Texas Bill Strength (Aug. 28, 1928 ~ Oct. 1, 1973): Although much better known for his career as a radio personality, Texas Bill Strength also cut a series of country and rockabilly efforts, including a session for the legendary Sun Records backed by former Elvis Presley guitarist Scotty Moore. Perhaps his biggest success came as a songwriter, having penned the blockbuster hit, « He’ll Have to Go » for Jim Reeves [actually written by J. Allison & A. Allison].
Born August 28, 1928 in Bessemer, Alabama, Strength was sixteen when he won an amateur contest at Houston’s Joy Theater. Local station KTHT was in the market for a cowboy act and soon he was working part-time on the air. In 1945 Strength began working as a DJ full-time for St. Joseph, Missouri station KFEQ, followed by a stint singing for Sioux Falls, South Dakota radio KSOO. After tenure with Denver’s KMYR, he returned to Houston, in quick succession appearing on KLEE, KATL and KNUZ. During that time, Strength also cut a serie of minor singles for the 4-Star label. Among them were « Who’s the lucky one » and « I’m doing a peach of a job ». By September of 1949 Bill was in Birmingham, Alabama doing daily radio programs at WRBC, which was a network of thirty-seven stations throughout the Southeast. In late 1949, Bill’s career had taken him back to Houston, Texas. Bill was one of the mainstays at a new venue in Houston along with others such as Floyd Tillman and Leon Payne. In early 1950 he was hired by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) to promote the organization via radio and convention.
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Howdy folks ! Everybody’s back from holydays ? Ready for stomping hillbilly !
The first artist chosen is BILLY RAY, born William H. Ray. He was living in Baton Rouge when he was signed by Columbia in November 1952. He cut 8 songs during two sessions. « Tired of talking to the blues » was issued on Columbia subsidiary Okeh 18009. It’s a real blues number with a spare instrumentation (guitar, piano and bass) probably cut in New Orleans. The second interesting song from the next session is « You gotta pet me baby » (Okeh 18030), a nice uptempo hillbilly. Alas, sales were poor, Columbia did not renew the contract and Ray disappeared. Maybe he’s the same on Titan in 1960.
« Tired of talking to the blues«
« You gotta pet me baby« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/okeh-18030-Billy-Ray-You-Gotta-Pet-Me-Baby.mp3download
James « OTIS » PARKER was a Tennessean (1920-1992), whose career began in 1949 on Rich-R’Tone. How he came to have in 1955 a record issued on Covington, California’s New Star label # 529 (a Starday custom) is a mystery. « They don’t have to operate (they just pull the zipper) » is a comedy-hillbilly not so far from Homer Clemons of 5 years before on Modern (« Operation blues »). Good fast proto-rockabilly. Previously he also had an issue in 1951 on Holyday (untraced).
« They don’t have to operate« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/new-star-529-Otis-Parker-They-Don_t-Have-To-Operate-They-Just-Pull-The-Zipper-1955-.mp3download
DON TEAGUE is a completely unknown artist from the Lexington, KY area. I picked up his two records on the Rains label from 1963. First is billed as « Don Teague with Pap and the Young’uns » and gives a radio station WZEJ indication : « Oh, how bad I feel » (Rains 103) is a fast hillbilly – lot of fiddle, a rockabilly guitar solo, a nice dobro, and an assured vocal. The second (Rains 108) has no connection indication, just « Don Teague with the Blue Valley Boys ». Much slower (« Pure country music » on the label), « I’ll take a walk » is nevertheless a very nice tune, with good dobro and fiddle.
« Oh, how bad I feel« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/rains-103-Don-Teague-Oh-How-Bad-I-Feel..mp3download
« I’m gonna take a walk« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/rains-103-Don-Teague-Im-Gonna-Take-A-Walk-1963.mp3download
Just for a change, a R&B rocker by (Napoleon) CHICO CHISM on the Shreveport, La. Clif label (# 102) – the very same that beared T.V. Slim‘s first issue of « Flat foot Sam ». « Hot tamales and Bar-B-Que » (1957). Enjoy all !
