Howdy folks ! En route for a new batch of bopping billies, mostly from the late ’40s-early ’50s, with the occasional foray into the early ’60s.
We begin this fortnight with an artist I’d already post a song in March 2011 – that is more than 5 1/2 years. CURLEY COLE was a D.J. in Paducah, KY and a multi-instrumentist. Here he delivers on the Gilt-Edge label (a sublabel to Four Star, as everyone knows) the fine bopper « I’m going to roll » (# 5028). It’s a proto-rockabilly in essence, as a train song, from 1952. Cole also had another on Gilt-Edge 5016, « I’m leaving now/For now I’m free » (unheard).
The second artist of this serie also appeared in January 2016, but with different tracks. DON WHITNEY was a D.J. for Radio KLCN out of Blytheville, AR. in 1951 when he cut for Four Star « I’m gonna take my time, loving you » (# 1548), again a nice bopper. Later on, he had the romper « G I boogie » (# 1581) in late 1951. Minimal instrumentation (lead guitar, rhythm, bass [it even got a solo], a barely audible fidde) but a lot of excitement. At the beginning of this year I’d posted both his «Red hot boogie » and « Move on blues ».
From Vidalia, GA. Came in 1960 the group Twiggs Co. Playboys for a (great for the era) Hillbilly bopper, « Too many ». Very nice interplay between fiddle and steel (solos) over an assured vocal (Gala # 109). This label is now more known for its rockers (Billy « Echo » Adkinson, The Sabres, Otis White) than for Country records.
It is useless to present HANK PENNY. To quote the late Breathless Dan Coffey in a very old issue of his magazine « Boppin’ news », and a feature on Jerry Lee Lewis : « If you don’t know what happened to him, you shouldn’t read this mag ! ». From the heyday of his discographical career (which spanned from the late ’30s until 1969), actually of a constant highest level on a par with his popularity, however I was forced to choose two songs he cut for King Records between 1945 and 47, but released on the same 78rpm, King 842, late 1949 or early 50. « Now ain’t you glad dear », cut in Pasadena, CA. in Oct. 1945 at the same session as « Steel guitar stomp » and « Two-timin’ mama », is a fast brillant Western bopper backed in particular by Merle Travis (lead guitar) and Noël Boggs (steel). The other side, recorded in Nashville two years later, and penned by Danny Dedmon (Imperial artist and member of Bill Nettles‘ Dixie Blue Boys) isn’t not at all a slow blues : « Got the Louisiana blues » is equally fast as the B-side, and showcases James Grishaw on guitar, Louie Innis on bass and Bob Foster on steel. A great record.
Next artist, whom I don’t know much on, is called CLAY ALLEN, from Dallas, Texas. He had two Hillbilly sessions between April and July 1951 for the Decca label (« I can’t keep smiling »,# 46324, is maybe scheduled for a future Fortnight). He was part of the Country Dudes on the Azalea label in 1959 with the very good rocker « Have a ball »). Later on, he cut several discs between 1961 and 1964 for the Dewey Groom‘s Longhorn label, « Broken heart » (# 516) for example. I’ve chosen « One too many » (# 547) as his great deep voice backed by a bass chords playing guitar comes for a great effect. Maybe later I’ll post the flipside « I’m changing the numbers on my telephone », but lacking space this time.
To round up this serie, here are two tracks by the Atlanta guitar virtuoso JERRY REED, early in career which he began on Capitol Records. From October 1955, there’s the traditional « If the Lord’s willing and the creeks don’t rise » (# 3294), done in a fast Hillbilly bop manner making its way onto Rockabilly. Both steel and fiddle have a good, although short solo, while Reed is in nice voice. He comes once more, this time recorded in January 1956 : « Mister Whiz » is frankly Rockabilly (# 3429) but the Hillbilly bop feeling is retained : a nice fiddle flows all along, while the guitar player may be (to my ears at least) Grady Martin. Capitol files and Praguefrank are silent on the personnel of Jerry Reed sessions, a pity.
« If the Lord’s willing and the creeks don’t rise »
Sources: mostly 78rpm-world or my archives; John E. Burton YouTube chain (Twiggs Co. Playboys); various researches on the Net. Countrydiscographies.com (Praguefrank) for Hank Penny and Jerry Reed data.
For a reason unknown, most of podcasts won’t open. Just click on the « Download » button to hear the music, when the player fails.
Onto the first Fortnight of this Autumn 2016. SMOKEY ROGERS (1917-1993) was a personality of the West coast and bandleader for s strong number of singers (Tex Wlliams, Ferlin Huskey) and releases (Capitol, Coral, Four Star, Starday and Shasta) from 1945 to 1965. On his (apparently) own label, Western Caravan, he even cut the first ever version of the classic « Gone » (# 901) in 1952. His label lasted with a handful of issues until 1955, among them I chose the great instrumental [not often in bopping] « John’s boogie » (Western Caravan 903). A real showcase for any musician involved (including ex-Hank Penny steel player virtuoso Joaquin Murphy), and every of them takes his solo or shines a way or the other. Splendid piano, horns, guitar, and of course steel, over an irresistible shuffle beat.
