TOM JAMES is completely unknown except in the Rockabilly/R&R circles for his Klix issue « Track down baby/Hey baby » from 1957. No whereabouts neither his birthday year are known. Is even still alive today ?
He already had come from Oklahoma when he got a recording contract with RCA-Victor. His only session with this major label came early 1954 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Tom James(vo,g) with Chet Atkins(el g) Louis Innis(rh g) Robert Foster(steel g) Dale Parker (bjo) Bob Moore(b).
(Thomas Radio Productions) Nashville,February 17,1954
E4VB-3624 Don’t lead me on RCA Victor 20/47-5790, Cactus 5052
E4VB-3625 Your kind of lovin’ RCA Victor 20/47-5695, Cactus RCA vol.2
E4VB-3626 Sample of your love RCA Victor 20/47-5695
E4VB-3627 I’m a pig about your lovin’ RCA Victor 20/47-5790
All four tracks are uptempos, the slowest being « Sample of your love ». They are nothing but pleasant hillbilly boppers (prominent bass) although a bit common.
“Dont lead me on”
“Your kind of lovin’”
“Sample of your love”
Four years later, in March 1958 (or the year before), things did change a lot for the next session. James cut a two-sided rocker for Nashville’s Klix records 45-001 : « Track down baby » (during which he tracks his baby through the town), and « Hey baby » are little R&R classics, with fiery lead guitar by Vernon Claud (a solo), plus rhythm guitar, bass and drums. « Hey baby » has an interesting shuffling rhythm.
“Track down baby”
The same year, James shares an issue on (again) a Nashville label, Pleasant Valley (# 402) with Margie Barrett in 1958. He’s duetting with her on a nice ballad « That’s what that matters », while « It’s more than just a notion » is his own. Piano and guitar solos, rhythm, bass and drums for two pleasant and convincing uptempo country tracks.
“It’s more than just a notion”
“That’s all that matters”
And that’s it. Tom James had another 45 during the ’70s on Country Sound label # 858 (unknown location – Nashville?) : « Back in the big house » and « Thoughts ». Both sincere ballads, one slow and the other uptempo.Instruments used here are guitar, rhythm guitar and a haunting steel-guitar, although very modest. It’s a nice Country record. Listen to it, please ! Note that Tom James wrote all his songs. He must have ben a researched songwriter too.
“Back in the big house”
Other Tom James – more recent artists – surely have nothing to do with him.
Sources : always faithull Ronald Keppner (RCA scans) -many special thanks to him for his patience ; Michel Ruppli (RCA session) ; Rockin’ country style (Klix label) ; Youtube (Klix, RCA sides, Peaceful Valley sides) ; 45cat.com (Peaceful Valley Valley scans) ; my own copy of Country Sound 45.