Notes by Phillip J. Tricker to the Collectables CD 5335 « Long gone daddy »(1990)
The name LOU GRAHAM (rn Lewis Lyerly) is best known for his superb rocker ‘Wee Willie Brown » cut for Coral (# 61931) in late 1957, but Lou had been active in a recording studio as early as the beginning of 1951.
He was born on July 15th, 1929 in the tiny community of Woodleaf (pop. 300) in North Carolina. One of ten children, he soon showed an interest in music and after three years of wearing Navy Blue in the services he got into radio as a singer and DJ. He spent 18 months at WPWA in Chester , Pa. where he met Bill Haley and the Saddlemen : it’s quite probable that Haley helped Lou secure a contract with Gotham (hence, Gotham 416). The second batch of recordings are certainly backed by the Saddlemen. The labels of Gotham 433 were ordered on July 9th, 1952, and at this time Lou was working in TV at WDEL in Wilmington, Delaware and as a DJ with his « Roundup time » program at radio station WTNJ in Trenton, NJ. During the mid-to-late fifties he was busy on a schedule of appearances at nightclubs and hillbilly parks asnwell as TV and radio, and playing on the « Big Western Jamboree » in Camden, NJ.
Notes by Bill Millar & Rob Finnis for BF 15733 « That’ll flat git it » (Decca) (1994)
When LOU GRAHAM dipped into rock’n’roll with Willie Brown in November 1957, he was already 28 and a veteran of local radio in Chester, Pennsylvania whose most famous resident, Bill Haley, became his mentor. One of ten children Graham was born Lewis Lyerly in Woodleaf, North Carolina in 1929. After serving in the US Navy, he worked as a country vocalist and broadcaster joining WPW, Chester in 1950. It was there that he befriended with Bill Haley, then jobbing on the local bar-room circuit with the Saddlemen while holding down the post of announcer at the station.
Graham signed with Philadelphia’s Gotham label in 1951, and made his recording debut accompanied by members of Haley’s band with whom he occasionally appeared on stage. By the time of his second Gotham release, Graham had moved to WTNJ in Trenton, New Jersey leaving Haley to pursue the musical career which would soon make him an international star.
Who’s Lou Graham?
Slap that bass!
By 1956, Haley, flush with riches, had assumed the role of benefactor, granting recording favours to a number of acolytes in an ill-fated attempt to create a music publishing and recording empire. Graham was signed to Haley’s Clymax label and he cut « Wee Willie Brown » backed by the Comets. The master was assigned directly to Coral when Haley’s enterprizes ran into financial difficulties.
LOU GRAHAM, a track-by-track appreciation (notes by bopping.org editor)
« Two timin’ blues » is an uptempo shuffler. A bit of yodel vocal. A good steel. Backing by a fine piano (+ solo). « Long gone daddy » is, of course, the Hank Williams’ song, and this is a good version. Morever I have the same comments than for « Two timin’ blues ». All in all, a successful 2-sider for a first recording (Gotham 416)
Now on to the 4-tracks second session. « I’m lonesome » has an inventive steel over an uptempo shuffle pace. The piano is well to the fore and Graham adopts a somewhat harsh vocal. « Please make up your fickle mind » is a nice shuffler too (Gotham 433, from 1953). « A sweet bunch of roses », as expected, is a sentimental, although agreeable song (Gotham 429). More of the same with the medium-paced « My heart tells me (I’m still in love with you) ».
Of course, the Coral sides from 4 years later are a complete contrast with the Gotham sides. « Wee Willie Brown » (Coral 61931) is a solid rocker : Bill Haley’s saxman Rudy Pompilli blows his fuse, and Franny Beecher excells on lead guitar as on the Comets’ better days. « You were mean baby », although noted as recorded at the same session, is very different : big band type rocker, male chorus ; it reminds me of the Johnny Burnette Trio‘s « Shattered dreams » cut in NYC, already for Coral too.
