1955

« My undecided heart« download

« I’m pulllin’ stakes and leavin’ you« download

king 4837 my undecided heartking 4868 45 I'm pulllin' stakes and leavin' you

bb 21 jan 56 king 4868

billboard Jan. 21, 1956

 

 

 

K3997 ‘My Undecided Heart’ King 4837

K3998 ‘I’m Pullin’ Stakes And Leavin’ You’ King 4868

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1956.

Bobby Roberts with Highpockets Delta Rockets. Mississippi labelsky 101 sandy

Bobby Roberts – vcl, other personnel unknown : ld-g, b, d .sky 101 woman

 

45-S-34 ‘Big Sandy’ Sky 56-101

45-S-33 ‘She’s My Woman’ Sky 56-101

« Big Sandy« download

« She’s my woman« download

 

 

 

 

 

1958.

Bobby Roberts with Bad Habits. Memphis, TN, label.

Bobby Roberts – vcl, other personnel unknown : ld-g,b,d.

« Hop, skip and jump« download
« Cravin« 
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Bobby-Roberts-Cravin.mp3download
4706 ‘Hop Skip And Jump’ Hut 881

4707 ‘Cravin » Hut 881

hut 881 hophut 881cravin

 

from the notes of Shane Hughes, « Yahoo » « rockin’ records» group.

 

This Roberts has obviously nothing to do with the one on U.S.A. label and the other on Cameo, who came later early ’60s, and drastically change in style.

 

Bobby Roberts’ music, from editor’s point of view.

 

It is hard to imagine such a change in so little time in style between the King session and the Sky one.

All 4 sides cut at King (« with the Ozark Drifters ») are pure dreamed hillbilly a la Hank Williams. All medium paced tracks, they feature a strong string-bass, and a weird steel-guitar, both propelled by a crisp fiddle. Vocal is a dream, Roberts has a firm voice, even some semi-yodelling vocalizing over nice lyrics.

In complete contrast, the Sky sides are out-and-out rockers. « Big Sandy » is a screamer, and the whole thing is a gas. « She’s my woman », a bit slower, fetches to Rockabilly. Note on the reissue the presence of the Jennings Brothers.

« Cravin’ » is a routinely rocker, while « Hop skip and jump » (not the Collins Kids’ number, neither the York Brothers’ on Bullet ) is an average rocker – even a sax – which Billy Riley could have cut this style. Actually it bears a little similarity with « Pearly Lee »..

The son to Bobby Roberts once posted in « bopping » that his father was the same man on King, Sky and Hut ; so I asked for some details and a picture, if available – no answer..

With thanks to Uncle Gil (King 4868 sound file) and Dave Cruse (King 4868 label scan). Internet research.

Joe Griffith « Big Sandy » (Reelfoot unissued)download

Joe Griffith « She’s my woman« (Reelfoot unissued)download

Bill Browning, or Bill « Zekie » Browning? Two Rockabillies in Ohio (1957-1961)

bill browning

Bill or Zekie?

Article of Phillip J. Tricker reprinted from ‘Roll Street Journal’ n° 1 (1981)

all additions are in brackets […]

The name Bill Browning had been one that I had seen on a few lists over the period of quite a number of years. He seemed to be on interesting labels but I had never been fortunate enough to hear any of his records until November 1977.

Yes I remember it very well indeed. It was my first trip the the USA looking for records, and in a Texas warehouse I came across three copies of Bill Browning‘s « Don’t Push-Don’t Shove » (Starday 432). Back at my motel that evening I became a Bill Browning fan and I have spent the five years since trying to obtain his records.

A native of West Virginia [real name Wilmer L. Browning. Born 1931 in Wayne County, W.Va. Died in 1978 – maybe cancer], Bill formed his first band known as the »Kanawha Valley Band » when he was in his mid teens, and they had a radio show on WTIP in Charleston, West Virginia, for some years.

When he was 24, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1955. He then formed another group, the « Echo Valley Boys » [comprising Art Fulks, Merl Hoaf, Jackie Wooten, Roy Barker and Marshall Looney], and they appeared regularly in the area. It was about this time that Bill got into recording for the first time and from there the story takes an unusual twist.