Another Smokey Rogers’ record has a young vocalist FERLIN HUSKY in April 1950 for « Lose your blues » on Coral 64063 (October 1950). It’s a nice shuffler with Huskey in good voice, and again Joaquin Murphy on steel.
Billboard Aug. 5, 1950 – a proof of popularity of Red Kirk
Several months later (February 1951), RED KIRK, another singer himself modeled on Hank Williams, took at his turn «Lose your blues » for an acceptable version, quite impersonal but backed by the cream of Nashville (Zeke Turner, Louie Innis, Jerry Byrd, Tommy Jackson) , on Mercury 8257. Kirk had many other good songs, for example « Can’t understand a woman (who can’t understand her man »)(# 6288), « Knock out the lights and call the law » (# 6409), or later on Republic 7120 the double-sider « Red lipped girl/Davy Crockett blues » from 1956, , the good ballad « How still the night » on ABC-Paramount 9814, or his version of Loy Clingman‘s « It’s nothing to me » in 1957 on Ring 1503. I chose another Mercury disc, »Cold steel bues » (# 6309) from February 1951 and in the same ‘bluesy’ vein as « Lose your blues ».
From Nashville, TN to Texas and Fort Worth for an Imperial session held in September 1954. FREDDY DAWSON (vocal) backed probably by himself on steel-guitar, Billy Chamber or Buddy Brady (fiddle), Jimmy Rollins (guitar), George McCoy (bass) and Phillip Sanchez (drums) cut 4 tracks, among them the above average « Dallas boogie » (# 8274)(nice fiddle and steel). 2 tracks do remain unissued, and « Why baby why » may not be the George Jones track, an original Jones song cut in August 1955.
We stand in Fort Worth, this time in 1957 with GENE RAY on the Cowtown label # 646 and « I lost my head », a good uptempo bopper. In November he was to cut for the same label the great Rockabilly cum Rocker « Rock and roll fever » on the EP-677, which contained also the good « Love proof ». Was he the same artist as on Playboy 300, who committed on wax « Playboy boogie » ? Nevertheless as front singer of the Dusty Miller’s band, he also had the great rocker « I’m going to Hollywood » in 1960. All these tunes are to be easily found on YouTube or various compilations.
Now to the early ’60s in Orlando, Florida. WEBSTER DUNN, Jr. delivers a good country rocker on first side, « Black and white shoes » on the Dunmar (owned by DUNmar Peckam and MARy Yingst) label # 101. Echoed vocal, nice crisp guitar (+ a bridge), a welcome steel : a well-produced record. The second side has a sort of poppish vocal, although saved by the same guitar (ordinary solo) and steel : « Go go baby » is a typical Country uptempo ballad. (Record valued at $ 75-100).
Next artist seems to have possibly emananated from Dallas, Texas, as his label Amber, one out of three at the same time. It’s a 4* custom # 275 out in December 1957, and the artist is BOB GARMON, who delivers with « His Studio Combo », a neat and tight little band, one of the best Rockabillies ever, « I’m a-ready baby » (valued $ 500 to 1000). Great guitar solo, cool vocal on topical lyrics, the song has everything a Rockabilly devotee could dream of. The flipside, although bluesy, is equally good : a Rockabilly combo trying its hands at Blues for « Positively blues ». A very desirable record !
Finally a R&B rocker by one of the greats, the albino « Blonde Bomber » (remember the Little Richard-esque « Strollie Bun » on Hull?), here under his other alias, LITTLE RED WALTER for « Aw shucks baby » on the N.Y. Le Sage (# 711) label. Walter is on guitar and harmonica (1960).
The Blonde Bomber, alias of Walter Rhodes, or Little Red Walter
Enough for this time ! Sources are 45cat for label scans, or YouTube or Roots Vinyl Guide, even Rockin’ Country Style. 78Rpm-world (mainly Ronald – thanks to him). My own researches on the Net and my archives. Praguefrank’s Country discography (Smokey Rogers, Red Kirk discos). Michel Ruppli’s « Aladdin/Imperial labels » book. Values from : Barry K. John guide or Tom Lincoln/Dick Blackburn book.
