Howdy y’all, folks. This is the late April 2017 fortnight’s favorites selection : 7 artists in very different styles, Hillbilly bop, Bluegrass bop, Boogie woogie and Jumping Blues.
The first record is by a team, that of WALLIE & TEX ISABELL issued on the very small and rare Houston, TX Eddie’s label circa 1951-52. Primarily a R&B label (I only know of saxman Clarence Green, and the first ever record of R&B/boogie pianist Little Willie Littlefield : this man will appear at the end of this selection), it could also release Hllbilly bop like these « Sugar cain gal » [sic] b/w « The good old days » (Eddie’s 1219). The first tune is a jumping little one, where a lap-steel player – at last seemingly – is heard in Hawaïan style, and let lose himself very lovely. The backing is minimal : that steel, rhythm guitar, bass and vocal. A pretty nice track. Its flipside, a little less fast, is a fine ballad. One would like to hear more.
The second artist is not an unknown for any Hillblly bop addict. ROY COUNTS had two great sides on the California Bel Aire label in 1957 ; they are to be heard in the story of Jack Tucker (elsewhere in this site). Here we find him a bit later early ’60’s on the Jedco label (# 5009, location unknown)[1963, California, said DrunkenHobo], also issued on Commerce (# 5009, strangely)[acc. to DrunkenHobo, 2nd pressing, 1964]. « Temptation » is good uptempo in Bakersfield style. A great aggressive steel-guitar, which must be played by Ralph Mooney.
A legend now : LEON PAYNE ; this blind man was responsible for so many good records during the ’50s on many labels too, always had sincere ballads. Here on T.N.T. from San Antonio, TX, he delivers a very nice « I’ll still be around »; an atmospheric steel, the whole reminds one of Joe Carson on the ‘D’ label (« Careless words/Time lock »)[The story of Joe Carson is elsewhere in this site]. « I’ll stil be around »
On to Bluegrass bop with the duet RALPH & ROY who do a fabulous job on Wolf-Tex (a Lancaster, KY label) # 105, « Mountains in Kentucky ». It’s a very fast track, the banjo player offers a feat while the electric guitar has great Rockabilly style solo, too short. That same Wolf-Tex label also issued Harold Montgomery‘s « How much do you miss me » in 1961 (valued at 4 or 500 $), as well as « Ramblin’ » Roy Cunningham (« Waves on the bayou »).
A fast Bopper again with BUD ALDEN & his Buckaroos from California, 1959 [DrunkenHobo rectifies: a 4* custom from Seattle, WA. 1957]. Was then Buck Owens involved in any way in this recording ? (So, if this a Seattle recording, there is no chance of ole’ Buck involved). « When the ice worms nest again » [what a strange title] can be found on the Arctic label (# 701): a good guitar is embroiding the deep vocal of Leon Roach, unknown elsewhere.
From 1948, back to Eddie’s label in Houston (# 1202), and the very first double-sider by « LITTLE WILLIE » LITTLEFIELD. « My bestwishes » is a medium-paced opus, the rhythm is very heavy, and one detects in Littlefield’s voice the influence of his mentor Amos Milburn, like in the latter’s « Cinch blues ». The B-side « Little Willie’s boogie » is a furious showcase of fast piano.
Finally BUDDY CUDD & his Show Buds deliver a fine Jimmie Rodgers influenced « No hard time blues » on the United Low Country # 1006, out of Hampton, S.C. A touch of yodel, a very good guitar (lot of echo). On the same label were Buddy Livingston & his All Girls Band, previously on Savannah, a Starday custom. But this is another story, as they say..
Howdy folks ! Hi ! to returning visitors. Here is my choice of bopping billies (and a classic rocking blues) for this fortnight, mainly from the late ’40s.
We begin with JIMMIE SAUL on his own Redskin label out of Detroit, in 1947. His singer Jimmy Franklin, out of West Liberty, KY. (maybe artist with the same name, much later on Drifter, Acorn and M-G-M labels) fronted Saul’s Prairie Drifters for three sides (the 4th being instrumental) cut in Dayton, OH. Redskin 500 revealed « My long tall gal from Tenn. », a fast ditty, very-much over the top jazz tinged opus, comprising either James ‘Chick’ Stripling or Doug Dalton on crazy fiddle, and Jimmie Saul on bass, plus Marvin « Whitey » Franklin on steel. It has been suggested the guitar virtuoso may be Roy Lanham, who had at that time his band the Whippoorwills in Dayton. The second fast song was « Firecracker stomp » (# 501), an instrumental with guitar and bass solos as explosive as its title. Through an arrangement with Bill McCall, owner of 4 * Records in Pasadena, CA., « Firecracker stomp » was reissued twice on 4*. Meanwhile Jimmie Saul had become Jimmie Lane.
