Hello, folks, howdy, visitors! Below are my favorites of the last 15 days which I’d like you (maybe) discover, both by music and my own words – what I know about these records, sometimes nearly nothing!
We begin in Nashville, early Sixties, with the DIXIELAND DRIFTERS and « HOT TO TROT » cut for the B.B. label. The presence of a dobro, and an unusual infectious rhythm, plus the unisson vocal, make this record very particular. I know the tune had a commercial impact, because, without doubt, its unlikely Bluegrass nature.
Then a decade earlier in Texas. JIMMIE STONE had this solitary « MIDNIGHT BOOGIE » on Imperial (8000 serie) in 1951. Firm vocal, a fine backing, and a completely stunning guitar solo. Surely the man knew the Blues!
On to Memphis and Meteor label. BARNEY BURCHAM is a real unknown, only for his solitary « CAN’T STEAL MY WAY AROUND« . Typical Memphis Hillbilly bop from 1955.
Next two choices are more Rock’n'Roll oriented. First, GRAHAM B. and « ROCK AND ROLL FEVER« . It’s been suggested that the man had connection with Buzz Busby, so a Washington, D.C. location is possible.
Second, for the well-known Bandera label out of Chicago, we find another unknown, certainly a pseudonym: LONESOME LEE and the cool 1958 « CRY OVER ME » – very nice guitar solo.
Finally a R&B classic, « CALDONIA« , sung and played on piano by the 8-years old wonder SUGAR CHILE ROBINSON in 1951. He disappeared afterwards.
Luke Gordon picture on Dutch Collector CD (90's)
Luke Gordon was born Gordon Brown in Quincy, Kentucky on Friday 15th April, 1932; and was next to the youngest of 6 boys and 2 girls. Luke started his music career on radio station WPAY in Portsmouth, Ohio with the Rhythm Rascals and became good friends with Zeke Mullins who was a DJ at WPAY. Luke served in the US. Army during the Korean conflict and upon his discharge in 1953 he headed for Norfolk, Virginia where he met up with Jimmy Dean and did a show with him. He then went from there to Warrenton, Virginia with Jimmy and they won the ‘Best Vocalist’ at a JC contest. He also appeared on the ‘Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, Virginia. Luke then went to Tennessee and entertained the folks with Ray Price & The Western Cherokees.
After his stint in Tennessee he returned to Virginia and the Washington D.C. area to work with fiddler Curley Smith at radio station WGAY, Silver Springs, Maryland and do personal appearances. Curley set up a number of recording sessions for Luke with Ben Adelman and the result was released on L & C & STARDAY during 1956.
Luke started his own QUINCY record label which was based in Quincy, Kentucky. He also appeared on ISLAND, BLUE RIDGE, EMPIRE & NASHVILLE amongst others.
note "The Rock and Roll Boys" backing
Empire EP issued 1961
“Married Life” is a Luke The Drifter type monolog which bemoans how bad married life can be. I class this type of song as “Bar Room Advice”, the wisdom of an unhappily married man. (Then again, if they were so smart ……. ) “Goin’ Crazy” is a nice shuffling country ditty, supported by a fine lead guitarist.
DARK HOLLOW lyrics
Mount Vernon LP 156 (Ben Adelman's sides)
And that is all I know on LUKE GORDON! His Starday sides are easily available on the Dutch compilation above. What happened to such a talented guy afterwards? He has records even in 2005!
Biographical information gathered from excellent Malcolm Chapman’s Starday Custom Series site.
Discographical data from Dick Grant’s researches on Ben Adelman’s archives and from famous Praguesfrank’s site http://countrydiscography.blogspot.com/search?q=luke+gordon
Pictures, as usual, from various sources, e.g. Rockin’ Country Style.
bopping editor’s notes:
Luke Gordon’s records are difficult to find, without doubt being poor sellers at the time. I couldn’t find but the Dutch compilation above.
