When I was invited to write the notes for a LeGarde Twins album earlier this year it was an enjoyable exercise, because they were unique in being identical twins – or so I thought. You wait all these years and then two come along: the Milo brothers, who also happen to be clone of each other! (Actually, it’s not two, it’s four, but let’s not confuse this issue.) Read the rest of this entry »
Howdy, folks! We start this fortnight with a stalwart version of the classic Honky Tonk « I’m Moving On » (Decca) by the great HANK « Sugarfoot » GARLAND (1930-2004). He appeared at 19 on RED FOLEY records, and never gave up backing on thousands sides cut in Nashville. Fine Tommy Jackson fiddle backing, and a short but brilliant guitar solo.
Then I go on with JIMMY MYERS and an unissued tune for the Super label out of Georgia, « Go Cat Go » (recently published on an European anthology). I wonder if this is the same as the one JIM MYERS who cut marvelous sides for the FORTUNE label in Detroit (the frantic « Drunkman’s Wiggle » for example). Here it is raw, crude Rockabilly…
Leiber/Stoller’s « Hound Dog » (Willie « Big Mama » Thornton, 1952) was an enormous hit, and no one could know how many Country versions were made of. This time I chose the humorous version on King by CHARLIE GORE and LOUIS INNIS, « (You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Female) Hound Dog« , both artists I’d like very much set the story up in future articles.
Billboard March 11, 1950
Already a Country star, both under his own name, and as harmonica player for the DELMORE BROTHERS, WAYNE RANEY had many sides on KING. He also had sides on London under the disguise of LITTLE WILLIE EVANS, hence « Lonesome Railroad Blues« , in 1950.
One of the highlights of the regular Starday label: LONNIE SMITHSON for his double-sider « Me And The Blues« / »It Takes Time » (# 330) from 1957. Fine lead guitar and a firm vocal. Nothing is known about Smithson, who had another Starday disc, « Quarter in The Jukebox« , in 1958.
RUDY THACKER, a Kentucky guitar player, appeared on the Cincinnati, OH, Lucky label (with his String Busters). Here we have an instrumental (a rare opportunity in Bopping…), the romping « Guitar boogie Shuffle« .
Finally a Rocking Blues by ROBERT NIGHTHAW. 1964, Chicago, Chess label. Backed by Buddy Guy on guitar and Walter Horton on harmonica, he delivers a very nice « Someday« .
Hope you enjoy the selections. Comments welcome! Till then, bye-bye…
first ever Work LP, Dot sides (1985)
All too often, country composers of the 1940s and 1950s who didn’t have a substantial string of hits of their own are forgotten even if their songs have not been. Jimmy Work is a classic example. The author of three bonafide Country classics – “Tennessee Border” (1948), “Making Believe” (a simultaneous hit for both he and Kitty Wells in March of 1955) and “That’s What Makes The Juke Box Play” (1955) - Work’s records have been a little more than a footnote to the fifties, a composer’s credit on someone else’s records. That fact is truly unfortunate, for in truth, Jimmy Work was among the most expressive composers of the era. Though Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell enjoyed greater success, Work’s best songs were among the most evocative of the period: raw, unvarnished gems with an undeniable directness and beauty. Read the rest of this entry »
Hello folks, here I am again, back in wonderful Vallée du Rhône (where I lived for more than 40 years): Roman monuments, wines, goat cheeses, near Lyon, the second city of France (rivalling Marseille). Here in Vienne we have one of the foremost Jazz Festivals all around Europe (1rst fortnight of July), held in a marvelous Roman theater (fantastic acoustic!). Among all artists will be this year Joe Cocker – he’s not a Hillbilly yet, you know, but one of the truly Soulful artists ever. The show is booked…
All my records are still in boxes, and the library has yet to be set up, later this Summer. So this early July fortnite will be made up of tunes stored on my Macintosch for accidental use like this one. No label pictures, no spare time left to research in my files, only the music. After all, it’s only music we all love that got importance, isn’t?