Howdy folks ! Over here in France, it’s the final run for Soccer’s Europ Cup – that’s not really Hillbilly !
First a mostly known artist for his Rock & roll and Pop records. He went with 2 aliases to pursue 2 careers at least. Originally from Canton, OH, DICK GLASSER first fronted for one record the Pee Wee King band in 1956, and sang on two tracks full of energy and dynamism (without noise, all is fluid and lowdown although uptempo) : « Catty town » and « Hoot scoot », to be found on the RCA-Victor 47-6584 label. A cross between Hillbilly bop and Western swing. Later Glasser renamed himself Dick Lory on the Liberty label.
Next four tracks were cut in 1959-60 and issued on the Demorest, GA.Country Jubilee label. The city is at the upper north limit of the State, very near of Virginia and Tennessee frontiers.
# 517 is done by BILL ALEX and the Dixie Drifters : « I‘m just a nobody » is a typical late ’50s medium uptempo country-rocker. It’s flipside, « I’ll remember you » was untraced by me, but issued along with the A-side on Top Rank EP 2055 in 1960.
BILL WATSON on # 525 has here two selections, « I’m dying darling » is a soft uptempo country-rocker, while the reverse side « You’re the onefor me» is a bit bluesy, with a sort of hypnotic guitar throughout.
Finally for the Country Jubilee label, we jump to # 539 by BILL LEATHERWOOD and « My foolish heart », a slow uptempo ; nothing exceptional, although the man has a sort of treble in his voice. Steel present. I’ve added as a bonus his « Hillbilly blues » issued by Peach (# 756), also in Georgia, well into 1961-62, a good country rocker with lotsa steel and a fiddle solo.
Last record I review this fortnight is done by MASON GAY on the Country Music label, from Forest, MS (# 501). Confident vocal for a country rocker (no drums), « I never have the blues », while the flipside is catchy (« The girl I met at the bar ») which is part-spoken. Has a Rite number, dating the record from 1960.
from the notes of Shane Hughes, « Yahoo » « rockin’ records» group.
This Roberts has obviously nothing to do with the one on U.S.A. label and the other on Cameo, who came later early ’60s, and drastically change in style.
Bobby Roberts’ music, from editor’s point of view.
It is hard to imagine such a change in so little time in style between the King session and the Sky one.
All 4 sides cut at King (« with the Ozark Drifters ») are pure dreamed hillbilly a la Hank Williams. All medium paced tracks, they feature a strong string-bass, and a weird steel-guitar, both propelled by a crisp fiddle. Vocal is a dream, Roberts has a firm voice, even some semi-yodelling vocalizing over nice lyrics.
In complete contrast, the Sky sides are out-and-out rockers. « Big Sandy » is a screamer, and the whole thing is a gas. « She’s my woman », a bit slower, fetches to Rockabilly. Note on the reissue the presence of the Jennings Brothers.
« Cravin’ » is a routinely rocker, while « Hop skip and jump » (not the Collins Kids’ number, neither the York Brothers’ on Bullet ) is an average rocker – even a sax – which Billy Riley could have cut this style. Actually it bears a little similarity with « Pearly Lee »..
The son to Bobby Roberts once posted in « bopping » that his father was the same man on King, Sky and Hut ; so I asked for some details and a picture, if available – no answer..
With thanks to Uncle Gil (King 4868 sound file) and Dave Cruse (King 4868 label scan). Internet research.
