“He was a fantastic little guy. Gene could have been one of the biggest things on television. He could’ve had his own show nationally and been one of the biggest artists on TV. But you couldn’t depend on Gene. He’s be liable to be out at the horses races, you know, instead of being at the station, where he should be…but you couldn’t keep from loving the little guy.” (Speedy West)
Because he didn’t seem to take himself too seriously as an artist, he excelled at good-timey romps, as Boogie Woogie Fever, Texas Boogie, and was not totally convincing on tearjerkers. He was a major star on the West Coast for several years, with high-profile radio and television status on Cliffie Stone’s Hometown Jamboree. The musicians who backed him were the top ones of the West Coast: Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant, Billy Liebert, Cliffie Stone. He enjoyed only minor hits, like his cover of Hank Locklin’s “Pin Ball Millionaire”, but he sold consistently enough for Capitol to keep him around for four years in a very competitive and changing scene – surprisingly, given his undoubted feel for hillbilly boogies, it was the emergence of rock’n’roll that really knocked him out. (suite…)
Howdy folks! I am moving on June 11th. So, before my entire library/computer is set up, I may be out ’till this end of June. I’ll do my best to give you some more music in the meantime.
We begin with JAMES O’ GWYNN, Star of the Louisiana Hayride, here in 1955 (Azalea label) with the fine, amusing « Ready for Freddy ». Great hillbilly phrasing. Go ahead with Cincinnati, Ohio, KING’s recording artist BOBBY GROVE. Fine « No parking Here » (double-entendre lyrics!) with the cream of Ohio musicians backing. Then down South. You are for a treat…BADEAUX & LOUISIANA ACES, 1962 (Swallow label) and the classic « The Back Door » – even for me, French speaker, the words aren’t easy to understand. Honky tonk life…Back to Texas with GLEN REEVES and « That’ll be love » (Decca), good Hillbilly bop/Honky Tonk from 1956. 1936, Dallas, LEON SELPH and « Swing Baby Swing » (Decca)(proto-Hillbilly Bop!). A real phenomenon: ROD MORRIS. Although he had had a recording career (Capitol among other labels – he came originally from Missouri), he was a songwriter. Here he is singing a song taken from Americana tradition about trains and drivers, « The Ghost of Casey Jones », a mix-up of Rockabilly/Rock’n’Roll (Ludwig label, 1958).
Leon Selph & Blue Ridge Playboys, 1936
Amos Milburn & Chickenshakers, 1956
As a bonus, a great wildie, AMOS MIBURN pounds the 88-keys on « Amo’s Boogie » (Aladdin, September 1946) – on the West Coast. Enjoy the music, comments welcome. Bye…
Howdy folks! Back from holidays in Rocking Italy, here I am again, this time more piano to the fore. Let’s begin with the now famous CURTIS GORDON and the classic Hillbilly Boogie from 1953, « ROMPIN’ AND STOMPIN’ – fine walking basses (Floyd Cramer, really??), a relaxed vocal, call & response type, steel and bass, everything is perfect here. From a 78 rpm.
Then we go West Coast with DICK LEWIS and his uptempo « BEALE STREET BOOGIE ». Good left hand, while a nice sax takes the first row for a good solo. 1947, Imperial 8004
The HODGES BROTHERS are well known – I really don’t know if this is the same outlet as on Arhoolie (Watermelon Man). Nevertheless their « HONEY TALK » is already a classic. Rockabilly indeed. Urgent rural vocal, nice interplay during the solo between guitar and fiddle. A great one! Whispering Pines 200 label, from Indiana. They also appeared on Starday custom serie (see elsewhere in the site)
Then a mistery. Famous French collector Henri laffont (R.I.P.) told me he thought it was Red Smith (same guy who cut « Whoa Boy » on Coral) but was unsure. Anyway « RED HOT BOOGIE » is a very solid slice of Hillbilly Bop, almost Rockabilly (because the hiccups of Smith); 3 solos (fiddle, guitar, bass, again fiddle). Which was the original label? This track is one on my all-times favorites! Please take a listen and let me know how you feel it. MYSTERY SOLVED on June 22nd, 2012 (thanks to a faithful visitor, Drunkenhobo from U.K.). The artist is Scotty Stevenson & the Edmonton Eskimos, a Canadian issue on RCA 55-3309-A, from 1950. I’d never thought a Canadian outlet could sound so « Southern hillbilly bop »!
Way down South. LAWRENCE WALKER and Cajun « Allon Rock and Roll » (sung in English); Lot of cliches, a corny sound: I would have assumed the tune was recorded in late 40s, however it goes back to …1962!
Finally ROD MORRIS and « Weary Blues » (Deadwood). When a Hillbilly got the Blues…WHO the hell may be the SUPERB guitar player ? He obviously heard much Magic Sam and T. Bone Walker, and he’s very aggressive during the solo.