BULLET, « ALWAYS A SMASH HIT » – the grandaddy of Nashville indie country labels (600-755 country serie): 1946-1952

               Bullet Records : a presentation

The Bullet Recording and Transcription company was formed in late 1945 by former Grand Ole Opry booking agent Jim Bulleit, in partnership with musician Wally Fowler and businessman C. V. Hitchcock. (suite…)

Hillbilly Boogie!

HILLBILLY BOOGIE !

Essential component of Rock’n’Roll, this Country stream goes as far as the 30’s. Following the Boogie Woogie wave (1928, Pinetop Smith), everyone includes a boogie in his repertoire : swing big bands (Count Basie : « Basie boogie »), western swing orchestras (Spade Cooley : »Three way boogie », or smaller combos – Country (Tennessee Ernie Ford : « Shot gun boogie », 1951) or Blues (Amos Milburn : « Amo’s Boogie », 1946 – one of thousand artists). And the phenomenon will last a good twenty years. Fast tempo is good for dancers, as in « Hillbilly Boogie » (Jerry Irby, 1949 –Pete Burke at the piano).

Piano style was transposed to

guitar (Arthur Smith, « Guitar Boogie », 1945),

harmonica (The Milo Twins, « Truck Driver’s boogie », 1949),

mandolin (The Armstrong Twins, « Mandolin Boogie », 1949),

– violin (Curley Williams, « Fiddlin’ Boogie », 1949),

– steel-guitar (Speedy West, « Stratosphere Booie », 1954),

– accordion (Nathan Abshire, « Lu Lu Boogie », 1947),

– banjo (The McCormick Brothers, « Red Hen Boogie », 1954),

– vocal too of course (Wesley Tuttle, «Yodelin’ Boogie », 1949).

pee-wee-king

You can recognize a Hillbilly boogie by the presence of a powerful stand-up bass, often slapped : you can hear here the monumental « Bull Fiddle Boogie » by PeeWee King (Redd Stewart on vocal)(1949).

Numerous other instruments can be found in hillbilly boogie such as saxophone, muted trumpet or clarinet.

donnie-bowshier-tight-shoe-boogiebobby-soots-boogie-woogie-blues
hardrockmy-honky-tonk-baby
milo-twins-truck-drivers-boogie

And until now I’d only speak of titles including « boogie » ! There were thousands others on this tempo, not always fast, but « uptempo ». Finally it became the standard in hillbilly music, what we call now Hillbilly Bop. One example between hundred is  Downie Bowshier’s « Tight Shoe Boogie » (King, 1953). The song complains about shoes too tight to dance to the bop. It is doubly ironic, since Bowshier was confined to a wheel chair.

Recommended listening :

We are well treated these times, because there is a plethora of compilations.

– « Country boogie 1939-1947 » (Frémeaux et associés 161) – 36 classic recordings just before and after WWII, from « Oakie Boogie » (Jack Guthrie) to « Square Dance boogie » (Johnny Lee Wills), to « Saturday night boogie » (Al Dexter). A good choice from Gérard Herzaft, the famous compiler.

– « Hillbilly Bop, Boogie & The Honky Tonk », a serie of 3 double-CDs from Jasmine (UK) at bargain price. Buy in confidence, you won’t be sorry !hillbilly-bop-jasmine

– « Hillbilly Boogie » Proper (UK) boxset (4 CD). 100 tunes for £ 10.99. All the greats are here.

– « King Hillbilly Bop’n’Boogie » (UK Ace 854) does concentrate on one of the genre’s best postwar labels. Many uncommon tracks.

king-hillbilly-bop-Hillbilly Boogie » (Columbia Legacy 53940) – 20 essential tracks (1990)  hillbilly-boogie-cd

– If you are looking for something else, try to find (remoted from current catalog) « A Shot In The Dark – Tennessee Jive », a 7-CD Bear Family boxset devoted to Nashville’s small labels from 1945 to 1955.

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