Greenville, S. Carolina, 1961: the KALL Record Company

Kall Record CompanyGreenville, South Carolina .

The little known Kall Records are pretty much a forgotten label owned I believe by Alan Riddle . They were producing some good Country/Honkytonk/Gospel records from 1960 onwards but only ten releases are known and there are some gaps within the run that I hope to fill within the coming months.

There seems to be a connection with local label ‘Plaid’ (also Greenville, SC) owned by Charles Rush , who were also releasing some decent country/Rockabilly around the same period and area , the connection being Alan Riddle who saw releases on both labels and I believe was also a co-owner of the publishing company ‘Duride’  along with record producer Don Dudley, hence the ‘DU’ and ‘RIDE’ from Riddle ?.

The Kall label is pretty recognisable with the bold blue lettering ‘KALL’ across the top with the small boy wearing a baseball cap shouting ! (this later changed to a smaller label design with psychadelic Orange/Yellow colouring )

The label numbers changed a few times but I am pretty sure ALAN RIDDLE was the first with his release in 1961 ‘It Takes You’ B/w ‘I Love No One But You’ # 0041. Before this release, Riddle had his song ‘The Moon Is Crying’ released in America on ‘Plaid’ # 1001 in 1960 and also on ‘Fling’ #219 in 1961 and then in Canada on the ‘Zirkon’ label # 1010 . Both ‘The Moon Is Crying’ and this Kall release were both produced by Don Dudley.

« It takes you »

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« I love no one but you »

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This 45 was straight country/Honkytonk up tempo shuffle and the A side moves along at a decent pace.  The flip is a more basic slow number with girl backing vocals but has some nice guitar work during the solo.

The second release # 0042/246 by WALLACE HOOPER and the Dixie Ramblers . Again published by ‘Duride’ and is a pretty darn good Country tune.  ‘In The Middle’ B/w ‘Third Stool Down’. Both songs were written with the help of top Nashville writer Jesse Evatt . The A side is a slow number but shows some decent guitar and the flip is your typical mid tempo bar room drinking song which has some lovely steel and fiddle. I have no info on who were the Dixie Ramblers !

« In the middle« 

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« Third stool down »

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CHARLIE and FRANKThe Country Lads” were next to see a release with Kall # 0043 . Again ‘Duride’ were the publishers of both songs and again both produced by Don Dudley. Both songs were recorded at the legendary Mark V Studios in Greenville. SC .

The A side ‘Just For Today’ is sung by Charlie Driggers ( Left) with Frank Adcox (right) on Rhythm Guitar, Bill Huffman on the upright Bass and Otis Forrest on Piano. A nice country tune sung and played well. The flip ‘Never Do Him Wrong’ a dual harmony tune with Charlie on lead vocal and Frank on tenor vocal, some lovely steel with superb vocals makes this a pretty good release. Charlie and Frank were joined by JR. Cisson on Steel and again Bill Huffman on bass but who played the drums is unknown.

 

« Just for today »

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« Never do him wrong« 

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Charlie Driggers passed away in 1996. Frank Adcox is still alive and strummin’ and the grand old age of 82. Below is a photo of Frank Adcox holding the 45 I found for him as a gift as he had no copy himself and another photo of him playing his old guitar.

Next saw Kall dip their toes into the Bluegrass/Gospel field with a release by ‘ FAMILY TRIO with JOYCE HAWKS’ . This saw a 1st time pressing by ‘Sheldon’ for the label . ‘He Rescued Me’ B/w ‘ When I Found Jesus’ are pretty good bluegrass gospel tunes that would have been sold locally and were very popular in this area of the States.

When I Found Jesus’ is the better of the two sides and really starts with some great mandolin and has a change in tempo throughout along with some super harmonies .