The standout track is « Goin’ Crazy« , which is par to what Memphis had best to offer in 1955/56: name Bud Deckleman or other Meteor artists. Raw, crude medium Hillbilly bop; firm barytone vocal, top-class backing of fiddle, guitar and steel. BUT one thing: I first heard this track via a Tom Sims’ cassette way back in the 1980′s on the L&C label, and it has a dobro…not heard on the Starday track on Collector. Not same timing too. However, to my knowledge, nobody has ever noticed the difference. The dobro-backed « Goin’ Crazy« , which has a sort of Bluegrass feel to it, is superior, at least to me, to the « regular » Starday version. The voice is higher too. To confuse a little more tracks, « Dark Hollow » from 1958 (Blue Ridge label # 502) has also a dobro…It is indeed the Bill Browning tune issued on Island, and revived, among others by, by Jimmy Skinner who hit with it in 1958 on Mercury. Can anyone shed some light on this story? You can judge by yourself, since the two versions are podcasted below.
Note (November 14, 2011) on « Goin’ Crazy« . Praguefrank discography list this very first song recorded by Luke Gordon as « unissued ». But it mentions Buzz Busby on mandolin and John Duffey on dobro (+ the Stonemans Bros. on bass and fiddle), that’s exactly the aural line-up I did detect on the L&C issue (# 555) (as transferred from the Tom Sims’ cassette). Since, still according to Praguefrank, L&C 555 was reissued on Starday 555 (in its ‘Custom’ serie), one must admit that both versions of « Goin’ Crazy » (one with mandolin/dobro, the other without) were issued with the SAME number…Anyway you can hear the great difference between both versions in the podcasts below.
Quincy 932 has until now eluded my research, and must be the rarest Gordon’s record. However the mention of « The Rock and Roll Boys » as backing band sounds interesting, and proves that Gordon had well adapted to new trends. Note that in the discography he cut his sides during a split session (same backing band apparently) as Billy Adams. « Lonely Heartache » from 1961 is as fine as Gordon’s earlier sides: a nice Hillbilly uptempo weeper (fiddle/steel solo) propulsed by a loping bass. Don’t miss it in the podcasts.
Some 80′s issues on the World Artist Productions. I’ve still have to hear them yet!
FLASH: Luke Gordon died Tuesday September 14th, 2010 after a long illness. Hillbilly-Music.com has already published a biography on him at http://www.hillbilly-music.com/news/story/index.php?id=8932
Revised on November 14th, 2011. Thanks to a visitor, Bill Hancock, we now know the name of the dobro player on « Goin’ Crazy« : « Lew Childrey played Dobro in Goin Crazy » . So it could be not John Duffey? Also, I put my hand on Mount Vernon LP 156 (thanks YouTube), so I can now podcast 6 more fine Hillbilly bop tracks from late 1954 to 1959, cut in Washington, D.C. Among them is « Christmas in Tennessee« , whose lead guitar player is none other than young Link Wray!
Later addition (December 26, 2011). I got the 1980 album « Picture Show » on World label 5000. Very nice Country rockers, Gordon in fine voice, sympathetic backing (steel well to the fore). So I add in the podcasts two numbers: « Oblivion » and « Alimony« .
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Howdy folks. Maybe you’re still on Holydays? Bopping (and the editor) didn’t take any spare day to rest, and kept busy all Summer long, and were preparing a new hot slice of Hillbilly goodies. This time it spans from 1947 to…1966. Lotta good music, for your own pleasure, all of you Cherished visitors/listeners/downloaders all over the World! Some strong numbers, one could say hard-core Rock’n'Roll influenced Rockabilly, just to make a change from the previous post devoted to the gentle, sometimes smooth music by JACK BRADSHAW. I like Jack anyway, be sure to check this post! And another tune, in particular, very near to Western swing (even a very risqué song for the time being).
Jimmy Murphy, 1950's
So, OK for embarking? We begin with JIMMY MURPHY (see elsewhere in this site with help of the search engine at upper right). His commercial days at Columbia (1955-1956) were largely over when he entered (after an unreleased Starday session – now available on Ace records) again in the Bill Lanham studio and recorded one of his best tunes ever, very sensitive and sincere, in 1962, for the Ark label, « I Long To Hear Hank Sing The Blues« . Unclassifiable music: between Hillbilly, Folk music and Bluegrass.