« Hot tamales and Bar-B-Que« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/clif-102-chico-chism-Hot-Tamales-_-Bar-B-Que.mp3download
Sources : 45rpm.com (Dan De Clerk), Youtube, Okeh 18000 (Willem Agenant), malcychapman.blogspot (Starday customs)
Howdy folks ! I should have given myself a big kick, when I posted Ralph Pruett’s « Louise », last fortnight, and not having thought of the other record of the man, RALPH PRUITT, from Florida. He cut indeed the great haunting Rockabilly « Hey Mr. Porter », first on Lark 1506, later transferred on Meridian (same number # 1506).
« Hey, Mr. Porter« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/meridian-1506-Ralph-Pruitt-Hey-Mr.-Porter1.mp3download
Another well-known Hillbilly bop/rockabilly man whose I told the story a mere several years ago of was LOU MILLET. Until very recently I didn’t know his offering on Ekko 1024 from 1956 , which predates his solitary Republic 45 ’ (« Shorty the barber/Slip, slippin’ in » (# 7130). So here are his « Chapel of my heart » and « When I harvest my love », both ballads ; the B-side is more solid.
« Chapel of my heart« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ekoA-CHAPEL-OF-MY-HEART.mp3download
« When I harvest my love« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ekoB-WHEN-I-HARVEST-MY-LOVE.-.mp3download
The remaining selections are all by HUB SUTTER. He had a rich discographical career between 1946 and 57. Hubert Sutter, legally blind since childhood, was adept to both saxophone and clarinet and began his professionnal career in 1941. Later we found him as vocalist for the popular Jesse James in Austin (4* Records), before going solo on Lasso (a version of « New Frankie & Johnny« ), billed as Hub Sutter & his Galvestonians (actually Jesse James’ band in disguise). In 1950 he formed his Hub Cats and was signed with the upcoming Freedom Records in Houston. There he had two issues. « I don’t want my baby back » (# 5015) has an agile electric mandolin and possibly Herb Remington on steel. The rocking « Tellin’ my baby bye bye » (# 5030) was recorded with R. D. Hendon‘s Western Jamboree Cowboys, probably at the same session that produced Charlie Harris‘ « No shoes boogie » (# 5033).
« The craziest feeling« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/4-1520-The-Craziest-Feeling.mp3download
« New Frankie and Johnny« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/lasso-102B-Hub-Sutter-THE-NEW-FRANKIE-AND-JOHNNY.mp3download
« I don’t want my baby back« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/freedom-5015-hub-sutter-i-dont-want-my-baby-back1.mp3download
« Tellin’ my baby bye bye« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/freedom-5030-hub-sutter-tellin-my-baby-bye-bye1.mp3download
Later on Sutter dropped the steel guitar and added a second saxophone. He then worked extensively with Floyd Tillman, Link Davis, Sonny Hall and Glen Barber.
In 1957, he re-cut « I don’t want my baby back » on the Columbus label (# 103). The rollicking flipside « Gone goslin » is here. Columbus was owned by Eddie Eddings and Sonny Fisfer.
« Gone Goslin« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/columbus-103-hub-sutter-gone-goslin.mp3download
Sources : Internet, and the notes to CD « Heading back to Houston » (Krazy Kat). With help from Drunken Hobo. Of interest also was the Hillbily Researcher blogspot and the entry to « Columbus Records » or Terry Gordon’s invaluable Rockin’ Country Style.
Note (Jan. 13th, 2016). A ‘new’ Hub Sutter record has been found on 4* 1359 by THOMMY THOMPSON: « Dinner with Jole Blon »: written and sung (waltz tempo) by Hub Sutter, the song follows the « Jole Blon » rage, initiated in 1946 by Harry Choates.
07 – Dinner With Jole Blond« Dinner with Jole Blon »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Dinner-With-Jole-Blond-Tommy-Thompson.mp3download
The Van Winkle Brothers (Arnold and Lee) were musically prolific from 1956 to 1962 . Nobody seems to have any informaion on their childhood, although U.S. 1940 Census gives for Arnold a birthdate in 1935 ; but the birthplace is in Tennessee, when they made their careers as far as Indianapolis.
En route for a new batch of goodies. I hope you will have as much pleasure to listen to them (or download) as I had chosing them.