This is late September 2016 fortnight’s bopping favorites. As prettily usual, I selected a dozen songs which I feel interesting both for their obscurity and/or their appeal. The songs range from early-to-mid ’50s to very early ’60s. Let’s begin on the West coast with the very elusive TOM (Red) WILSON & His Country Music. He sings in the W.C. Western swing manner, added by a tight little combo of steel, piano and guitar, plus bass of course. First two selections combine both sides of his release on Crest 1007 (which was an outlet of Liberty). «Can you bop ?» (with female replica and jive-talk) tells everything. It’s a shuffler from 1955, with a strong Speedy West-styled steel, inked by Cal Veale, a name which crops from time to time on W. C. records.. The flip « Hillbilly parade » keeps the long established tradition of stringing some well-known Western songs. According to the songs cited, one can recognize T. Ernie, Webb Pierce and Ernest Tubb. Nice fiddle. There’s even a fat-bodied guitar picking solo which must be by Merle Travis himself ! Terry Fell had cut previously (1953) on Gilt-Edge 5084 his « Hillbilly impersonations« ; but 12 artists were involved then in place of the half-a-dozen by Tom Wilson.
Next artist is a bit of a mystery. BOB TUCKER& His Sky Riders (vocal chorus by Virgil Hume) don’t give any clue of origin neither date of release. Tucker (neither Hume) never had another record, at least to my knowledge. They do a bopping tune « Quit draggin’ your feet » and a quieter side on « My tears are dry » released on State 4002 B/A. Both feature a really wild and inventive steel, and the singer does a really fine job on the supercharged « Quit » side. The record may date from the 1953/54 era.
On to a well-known name, for a not so well-known good Country bop song. DALE HAWKINS was no longer in 1961 with Chess Records, and his days of fame were over, when he cut (with Roger Miller on guitar) the nice and, apparently, autobiographical, « Wish I hadn’t called home » for Tilt 783.
« Wish I hadn’t called home »
Two visitors are categoric: Hawkins plays guitar while it’s Miller singing. Thanks, chaps!
Then VIRGIL HUNT (a repost of as early as May 2012). « Can’t we try again » is a fast 1957 hillbilly bopper, with fiddle and guitar solos issued on Boot Heel 604 [did I write the label’s name right, Dean?], apparently a Tennessee label. Now you get a complete and nice label scan..
Howdy folks ! Hi ! To returning visitors. This a particularly important fortnight feature, because it includes no less than 11 selections !
We begin with an already reviewed artist (December 2010) in the article devoted to the K.C. label Westport. Here is the important and prolific MILT DICKEY. Born 1920, he was D.J. on KCMO during the early ’50s and cut nice boppers for first K.C. located Sho-Me label (# 528), like « Neon love ». The record must have been a regional success, as it was reissued exactly as same on Coral 64146 in 1953. I include the B-side of his Westport 129 disc (« Television love »), the fine weeper « Bleeding heart » with piano and fiddle backing and a good steel as expected. Dickey also released « Checkbook baby » on Coral 64169.
Still in Kansas, but 1963 for the next artist. BOB MARRIOTT & the Continentals is an hybrid of Country-rock, Soul and Rock’n’roll with « I’ll walk a mile » (Jayco 702). I know such an item may come upon Bopping’s visitors’ ears, but I like the drive of the tune, the harsh voice of the singer Chuck Vallent and a good guitar. You can of course disagree and leave a negative comment !
From Nashville in a more settled Country mould here’s PAUL DAVIS. During the ’50s he had two releases on M-G-M, the very fine « I don’t want a backseat driver » (# 12472, to be found on the Cactus « M-G-M Hillbilly, vol. 2 » compilation) and now « Big money » (# 12357, recorded June 18, 1956). « Big money » but a « single man »…Good shuffler according to Nashville standards : steel guitar throughout and good guitar over a relax vocal.
Five years later Davis would record the prototype of any truck repertoire with the original of « Six days on the road » released on the small Bulletin label # 1001 (reviewed June 18 1961, well nearly two years before the Dave Dudley hit). Fabulous wailing steel guitar, a lot of echo both on vocal and backing. By far according to my tastes the best version !
« Carroll county blues » was recorded on March 11 1929 by NARMOUR & SMITH, a duet emanating from Mississipi. The lead figure is taken on fiddle by Will Narmour, who befriended bluesman Mississipi John Hurt, and sustained by Shell (Sheriff) Smith on guitar. The tune has something of hypnotic, and was said to have come from the whistling of some black farmer. It’s been the duet’s greatest hit, and was revived on the Clarion reissue as Jones & Billings. Pretty old and crude Hillbilly !
Out of Trumansburg, N.Y. Seemingly in ’57 comes a pretty tame version of the Drifters’ « Money honey » by JANECE MORGANwith the Melody Men on the Marlee (# 101) label. An agreeable guitar and a too discrete steel over the singer, a poor man’s (woman’s!) Wanda Jackson. She had also a « First from» on Marlee 103, described as « teen rockabilly » on a ebay sale.