Let’s go on with HOMER « Zeke » CLEMONS. He hailed from Texas during the mid to late forties with his outfit, the Swingbillies. As soon as 1947, they were recording their « Operation Blues » (lyrics below), an early risqué song which actually met such enormous success on the first label, Bluebonnet, that Modern out of Los Angeles leased the tune, as « Operation Blues # 2« , next year, and re-released it even 16 years later, under the name « Hank Brown » (Royalty label)
OPERATION BLUES (Homer Clemons) ?Now won’t you climb up on the table,?Pull up that gown?Raise up that left leg, ?Let that right leg down?Pull off them stockin’s,?That silk underwear?’Cos the doctor’s got to cut you, mama, ?Don’t know where??The doctor knows his business?The doctor knows just what to do??Too much of (?), ?One old ( ?)?Two pair of step-ins?That’s all I can say (save)?Your ribs are all loosened,?Your carburettor’s stalled?I’ll duck into your hood, ?And clean your spark plugs all??The doctor knows his business?The doctor knows just what to do… Is it a car (spark plugs), or anything (-one) else that the doctor is visiting?
On to 1966. Dayton, Ohio. WIBBY LEE is a real unknown – no information has ever surfaced about him, at least to my knowledge. He cut 3 disks for the small Jalyn label, all good Boppers, Rockabilly borderline, a real anachronism for the time. Just vocal and electric guitar (Is there any bass?) on « I’m Lost Without Your Love » .
Just WHO was Ted DIXON, or Walter DIXON, or even MASON DIXON? Once in the now-long-ago defunct « Roll Street Journal » magazine, the handsome Phillip J. Tricker promised the readers the story of Mr. Dixon, which never saw the light…First, it seems the three were the same person. Second, they had numerous records on labels as small and elusive as Reed (Alabama), Erwin (Tennessee), the most approaching to a major (everything is relative) being Meteor, out of Memphis (the Los Angeles’ Modern label outfit). Here I have chosen by MASON DIXON the superlative « Don’t Worry About Nuthin‘ », complete encouragement to leave troubles behind, and take the good side of life. Swirling fiddle, great happy vocal, thudding bass: the optimal crossing between Hillbilly and Rockabilly, being cut 1955.
Then on to Texas. Ted Daffan’s label, ably named Daffan (its story is on the line). A great 1957 offering by a guy by the strange name of FIDLO. « Trifling Heart » has a solid Country-rock guitar, the singer’s voice is firm and confident; great steel-guitar throughout (solo interplay between lead and steel), all loped by a thudding bass. Finally we have a minor classic in « We’re Bugging Out » (Murco 1014) by another unknown, TOMMY BOYLES (1959). I think the tune could easily fall in the category of Country-rock. Never-the-less, a fine romper in its own right. Boyles had another record on the N.J. based Granite label in 1960. A good country-rocker too.
Tommy Boyles, late 90's
As a bonus, a great Rocking Blues in the hand of FENTON ROBINSON on the Duke label (# 191), « Crazy Crazy Loving« , from Texas, 1958. I LOVE Blues too!
And as usual, I hope you all will appreciate the selections. I do my damn best to give you pleasure (pics and music). Bye!
Sam Phillips never had much chance with Country music. From 1950 to 1956 he cut Blues and Black R&B; from 1956 on he cut Rockabilly and Rock’n'Roll. Here below are his only attemps in the early years to record Hillbilly Bop. In the second part however, we will see names like Carl Perkins, Charlie Feathers, Malcolm Yelvington, Ernie Chaffin, Warren Smith, Mack Self doing Hillbilly Bop or Country music with much more success than Sam had had in the early days of SUN Records….
Harmonica Frank Floyd (1909 in Tacapola, Mississipi ; died 1984). A phenomenon, who spent 30 years with medicine shows all around the South. He went in 1951 to see Sam Phillips and recorded several Country Blues : Swamp Root, the traditional Step It Up And Go, Goin’ Away Walkin’ and Howlin’ Tomcat, soon sold to Chess in Chicago. He sounded black, and many Blues collectors until the seventies (his rediscovery by Steve LaVere) were wrong with him…In 1954, Sun issued two sides (Sun 205) : Rockin’ Chair Daddy and The Great Medical Menagerist. « …Daddy » from 1951 is proto-rockabilly with strong rhythm guitar, wild vocal, and mouth harmonica. He had a strong career when rediscovered in 1974 and recorded for Adelphi.
Earl Peterson (Feb. 24, 1927 in Paxton, Illinois. died 1971). made his beginnings at a radio station in Michigan. Become popular, he cut a first disc on Nuggett records, before signing at Sun in 1954. He recorded 4 titles, the best being « Boogie Blues » (Sun 197): sewing fiddles, steel-guitar, drums and bass, and a vocal very reminiscent of Jimmie Rodgers ; and the song itself derives from pre-war Country songs, like Gene Autry’s « Lowdown Blues ».