 

 

« He rescued me »

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« When I found Jesus« 

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MAX HEDRICK was next with the first of his two releases on the label.  Kall # 497 ‘Welcome Sign Upon My Heart’ B/w ‘Lonely Nights’.  The A side was published by ‘Delrush’, most probably Alan Riddles new partner Alan Rush (owner of the previously mentioned ‘Plaid’ Records) . Both labels promote the ‘Riddle/Rush’ promotion and again this was a ‘Sheldon’ pressing.

« Welcome sign upon my heart »

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« Lonely nights« 

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Both sides have stickers across the artists name as above it is incorrectly spelt ‘Hendrick’ . The A side is a terrific little Honky Tonk number, with great vocals by Max and some great steel all the way through. The flip, ‘Lonely Nights’, is slightly slower in tempo and is a typical sad country song but again sung well by Hedrick and again an unknown player lays down some great steel guitar.

Kall turned next to the fantastic ‘JIM SOUTHERN’ with the next release in 1961 on Kall # 499. A blistering country bopper that is right out of the top drawer. ‘Talking To The Angels’ written by ‘Plaid’ recording artist Gene Smith, ’Derush’ were again the publishers and is pure magic, sweet steel and Jim has some nice echo on his vocal and the flip ‘Darling, Where Is The Moonlight’ published by ‘Southern, another  great tune and this moves along nicely with some sweet harmonies . The pressing plant for this 45 was again ‘Sheldon’.

« Talking to the angels »

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« Darling, where is the moonlight« 

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« Just one phone call »

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« Foolish pride« 

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Kall # 500 is next with some country by ‘BRENDA & ERNIE‘ , you get all the usual pedal steel and lashings of great harmonies . The A side ‘Just One Phone Call’ has Brenda taking lead and the B side ‘Foolish Pride’ has Ernie on lead. Both are real nice country tunes played with care and love. And again this record was pressed by ‘Sheldon’.

On a side note these two songs were written by ‘B. Hedrick & E. Hedrick’ (maybe a relation to Max Hedrick ? ) who had two releases on Kall.

MAX HEDRICK was next with his second and final release (as far as I know) with Kall # 501. Both songs written by ’Hedrick and Brown’. Released in 1961 this is a fantastic record and one of the best from the label. This again is a ‘Sheldon’ pressing . The A side ‘Actions’ is nothing spectacular and is just a slow country weepie and was apparently aired on ‘The Grand Ole Opry’ but the flip ‘Black Widow Heart’ a song about a girl who only wants to break his heart, this is a mighty fine tune and Max handles the vocals with ease and the whole thing shuffles along just right with some lovely steel and brush work on the snare drum.

« Actions« 

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« Black widow heart« 

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Max was married to Norma Hedrick around this period and I do not know of any other releases by Max which is a shame as he had a decent voice.

The final two releases that I know of have the change in label colour and the Kall logo is smaller . The address has changed to PO Box 374, Travellers Rest, SC. This town is situated just north of Greenville.

Kall # 805 signifies a change in address and numbering system but strangely back to being published by ‘Duride’ (Dudley/Riddle). LESTER ELLER hits us with ‘The Fox Chase’ B/w ‘Chicken Reel’. I am yet to hear either but I imagine these are again country tunes from probably 1962 .

TOMMY HOOPER and The Nashville South are next with Kall # 6780 ?. The A side ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ B/w ‘Sunshine Girl’ are again unknown to me but I do know that Tommy and the group also saw releases on ‘Mowhawk’ and ‘Jed’ labels in the mid 70’s. I don’t think he was connected to or a relation to Wallace Hooper who had a release on Kall # 0042 but I cannot be sure.

If anybody has any further information on further releases or artists connected with the Kall label then please let me know.

 

Well done, Mick! Thank you.