Here we go.First from Indiana (Ruby label) comes WALTER SCOTT and the fine Hillbilly bop « I’m Walkin’ Out » (1956) complete with swirling fiddles and steel-guitar. Then to Texas, I think (I may be wrong!), with the great HYLO BROWN, whose career was firmly dept in Bluegrass but flirted with Hillbilly at times. I’ve chosen his 1951 rendition of « Lonesome Road Blues » (Four Star). Down in Louisiana, here comes the Pope of Cajun accordion, NATHAN ABSHIRE and one of his first records (although he had already recorded in 1939) under his name, the fine instrumental « Lu Lu Boogie » (Khoury’s label, 1947). On to Nashville, and JIMMY MARTIN, one of the founding members of the Bluegrass style (he’s been once guitar player for Bill Monroe). The song herein is Bluegrass, indeed, but Jimmy has hiccups in his voice…that predate (in my mind anyway) Rockabilly! « Hop, Skip and Wobble » (Decca) Complete with fiddle, banjo, string-bass. Back to the real roots of Hillbilly of the Thirties: (Tom) DARBY & (Jimmy) TARLTON – the haunting « Sweet Sarah Blues » (may be from 1928? 1931? I cannot verify at the moment). Great, strange vocal, and wild dobro.
We finished with two very different tunes, separated by at least 50 years. BIG MACEO (Merryweather) was a fine piano player and intimate vocalist of Chicago in the early 40s. Hear his « I Got The Blues » (backed by Tampa Red on the fluid electric guitar). Then MAURA O’CONNELL (late 1990′s) and the beautiful (both melody and lyrics) « It’s A Beautiful Day ». Enjoy, folks!
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…
Hi! Here are my new favorites, be it Hillbilly bop, Bluegrass, Honky Tonk, Country rock-a-ballad, or even a bit of Western swing. CARL BUTLER was on Capitol, and cut mainly unclassifiable Hillbilly/Bluegrass sides. I’ve chosen his great « No Trespassing » from 1951, complete with hiccups and banjo/fiddle. Then to early Honky tonk with WEBB PIERCE. One of his very early sides on Decca (1951): « California Blues » (78 rpm – I will be moving soon, so already packed all my precious shellacs and can’t have a label scan). Back to Hillbilly bop with a fairly obscure artist, JACK HUNT (Capitol, 1953) and lazy vocal on « All I Can Do Is Sit Ad Cry ». A short insight into MERLE LINDSAY’s career. He fronted the Oklahoma scene from the mid-forties, and had numerous sides on many labels; here we hear « Mop Rag Boogie » (MGM). A nice Country Rockaballad from 1958 on the Sandy label out of Alabama by JOHNNY FOSTER « Locked Away From Your Heart » (# 1028). I love his sincere vocal. Finally a late 60s Hillbilly Bop by KED KILLEN (Western Ranch), « Hey Pretty Mama ». I don’t know an awful lot of him, except that his style dates from at least 15 years earlier. Couldn’t find his work except on a Cattle LP moons ago, or a Tom Sims Cassette. Enjoy the selections! Bye…
If Charlie Adams is mentioned these days, it’s usually in passing – as a footnote, likely connected to the fact that he toured with Hank Williams on the latter’s Texas swing in December 1952. However, though he never enjoyed a major hit nor became a household name, Charlie Adams & His Western All-Stars were a popular presence on the Southwestern dance hall and recording scene in the early-to-mid-1950s and left an enduring and engaging legacy of recordings before Adams bowed out of music in favor of family later in the decade. Read the rest of this entry »
Maddox Brothers & Rose
They promoted themselves as «The Most Colorful Hillbilly Group In America », and no one would deny that their various western stage outfits emcompassed all the hues of the rainbow. They were a reasonably talented bunch of singers and, albeit rudimentory musicians, they were filled with an endless stream of adrenaline, a riotous sense of humour and vitality, which was leavened with just the right blend of musical exuberance. In Rose Maddox the band had a totally atypical female vocalist. No shy retiring song thrush she, Rose had grown up the rough edge of town, she was street wise and took no shit from anyone. Her whole demeanour was a gal who would smack you one in the mouth if you stepped out of line. Read the rest of this entry »