Back from Summer holidays, we begin with the incomparable MERLE TRAVIS with a little known opus cut on December 4, 1952, « Louisiana boogie » (flipside « Bayou baby »), which permits the pianist Billy Liebert (long-time musician at Capitol sessions) to shine with a boogie 12-bar pattern. This side can be found on Capitol # 2902. Two fiddles are also heard, these of « Buddy Roy » Roy and Margie Warren, while Travis is in good form both on guitar and vocals.
LOU GRAHAM was one of the earlier rockabilly-style artists to show up on record, courtesy of Ivin Ballen’s Philadelphia-based Gotham Records. Born in rural North Carolina, and one of 10 children, his full name may have been Lou Graham Lyerly. He showed an early interest in country music, and following a hitch in the United States Navy, he entered radio as a singer and disc jockey. Vocally, he was similar to his somewhat older contemporary Hank Williams. Graham spent 18 months at WPWA in Chester, PA, he made the acquaintance of Bill Haley, leader of a locally-based country band called the Saddlemen, who helped Graham get a recording contract with Gotham. Graham cut “Two Timin’ Blues” and “Long Gone Daddy” at a 1951 session with an unknown backing band, but early the next
year, he was backed by Bill Haley‘s Saddlemen on a quartet of sides, “I’m Lonesome,” “Sweet Bunch of Roses“, “Please make up your fickle mind” and “My Heart Tell Me.” all issued on Gotham 429 and 433. Graham kept busy working as a deejay at WTNJ in Trenton, NJ, and on television as an announcer, on WDEL in Wilmington, DE. By the late 1950’s, he was also working regularly in nightclubs, parks, and western jamborees playing country and hillbilly music, playing on the same bills with Webb Pierce, Hank Thompson, and Ernest Tubb. In 1957, he made his most lasting contribution to recordings with his single “Wee Willie Brown” for the Coral Records label.
court. Imperial Anglares
SALTY (HOLMES) & MATTIE (O’Nell) had a long, long career, either as single artists, either in duet, like with this « Long time gone » (M-G-M # 11572, recorded July 7th, 1953). In fact, Salty only wails his harmonica, while Mattie has the vocal duty on this marvelous fast Hillbilly bopper (good picking guitar a la Merle Travis and a steel reminiscent of Hank Williams’ Don Helms). Of course Mattie O’Nell was also known (RCA, Sun) as JEAN CHAPEL.
We jump in 1963 on the K-Ark label # 296 (Cincinnati, OH) with HARVEY HURT and his « Stayed away too long ». An aggressive vocal on the front of a chorus (handclaps during the solo), and a nice guitar+steel solos, make this a very agreeable record, even not listed in 45rpmrecords.com.
From Avery, Texas, Chucklin’ CHUCK SLOAN offers his « Too old to Rock’n’roll » (Cowtown # 806) cut in 1961 . A fast Rockabilly/Country-rock novelty issue : very, very fine guitar, indeed influenced by blues guitarists. The song appeared long ago on a Swedish Reb bootleg.
More from Fort Worth, Texas in 1958 on Majestic (# 7581). J. B. BRINKLEY (aka Jay Brinkley) gives a splendid bluesy « Buttermilk blues »: really biting and agile guitar, backed by a solid piano, over a powerful voiced singer.
Brinkley also had previously issues on Dot (# 15371 « Crazy crazy heart/Forces of evil » – both pop rockers) in March 1955, and Algonquin 712/3 (a New York label) (« Go slow baby », a fine bluesy rocker, with a thrilling guitar) in 1957, plus some instrumentals. first on Kliff 100 (1958) , the good « Guitar smoke » which reminds one of Bill Justis‘ monster « Raunchy » ; then on Roulette 4117 (« The creep/Rock and roll rhumba »).
download(addition on Jan. 19th, 207. Thanks to Pierre Monnery)
DAYTON HARP cut records as soon as 1952: his « Foot loose and fancy free » (Gilt-Edge 5038) is a good bopper with excellent mandolin over a really ‘hillbilly’ vocal. He hailed from Florida, and he recorded there a duet (with Dot Anderson who gives Harp the replica) in 1958 for the Star label (# 695) « Man crazy woman » : a nimble guitar and a too short steel solo. A really good record. The flipside sees Harp alone : « You’reOne in a million » is a fine uptempo ballad with the same instrumentation (really good guitar!). Both these tracks were issued as Starday customs.
Sources : the Capitol label discogaphy (Michel Ruppli a.o.) ; 45rpmrecords.com ; YouTube ; Terence Gordon’s Rockin’ Country Style ; 45-cat ; rocky52.net ; Tony Russell’s « Country music » (1921-1945) ; Bruce Elder’s Lou Graham biography on Allmusic.com.
First selection is a fine bopper (sincere vocal, strong rhythm and good fiddle, even pizzicato played) : « I was standing too close to a heartache » (sounds familiar?) by BILLY TIDWELL, who cut a very good version of « Folsom prison blues » on the White Deer, TX Ko Co Bo label in 1964.
Billy Tidwell, “I was standing too close to a heartache”
Second odd issue is first ever Tommy Collins‘s song, « Campus boogie », when Collins was still known as LEONARD SIPES in his native Oklahoma. The song can be found on Morgan 106, and is very Hank Williams styled.
Then we enter in back-to-back series. JIMMIE DAVIS, also politician for Louisiana Governoship, cut a whole string of early boppers in the ’30s. Here I selected « You’ve been tom cattin’ around », issued on Bluebird in 1933.
A good 22 years later, CARL STORY had his own version, although the mandolin player is himself, on Columbia 21444 (1955). The flipside is the equally good, Rockabilly style, « What a line ». Strong boogie guitar, a fiddle solo. Really a masterpiece.