JACK TUCKER, « Big Door » , « Honey Moon Trip To Mars » and « Lonely Man » (1949-1961)

Advert for cowboy clothes L.A. Nudie

It’s hard to figure out what’s going on here. There were four versions of « Big door »…a sort-of « Green door » sequel.The first version appeared in 4 Star’s AP (Artist Promotion) and was by the writer, Gene Brown. Some say that Eddie Cochran is on guitar. That version reappeared on 4 Star (# 1717) and reappeared yet again identical on Dot, the label that had scored with « Green door ». At almost the same time, circa April 1958, that 4 Star licensed Brown’s master to Dot, Jack Tucker‘s version appeared. Was this the same Jack Tucker who worked hillbilly nighspots in Los Angeles for many years ? Probably. According to Si Barnes, who worked for both Jack Tucker (real name Morris Tucker) and his brother, Hubert, aka Herb [« Habit forming kisses » on Excel 107, 1955: see elsewhere in this site the Rodeo/Excel story], the Tuckers were from Haleyville, near Oklahoma City . Jack (rn Morris) was born on April 19th, 1918.

Gene Brown « Big door« 

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Jack Tucker « Big door« 

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 Both brothers led bands in Los Angeles, playing spots like the Hitching Post, Harmony Park Ballroom, and so on. Jack had a Saturday night television show on Channel 11. Tommy Allsup graduated from Herb Tucker’s band, and according to Barnes, Herb led the more musically sophisticated outfit. Jack Tucker, said Barnes was  « pretty much stuck on himself. A very basic guitar player and vocalist. He was really limited in musical talent. I’m surprised he let the band record [Bob Wills‘] « Big beaver » [at the same session as « Big door »]. He didn’t understand the Wills beat or anything about that style. Jack was a two-chord guy. Both Herb and Jack faded out in the early 1960s when the ballrooms closed or switched over to rock ».

1940 issue

« Big beaver »

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Nevertheless, Tucker’s recording career was quite extensive. There was a demo session for Modern in 1949 and his first 4 Star record was a reissue of a 1953 disc for the 4* custom Debut label. Other records, usually with the Oklahoma Playboys, appeared on Starday (1954), RCA’s « X » imprint (1955), Downbeat, with Bob Stanley (1956), Audie Andrews on Debut, himself on Bel Aire and Nielsen (1957). Guitarist Danny Michaels remembered that Tucker was playing at the Pioneer Room on Pioneer Blvd, when they did the 4 Star session. According to Michaels, he played lead and Al Petty played steel guitar, but he couldn’t remember the others. Following Tucker’s brief tenure with 4 Star, he recorded for Ozark Records in South Gate, California. One of their singles (with Don Evans on lead guitar),    « Lonely man » was acquired by Imperial. Another, « Honey moon trip to Mars », may have been revived by Larry Bryant (Santa Fe 100, or Bakersfield 100).

« Lonely man« 

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« Honey moon trip to Mars »

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Larry Bryant « Honey moon trip to Mars« 

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Tucker appears to have bowed out with a clutch of records for Toppa in 1961-1962, and later for Public! and Young Country. He had backed Lina Lynne (later on Toppa 1008) on Jimmy O’Neal‘s Rural Rhythm label, and Bill Bradley on Fabor Robinson‘s Fabor label in 1957-58.

Lina Lynne « Please be mine »

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Bill Bradley « Drunkard’s diary« 

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Tucker died on September 26, 1996, but no one has an idea what he was doing between the mid-60s and his death.

Notes by Colin Escott to « That’ll flat git it vol. 26 » (Four Star). Additions by Bopping’s editor.


 

 

The music of Jack Tucker (by Bopping’s editor)

To follow Barnes’ assertion about limitations both on guitar and vocal of Jack Tucker, one must although admit his discs were good enough to have him a comfortable discography over the years 1953-1965. I cannot at all judge his talent but I’d assume his music is generally pretty good hillbilly bop or rockabilly.

First tracks I discuss are his « X » sides (# 0093) from 1954 : the fast « Stark, staring madly in love» has a tinkling piano and a loping rhythm, a fine side, and the equally good « First on your list » (much later re-recorded on Public!). Both are billed X songs by Allan Turner.

« Stark, staring madly in love »

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« First on your list« 

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This is without forgetting two 1949 demo tracks for Modern : apparently Dusty Rhodes is on lead guitar for the instrumental « Dusty road boogie », and Jack Tucker is vocalist for a version of Hank Williams’ « Mind your own business ».