Here we go with the same song, a Bluegrass bopper, by its originators first, DON RENO & RED SMILEY in 1957 (banjo and guitar, I’d assume) for King # 5002 : « Country boy rock and roll » combines the energy of both musics for a stupendous number. Two years later, the same tune was revived by a small Maryland duet, FRANKIE SHORT and DEE GUNTER on the Wango label # 200. A very fine version, even faster than the original.
Don Reno, Red Smiley « Country boy rock and roll« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/DON-RENO-RED-SMILEY-Country-Boy-Rock-N-Roll.mp3download
Frankie Short & Dee Gunterhttp://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/wango-201-Frankie-Short-Dee-Gunter-Country-Boy-Rock-And-Roll.mp3download
We go up north now for the pure Hillbilly bop beat of « Niagara moon » (Niagara 53727) by ERIC & JOHNNY & Lincoln County Peach Pickers.
Back to Nashville and the Excello label. Indeed it was famous for its Blues and R&B releases, but it had also the odd hillbilly number, for example here RAY BATTS (# 2028) for the great relaxed « Stealin’ sugar ». Batts was also on Bullet and Nashboro.
Eric & Johnny « Niagara moon« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Eric-Johnny-Lincoln-County-Peach-Pickers-Niagara-Moon.mp3download
Ray Batts « Stealin’ sugar« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/excello-2028-Ray-Batts-Stealin-Sugar.mp3download
BILLY McGHEE may have been out of Texas, as he had several records on Imperial. Here on RCA 4727 he cut the good easy-going « I’ll copyright my baby ».
Finally from Texas on the TNT (# 136) label, the only woman of the pack, BETTY BARNES, does offer the fine rockabilly «What would you do ».
Billy McGhee, « I’ll copyright my baby« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/RCA-4827-Billy-McGhee-Ill-Copyright-My-Baby.mp3download
Betty Barnes « What would you do« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/tnt-136-Betty-Barnes-What-Would-You-Do.mp3download
Source : Internet.
Other intended features on their way: Valley label, G&G label, early Toppa label, important update of Forest Rye feature, and other articles.
Here is the new selection of this end of January 2015.
First, two records by BILL LANCASTER, on the Birmingham, AL. G.G. label . The first one « Too young to get married » (# 516) is credited to Bill Lancester. The second is « It’s saturday night now » (# 519). Both are fine Bopping billies, fast loping rhythm (fine fiddle and piano + steel).
« Too young to get married »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Bill-Lancaster-Too-Young-To-Get-Married-G.G.-516.mp3download
« It’s saturday night now »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Its-Saturday-Night-Bill-Lancaster.mp3download
From Middletown, OH comes DON JOHNSON and his « Feeling low ». I can’t believe this is the same artist as Don Johnston on Mercury (« Born to love one woman »). Fine fiddle throughout.
Don Johnson « Feeling low »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Don-Johnson-Flying-Low.mp3download
Ferlin Huskey « Slow down brother »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Ferlin-Husky-Slow-Down-Brother.mp3download
FERLIN HUSKEY, also Simon Crum, also Terry Preston (on 4*) is too well known. He delivered several good Hillbilly boppers ; I chose his best-known track, the rockabilly « Slow down, brother » (Capitol 3316).
WALT McCOY is a West coast veteran, whom nothing is virtually known about, although he had a long recording career. Here he is represented with « U.S.A. » on the late ’40s Chrystal label # 292.
Finally the very elusive too T.J. SKERO and his fine « Gold diggin’ mama » from 1950 on 4* 1468.
Walt McCoy « U.S.A. »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/19-U.S.A.mp3download
T.J. Skero « Gold diggin’ mama »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/4-1468-T.J-Skero-And-The-Sunset-Play-Boys-Gold-Diggin-Mama-1950.mp3download
For this last 2014 fortnight, I’m lacking time and imagination so I’ve chosen several particular records. We begin listening to BILL HICKS and the Southerners on Fortune 188 (from 1956) for two well driven rockabillies/boppers « She’s done gone » (slow) and « Blue flame » (fast).
