Hello folks. Yes I am back, having moved and from a trip in Prague. Beautiful city, yet no Hillbilly sounds over there! Anyway, let’s go back to our favorites. This time I’ve chosen 5 artists. Let’s begin with an interesting late ’40s/early ’50s one, ZEKE CLEMENTS. I know very little about him, except he had many records on Blazon, Liberty (not the L.A. pop concern), Gold Standard, even in 1960 on his own Janet label. He was a prolific songwriter, and should be noticed « Smoke On The Water » for Red Foley. Here he delivers a fine shuffling (piano and guitar led) ditty on Liberty 8, « Oklahoma Blues« .
Early 60s and on to Cincinnati area with the rather unknown SLIM FOSTER. I posted both sides of his K-Ark single (# 613), one side uptempo, the other medium, with a lovely steel-guitar for « Never Be Untrue » and « I Wish I’d known« . Good Country bop.
From Texas I’d assume comes now CURLEY SANDERS and a nice bopper on the Imperial label (# 8226), « Too Much Lovin’« , complete with piano, fiddle and guitar and that immediately recognizable Imperial sound. Sanders would later (1956) have a Starday issue, « Brand New Rock And Roll » in the famous custom serie (# 590): see elsewhere in the site for this side.
On to Louisana, early ’60s: BILL MATTE & the Five Classics for the presumably hard-to-understand for English speakers: « Parlez-vous l’francais » (Do you speak french) is sung in Cajun patois, and myself have trouble understanding all the lyrics!
Finally another inreresting artist from the Cincinnati area, AL RUNYON, on Kentucky for a revamp of Hank Snow‘s « I’m Moving On« . Not a bad version, as Runyon was covering others’ hits, as his labelmate Delbert Barker. He was also later on Starday for the famous Jimmie Skinner’s penned « Baby Please Come Home« . His story is a bit intricated, but I hope to have it posted in the future.
As a bonus. I just heard BILLY STRANGE passed away on Feb. 22th (aged 81). He cut many records and played on innumerable sessions from the late ’40s ‘way into the ’70s. Here is one of my favorite trucker songs, « Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves » on Capitol 2032 from 1952.
“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. And the hillbilly bop goes on, with 6 new favorites. This time I’d dig deeper in my archives, taken from excellent mid-’80s Tom Sims’ collector cassettes. The guy owned at the time ca. 50 or 60.000 singles! Some 25 years beyond I still discover little gems out of these cassettes, as the three debut choices.
Mark Foster and a loping piece of fast Hillbilly, « My Baby Doll » – I don’t even know the original label. It could be from ’56 or ’57. ** See NOTE down the page. Then Robbie Shawn, accompanied by Wynn Stewart (1958?) on the Linde-Jo label for « It’s Time For me To Go » – I suspect the presence of steel guitar virtuoso Ralph Mooney. Now on the Joplin label, and the unknown Sammie Lee, for the very nice mid-tempo « Oklahoma Blond Headed Gal« , complete with rural vocal, fiddle and steel.
Unto « regular » finds, for The Drifter on the Maid label, out of Columbia, Tennessee (vocal Tommy Moreland). These Tennessee Drifters are not to be confused with earlier ones on Dot (with Big Jeff or George Toon). I know Moreland had other records, but could not find more information, or didn’t care to take time to it. Very fine mid-tempo Rockabilly, heavy echoey lead guitar.
The career of the Sons of the Pioneers goes back to early ’30s and they had big hits throughout until the ’60s, most well known being « Cool Water » (also done by Hank Williams). Here I’ve chosen their spirited rendition (April 1952) of the Billy Strange‘s original « Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves« .
Finally, the prolific Mac Odell, a native from Alabama, and his « Penicillin » on King. Fast vocal, one wonders how he came to sing that fast without stuttering!
NOTE about « Mark Foster » (first selection). A visitor whose great pseudonym « Drunken Hobo » from England hides a fine listener and connoisseur of Hillbilly Bop advises me the tracks « My Baby Doll » is actually by CLIFF WALDON & His Westernairs. Label: Mark 107. The label do come from Utica, NY. I finally found it: Waldon was apparently from Oklahoma and had « Indian Gal » twice, first on Stardale, second on Mark. Listen to this track: it has 5 solos! 2 by the steel player, 2 by the fiddler, and even the bass player has his own. No electric lead guitar audible. And a lovely happy voice by Waldon. Thanks again, Dean!