Later on, we had Tucker on Starday 136 : « Itchin’ for a hitchin ‘ » and « I was only fooling me », typical hillbillies on the Beaumont, TX label – probably recorded on the West coast, as later did Jack Morris [see the latter’s story elsewhere in this site].

Billboard April 14, 1954

« I was only fooling me« 

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More earlier on the 4 Star OP (« Other People ») custom Debut label (# 1001), later reissued on the regular 4 Star X-81, Tucker had cut in 1954 « Too blue to cry », a good song with band chorus, and had backed a fellow Oklahomian Audie Andrews on the same Debut label (One side written by NY entrepreneur Buck Ram).


« Too blue to cry« 

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In 1956 Bob Stanley [not to be confused with the pop orchestra leader] on Downbeat 204 had « Your triflin’ ways/Heartaches and tears », backed by Tucker and his Oklahoma Playboys : two very nice Hillbilly boppers: Stanley adopts the famous growl-in-his-voice, a speciality of T. Texas Tyler. Both of them had also a disc on Downbeat 203 (still untraced). Jack Tucker backed also in 1957 Lina Lynne on the fine bopper « Pease be mine » (Rural Rhythm 513 [see above].

« Your triflin’ ways »

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« Heartaches and tears »

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Same year 1957 saw Tucker record two sides among his best on the small California Bel Aire (# 22) label, « Let me practice with you » and « Surrounded by sorrow », good mid-paced boppers (fine steel). His band, « The Okla. Playboys« , backed Roy Counts on two excellent boppers on Bel Aire 23: the medium-paced « I ain’t got the blues« , and the faster « Darling I could never live without you« , both have strong steel guitar. Tucker also had  « Hound dog » on the Nielsen 56-7 label (untraced).

« Let me practice with you »

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« Surrounded by sorrow »

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Roy Counts, « I ain’t got no blues »

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Roy Counts, « Darling I could never live without you »

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Billboard, No. 11, 1957

 

 

 

 

 

1958 saw the issue of « Big door » already discussed earlier (plus the B-side « Crazy do » a good instrumental), as the other 4 Star record, « Big beaver /Nobody’s fool» (4 Star # 1728), both average instrumental sides.

In 1959 Tucker had three records on the Ozark label. The original of « Honey moon trip to Mars » (# 960) [later by Larry Bryant on Santa Fe/Bakersfield – otherwise, who came first?]

« Honey moon trip to Mars »

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Larry Bryant « Honey moon trip to Mars »

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then « Lonely man » (# 962), which was picked by Imperial and reissued (# 5623), finally # 965 and the ballads « Don’t cry for me/Trade wind love ».

 

insert of an Ozark issue, found on the Net

In 1960-1961 Tucker had four Toppa records. All are fine boppers, despite a tendancy to go pop, and include Ralph Mooney on steel guitar at least on # 1030 : « Oh what a lonely one ; one is » , « When the shades are drawn »          (# 1041),  « Just in time » (# 1052) and « It’s gone too far » (# 1106).

« Oh what a lonely one; one is »

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« Just in time« 

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« It’s gone too far »

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I mention quickly the following issues, less and less interesting (more and more poppish) on Public! (a new version of « First on your list ») and Young country (even an LP # 103) along the ’60s.
« First on your list »

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Sources: Colin Escott notes to « That’ll flat git it vol. » (Four Star); 45cat and 78-world sites; Toppa’s best 3-CD;; Roots Vinyl Guide; YouTube; Praguefrank’s country discography (discography); my own archives and records;

« TOPPA Tops ‘Em All » – the rise of a small California output (1958-60)

Covina, Ca. home to Toppa

Toppa was founded in Covina, Ca. by ex-country singer and top DJ (KXLA) Jack Morris. He had had releases on Starday (Custom serie, in January 1955), Sage and Pep and came up with this new label late in 1958. The label lasted way up during the ’70s, and found frequent modest success, although only regionally. Toppa’s best sides have been reissued recently in a 3-CD bootleg Internet boxset (« Toppa’s country » vol. 1, 2 and 3 ) to be found on « UncleGil’s rockin’ archives » blog.: http://adf.ly/1hinq0

I will focus on the first 31 issues (1958-1960).

