Thursday 29 October 2009

Glen Glenn is 75

Glen Glenn was 75 this week. I love this guy, happy birthday Glen. So good they named him twice, his best tracks like One Cup Of Coffee and a Cigerette and Everybody's Movin' are rockabilly at it's best. Me and Phil met him a few years ago at Hemsby and he's a dreamboat guy. The nicest guy you'll ever meet. We had a photo taken with him and because of the angle the photo was taken out it looks like he's about 3 foot 6. If I can dig it out I'll post it, until then chuck him on your record player and play some cool California rockabilly.

Ray Campi v Jimmie Skinner

I was listening to Jimmie Skinner late last night and when I heard How Low Can You Feel I thought of Ray Campi. The rockabilly bass man is a massive fan of Skinner and his much had a profound effect on him. It was actually via Ray Campi that I got into Jimmie Skinner. My introduction to Campi was courtesy of his wonderful stage act on the Blue Suede Shoes video of many moons ago.

Ray Campi told Now Dig This once that “I must have recorded more Jimmie Skinner tunes than anyone except Jimmie himself.” The ones I know him doing are Doin' My Time, Don't Give Your Heart to a Rambler, Baby You Don't Know My Mind and How Low Can You Feel but I’m sure there’s probably others.

There career’s and styles were completely different but nowadays I can’t think of one without the other. In my job we deal with ramblers and every time someone mentions ramblers I always hum in my head “keep it away from rambling’ Ray”. It’s weird what goes on in your head, unless it’s just me and my buddy in there.

A man of many trades within the industry, Jimmie Skinner tried his hand as a DJ, songwriter, performer, label owner, and record salesman. His first successful composition was Doin My Time in 1941 but he had to wait until 1957 before he had a hit record himself. On Mercury Records he scored with I Found My Girl in the U.S.A. and Dark Hollow, but he never managed to repeat the trick. He tried his luck with loads of labels before his death in 1979.

Everyone reading this page will know the story of Ray Campi. Basically he had a couple of no-hit singles in the 50’s the best known being Caterpillar (I’ll be honest here and say I don’t think much of his early work) before being a key figure in the rockabilly revival of the 70’s, thanks to his sterling work for Ronnie Weiser’s great Rollin’ Rock label.

My favourite songs of the ones both Campi and Skinner recorded are Don't Give Your Heart To A Rambler and How Low Can You Feel. On Rambler I prefer the Skinner original, it’s so well sung and the music has a haunting sound that is perfect. Ray does a fine cover and I love his oh-so country voice and the final flourish “keep it away from rambling’ Ray”.

How Low Can You Feel is another matter. Ray Campi’s version is brilliant and blows Jimmie’s outta the water. The bass sound is so rounded and I love the acoustic rockabilly treatment. The addition of the “thump thump thump” is inspired. Jimmie Skinner’s is a lovely rendition, but it doesn’t have the thump thump thump factor.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No.81 - Freddy Countryman

Freddy Countryman - Cocaine Blues

I know zip about Freddy Countryman, except for one thing - his version of the infamous Cocaine Blues is absolutly awesome. It's got a Johnny Cash backing but I just adore Countryman's vocals. This is the only song of his I've got, but I'd love to hear him do more of the uptempo country. When I listen to this I holler lawdy lawdy have mercy on me. I've heard his instro Back Up And Push band it's pretty good, but it's a waste of such a great voice. Looking at Terry Gordon's great site I see that Freddy Countryman had a handful of singles on the WED (Western Electronics Division) label out of Los Angeles. If you want his Cocaine Blues you can find it on the old Honkin' Billy LP (5552) which came out in 1994.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Flip's Clips No.7 - Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis - Turn On Your Lovelight

Now Shaun and I have several things in common, we are Welsh, we love cats, we support Spurs and Wales, but most importantly of all we just lurveeeeeeeeeeeeee Mr Jerry Lee Lewis. I`ve been a fan since seeing his famed 64 Granada TV show in the mid 60s and Shaun has been a fan for ten minutes or so (;-)) and we`ve seen him in Wales, Scotland, England and Memphis (and the Lewis ranch).