I really don’t know if this is the same man who came on a Waldorf/Top Hit Tunes 11-artists EP (TN 17) in 1958 with covers of respectively Elvis Presley, « I beg of you », and Ricky Nelson, « Waitin’ in school ». It is very doubtful, as his involvement in « Little lover », a teen rocker on Vestal 1906 from 1961 (Birmingham, AL). There was even a Jimmie Lane on Time from Philly. I include Top Hit Tunes and Vestal sides by tame comparison to his earlier sides.
From the East coast went BILLY STRICKLAND & his Hillbilly Kings for two tracks, the great « Hillbilly wolf » on Sylvan 354, an elusive label which I suspect had something to do with Ben Adelman, from Washington, D.C. Second tune is released on the Hill & Country label (# 103) a sublabel to Apollo : « Baby doll, please come home » has a dynamite steel all along, over a well-assured vocal. Both records were released early in 1949. Strickland also had records on King among others.
And to sum this fortnight’s up, a classic bluesy R&B which deserves no introduction : « Drinkin’ wine spo-dee-o-dee » by its creator « STICK » McGHEE on the Harlem label 1018 (1947). Spare instrumentation (only two guitars), and a lot of fun ! « Drinkin’ wine spo-dee-o-dee«
Sources : as usual, many finds on YouTube ; carcitycountry site for the Jimmie Saul/Jimmy Franklin details ; John E. Burton tube for « Stick » McGhee disc ; Cactus, « High on the hop » vol. 3 for Eddie Gaines track.
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.
All aboard ? For a new journey in Hillbilly bop music , with some forays ito Rockabilly, and even rocking Country blues.
The Fox label did emanate from Abilene, TX, but registered in Hollywood, CA. Its early recordings include a very young LITTLE DEDON with the Tex-Mex sounding Hillbilly « My Pedrecito » (# 404). To the best of my knowledge, the girl had never had another issue.
On the same FOX label, we find in 1954 the great « I’m a hillbilly at heart » (# 403) by GENE DUNN. A fast bopper, great bass plus piano and fiddle backing (« The Fox-Four Sevens », label’s band also backed Little Dedon). The flipside « Girl from nowhere » is a real slowie.
Further on, the first ever DEAN BEARD recordings, from 1955 are pure hillbilly : « Wake up, Jacob/Red Rover » (# 405). But his next # 408 is worth the waiting : « Sing sing sing » is a Rockabilly Starday style, with a very nice lead guitar. Its flipside « Time is hanging heavy on my hands » is a lively bopper next to Rockabilly (it features a steel). Beard was to cut on Edmoral the first version of his signature song « Rakin’ and scrapin’ », that Atlantic leased from Edmoral, before leaving behind him a good amount of unissued sides at Sun Records.
Let’s turn now to Rocking Blues. First selection does come from Miami, and it’s a small classic, « A fool no more » (Marlin 804) by drummer and bandleader EDDIE HOPE & his Manish Boys. With an harmonica well to the fore and a solid backing, the tune reminds me of Jimmy Reed who would have turned to Rock’n’roll. The B-side « Lost child » is in the same vein !
Final tune is sung by the veteran LEROY DALLAS (b. Mobile, Alabama, 1920). « Jump, little children, jump » and its solid rhythm guitar (done by Brownie McGhee), is a good example of the Big Apple blues on the Sittin’ in With label (# 522) from 1949.
For this Xmas 2015, as a gift, you faithful visitors of bopping.org will get 13 (yes, thirteen) selections, instead of the usual only 6 ; although for several months I gradually posted more and more tunes. Merry bopping Xmas to y’all !
« Deep Elem blues » was first recorded by the SHELTON BROTHERS (Bob & Joe on vocals and mandolin/guitar) in February 1935 in Chicago (Decca 5422), before the Prairie Ramblers gave their own version in August of the same year. The song refers to the black quarter in Dallas, where you need 50 $ because of the red headed women there. It was an immediate success, revived by others over the years, namely by JERRY LEE LEWIS, whose 1957 version remained unissued in the Sun archives for 40 years ! Same year saw the WILBURN BROTHERS‘ version (Decca 29887) : Doyle & Ted do a fine job on this song. Later on Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead) and Levon Helm had their versions too, outside the scope of this blog, as they say.