ROY COUNTS is nearly unknown nowadays, except for 6 sides issued under his name at various times. He was billed on his Bel-Aire record as with his Okla. Playboys, and
he appears to have shared his session (same band) with another Oklahomian (who made his way to California), Jack Tucker. But we have already jumped to his first known issue, as two earlier tracks from the Hometown Jamboree have since surfaced on the Hillbilly Researcher serie # 26 : « I’m tired » and « I’ve got a new heartache » are two average boppers (drums present, although unheavy), and I can’t but remember hearing them of Wynn Stewart solid early sides (like « Slowly but surely », « It’s not the moon that makes a difference » or « You took her off my hands » all on Capitol Records). However these early Roy Counts sides have nothing exceptional.
Things are changing with the already mentioned split-session for Bel-Aire Records, which were located in the same town, El Monte, Ca. as the one where was aired the Hometown Jamboree from, on the airwaves of KXLA. I discuss also the Jack Tucker sides (Bel-Aire 23), « Surrounded by sorrow » and « Let me practice with you », since the sound and backing are very similar. A strong steel guitar (probably Ralph Mooney, according to his particular sounding), Don Evans on lead guitar, who was a regular with Jack Tucker ; a bass and drums, then a piano player who sounds remarkably like Bill Woods.
We jump now to 1963-64 for two sides first issued on the Jedco label, then reissued on Commerce # 5009 (same issue numbers for both labels). « Temptation » is not at all a bad record for this era, and has a very good steel (again Ralph Mooney?) over a fine piano for an uptempo ‘city’ country side. Flipside « Blue angel » is a very good medium paced rockaballad with an haunting steel. Note that both sides were produced by a certain Jack E. Downes (« Strictly drums » on Jedco 5002) : the initials are transparent of JEDco, and one can wonder if it’s he who handles drums on the Roy Counts disc, although it’s largely open to speculation and, as the saying goes, of very small interest !
Beside these records, Roy Counts failed to attain a higher stature and fell into obscurity, and that’s a pity : he was in his own right, although a minor one, a very good artist.
Sources: 45-cat for label scans; soundfiles from various sources; a great ‘thank you‘ to ‘fortyfivesfrank’ on 45-cat for “Blue angel“; Roy Counts picture from hillbilly-music.com; Wynn Stewart demo 45 from “Roots Vinyl Guide”.
Howdy folks! Let’s begin in Ohio with a native (Portsmouth, 1919), HOWARD PERKINS, early in 1960 on the Shawnee label (# 102) for the fine fast, energetic “It’s A Cryin’ Shame” – nice rhythm, welcome short guitar & steel solos. Shawnee 101 was Lucky Boggs‘ “Drillin’ Rig Boogie“. Later in 1964, “It’s A Cryin’ Shame” reappeared (re-recorded with a lovely fiddle well to the fore – long guitar solo) on Bob Mooney’s Rem (# 346) Lexington, Ky. label. Finally PERKINS had another goodie with “Under control” on the Indianapolis Juke label (# 2012, 1969).
Now a real stomper perfectly sung and played: that’s how a real honky tonk should sound in 1956. WYNN STEWART, fronting the Skeets McDonald Orchestra with the solid “Slowly But Surely” (Capitol 3515).
Very near to Rock’n’Roll, the Rockabilly tinged “I won’t be able to make it” by GLENN CANYON on the Cincinnati Adco label (# 781) from 1965. Stinging guitar, haunting riff.
Back to early ’50s with JACKIE DOLL and the topical “When They Drop The Atomic Bomb“. A fast classic honky tonk: piano, guirar, steel, even a landolin solo. It’s on the Mercury label # 6322 (1952)
Now an excellent fast atmospheric Hillbilly Rockaballad “Courtin’ Under The Moon” by RONDELL BARKER (Excellent 804). Great steel & guitar.
Finally on Philly’s Arcade 163, “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Your Own” by REX ZARIO. A medium steady rhythm over a firm baritone vocal. Zario deserves to be researched.
P.S. Thanks Drunken Hobo for sending me the second version (Rem) of Howard Perkins’ “It’s A Cryin’ Shame”.
Howdy, folks. And the hillbilly bop goes on, with 6 new favorites. This time I’d dig deeper in my archives, taken from excellent mid-’80s Tom Sims’ collector cassettes. The guy owned at the time ca. 50 or 60.000 singles! Some 25 years beyond I still discover little gems out of these cassettes, as the three debut choices.
Mark Foster and a loping piece of fast Hillbilly, “My Baby Doll” – I don’t even know the original label. It could be from ’56 or ’57. ** See NOTE down the page. Then Robbie Shawn, accompanied by Wynn Stewart (1958?) on the Linde-Jo label for “It’s Time For me To Go” – I suspect the presence of steel guitar virtuoso Ralph Mooney. Now on the Joplin label, and the unknown Sammie Lee, for the very nice mid-tempo “Oklahoma Blond Headed Gal“, complete with rural vocal, fiddle and steel.
Unto “regular” finds, for The Drifter on the Maid label, out of Columbia, Tennessee (vocal Tommy Moreland). These Tennessee Drifters are not to be confused with earlier ones on Dot (with Big Jeff or George Toon). I know Moreland had other records, but could not find more information, or didn’t care to take time to it. Very fine mid-tempo Rockabilly, heavy echoey lead guitar.
The career of the Sons of the Pioneers goes back to early ’30s and they had big hits throughout until the ’60s, most well known being “Cool Water” (also done by Hank Williams). Here I’ve chosen their spirited rendition (April 1952) of the Billy Strange‘s original “Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves“.
Finally, the prolific Mac Odell, a native from Alabama, and his “Penicillin” on King. Fast vocal, one wonders how he came to sing that fast without stuttering!
NOTE about “Mark Foster” (first selection). A visitor whose great pseudonym “Drunken Hobo” from England hides a fine listener and connoisseur of Hillbilly Bop advises me the tracks “My Baby Doll” is actually by CLIFF WALDON & His Westernairs. Label: Mark 107. The label do come from Utica, NY. I finally found it: Waldon was apparently from Oklahoma and had “Indian Gal” twice, first on Stardale, second on Mark. Listen to this track: it has 5 solos! 2 by the steel player, 2 by the fiddler, and even the bass player has his own. No electric lead guitar audible. And a lovely happy voice by Waldon. Thanks again, Dean!