BROCK WILLIAMS offers « What am I » (# 1001), a nice little rocker, with a little echo, over a good guitar and an assured vocal. The flipside, « Touch of perfection » is a perfect mid-paced bluesy ballad. Wally Black on # 1002 remains untraced (« She’s comin’ home »).

« What am I »

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« Touch of perfection »

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We jump to # 1003 by ERNIE MATHIS : very nice fast, piano-led « Lonesome wheels » and the more slowish « So am I ». Later on he was on Fable. That was the last Toppa issue reviewed by Billboard in 1958.

« Lonesome wheels« 

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« So am I »

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« What’s it to you »

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« What’s it to you » issued on # 1004 by WALLY BLACK is a very good part-styled Cash opus, because of the insistent guitar bass chords motif. Black had previously cut some pop rockers on the Fable label (« Rock and roll mama »).

CATHIE TAYLOR on # 1006 « Two straws and a soda », a poppish teen ballad, merits oblivion.

GEORGE HEFFINGTON, # 1007, and the fast, fine « Ghost of love ». Again a very good guitar throughout. Flipside « Ghost of love »

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« Crazy love » is equally good, although less fast. He much later recorded on the Accent label (ca. 1964-65) « Honky tonk merry-go-round (unheard).

« Crazy love »


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LINA LYNN delivers a R&R instumental, « Lina’s doll » (# 1008) where she’s backed by te Storms, a band that appeared also on the Sundown label, and whose general sound is not dissimilar to Eddie Cochran‘s Kelly Four. # 1009 is by WALLY BLACK, « Gee I hate to go », a light rocker with pop overtones. Its flipside, « I ain’t gonna cry no more » has the same Kelly Four savour. Actually it’s even written by Kelly 4 member : saxophonist Mike Deasy.

« I ain’t gonna cry no more »

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Next offering is a double sider by REX BINGHAM. He goes a bit poppish with male chorus, but has the strong help of Ralph Mooney on steel (two solos) for « Just like before » and « The fire is burning low » (# 1011). He had a « Blind blind heart » in 1959 on Rex 100, which was reissued on Toppa 1028. Was it a sublabel ? « Linda » (# 1012) by LUTHER WAYNE is a fast poppish ditty, quite listenable although.

Two ballads, « Help me forget him/Another woman’s man » (# 1013) by JANET McBRIDE are lovely again with strong help from steel guitar player Ralph Mooney. Later on she cut at Sims and duetted with Billy Barton. WALLY BLACK returns with the fast « I’m a country boy » (# 1014).

Billboard April 24, 1960

« I’m a country boy »

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I’d appreciate very much the double offering at # 1015 by JOHNNY LEON, «You found someone new/Sometimes it doesn’t pay to get up in the morning »[what a true assertion]

 

 

 

good backing (bass and drums) over prominent fiddle and steel. It’s one of the highlights of the serie.

« Sometimes it doesn’t pay »

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And now a comparatively well-known artist, DICK MILLER. He had had already records on M&M, Stanchell and Aggie [see elsewhere his story in this site], as well as around the same time as his Toppa output, on Sundown. His two songs on Toppa are well-sung ballads over the same instrumentation as previous label’s issues, « Make room for the blues/My tears will seal it closed » (# 1016) [the latter was also picked up by Mercury and reissued on # 71658, July 1960.