Now Shaun also digs rockabilly bass boppers, Elvis, Shaky, Stray Cats etc and I dig Eddie Cochran, Fats, Dave Edmunds, Chuck n Elvis but when it comes to da Killah it`s a different kettle of fish, he simply is THE man, on record, onstage and in life, totally unique and the greatest of the greats in our humble opinion.

So I thought I better put some Lewis clip up before we get disbarred from the First Assembly Of Lewis church (Ferriday and Wales branch), back when ole El was doing his tv and stage comeback and ole Johhny C and the Everlys had their own great tv shows the legendary Jack Good`s sidekick Rita Gillespie (who workd on Oh Boy, Shindig and the legendary Catch My Soul stage show) came up with some great tv pilots featuring JLL, family and musical friends but sadly as great as they are ( I mean JLL doing Ubangi Stomp fer gawd`s sake) they were not taken up for national syndication, fortunately the tapes survived and the long gone US cable channel Outlaw Music showed them in the 90s, this is one of my fav clips as it features JLL singing Bobby Bland`s classic r&b gem Turn On Your Lovelight whilst playing the drums, yes drums, watch and wonder without further ado!

Sunday 25 October 2009

Battle of the Song No.4 - A Legend In My Time

A Legend In My Time - As peformed by;
Don Gibson, Ricky Nelson, Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash

Don Gibson was one hell of a songwriter with a portfolio that included no less than Oh Lonesome Me, Blue Blue Day, Sea of Heartbreak and I Can’t Stop Loving You. I read once, I think in Now Dig This that he considered himself more of a songwriter who sang than a singer who wrote. And that’s probably fair, because although his voice was good, his songs were brilliant. I was surprised during my research to learn that the only version to reach the country charts was by Ronnie Milsap in 1975.

Country music is built on it’s lyrics, and the saying goes, the sadder the better. Throw in a big hunk of pity and you’re starting to get here. No song plays the pity card any better than A Legend In My Time. “If loneliness meant world acclaim / Everyone would know my name / I'd be a legend in my time”. The upshot though is that they don’t, “But they don't give awards / And there's no praise or fame / For a heart that's been broken / Over love that's in vain”.

When Gibson was interviewed about the song in Nashville on 7th September 1973 he said, “This song was written on the road to Knoxville, Tennessee, in a car with Mel Foree. I was reading an article in a magazine I had picked up about an entertainer. He was talking about show business and his career and how he would like to be a legend in his time. I told Mel that that would be a good title for a song, so I started humming.” The guy was a genius with the pen, but how does his version stack up against the others?

Don’s original is pure Nashville circa 1960. The sympathetic backing courtesy of the A Team had the right amounts of backing vocals, piano and guitar to allow Don’s voice to portray the pity in the message.

The Ricky Nelson version from his 1963 long player, “Sings For You” is a really good cover. The backing is very similar with James Burton adding a few extra embellishments. Ricky’s vocal performance is strong and belied his teeny bopper image.

Roy Orbison’s version was probably the first time I’d heard the song. My mate, the much missed Alan Galbraith, used to play it all the time. It was on the earth-shatteringly great Lonely & Blue album which included no lesser gems than Only The Lonely and Blue Angel. The Big O’s version of Legend is quite different to Gibson’s. The session from mid September 1960 was held at Nashville RCA studios, with his usual producer and engineer, Fred Foster and Bill Porter, using string arrangements to augment the same, without ever threatening to drown out the Bob Moore led country pickers. The haunting, atmospheric sax solo gives the words an extra dimension. On top of that, Roy plays with the lyrics for all they’re worth. A stunning masterpiece where the singer, the musicians and the material, bond in perfect harmony. He recorded the song again in 67 for the "Sings Don Gibson" album and that's great, but the first version is the best.

I love the Everly Brothers and think they are the tightest unit in rock history, but there’s something not quite there with their version of Legend. There’s just something missing that I can’t put my finger on. Their vocal performance actually reminds me of the style they were to employ in their 80’s comeback albums, EB84 and Born Yesterday.

Johnny Cash cut the song sometime between 2002 and 2003 just prior to his death. It was released late in 2004 as American V, and as with most of the American series it’s a dark, acoustic version. His worn, tired vocals gave most of the American recordings a hard edge that gave the mainly death and religious material an added effect. His take on Legend is no different and it was an inspired choice of song for that final period in his life.