Doug Poindexter & The Starlite Wranglers. Born in Arkansas, he too went to Sun in 1954 and cut (May 25, 1954) two sides of Hillbilly weepers : Now She Cares No More For Me and My Kind Of Carrying On. Published on June 1rst, 1954 on Sun 202. Two of the Wranglers were…Bill Black (bass) and Scotty Moore (lead-guitar), soon to back up the young Elvis less than two months later. Good hillbilly sides, tending towards Rockabilly. Poindexter then left for insurance business..
Howard Seratt in April 1964 (rare picture from Martin Hawkins)
Howard Seratt, from Arkansas. Country gospel. Two sides (Sun 198), alone with his guitar & harmonica for Troublesome Waters/I Must Be saved. Nice sincere vocal. 1954
Hardrock Gunter (Feb. 17, 1925 in Birmingham, Alabama). He had a long recording story behind him when he sold two songs to Sam Phillips in 1954 (Sun 201) : Gonna Dance All Night was a proto-Rock & Roll song, and a recut of a previous 1950 Bama issue. Fallen Angel is far quieter. Gunter had a long career afterwards, recording prolifically and still entertaining afficionados in Europe in 1995 !
Slim Rhodes (Pocahontas, Arkansas, 1913 ; March 10, 1966 – thanks for the death info, Alex)). Guitar player and bandleader, very popular in the Memphis area in the late 40s/early 50s. Phillips leased several of his 1950-1951 recordings to Gilt-Edge. His first Sun single (Sun 216) was sung by Brad Suggs and billed « ordinary » by Billboard in May 1955. Rhodes would afterwards cut Romp and Stomp (Sun 238), a romping Hillbilly Boogie with steel-guitar and fiddle. It must have been a good seller, as the guitar solo was taken note-for-note on Harold Shutter’s « Bunny Honey » (Goldenrod 300 from May-June 1957), then Do What I Do (Sun 256), a superb Rockabilly in 1956 (vocal Sandy Brooks). He had several issues on Gilt-Edge. For Sun 238 and 256, please see SUN Records: Hillbilly sides (part 2).
Malcolm Yelvington (1927, Covington, Tennessee) led his first band, The Star Rhythm Boys, during the late 40s, wih pianist Reece Fleming. He cut his first sides in 1954 for Sun, among them his personal Western swing treatment of Sticks McGhee’s R&B classic Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee (Sun 211). The guitar player follows Brownie McGhee’s solo, and Reece Fleming plays the Your Red Wagon theme (it was then adapted for Rock around the clock). All in all, it is a pretty proto-Rockabilly song, a fine blend of black & white styles. Later on (see part 2), Yelvington came close to Rockabilly (Sun 246) with Rockin’ With My Baby.
Clyde Leoppard & the Snearly Ranch Boys were a group firmly associated with Sam Phillips during 1955-1957. Clyde Leoppard (steel), Johnny Bernero (d), Smokey Joe Baugh (p), vocalist Bill Taylor, Buddy Holobaugh (g) backed Smokey Joe, Warren Smith, and numerous other artists during this period. They had a solitary issue on Flip 502 (Sun subsidiary label) in 1954, and they handle right the charming piece of nonsense « Split personality », a romping Hillbilly bop. Smokey Joe had his own issue on Sun 228 in 1956 with « Signifying monkey ». His vocal is crude, and, as once said, a sort of Rockabilly Fats Waller (see part 2).
See part 2 for 1956-1958 Sun Hillbilly sides elsewhere on this site!
G.D. « Bud » Deckleman was born on 2 April 1927 in Harrisburg, Arkansas. After spending the war in the Air Force, he worked in Chicago where he met songwriter and fiddle player Bill Cantrell, formerly of the Blue Sea Pals. While Cantrell was in Chicago his co-Pal, Quinton Claunch, was in Memphis. By 1954 both Cantrell and Deckleman were back in the Memphis area. Bud had a band with his brother Thadeus (known as Dood) and Claunch recalls : « One day Cantrell met Bud again at a club and said I should go on down and check him out. He was a natural. He had a voice that just knocked me out. He had great tonal quality and he could sing rings around some of the star names, like Webb Pierce. Read the rest of this entry »