« Make room for the blues« 

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« My tears will seal it closed »

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DANNY BURKE next (# 1017) comes with again two nice rockaballads, « Wasting my time/Walking in my sleep ». Then CLYDE PITTS offers an out-and-out rocker, « Shakin’ like a leaf » (# 1018) complete with sax and chorus. # 1019 by BILL BROCK : he delivers a fine ballad with the unusual backing of fiddle and steel paired in « I can’t come home ». Same format for # 1020 and DON RICE : « Fire without a flame » and, at last, the fast « Weather man ».

« Weather man »

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The veteran TEXAS BILL STRENGTH brings the fast « Watching the world go by » (# 1021). « Too young to love » (# 1023), a bit poppish (although a good piano backing) come to light with DON HOLIMAN. # 1024 by CHARLIE WILLIAMS is a sincere ballad « World’s champion fool », revived on # 1048 by Dick Miller. Jimmy Snyder (# 1025), Polly Tucker (# 1026, also on Pep), The Horton Bros. (# 1027) left invisible tracks. Then there is a gap until # 1029 : JANET McBRIDE returns in the same style as her # 1013 issue with « Sweethearts by night ».

Another well-known name now on # 1030 : JACK TUCKER . Nice Country-rocker with « No city love you’ll find ». And the final offering is # 1031 by LUTHER WAYNE ; « White line » is a good guitar led little rocker [a Jack Morris’ tune on Sage ], while « The blues got me down again » is a passable effort.

« No city love you’ll find »

Jack Tucker

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All in all, the Toppa label was a County pop one, and the outstanding tracks, according to bopping.org standards, are uncommon. Nevertheless in the regard to the backing, all issues are great. The story did go on, and many good tracks were later cut : Smokey Stover and « On the warpath », more Jack Tucker tunes, Don Rice and « Hideaway heartaches », more Dick Miller (« Back into your past »), Bud Crowder and « Room for one heartache », to name just a few. Fact is the label deserves to be examined, as it contains many good surprises.

Just another word. Toppa had two sublabels early into the ’60s : Toppette and Fedora. I don’t know why several artists of main Toppa artists were assigned to its sublabels, although they had the same style as on Toppa.

 

Sources: Steve Hathaway for some records, Kent Heineman (« Armadillo Killer ») for several more. 45cat.com for more than a label scan. Youtube was also of help. And many, many small facts from my own archives or direct from Internet. And a lot of work to set up this article, but this was a labor of love..

Late January 2017 bopping hillbilly and rockabilly fortnight’s favorites

Howdy folks ! This is the second 2017 fortnight, that of late January. It will cover very various styles, be it hillbilly boppers, country rockers or rockabillies, even one Bluegrass bopper, from 1955 to 1961.

First an uptempo atmospheric bluesy rockabilly from Bald Knob, AR, on the CKM label (# 1000) by BUDDY PHILLIPS with Rocking Ramblers, « River boat blues » from 1956 (valued at $ 100-125). I enclose for comparison the original version of the song by ALTON GUYON and his Boogie Blues Boys on the Judsonia, AR. Arkansas label (# 553), a Starday custom from 1956. This time the song is taken at a slow, lazy, bluesy pace – fine fiddle (valued at $ 150-200). Back to Buddy Phillips for the CKM flipside « Coffee baby » (written by Alton Guyon), less fast than the « River boat blues » side, but good and bluesy. Pity that Phillips disappeared afterwards.

ckm-1000-buddy-phillips-river-boat-bluesckm-1000-buddy-phillips-coffee-babyarkansas-553a-alton-guyon-river-boat-blues

Buddy Phillips, « River boat blues »

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Buddy Phillips, « Coffee baby« 

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Alton Guyon « River boat blues« 

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Memphian EDDIE BOND (1933-2013) had many strings to his bow : band leader, D.J., radio station manager, night club owner, chief police and editor of an entertainment newpaper (pheww..). Here are his first sides on the Ekko label (# 1015) cut July 1955 in Nashville with Hank Garland on lead guitar and Jerry Byrd on steel. « Talking of the wall » and « Double duty lovin’ » (written by Vernon Claud, later on Decca with « Baby’s gone ») are uptempo Rockabilly/Boppers, very ordinary, which of course went nowhere. They are valued $ 100-150. Later in 1956, Bond recorded a famous string of classic Rockabilly releases on the Mercury label, « Rockin’ daddy » (# 70826) (the original being cut late ’55 by Sonny Fisher – Starday 179) is the most well-known.