The two that missed the boat with this song are my two main heroes. I would absolutely have loved to hear Jerry Lee do it at the London Sessions. When he did No Headstone On My Grave he had the upstart British musicians eating out of his hand and he knew it. His ego grew even more and he told them he didn’t want a headstone he wanted a damn monument. You can just imagine him doing this and shouting out that he’s already a legend in his time. Obviously the other guy who should have covered this was Elvis. In the early 60’s he’d have slayed it. Take a listen to Suspicion or Fame and Fortune and tell me that this wasn’t the perfect voice. With the Nashville band giving him the same backing as Don Gibson’s original, it would be phenomenal, and it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to know that this would be the perfect version.

I know there’s been loads of other versions, including Hank Snow but I have got a life and the five above will have to do. To be honest the handful I’ve looked at are the cream of the crop. As it is, the winner of today’s battle of the song is Roy Orbison. Beautifully sung, totally convincingly sung by the king of pain.

If heartaches brought fame in love's crazy game,
I'd be a legend in my time.
If they gave gold statuettes for tears and regrets,
I'd be a legend in my time.
But they don't give awards, and there's no praise or fame
For a broken heart that's been broken over love that's in vain.
If loneliness meant world acclaim,
Then everyone would know my name --
I'd be a legend in my time.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Brian Setzer Orchestra - Songs From Lonely Avenue

Brian Setzer Orchestra - Songs From Lonely Avenue
Surfdog Records


01. Trouble Train
02. Dead Man Incorporated
03. Kiss Me Deadly
04. Gimme Some Rhythm Daddy
05. Lonely Avenue
06. King of the Whole Damn World
07. Mr. Jazzer Goes Surfin'
08. Mr. Surfer Goes Jazzin'
09. My Baby Don't Love Me Blues
10. Love Partners In Crime
11. Passion Of The Night
12. Dimes In The Jar
13. Elena

Anybody who’s read my pages here or at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame will no I’m a massive fan of Brian Setzer, whether it be with the Stray Cats, the 68 Comeback Special or his Orchestra. Being a rocker first and foremost, the three line-ups mentioned above are probably chosen in the right order as well. I like a bit of swing but I’m never going to buy a zoot suit.

This latest Orchestra venture is being dubbed “A Soundtrack To An Unwritten Film” with the film in question being a film noir from the 40’s. Setzer wrote all the songs, the first time in his long career that this has happened. So, what’s the result?

Basically it’s all okay. Most songs have got a spark courtesy of his guitar, but otherwise are nothing special. Best example is Passion Of The Night, where he plays some wicked guitar that helps hide what’s basically a crap song. The best moments are when the double bass is well to the fore, as in the opening pair, Trouble Train and the very Stray Cattish Dead Man Incorporated. King of The Whole Damn World also has a neat rockin’ beat that could be the best song here.

The title track is very mundane and whilst Setzer’s acoustic guitar on the closing track Elena is excellent, the song itself does nothing for me. Dimes In The Jar is average and the two Jazz/Surf tunes were boring. The same can’t be said of the duet Gimme Some Rhythm Daddy, a lively mover with some neat 20’s vocal sections.

Bigger fans of swing and jazz will no doubt enjoy it more than me, I just hope the next album is with the 68 Comeback. I get the feeling that although Brian Setzer is a big swing fan, he was born to be a rockabilly.

Rockin' Song of the Week No.80 - Ricky Nelson - Mighty Good

Ricky Nelson - Mighty Good
Imperial 5614 (1959)

As mighty good as it felt to Ricky, it sounds mighty good to the rest of us. Ooh wee. Ricky Nelson always had a crack band behind him and together with his easy-on-the-ear vocals and great songwriters, his singles nearly always hit the spot. Even by his high standards, Mighty Good features pretty high on the Rickster Scale. Amazingly, the song was cut fifty years ago today at Master Recorders in Hollywood with Jimmy Haskell producing.