It has been claimed that the Bill Browning who recorded for Island and Starday, among others, is a different artist from the Bill « Zekie » Browning, who had records issued on Ruby and Lucky. What follows is just one man’s opinion and the reasons for arriving at them. The earliest date I can place on a record by A Browning is the one on Ruby, # 220, which is credited « Rainbow Rhythmaires – vocalist Zekie Browning ». The years 1957-1960 find all the discs as by Bill Browning, usually with Echo Valley Boys. Next woud appear to come the Stardays (# 432 and 488), and here we find an interesting clue. On Starday 488B (Country Strings), credited to Bill Browning, there is a line in the song which goes :

«  Zeke picked on the country strings »

Now the highly distinctive style of guitar playing on this record is also to be heard on both sides of Lucky 0001 (I’ll pay You Back/Breaking Hearts), credited to « Zekie » Browning.

Another strange occurrence was that « Breaking Hearts » was issued under both names on Island and Lucky 0001. When I finally got hold of the Lucky issue, I was somewhat stunned that they were not even the same songs. Not even similar. Against the mid tempo Island bopper, the Lucky song is a Hillbilly weeper (with a duet vocal with Don Boone)(the song remains untraced, and was not reissued by White label on the « Lucky label » LP, not even available on Youtube, where it’s always confused with the Island tune of the same name).

There is a similarity on SOME of the records vocally, but when it comes down to the final analysis, I feel that the biggest clue is in the guitar work. On all the records I have managed to obtain/hear, the quality of the guitar work is of a uniform high standard. It is highly probable that he played on other artists records, and as lead guitarist [It is claimed on the sleeve of the « Cincinnati Rockabilly » Lee LP, that he played lead on Nelson Young‘s « Rock Old Sputnick », Lucky 0002. In return, Nelson Young played in Zekie Browning’s band].

As a final thought. the names of Bill and Zekie Browning are both used as recording credits, but, and this is I think important, only the name Bill Browning appears as a song writing credit. ALL of the eight sides on the four records I own credited to Zekie Browning have got Bill Browning as the composer. I believe they are one and the same. An artist whose Rockabilly records excite me, and who’s more Hillbilly tracks show a true love of Country music. He was never a big star, but I bet he brought happiness into many lives. [One final note : Tapio Väänanen found that the rights to Bill Browning songs were owned by his family, who seems to hold the rights to Zekie’s too. Strange…On final analysis, maybe they were distant relatives…Who knows ?

++++++++++++++++++++++++

According to Tapio Väänanen, of Finland, Bill « Zekie » Browning was born March 25, 1925 in Hyden, Kentucky and raised in Wooton.

He lived and performed in Hamilton and Cincinnati, Ohio.

Finally he died November 29, 1999.

Once more according to Mr. Väänanen, Bill Browning was born 1931 in Wayne County, W.Va. He moved later to Cleveland, Ohio. He died in 1978.

So it seems that Mr. Tricker’s 1981 speculations were wrong. Just a serie of strange and amusing coincidences…

Kentucky and W. Va maps browning affiche

About the music (notes from Bopping’s editor)

Either one of both Brownings do offer superior Rockabilly music, from 1957 to 1960. Bill Browning (Island, Starday) has more records, even an LP (2 tracks) and an entire LP (’60s), the best and available tunes are disposable on podcasts below. Best tracks are :

« Ramblin’ Man » (Island 1) is a very fine Rock-a-ballad, propelled by a strong rhythm guitar. A good mandolin player takes a short solo. Singer is in fine form, and the guitar player seems to enjoy doing some licks.

island 1 echo valley boys Ramblin' manisland 2 echo wash

« Wash Machine Boogie » (Island 2), a classic in its genre. Again a strong rhythm, a boogie guitar (an agreable solo). Echo Valley Boys do sing in unison with Browning for the refrain. A piano player has his own solo. Amusing lyrics.


« Dark Hollow » (Island 7) is a really fine side. Train song, very well sung, with emotion. This is the original version to Luke Gordon (see elsewhere in this site for his story), and of course the best-known one by Jimmy Skinner.

island 7b dark hollowisland 7 borned

« Borned With The Blues » (Island 7), as the title suggests, is a medium-paced blues. Again the singer is at ease. The guitar takes a nice solo. Good atmospheric blues record, as Rockabillies sometimes did : Gene Vincent (« Vincent’s Blues »), Bob Luman (« Amarillo Blues »), to name just a few.


« Let The Bible Be Your Guide » (Island 8) is nothing but a plain sacred country song. It anyway adds something new to Bill Browning’s range of songs.

island 8 let the bible

« Breaking Hearts » (Island 10). Again a nice bopping disc, this time adorned by a good steel player and fiddle (both take short solos). The voice of the singer is a bit high-pitched for a good effect.

island 11 sinful


island 7 breaking hearts



« Sinful woman » (Island 11), again this very effective interplay between steel and fiddle, for a very nice fast Hillbilly bopper.