« She’s done gone »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Bill-Hicks-Shes-Done-Gone.mp3download
« Blue flame »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Fortune-188-Bill-Hicks-Blue-Flame-.mp3download
A real rarity now on the Family Library 1021 label : it’s GENE LAVERNE and what I think is an original « Hot rod mama » on a 6-track 78rpm record.
« Hot rod mama« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/family-libraey-1021-gene-Laverne-Hot-Rod-Mama-Gene-Laverne.mp3download
The following artist has a long recording story behind him : he can be found as early as 1951 on Blue Bonnet, as part of the Texas Round-Up Gang. Later, DEWEY GROOM went to Mercury, then founded early ’60s his own Longhorn label, where he cut among other tunes « Butane blues » (# 517). I didn’t verify if this is the same track as Gene O’Quin‘s one.
« Butane blues« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/longhorn-517-Dewey-Groom-Butane-Blues.mp3download
Surprising Bluegrass music from Texas by PAUL HUFFMAN and « T-e-x-a-s » on the Abilene Winston (# 1034) label : nice banjo led.
Back to Louisville, Kentucky and the Pier-Wats label (# 1200), and the fast bopper (nice fiddle and steel) by F. EDDY PIERCE, « Your kisses don’t thrill me anymore ».
Finally GENE DAVIS, who meddled almost at any style of music since his beginnings in 1954 on the West coast : hillbilly, rockabilly (as « Bo Davis » on Crest), rock’n'roll (on R-Dell), finally back to Country on various labels. I’ve chosen both sides of his solitary TOPPA ’61 record (# 1110). « When he let’s her forget »[sic] and « I won’t care » are top notch California country-rockaballads (sublime Ralph Mooney on steel).
Paul Huffman « T-e-x-a-s« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/winston-1034-Paul-Huffman-T-E-X-A-S-Winston-1034-1.mp3download
F. Eddy Pierce « Your kisses don’t thrill me anymore« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/pier-watts-1300B-F.-Eddy-Pierce-Your-Kisses-Dont-Thrill-Me-Anymore-1956.mp3download
Gene Davis « When he let’s her forget« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Gene-Davis-When-he-lets-her-forget.mp3download
Gene Davis « I won’t care« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/I-Wont-Care-Gene-Davis.mp3download
As usual, various sources : ebay, YouTube, my virtual collection. Have a Bopping Christmas !
From the Hillbilly Researcher # 13 (late 90s)
Allan Turner. Additions by Bopping’s editor
Nothing is ever as simple as it would appear, take for example the Harrington, Delaware based BLUE HEN label. Just another independant concern would be a fair description of this particular outfit, albeit with one or two above average offerings on the label from the likes of Mel Price and Lanie Walker.
BLUE HEN was owned, according to Galen Gart’s A.R.L.D., by one Sam Short, Jr ., ably assisted by A&R man Hugh Lee Stevenson. That, and the fact that the company was located on Center Street in Harrington, is the sum total of our knowledge of the label.
Over the 6 years or so that BLUE HEN was active the company ran at least three different numerical series. There was a rather obscure 3000 series, which appears to have been the earliest ; the regular 200 series, which was the « main series » ; and an odd ball 500 series (two issues). However, it is neither the 3000 or 500 series which concern us here, but the 200 « main series ».
The first release was Betty Coral‘s « Chili dippin’ baby » (# 200), backed by Raymond McCollister. He had the same number on the Raymor label, also the flipside « Texarkana waltz ». Many master numbers were prefixed RM: does it mean McCollister was involved in Blue Hen?
« Chili dippin’ baby » was very popular : it was covered by Vernon Way on the Hillbilly All Star label, and in a more Rockabilly way by Joyce Pointer on Goldenrod Records.
Betty Coral « Chili dippin’ baby »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/01-200-Betty-Corral-Chilli-Dippin-Baby.mp3download
As for the artists who recorded for BLUE HEN were fairly obscure regional acts, altough the label did record a number of relatively well known artists. Billy Wallace, for example, probably better known as a songwriter than a singer, had a release on the label : # 210, « You can’t ride on my train ».