The band was the usual suspects James Burton (guitar), James Kirkland (bass), Gene Garf (piano), Richie Frost (drums) and Billy Strange also on guitar. Kirkland and garth were soon to be replaced by Joe Osborne and Ray Johnson, but that’s irrelevant. The other song cut on the date was I Wanna Be Loved but it was the top side of Imperial 5614 that floats my boat.

Mighty Good was written by regular Ricky Nelson tunesmith Baker Knight and was a typical Nelson rocker in that James Burton picks his ass off throughout. The female backing vocals round out the sound and compliment Ricky’s controlled performance. As well as underpinning the beat, Jimmy B gives another in his long line of wonderful solos. At a time was rock ‘n’ roll was making way for the Bobby Soft era, Mighty Good showed that Ricky was a genuine rocker.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No.79 - Jerry Irby

Jerry Irby – Clickety Clack
Daffan 108

I like Jerry Irby a lot. All I’ve got is the Collector CD and a few other songs on the odd compilation, but that’s probably all I’ll need. Although his history is steeped in the Western Swing field, having worked with most of the biggest swingers in the game and having cut that style throughout his career, it’s the more basic hillbilly numbers that get to me.

Jerry Irby had a couple of big hits on MGM in the late '40s, but he recorded for hundreds of labels, big and small. Come the rock ‘n’ roll age and Irby was happy to have a crack. Probably in October ’56 he was in the ACA Studio in Houston, Texas cutting the great mover, Clickety Clack. The backing is very much on the country side of rockabilly, but it’s a peach. It was released on his western swing buddies Ted Daffan’s self named label but made more noise in 1976 than 1956.

Recommended listening: Who doesn’t love Hillbilly Boogie? I’m also partial to a couple of country classics, My Gal From Tennessee and One Cup Of Coffee And A Cigerette (not to be confused with the Glen Glenn rocker). Then there’s the two versions of 49 Women, the rockabilly take and the earlier country version which is on the Collector CD. I got 49 women and I only need one more – can you imagine all the nagging – the guy must be more thick skinned than a rhino. I love the line, “49 women are better than 3 or 4, if you five you still got 44”. Looking at the photo on the cover, he looks too much of a gentlemen to look at women, never mind actually having ’em. He looks like guy in Oh Brother Where Art Thou – the one who is hooked up with George Clooney’s misses, the one the little girls say is “bona fide”, “he’s a suiter”.

CLiff Richard & the Shadows line in Cardiff 2009

Harry Webb & Drifters 50th Anniversary Tour
Cardiff - 20 October 2009.

Much to my amazement I really enjoyed last night's Cliff Richard and Shadows 50th anniversary gig in Cardiff, bought tickets for the Mrs last Xmas thinking well, at least I`ll enjoy the Shadz.

Great stage set up, Brian on raised drums, his lad on keyboard alongside Mark Griffiths (Cliff n Evs bass). Bruce, `ank and pink jacketted one stage front, no backing singers or gawdawful dancers, no eurovision, xmas or falsetto warblings, great big video screen above band with the big three getting their own space.

Sticking to green Columbia era 58-63 primo C & S, the old codgers romped thru the rockers with aplomb and even made a decent fist of the ballads and pop/film tunes. Cliff kept his usually irriating shape throwing in check and concentrated on warbling whilst having the pee taken out of him frequently by Hank and Bruce (which did save mne the bother of getting nudged by the mrs). Long show, just
under 150 mins. We had a night of tunes by the likes of Sammy Samwell, Cliff n Shads, Johnny Otis, Ral Donner, Jack Clement, Jerry Lee, Bobby Freeman, Leiber n Stoller, Ruth Brown, Jerry Lordan, Eddie Cochran, Huey Smith, Melvin Endsley and Santo & Johnny.

The singalong biggies were kept to a 15 min section near the end when he sea of balding and greying heads could be seen swaying in front of me like crazed penguins. Highlights included High Class Baby which woulda made uncle Darrel H proud, a super Dynamite, C` Mon Everybody, Gee Whiz, I Could Easily, and a stonking 9 Times Out of 10 straight into It`ll be Me which had ole Harry gasping for breath before the next ballad ( I Love You I think). Move It sounded great, closer to the original than the solo Cliff`s recent versions. Nice acoustic bit with Travellin Light and All Shook Up slowed slightly ala Billy Swan.