« Talking off the wall »

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« Double duty lovin‘ »

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ekko-1015-eddie-bond-double-duty-lovinTwo issues on the Starday associated Dixie label from the late Fifties to the early Sixties. ELMER BRYANT on Dixie 906 from 1960 (value $ 75-100) delivers the cheerful bopper « Gertie’s carter broke », which has a Louisiana bouquet, with fine fiddle and steel. The medium-paced flipside « Will I be ashamed tomorrow », although very good and sincere, is more conventional country.

« Gertie’s Carter broke »

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« Will I be ashamed tomorrow« 

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The other Dixie discussed is Dixie 1170 from 1961 by LITTLE CHUCK DANIELS : « I’ve got my brand on you » is a bit J. Cash-styled, an uptempo bass chords guitar opus with good effect on voice : honest Country rocker. I add by Daniels his issue on Dixie 1153, « Night shift », same style.

« I’ve got my brand on you »

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« Night shift« 

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dixie-906a-elmer-bryant-gertiesdixie-906bn-elmer-bryant-will-i-be-ashameddixie-1170b-l-chuck-daniels-ive-got-my-brand-on-youdixie-1153b-ch-daniels-night-shift

 

 

 

 

 

A plaintive Hillbilly now by BILL STUCKER vocal – Tune Twisters on the Indiana Ruby label (# 430) , « I go on pretending » from 1956 : a nice discreet guitar, some snare drums.

« I go on pretending »


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ROLLIE WEBBER from California was a part of the now well-known Bakersfield sound, and had issues on Pep and Virgelle among other labels. Here he offers « Painting the town » on the Tally label (#150), a fine bopper with prominent steel ( sounds like Ralph Mooney).

tally-150b-rollie-webber-painting
« Painting the town »

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Finally from Detroit on Fortune 187 from 1957 : BUSTER TUNER & his Pinnacle Mt. Boys for « That old heartbreak express ». It’s a bluegrass bopper, Turner is in fine voice, and mandolin to the fore.

« That old heartbreak express »

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Buster Turner on dobro

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fortune-184-buster-turner-that-old-heartbreak-express
That’s it, folks !

Sources : YouTube (Dixie issues) ; my own researches ; RCS for Eddie Bond ; Malcolm Chapman’s blogsite (« Starday customs ») for Alton Guyon.

Portland, OR. Country rock: JOHNNY SKILES (1958-59)

skiles assisFrom Monroe, La, JOHNNY SKILES enlisted in WWII at the age of 17. After the war, he moved from Beaumont, Texas to New Orleans, constantly writing songs and playing his guitar.

His brother-in-law (from Monroe) was Jack Hammons, who co-wrote with him and recorded « Mr. Cupid » for Starday (# 197) in 1955. Col. Tom Parker came through Monroe one day, heard Hammons sing Skiles’ original compositions, and quickly phoned Jack Starnes at Starday to arrange a session.

starday 197 jack hammons - Mr. Cupid

Jack Hammons « Mr. Cupid »

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Johnny Skiles was signed to a songwriter’s contract by Southern-Peer in 1955, although unfortunately nothing ever resulted from it.

Skiles then moved to Oregon (he worked for the U.S. Post Office) in the mid-to-late fifties. His first record was a Starday custom 45, « The twinkle in your eyes/Ghosts of my lonely past », released on Corvette 672 circa 1958. Bob Hill and his Harmony Ranch Hands backed Skiles on these appealing boppers. He was influenced by Hank Williams and Webb Pierce, his boyhood friend from Monroe, on his C&W material.