Billy Wallace « You can’t ride on my train« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/blue-hen-210-You-Cant-Ride-On-My-Train.mp3download
Donn Reynolds « Don’t tell me« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/05-207-Donn-Reynolds-Dont-Tell-Me.mp3download
Billy Wallace « I still love you« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/12-210-billy-wallace-I-Still-Love-You.mp3download
Donn Reynolds, who made something of a name for himself as a yodeling cowboy out on the East coast, also turned up on the label (# 207, « Don’t tell me ») before moving to London, England, to work for Radio Luxembourg ! Tommy Lloyd and his Strolling Cowboys, an outfit who certainly lived up to their name, having played virtually everywhere in the U.S.A. (#204 « Now I know why »), and local lad Tex Daniels (#206 « Give your heart a chance », among three or four more releases, note « Blue hen boogie » from late ’55) were two of the more experienced, yet lesser known artists to record for the label, both with a half dozen or so record releases to their credit before joining BLUE HEN. Local promoter/songwriter Howard Vokes was responsible for getting Hank King , Rudy Thacker (« Mountain guitar » ; also on Lucky) and « The Hardin County Boys » Jeffrey Null and Denver Duke onto the label. The latter, who had something of a hit on Blue Hen with their Hank Williams tribute « Hank Williams that Alabama boy » (#214) went on to enjoy some degree of success on Mercury and Starday.
Denver Duke & Jeffrey Null « Hawk Williams that Alabama boy »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/13-214-Denver-duke-Jeffrey-Null-Hank-Williams-That-Alabama-Boy.mp3download
Howard Vokes, Denver Duke & Jeffrey Null « When the snow came« (#222)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/24-222-Cowboy-Howard-Vokes-When-The-Snow-Came.mp3download
courtesy Pasi Koskela
Was Vokes involved in the singing of the former song? A visitor told me his doubts.
Tex Daniels « Blue hen boogie« (#212 )http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/11-212-Tex-Daniels-Blue-Hen-Boogie.mp3download
Mention should be made of course of Mel Price (who’s story is on this site) and Lanie Walker, of whom we know very little, who were arguably the best Hillbilly artists to record for BLUE HEN.
Mel Price « Nothing seems to go right anymore« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/201-mel-price-Nothing-Seems-To-Go-Right-Anymore.mp3download
Walker had 5 issues on Blue hen (and one in 1960 on Kingsport, TN Three Stars label , the stunning « Early every morning ») : both hillbilly boppers on # 209 (« Side-track daddy »), one gospel two-sider (« When you meet your Lord » # 218), a non-cover of George Jones‘ « Why baby why », very good Hillbilly bopper, in 1956 (a nice bluesy « Drop in » on flipside, # 219), then a back-to-back Rockabilly/Rocker « Ennie Meenie Miney Mo/No use knocking on my door », # 230 (Mort Marker on lead guitar), finally a 1959 rocker (# 235) « Jumpin’ the gun/Tonite I walk alone ».
Lanie Walker « Side-track daddy« (# 209)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/07-209-Lanie-Walker-Side-Track-Daddy.mp3download
Lanie Walker « When you meet your Lord« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/218-Lanie-Walker-When-You-Meet-Your-Lord.-45.mp3download
Lanie Walker « Why baby why« (#219)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/19-219-Lanie-Walker-Why-Baby-Why.mp3download
Lanie Walker « Drop in« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/20-219-Lanie-Walker-Drop-In.mp3download
Lane Walker « Ennie Meenie miney mo« (#230)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/230-Lanie-Walker-Eenie-minie-miney-mo.mp3download
Lanie Walker « No use knocking on my door« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/230-Lanie-Walker-No-Use-Knocking-On-My-Door-1958.mp3download
Larry Lee (Pasake) fronted his own band, The Echo Valley Kinfolk and played locally to good reviews. Originally, the band were called the Glen Mountain Boys (according to Billboard on 24th March 1956). Larry and the band performed over WCRV, Washington, NJ about this time. It was reported that Larry drowned while trying to save the lives of a younger brother and friend when their boat capsized. This seems to have occurred sometime in september 1956. His solitary single is a good bluegrass (A-side) « Time just flies »(# 215), while « Our love affair » is good uptempo piano-led Hillbilly bop.