The name DEE STONE can be a bit familiar to Bluegrass afficionados, as he had at last 3 issues in 1952-53 on the Blue Ridge (from Virginia) and Mutual (from Illinois) labels, all backed by His Virginia Mountain Boys or his Melody Hill-billys. This time we find him on Blue Ridge 304 for « Countin’ the days », a very good Bluegrass uptempo tune (banjo and fiddle) over a duet vocal. In fact, this could as well be described, minus the banjo, as Hillbilly. Later on (in 1956, according to RCA « G » prefix), the man appears on Eastern (location unknown) for two great boppers, steel to the fore, and a piano : « Sun of love » and « Drifting down this lonely road ». An artist who we wish to hear more from. Final disc in 1960: « Ocean of dreams/After the dance » also on Eastern 12460.
Finally, a R&B rocker, cut in 1954 at a Clarksdale, MS radio station. Ike Turner was present at the session but didn’t play on this harsh-voiced « I’m tired of beggin’ », inspired by Junior Parker‘s « Feelin’ good » 1953 hit [Sun 187] by Eugene « THE SLY FOX ». Here he is pictured 20 years later, as Clarksdale high school principal. Of course the Spark label (# 108) was run by Leiber & Stoller out of Los Angeles, and had in its stall the Robins, Big Boy Groves and Ray Agee. Fox would cut « My four women/Alley music »(# 112) just at the time Atlantic bought this important small label late 1955.
Howdy folks ! Very different things this time, and the recordings do go from 1936 until 1960.
Let’s begin with the unknown (surely a one-offer) GLENN KIRBY and his good, gentle shuffler « I love blue eyes » issued in Texas on TNT 138 in July 1956. A steel and piano solo plus throughout fiddle, although nothing exceptionnal.
SHORTY ASHBURN, our second artist, was equally unknown despite his 3 records issued on Nashville labels at the turn of 1950-51. Without doubt he only cut 4 songs at the same session for the Bullet label, which were issued upon # 749 « Triflin’ heart », a nice shuffler with piano and steel solos. The guitar player is rather uninspired (or too badly paid trying to shine). Ashburn went the same way with « More & more » (# 752) ; all his sides were written (or co-written) with Jimmy Rule, a mathematics teacher mostly famous for ghostwriting Hank Williams‘ booklet, « How to write folk and western music to sell ». The 3rd Ashburn record was written by Autry inman, who found himself in the position he had prophetically shown up, when he was arrested by the FBI in 1972 for bootlegging records : « You’re under arrest » was given to Ashburn and issued on the small Jamboree label (# 514).
PETE PIKE is a rather well-known figure in Hillbilly and Bluegrass circles. His incomplete story was given in this site in January 2011, and many facts have been thrown to light since then. I’ve chosen the fabulous slice of Hillbilly bop from 1960, « Cold gray dawn », issued on Rebel (Maryland) # 228 : great steel and expressive vocal.
As a change, we move to March 1936 for a New Orleans session by MILTON BROWN& His Musical Brownies. The song may be vaudeville or poppish, the backing is splendid : nice fiddle by Cliff Bruner, and a fabulous lap-steel solo (40 seconds!) by the late Bob Dunn. The song is « Ida ! sweet as apple cider », originally on Decca 5325, and reissued on 46002 in 1946.
From Metter, south of Georgia came Wallace and Charlie, the MERCER BROTHERS. They were young farmers and bought their first Sears & Roebuck guitar in 1939 with the money from picking cotton. They had soon after the WWII a show on WMAZ, then entered the Louisiana Hayride in April 1948, as The Blue Ridge Boys. Columbia signed them and recorded the duet, augmented by the harmonica of Wayne Raney, in August 1951. After seemingly sufficient sales, they had a second session in May 1954, backed by Doyle Strickland on fiddle. They sounded like the Delmore Brothers. Here is their « What’s he got that I ain’t got » (Columbia # 20978), you can judge by yourself. After their departure from Columbia, they went to WIBB in Macon where they did alternate country and sacred radio shows.
The last artist was very young, only 18 and still in high school when he entered WRJW radio station in Picayune, MS. to record his double-sider for D Records in September 1958. Pappy Daily had a contact in Picayune, Fred Henley (the local Colonel Parker) who sent up for DOUG STANFORD. His record « Sady/Won’t you tell me » (D 1034) had a gifted guitar player, Billy Fred Stockstill, even younger than Stanford : « He could do that Chet Atkins stuff good as Chet », he said.
Sources : « A shot in the dark » boxset, notes by Martin Hawkins ; « The complete D singles…collection, volume 1 », notes by Colin Escott. « Columbia 20000 », the site of Willem Agenant. My own archives. YouTube and 45rpm-cat.