In an ideal world he wouldn't have bottled out of the knife in the back line in Sea Cruise going for a more politically correct train on a track, he would have acknowledged esp in Cardiff the Dave Edmunds arrangement of Singing The Blues, mentioned Jet, Tony,Liquorice etc and esp Ian Samwell and ole Ernie cos he kept on about bleeding uncle Norrie P all night and his chart positions, which were often wrong and he had to re do Next Time cos he got the words wrong - senility strikes Peter Pan.

A lot of the audience were happier with the ballads like Voice In the Wildernes, Next Time etc but he did keep saying people forget we were a rock n roll band originally. If they fine tune this tour in the future ( the Shads final ever show was supposedly the one in Cardiff a couple of years back) then hopefully some of his better songs like Apron Strings, Choppin` and Changin`, D In Love & Mumblin Mosie would get a look in. Thankfully, Schollboy Crush was left on the shelf where it rightly belongs.

Shadz seemed to get louder applause for their sets, Savage and Sleepwalk shone out amongst the usual suspects, Brian Bennet was excellent throughout. Night was spoilt by some tall football yob shouting out Jack Army when Hank made a joke about Swansea, same loony kept shouting out "where's Jet, look you, isn't it, bach, Livin` Lovin Doll" but my ribs have healed now. If you like Ricky or the Evs, then you would enjoy this professionally done and musically sound show - the DVD will be out in Nov.

Flip don't Tease.

And lest we forget what the fuss was all about.

Monday 19 October 2009

Flip's Clips No.6 - Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry - Promised Land

Let`s leave the country archive for awhile. Next month ole uncle Chuckles is coming to south Wales for 2 gigs but I reckon ole Phillybuster here and the young `un` "little Jimmie" Mather won't be attending (nearly a £100 for the two shows) I`ve seen Chuck around a dozen times and he`s been brilliant four times ( 72 - 84), ok thrice and dire the other 5 times, usual suspects ie crap tuning, poor pick up band, thudding bass, short set with Dingblydiling taking up a quarter of it and I`ve already got tickets to another gig on the same night as the local show.

I felt the same last time Little Richard came here, stick to me records n videos ta very much, its rock n roll but not as we know and lurveeeeeeee it, I`d rather recall the decent show Mr CB did in the Docklands arena in London a few years back with ole JLL stonking thru a short opening set and Little Richard and his oh so boring "clap yer hands have ya read my religious tract, are there any posers sorry dancers who wanna come up, all the men say OOOH, here's a Fats/Bob Seeger/Larry Willaims toon in fatc anything not by me " set, a good humoured Chuck with a decent piano man saved the day.

Glad to here Chuck is finally going to play the Viva Las Vegas rab fest and that he'll be backed by a stellar band of 50s experts, always wanted him to tour here backed by dave Edmunds Rockpile and then to record and album guided by Dave, who like George Thorogood does Chuck`s songs properly.

I love Chuck`s music to pieces, recently bought the 2nd Hip O Select 4cd box You Never Can Tell the early 60s years which is fabulous esp the new live album on it, I have Fred Rothwell`s great Long Distance Info book on his music and even bought the 4dvd US version of Hail R N R, Taylor " mr Helen Mirren" Hackford the director and Keith Richards the musical direction deserve the Nobel peace prize for getting through it in one piece.

Between 1955 and 65- ish he cut the greatest self penned rocking r&b/rnr records of all time. One of my all time favs is the travelogue Promised Land apparently written during his 2nd incarceration (he had to get special permission to get a map in case he was planning a break out!!), now both Elvis and the great cajun rocker Johnnie Allen have done sterling versions but I love Chuck`s original, got it on UK Pye and US Chess.