Larry Lee ‘Time just flies« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/15-215-Larry-Lee-Time-Just-Flies.mp3download
Larry Lee « Our love affair« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/16-215-larry-Lee-Our-Love-Affair.mp3download
Another wizardry : Hank King (of Russian origin, rn Papaila) had in October 1955 « Atom bomb heart » on Chicago Blue Ribbon label. This was re-cut (re-issued?) next year on Blue Hen 221.
Hank King « Atom bomb heart« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/21-221-Hank-King-Atom-Bomb-Heart.mp3download
That more or less concludes the story of the BLUE HEN label. Virtually all the releases in the 200 series, with the exception of the odd rock & roll/rockabilly offering from the likes of Jimmy Stayton (« Hot hot mama »), Cecil Cline (« Do drop in ») and even Lanie Walker, were Hillbilly of one style or another.
Sandy Harrison & Tommy Lloyd « A package of heartaches« (#225)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/28-225-Sandy-Harrison-A-Package-Of-Heartaches.mp3download
Earl Stuart Quintet « Action’s speak louder than words » [sic](#216)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/17-216-Earl-Stuart-5tet-Actions-Speak-Louder-Than-Words.mp3download
Millard Pressley « Jesus my saviour« (#228)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/228-Milliard-Presley-...-Jesus-My-Saviour.mp3download
Sounds from Cactus CD. Pictures from various sites: Youtube, 45cat for example.
Mel Price « I ain’t got the time« (#208)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/18-208-mel-price-I-Aint-Got-The-Time.mp3download
courtesy Ronald Keppner
listing Blue Hen label
strangely Raymor is located in Kansas, far drom Delaware…
Howdy folks, over a period of 15 years, here are the selections of this fortnight.
The earliest track on a strange label, Atlantic, mostly known for R&B and Jazz. They had a short-lived (1 year, 1949-1950) « Folk and Western series », and the very first issue was by LOY GORDON & his Pleasant Valley Boys, for a revamp of the then-popular Sticks Mchee’s original « Drinkin’ wine spo-dee o-dee » (Atlantic 721). Here they are very true to the original. No solo taken by any instrument, but a fine Hillbilly romper. A mean fiddle and steel, and a fine boogie guitar. This was billed as « Folk ballad » on the label !
Loy Gordon « Drinkin’ wine spo-dee-o-dee »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/atlantic-721-Drinkin-Wine-Spo-Dee-O-Dee-Loy-Gordon-his-Pleasant-Valley-Boys.mp3download
From Marion, Ohio, 1960. The ROUND UP BOYS (hidden identity) do offer « Rock and Roll baby » on Hark 504. Like the title says, it’s rockabilly with a chugging rhythm. The composer, a Mz . Edna Bright, doesn’t help much.
Round Up Boys « Rock’n'Roll baby »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/hark-round-up-boys-rock-and-roll-baby.mp3download
Next is by two brothers who had a career of at least 30 years, Bob & Joe, the SHELTON BROTHERS. They recorded as early as 1935 a first version of « Deep Elem blues » [the Red Light quarter of Dallas]. The song had been done in 1933 by the Lone Star Cowboys (Leon Chappelear), and was cut by numerous artists later, including a second version (there) by the Sheltons in 1947 on Decca 46008.
On the flip side they had their own « Just because », revived in 1955 by Guess Who. Chugging rhythm, great mandolin. Next Decca 46009 was another nugget : « Ida Red » later renamed « Maybelline » by Chuck Berry. That’s how popular the Sheltons were.
Shelton Brothers « Deep Elem blues »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/DEEP-ELEM-BLUES-by-the-Shelton-Brothers.mp3download
Shelton Brothers « Just because »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/decca-46008B-Shelton-Brothers-Just-because.mp3download
A Gene Simmons production then from Memphis on the Tupelo label (# 2984) from 1964, a good rockabilly by CHARLES K. « The Right bird ».
Way up North in Detroit on the Michigan label Elm 724 : BETTY PARKER does offer « Love is even colder », a fine Bopper backed by Eddie Jackson & Swingsters (of « Rock’n'roll baby » fame on Fortune). Piano led, steel, guitar, an organ solo. Whole thing reminds me of another artist of the area, Palford Brady.