« The twinkle in your eyes »

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« Ghosts of my lonely past »

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corvette 672b johnny skiles - ghosts of my lonely pastcorvette 672a johnny skiles - the twinkle in your eyes

His next outing was Rural Rhythm 518 « Is my baby coming back/Come paddle footin’ down », cut at Portland Ace studio, and released by Jim O’Neal, the late, colorful country DJ/entrepreneur from Arcadia, California. There are distinct echoes of Johnny Cash on these Skiles Rural Rhythm sides, despite chorus. Another Rural Rhythm, EP 37 ½, had 6 tracks among them « Sundown road » [unheard] by Skiles and Bob Hill.

Then he appeared on the good bopper « Blue shadows » (Rumac OP-287).

 

 

« Is my baby coming back »

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« Come paddle footin’ down »

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« Blue shadows »

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rural rhythm 618a johnny skiles - is my baby comin' backrural rhythm 518B johnny skiles - come paddle footin' downrumac 287 johnny skiles - blue shadows

Rockabilly fans and collectors will be more interested in Johnny Skiles’ Rumac R&R session : « Hard luck blues/Rockin’ and rollin’ » was issued on a Four Star custom pressing as Rumac OP-301 in 1959. Johnny played rhythm guitar, accompanied by his fellow Bob Hill on his custom-made 8-string Fender. « Rockin’ and rollin’ » comes as a lovely Country-rocker – good lead guitar and a lazy rhythm. Ruby Smith owned the Rumac label, although Bill McCall, the owner of Four Star, claimed co-writing credits in his usual fashion as « W. S. Stevenson ». (He was doing that possibly inspired by the « Josea-Ling-Taub » of the Modern label’s Bihari brothers, or maybe more « D.Malone », the nom-de-plume of Duke/Peacock’s Don Robey).

rumac 301 johnny skiles - hard luck bluesrumac 301 johnny skiles - rockin' and rollin'

bb-8-6-59-skiles-rr518

billboard; June 6, 1959

« Rockin’ and rollin (A two tone beat)‘ »

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« Hard luck blues »

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Two unissued tunes, « Red headed woman » and « Rock jump boogie » were also recorded at the Ace Portland session : both are gentle Country-rockers, with Bob Hill’s inventive and agile guitar well to the fore. They sound demos. 500 copies of « Hard luck blues » were pressed, and intended also as a demo and showcase. In 1959 also, Johnny fronted vocally the group of the Echomores for « What-cha-do-in » on the Portland, OR. Rocket label # 1044). It’s a fast bopper/rocker with a very nice steel (solo), a good lead guitar and a solid rhythm throughout the song. Skiles get a girl replica near the end. A very fine record by him for the era. Thanks to CheesebrewWax Archive Youtube chain for unearthing such unknown goodies! From unknown origin/date (a Jim O’Neal recording), the White label album contained one more by Skiles,   « If your telephone rings », a fast Rockabilly type song.

« Red headed woman »

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« Rock jump boogie »

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The Echomores (Johnny Skiles, vo) »What-cha-do-in »

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rocket 1044 echomores -what-cha-do-in

After that, Skiles and Bob Hill teamed with Leighton Atkins on organ and Gene Cipolloon on guitar for a serie of Country instrumentals, which were released on some EP’s by Jim O’Neal, sent to D.J.s in the manner of Starday. This way Skiles received a little money, more than from his records. These Eps were used by D.J.s to segue from one segment of commercial to the next, and were released on Rural Rhythm and, yes another O’Neal label, Honey-B. I include a solitary Honey-B 102 issue for the interesting « Comin’ home to you », a medium-paced Rockabilly, despite the girl chorus by the Tonettes.

« Comin’ home to you »

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« If your telephone rings »

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Skiles and his group kept on performing throughout the 60s and 70s on the Pacific Northwest. That’s all is known of him.

skiles & group

 

From the notes (by Cees Klop apparently) of the album White label 8967 « The original Johnny Skiles », published 1991. Additions by bopping Editor. Original labels from 45-cat. Thanks to UncleGil to have provided me the WL album.