« Down In The Holler Where Sally Lives » (Island LP), a fast, unison sung bopper ; good Rockabilly guitar.

« Love Left Over » (White label 8814)(Island unissued), a fine Rockabilly fast side – prominent mandolin, and a short but good guitar solo. A lot of echo on the vocal.

« Answer To Your Telephone » (White label 8814) (Island unissued), again a fast side. Steel player to the fore. Very good guitar solo. Fiddle present. May come from the « Breaking Hearts » session.

«    « Don’t Push Don’t Shove » (Starday 432), from 1958-59. A fast drum intro, very good out-and-out Country-rocker. Strident guitar and steel. Browning in nice voice shape.

«    Down In The Hollow » (Starday 488), from 1960. The theme must have been a favorite of Browning, as it is note-for-note the Island recording, leased to Starday.

 »   « Country Strings » (Starday 488 B), a fast, superior Bopper.

starday 432starday 488starday 488B


60 lucky 0011 "zekie" (instros) I did separate from the tracks above the followings : « Hula Rock », « Makes Me Feel-A- So Good » and « Gonna Be A Fire », spoiled by obstrusive choruses, too commercial and pop-oriented, at least to my ears.

he Later he had records on Marpone, Alsta, among other labels.

And that’s it for the first Bill Browning.

Bil Bill Zekie Browning recorded first for the Hamilton, Ohio Ruby label (# 220), « I’ll Agree » (1955 ? or later ?), and, although the record is now untraceable, it’s also forgettable : I have heard it moons ago, and it was a hell of a slow Hillbilly weeper…

NoThen on Lucky 0001, « I’ll Pay You Back » is superior ! What I could call, in search of a better term, a fast bluesy Rockabilly, complete with slapping bass and a very good guitar solo. Singer (named here «Bill « 59 lucky 0005 "zekie" bad case of the blues Zekie » Browning) has a somewhat husky voice, perfect for this kind of song. A minor classic, which reminds me of Jess Hooper (« Sleepy Time Blues » on Meteor!

«    « Breaking Hearts » remains untraced, so I cannot comment. According to Phillip Tricker, it’s a Hillbilly weeper on a waltz tempo.

lucky 0001 I'll paylucky 0001a breaking heartslucky 0011 creepin'enola 313 glass of wine (walter scott)

BB 7-3-60 lucky 0011 "zekie" (instros)

Billboard March 7, 1960


«

« Bad Case Of The Blues » (Lucky 0005), a superior Bopper for 1959. This time a pianist and a drummer add their touch, while steel and fiddle do shine all way through.

He then had a double-sided instrumental on Lucky 0011, « Spinning Rock Boogie/Creepin’ And Crawlin’ », backed by the Dynamics. Original record untraced and forgotten (I am unable to find at this time my copy of the White label LP « The Lucky label » WLP 8858!)

Later he was to be found on Enola, during the ’60s, for two 45s. « Glass Of Wine » (# 313) is a nice ’60s Country-rocker with strong guitar. This song was credited to Walter Scott, I’d assume the same man who had « I’m Walkin’ out » on Ruby in 1956 (posted in a past fortnight’s favorite). Enola 312 « Loser’s Blues » looks promising, but does escape to my searching antennas.

As usual, label shots were taken from Terry Gordon’s RCS site, or YouTube. Music from « Ramblin’ Man », a bootleg LP devoted to Bill Browning on Island and Starday. TRG in Holland issued a bootleg called « Hula Rock : The Island Recordings », which gathers every issue of this short-lived label. Then, old White label 8817 (« Island recordings ») and 8858 (« The Lucky label ») complete the lot. Then nothing more.

        A message from Bill Zekie Browning grandchild: « This story is not all correct on the Bill « Zekie » Browning part, he is my grandpa he died when I was 19 years old. There is not a picture of him on this site, that must be another Bill. He was an amazing musician he could play every instrument. He loved the guitar, harmonica and banjo the most. He played music for me and my family all the time, especially at Christmas. He always kept his harmonica in his left shirt pocket. He was an awesome grandpa, we spent alot of time together, I am his first born grandchild. My grandma, his wife Phyllis is a gentle, kind beautiful woman, just turned 70 years old, living healthy and well, she was much younger than my grandpa. » Please send us a picture of the actual Bill Zekie Browing!

bill_b10 Thanks to visitor DrunkenHobo (Dean C.) who pointed out two major errors in this article on November 4, 2011.

          bill zekiebill zekiepicture sent by Mz. Christina Brinkenhoff, daughter-in-law to Zeke Browning (July 8th, 2014). At last we now know how did look Zekie Browning..