This great clip is almost like a sequel to the great Jazz On A Summer's day movie in that Chuck appears on this b&w French tv show in the mid 60s backed by jazzer the George Shearing quintet ( I think!!), dig the beatnik on the double bass,looks like Mike Stoller in Jailhouse Rock, chuck looks and sounds great slim, greasy haired, that marvellous sly smile and cheeky eye movements and moving n groovin for all he's worth, even the mike collapse is covered by a cool duckwalk, check the side bar for the other gems from this show. there's a very abrupt ending - hinted at by Chuck`s usual foot stomp to finish it being almost cut off, remember him this way, the Stones,Beach Boys etc etc should all bow down and say a prayer for this marvellous singer songwriter giving us a golden decade indeed.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Flip remembers Mickey Gee

In memory of Wales` greatest guitarist - Mickey Gee

Earlier this year I sadly attended the funeral of the Welsh guiatr great Mickey Gee in Cardiff, many musicians were there including Shaking Stevens, Geraint Watkins, Andy Fairweather Low, John David, Terry Williams,John Lewis and Ian Calford, Mickey had provided immaculate Fender bending to all these guys, he`d played with Ian`s dad the late Cal Ford and the Brakemen.

He was a valued part of Edmunds Rockpile and played on the great Carl Perkins Rockabilly Session tv show. He also played with Tom Jones, Lulu, Joe Cocker,Bill Wyman as part of Willie and the Poor Boys and the great 70s rockabilly band Memphis Bend recording a brillaint album on UA that sadly has not been issued on cd and was an important part of the Shaky sound during the 80s chart hits years. When ill health hit him in the 90s he turned down many lucrative jobs/tours preferring to turn up in the local pubs and clubs of Cardiff and sitting in.

A few years back much to my surprise BBC Wales tv acknowledged that music started before Tom Jones by putting this prog out reunting Edmunds, Geraint, Mickey, Andy, etc and one of the many highlights was Mickey`s version of the great Chuck Berry blues rocker Betty Jean (given the wrong title on youtube BTW).

There's an old b& w clip of the pre fame Tom Jones in rocker mode doing What`d I Say and Chills n Fever on tv, look carefully at the young guitarist with hair it`s Mr Gee!

My fav memory of Mickey is of him blowing up his amp doing a Burnette rab classic as his set opener, much of a delay ensued as a roadie went off in his van to find another amp, eventually he set up the new one, Mickey played the Burnette intro and the new amp blew up!

I also love the story about Chet Atkins dressing room where Chet was holding court to all these modern guitar gods when Mickey shyly entered the door, most of the stars looked at this shy bald bloke and wondered who the gatecrasher was. Chet spotted him and called him over to sit next to him and got them both guiatrs whilst they ripped thru the Reed/Atkins classic The Claw, much jaw dropping ensued in the room, I bet they're still jamming up there.

Sadly missed, a wonderful part of my collection is devoted to Mickey.

New Jerry Lee Lewis book coming soon

NIU English instructor writes book on Jerry Lee Lewis

Joe Bonomo has been thinking about Jerry Lee Lewis his whole life.

The English instructor has been listening to Lewis' 1964 album "Live At The Star Club" for years and considers it to be one of the best rock and roll records of all time. When an editor approached Bonomo about writing a book on one of the founding fathers of rock, "Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found" was born.

"I spent a great summer just listening to that record over and over and writing about it," Bonomo said. "It was a great gig."

Instead of dwelling upon Lewis' notorious sex scandals, an issue that the author says has been written about ad nauseam, the book focuses on the bigger context of the rockabilly's rocky career. On the same day Lewis was recording the live album, The Beatles were filming the opening scene for "A Hard Day's Night." The "Great Balls of Fire" singer's career was nearly through and Beatlemania had just exploded.

"He was essentially tarred and feathered by the American press," Bonomo said. "He wasn't selling any records and was considered a lecherous has-been."

The title "Lost and Found" arises from the idea that even when Lewis was at his most down, he was able to make his best album.

Although he tried to get in contact with Lewis himself, the author was denied an interview by the singer's lawyers within 12 hours of the request. Over the course of the year that it took to write the book, Bonomo was able to track down members of Lewis' backing band, The Nashville Teens, and a German producer who mixed the classic album.

"I was able to talk to a lot of people who had a lot of instrumental things to do with his music," he said.

Bonomo is certainly no stranger to writing about rock and roll music. His 2007 book "Sweat" was a 7-year project about perennial American garage band favorite The Fleshtones. Currently, he's working on a new book about AC/DC's 1979 album "Highway To Hell," due out in May.