Joe Griffith « Big Sandy » (Reelfoot unissued)download
Joe Griffith « She’s my woman« (Reelfoot unissued)download
Lannis Trahan, born in 1923, hailed from Louisiana, hence his artist name « Louisiana Lannis », and was also a songwriter: he wrote his 6 sides. He had three singles in 1956 before disappearing. The one on Starday is pure hillbilly rock : « Muscadine eyes » is a fast ditty opus, with a furious fiddle, apparently cut at Goldstar in Houston, Texas while its flipside « Much too much » (Starday 268, actually A-side) has more than a Latin appeal with its hopping rhythm. « Muscadine eyes » is not a common track, only being revived moons ago on the U.K. Ace album « Stars of Texas honky tonk » # 703 (1987)
Lannis will however be best remembered today for his second offering, this time on Snowcap 1215/1216 : « Tongue twister boogie » has a great wild steel guitar and is a really fast rockabilly rocker, not dissimilar to Jimmy Lee & Wayne Walker « Love me ». A demented piano player comes for a short solo. « Walking out » is no less good, and just a little less furious. Both sides prefixed « GS » surely were cut at Goldstar. As fiddle is the main instrument on the 4 previous sides, one can wonder if it’s Lannis playing ? The Snowcap issue fetches $ 700-800, and is only currently available on collectors’ reissues.
Billboard Feb. 16, 1956, « a good country novelty »
Alas « Fido/Doomed to love » (Snowcap 101) are, according to Pascal Perrault, pop songs to escape (weepers), and of no interest at all. Strange that a man capable of such songs as « Tongue twister boogie » could do pop songs in the same period. Trahan, whose name is common among Cajun area (see Cornelius « Pee Wee Trahan« , who made a career also as Jericho Jones and Johnny Rebel), died in February 1983 (age 59, cause of death unknown), and was buried in the Marine’s veteran branch of the Houston National Cemetery. The Trahans had came from France, maybe Burgundy during the XVI° or XVII° century. Sources: various and Internet thing!
David Ray, a top singer and song stylist of Texas/Oklahoma Rockabilly and Honky-tonk, was born Oscar Ray Smith in Duncan, Oklahoma on March 14, 1934. When he was at an early age, his faùily moved to Roswell, New Mexico. At age 8, he learned to play guitar, and in his youth became friends with Lefty Frizzell, who on many occasions invted David to his recording sessions. In 1950, the family moved back to Duncan, and David formed a country music band. Early employment included aD.J. Program on radio station KRHD, and a live show on Channel 12, KXII-TV. How he got the forname « David » is unknown.
David Ray got his first records on Heart (# 245), a Four Star custom label out of Oklahoma, in 1956. Two fine sincere Hillbilly duets by himself and Johnny Doggett, « Farewell goodbye » and « Maybe I should have cheated too » ; then two Rockabillies (Ray Smith solo) « Gone baby gone » and « Swinging boogie », both fine rockers (# 250). Many thanks to John Burton (53jaybop) for posting these songs on Youtube.
In 1957 he signed a recording contract as David Ray with Gainesville, Texas recording executive Joe M. Leonard, Jr. His early recordings of « Jitterbugging baby » and « Lonesome baby blues » (Kliff 101 and 105) were instant successes on the Kliff Records label. Not only did Ray’s first records releases sell well in the United States, but they attained immense success in Europe when reissued by Ronnie Weiser on his Rollin’ Rock label. Personal for these sessions were Johnny Baggett or Joe Dean Evans on guitar and Paul Jorgenson on bass, including a wild piano player.
David Ray « Lonesome baby blues » (original version)download
Other songs were « Lonesome feeling » and the less fast, almost poppish « I’m a fool », while « All the time », « Why can’t you and I », « No, oh no », all ballads, « Too fast, too wild » and the original gutsy, less fast « Lonesome baby blues » were withheld until their release on Collectables. David Ray « Lonesome feeling« download
Since David Ray’s voice has remained strong and vibrant over the years, Leonard productions decided to record him on some new Texas songs. In August 1993 a session was held in Tyler, Texas. The songs were « Long cold winter », « You make my day », « Ways of a woman » and « Package deal ». The musicians were Ronnie Redd (keyboards), Jim Holley (bass), Greg Hough (drums), Bobby Garrett (steel guitar), Donny McDuff and Jerry Tiner (electric guitars), Ken Shepherd harmonica and rhythm guitar) as well as Lonnie Wright (producer, engineer and rhythm guitar). Back-up vocalist : David’s ex-wife, Lavinia Smith.