« What a line » derives from the original by JIMMIE WIDENER, who had this on his first King session in 1946 (# 536B) on the West coast, backed by such luminaries as Joaquin Murphy on steel or Jimmy Wyble on electric guitar. Harold Hensley is also present on fiddle, and co-wrote the song with Merle Travis. Widener had had been vocalist for Tex Williams, Spade Cooley and Bob Wills.
The song was revived first in 1953 by CLYDE MOODY on Decca. Usual style. Moody does it fast, with fiddle and guitar solo. Then in the mid-60s by GLENN THOMPSON, the most obscure artist of them all, who came from North Carolina. Guitar player is modern, but has a fine bluesy solo.
This time a nice percentage will be made of records issued on major labels, beginning with Decca and the WILBURN BROTHERS (Ted &Doyle). They offer a nice version of the old ’30s Shelton Brothers’ standard “Deep Elem Blues“, recorded in Nashville (no doubt usual crew) in January 1956. (Decca 29887)
The second major will be Capitol and the uncommon in Bopping (because he’s too well-known) MERLE TRAVIS. Billy Liebert, an accomplished West coast session pianist, pounds the ivories for “Louisiana Boogie” from December 1952. Same evening session that produced “Bayou Baby“. (Capitol 2902). Happy hillbilly boogie!
We jump on a very smal label from Richmond, KY. Actually Burdette land had only two releases in 1960 and here it is the first by HUBERT BARNARD, “Boy She Has Gone“. Nice bopper.
Back to majors, on a subsidiary of Columbia. OKeh was maybe devoted to newcomers on the main label, although no one knows exactly why Columbia launched this short-lived serie (only 59 records issued) in 1953. In April of that year, recently signed JOE MAPHIS and his wife ROSE LEE (they were married 1952) recorded the future classic “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music)” (OKeh 18013). This is what Honky tonk is all about!
TOMMY BOYLES had been cutting in 1959 “We’re Bugging Out” on the Murco label of Shreveport, La. Hear him with the “artist” button on the upper left. Here in 1960 he does another self-penned “Don’t Be Somebody Else’s Baby” on the N.J. Granite label (# 552). His story in his own words can be found on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame site.
Finally, from 1967 or 68, on the prolific Adco label (maybe a property of Hobo Jack Adkins) from Cincinnati, OH – mainly Bluegrass, Garage or Sacred tunes between 1960 and 1975, CUDDLES C. NEWSOME (rn. Corbet Newsome), born 1928, for both sides of his solitary ever 45 “So Long Baby/One Little Kiss” – nice guitar. This is Country-rock at its best.
Hi! there all, friends, visitors, listeners. This is not April fool! Another batch of good ole’ Hillbilly Bops, Hillbilly Boogie and Honky Tonks from the golden age, and various sources.
Let’s begin with the earliest track, from Texas, 1950-51. TILMAN FRANKS was an entrepreneur, bassist, and associate with various labels and artists. For example, he launched the carrers of very young WEBB PIERCE (Pacemaker label, before 4 * and Decca) and FARON YOUNG, recording them in Houston, then placing the products with East Coast labels. FARON YOUNG made his vocal debut on Philly GOTHAM with this “Hot-Rod Shotgun Boogie N0. 2“. Way before Young specialized on Capitol with sweet ballads, this is raw Hillbilly Bop, Texas style!
Second then, a legend, the great MERLE TRAVIS, with a little known opus, “Louisiana Boogie” – fabulous piano by Capitol session man Billy Liebert. Indeed Travis takes his solo too...
More on Capitol with very recently deceased FERLIN HUSKEY, who disguised under 3 personas. As a comedian, as Simon Crum. As Honky-tonker (early in carreer) as Terry Preston. Here he’s attempting as FERLIN HUSKEY on Rockabilly in 1955 with the famous classic “Slow Down Brother“.
More Hillbilly Bop from Detroit, 1953- almost Rockabilly in spirit: FOREST RYE and “Wild Cat Boogie” on the Fortune label. Like the sparse instrumentation and lyrics! More on “Cat music” on the site with the “research” button above right!
1956, from Louisiana, hence his name, CURLEY LANGLEY (l’Anglais, in French) and the minor classic, “Rockin An’ A Rollin” on the Arcadia label. Fine backing. Langley made more quiet Hillbilly on the same label.
Finally, a 1957-58 disc from Indiana (Iowana label) by WES HOLLY, “Shufflin’ Shoes“. Holly had already cut the same song as “Shuffling Shoes Boogie” in 1952 for the Nashville TENNESSEE label (see elsewhere in the site the story to this label).
Enjoy the selections, folks! You also can see what’s available for sale from my collection (overstocks, as new) on “Contact Me” button.
Johnny Bond had several successful facets to a career that lasted over 30 years. As a member of the Jimmy Wakely Trio and as a session musician, he was an important support musician in dozens of B Westerns, working alongside Wakely, Tex Ritter, and Johnny Mack Brown. As a songwriter, he was responsible for several compositions that became country standards, including “Cimarron,” “I Wonder Where You Are Tonight,” “Conversation With a Gun,” “Tomorrow Never Comes,” and “I’ll Step Aside,” which became hits for everyone from Billy Vaughn & His Orchestra to Johnny Rodriguez. He also contributed mightily to the recorded music of Wakely, Ritter, and other country stars of the 1940s and 1950s. And his own recordings — which included work with such luminaries as Merle Travis — were popular from the 1940s onward, and included several hits, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that he had the biggest record of his career, “Ten Little Bottles.”(more…)