The Ohio University alum, who is married to English professor Amy Newman, is constantly working on personal essays and always runs his work by his wife, in its best-dressed form, of course. Bonomo seems to truly appreciate two creative minds in such a close proximity.

"It's fabulous," he said. "I'm very, very lucky to have a wife who's not just a great writer, but a great reader a great editor."

Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost And Found by Joe Bonomo will hit the stores in November on Continuum Books.

Here's a couple of reviews to whet the appetite:

The compelling story behind the greatest live record ever! Thoroughly researched and beautifully written. They should teach this book in schools. —Blaine Cartwright, Nashville Pussy

Joe Bonomo looks at Jerry Lee Lewis' wilderness years—how the Killer got there, and what he had to prove afterward. He manages to tell the (fascinating) back story while capturing the excitement of what may be the greatest live album ever recorded. —James "The Hound" Marshall

Jerry Lee Lewis: Lost and Found is the greatest book ever written on the making of an album. It also dispels any lingering doubt about the profound musical impact of Jerry Lee Lewis. —Josh Alan Friedman, author of Tales of Times Square

Saturday 17 October 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No.78 - Wynonie Harris

Wynonie Harris - Quiet Whiskey
King 4685 (1953)

"As a statement of fact, clean of any attemp to brag about it, I'm the highest paid blues singer in the business. I'm a $1,500 a week man. Most of the other fellows sing for £50 to $75 a night. I don't. That is why I'm no Broadway star. The crooners star on the Great White Way and get swamped with COca Cola drinking bobby-soxers and other jail-bait. I star in Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee and Missouri and get those who have money to buy stronger stuff and my records to play while they drink it.

I like to sing to women with meat on their bones and that long, green stuff in their pockets. You find them mostly down south. As a matter of fact, I like all kinds of women, regardless of what colour they are or what size and shape they may have. Just as long as they're breathing, that's me!"

So said Wynonie Harris in 1954. He was Mr Blues, the good rockin' daddy who was the complete embodiment of rhythm and blues. You get the idea that every night was party night for Omaha, Nebraska's finest. A hot sweaty night in the deep south, the band playing a two hour rockin' set with Harris shouting the blues, eyeing the women as they danced a grinding boogie with their lovers, all the while playing eye-sex with Mr Blues up on stage. At the end of the night one of those teasers would end up backstage, drinking whiskey, smoking a cigerette and getting a table ender.

I think the first time I became aware of Wynonie Harris was through his version of Good Rockin' Tonight. There was a band from North Wales who played in Aberystwyth a lot in the 80's, the Blues Bunch, who played a lot of Wynonie songs and then in 1990 I got the great Charly CD, Good Rockin' Tonight. It featured 20 songs from the King and Federal years, 1947 to 1953.

I think my favourite is Quiet Whiskey, with the wonderful spoken intro, "Whiskey, whiskey, on the shelf, you were so quiet there by yourself. Things were fine til they took you down, then opened you up and passed you around."

The song swings like a gigalo's schlong with Charles Thompson on piano and Mickey Baker on the guitar. But it's the twin sax attack of David Van Dyke and the legendary Red Prysock that take the plaudits.

Recommended listening: The two CD's I've got are the Charly one mentioned above and the Ace CD Whiskey, Women and Fish Tails, both of which are excellent. My favourites songs if pushed are Christina, Greyhound, I Don't Know Where To Go and the more obvious classics, Lovin' Machine, Bloodshot Eyes and Mr Blues Is Coming To Town.

Flip`s Instro Gems # 2

Flip`s Instro Gems # 2 - Dick Dale & the Del-Tones -Misirlou

For me the best bits of Quentin Tarrantino`s movies are the soundtracks as he seems to also own chunks of my 45 rpm collection! When Pulp Fiction came out albums, 45s and those darn new fangled cds by Chuck, The Statler Brothers and especially surf geetar gawd Dick Dale flew out of the oldie section hidden in cobwebby dark corners in smelly old soap sud boxes marked 5 for a $1 into frontal chart demographed brightly lit megastore windows and dispaly areas (now sadly given over to Playstaion and the like even in venerable old music outlets like HMV in the UK). I mean I even sat thru the bloody mayhem of Kill Bill just to hear Charlie Feathers classic Rollin' Rock cut, well ok - and to ogle Ms Urman`s slinky frame.

