Back from Summer holidays, we begin with the incomparable MERLE TRAVIS with a little known opus cut on December 4, 1952, « 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 »
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 »
« 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) & 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 »
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.
« Stayed away too long »
« Too old to Rock’n’roll »
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 »
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«
« 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 !
« 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 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 »
« Man crazy woman »
« You’re one in a million »
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.