Finally PAUL MIMS, from Louisiana. He delivers « I blowed my top », a call-and-response format, medium paced ditty (long guitar solo and fine steel) on the Shell 121 label.
Charles K « The right bird« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Charles-K.-Right-Bird-Baby.mp3download
Betty Parker « Love is even colder« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Love-Is-Even-Colder.mp3download
Paul Mims « I blowed my top« http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/shell-121-Paul-Mims-I-Blowed-My-Top.mp3download
The Four Star custom series were, as did Starday from Beaumont or Houston, known to include many Rock’ & Roll sides played by Hillbilly bands and it was a music that most artists would easily relate to, including the older musicians who had been playing boogie and blues for years anyway. Countless bands were active and the only way they could relate to was release their records on Four Star OP (Other People) custom records.
The tapes would then be sent in and the widely advertised custom service would handle, for a fee, the manufacture of the records and distribution of a number of copies to selected radio stations. Otherwise than this, promotion and distribution was a left up to the the artist or his agent. The number going to the radio stations was probably a percentage of the total number pressed, which varied considerably. Some were produced in relatively large quantities while other artists ordered as few as 99 copies. The rarity of these records varies widely as, of course, does the quality of the music (but not in the same condition). The artist coud choose his own label name, which hopefully often also gives a location. They could also have the record issued under the company’s own logo (as in the case of « Texas » Bill Strength), perhaps at extra cost. Several record labels started as custom pressings before becoming actual independant companies later. Example : Erwin and Rural Rhythm (not represented in this selection). All are generally uptempo sides, with prominent fiddle and walking bass. It must also be noted that many artists were one-off, i.e. they had only one record issued by Four Star OP- service, and never had the chance to cut another one.
HBR did issue two volumes of Four Star OP- custom records. I deliberatly chose to issue unknown sides from 1950 to 1958, and various Western regions (Oklahoma to Oregon), not to exclude Eastern areas like even Florida.
Eddie Snell (on the aptly named Promotional # 242 label) has more of a West coast sound to him, with a « Rockin’ rhythm » similar to Sammy Masters’ early sides. Alden Holloway had also famous releases on Dixie and Starday (« Blast off » or « Swinging the rock »). Here is what he recorded in 1956 seemingly on the West coast for Northwest # 263 : « Woodpecker love ». He had previously issued on # 214 « Beaumont blues » as Shorty Holloway. Veteran Dick Bills, also later on Crest (« Rockin’ and rollin’ » in 1961 with nephew Glen Campbell on lead guiar ) had on Vicki « Beggars can’t be choosers » (# 198, 1954-55). Went also on Morgan (with vocalist Buz Burnam).
Eddie Snell « Head over the hills »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/OP-242B-Eddie-Snell-Head-for-the-hills1.mp3download
Alden Holloway « Woodpecker love »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/01-Alden-Holloway-Woodpecker-Love.mp3download
Dick Bills « Beggars can’t be choosers »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/vicki-198-dick-bills-his-arizona-drifters-beggars-cant-be-choosers.mp3download
A favorite of Ray Campi, « Quit your triflin’ (on me) » (Hi-fidelity 211), from 1954-55 by Gene Snowden, is a good uptempo probably of West coast origin, while Hank Crow and his Raven River Ramblers do come surely from California: the fine « Baby, baby me » on Southwest 204 from 1954.
Gene Snowden « Quit your triflin’(on me »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Gene-Snowden-Quit-Your-TriflinOn-Me-HI-FIDELITY-OP-121.mp3download
Hank Crow « Baby me, baby »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/southwest-204-Hank-Crow-Baby-me-baby.mp3download
From Texas, Doc Bryant & National Jamboree Gang on his own Doc Bryant label (# 155) for « Cotton pickin’ boogie », from 1952-53. In 1958, an « old » Texas artist – he first recorded in the late ’40s for Macy’s, i.e. « Cornbread boogie » -, Art Gunn had on his own (?) Arga (# 288) label the fine relaxed « Pickin’ ‘n singing ». He had also previously cut for Revel and V&G Records. The mysterious Phantom Rider Trio does « Peekin’ thru your window » on the K-Pep label # 264 from San Angelo.
Doc Bryant « Cotton pickin’ boogie »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Doc-Bryant-National-Jamboree-Gang-Cotton-Pickin-Boogie-Doc-Bryant-OP-155.mp3download
Art Gunn « Pickin’ ‘n singin’ »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/17-Art-Gunn-Pickin-n-Singin.mp3download
The Phantom Rider Trio « Peekin’ thru your window »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/24-The-Phantom-Rider-Trio-Peekin-Through-The-Window.mp3download
Candy Rowell « Ain’t gonna say hello »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/20-Candy-Rowell-His-Western-Swingsters-Aint-Gonna-Say-Hello.mp3download
From Florida, Candy Rowell on the Du Ro #254 label with « Ain’t gonna say hello ». Oklahoma is represented by Al Sweatt and « Fo-Mo-Co » on Keen 262, from 1956. Indeed he was to have the two rockers later « I hate myself/Let’s paint the town red » (Keen 288). Al Sweatt « Little Fo-mo-co »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/keen-OP-262Al-Sweatt-Little-Fo-Mo-Co-Rockabilly-45.mp3download
From Louisiana Pal Thibodeaux and an earlier issue (# 154) « Port Arthur Boogie ». on Skyline (partly sung in French).
Pal Thibodeaux « Port Arthur boogie »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/07-Pal-Thibodeaux-Port-Arthur-Boogie.mp3download
Arizona is represented with the very first recording Duane Eddy was involved in, and it’s a duet with Jimmy Delbridge on the Phoenix label Preston #212. « Soda fountain girl » and « I want some lovin’ baby».
Jimmy & Duane « Soda fountain girl »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Jimmy-Delbridge-Duane-Eddy-Soda-Fountain-Girl-PRESTON-212-4-Star-OP-acetate.mp3download
Unknown origin : Alaska 194 by Betty Jo and Johnny Starr « Peach pickin’ time in Georgia » (# 194). « Peach picking’ time in Georgia »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/alaska-OP-194-Betty-Jo-Johnny-Starr-Peach-Picking-Time-In-Georgia.mp3download
Archie Jefferies « G.I. Talking blues » (Blue Flame # 107) « G.I. talking blues »
http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/blue-flame-107-Archie-Jefferies-The-Blue-Flame-Boys-G.I.-Talking-Blues.mp3download. Majesty 251 by Tommy Farr (« If »).
Also Buddy Thornton on his own Thornton OP-186 « Ole Santa is coming to town ». »Ole Santa is coming to town- »http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/thornton-OP-186-Buddy-Thornton-Ole-Santa-Is-Coming-To-Town.mp3download
Four Star OP- serie continued well over until the late ’50s with the odd Hillbilly bop issued : Sonny LeBarron and « Jack and Jill » (#Mecca 252), Paul McGhee (« You are my sunshine » Flame 305) or 267 Sonny Thibodeaux (Pacific), Leo Gosnell from 1959 on Mountain 298/299, to name just a very few.
Several early issues did appear untraceable although highly desirable, like Tex Bloye’s « Talkin’ blues » on Gavotte 116 (a version of Robert Lunn’s song on Mercury, 1949), or Frank Ole’Shay, who appear to be one of the greatest from his song on a Dixie/Collector CD, « My baby’s not here tonight » (Blue mountain). Addition (Dec. 2nd): Tex Bloye, « Talkin’ blues » (Courtesy Ronald Keppner) http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Tex-Bloye-Gavotte-OP116A.mp3download
Ernie Ole’Shay « Be my honey Bee »(Blue Mountain OP-295)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Ernie-Ole-Shay-with-his-Drifting-Vagabonds-Be-My-Honey-Bee-BLUE-MOUNTAIN-OP-295.mp3download
Melvin Price « I’ve got news for you »(Santa Fe OP-131)http://www.bopping.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/op-185.mp3download
Ernie Ole Shay with his Drifting Vagabonds Be My Honey Bee BLUE MOUNTAIN OP 295