Meanwhile back at the ranch this classic movie clip is taken from the long forgotten teen flick A Swinging Affair, a sorta surf meets Rocky (not with Mr Bullwinkle either), the only cats member I`ve heard of is the great Teri Garr who went onto flicks like Close Encounters of 3rd kind and Tootsie and on many US tv progs like Frasier etc, she also danced in many El flicks! Just as the western world was being deluged by scouse moptops this surf n twist got lost at the drive ins.

The opening bit with only the Dalemeister's twangplank being visible is reallly cool, left handed like that ex paratrooper from NW Us used to burn on stage at the hippy fests, Dick and the Del Tones tang their way through this Greek/Middle East folk tune with much aplomb, look out for the blond twister`s gyrations and the hey look at me mom looks of the somewhat star struck band who just look happy to be dodging double maths. Last year I saw a coupla young surfer dudes strolling past wearing t shirts palstered in Dick Dale 45 labels bu I`d bet evens they only ever know this song and that`s thanks to the fiction of pulp.

Shaun said summat about waxing down his woody but I`ll leave that to your imagination

Now if only ole Quentin (was his dad an ex con??) could get hold of my fav instro Upturn by Eddie Smith and the Hornets on Top Rank - - - - - - - - , I can just see Urma in white pvc go-go boots doing the watusi - - - -

Thursday 15 October 2009

Flip's Clips No.5 - Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard - Working Man Blues

After all that retro 60s colour here's one from probably the 70s in film noir shades. This is my all time fav stone country tune which I first heard when JLL did a raunchy Chuckachug version on Mercury 40 years ago this month. That got me to buy my first Merle Haggard best of on UK Capitol which almost made me buy a second stereo as I couldn`t stop playing the darn thing for months. I was so amazed to find a 60s artist who cut country as good as Mr Cash / Willaims / Gibson / Lewis / Robbins / Pierce / Owens.

Bakersfield guys had a much more pure twangy country sound than a lot of the bastardised forms of alleged country sneaking out of late 60s/early 70s Nashville in that dreaded countypolitan- stringdrenched-choir screeching- over mixed mishmash with snoring session players literally doing it in their sleep.

Long before Waylon became an "outlaw" Merle was the genuine fallen to the bottom ex jailbird who picked himself up and kicked musical ass all over the world for the next few decades.

This clip has a few minus points (should be in colour and what the heck are the horns doing there??) but listen to the awesome lyric, Merle's cool incantation and the legend that is Roy Nicholls on lead playing the heck out of it in his solos. Like Steve of the Railmen he kicks musical butt whilst sitting on his own, inspiring ole Merly Whirly to take a lick or two, roll over Muskogee and tell Memphis the news.

To quote young (well, compared to me) Mr Mather its shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiithottttttttttttttttt sooperbbbbb.

The 27th Annual Rockers Reunion Winter Party line-up announced

Great news. The line-up has just been announced for the 27th Annual Rockers Reunion Winter Party at the Rivermead Leisure Complex in Reading, England on Saturday 23rd January 2010. I was worried that there might not be one this year as the line-up has been so long in being confirmed. Fear not, it's on and what a line-up.

Promotors Willie Jeffrey and Ian Wallis have pulled out all the stops and give us what should be a fantastic night. The promotion, in their words reads as follows:

"Rockers Reunion is privileged to host an appearance by Texan rock 'n' roller GENE SUMMERS. He will rock your socks off with a show that is crammed full of club favourites like 'School of Rock 'n' Roll', 'Straight Skirt', 'Twixteen' and 'Fancy Dan'. Not to be missed.

Along with the late and missed CSA, the most popular act at Rockers Reunion has been those Welsh Wildmen CRAZY CAVAN AND THE RHYTHM ROCKERS. They are back to close our show in their own inimitable style.

THE JETS took rock 'n' roll into the charts during the period 1981-84 and have stayed true to our scene for a further 25 years. We are proud to welcome the Cotton brothers for their Rockers Reunion debut.

Another Rockers Reunion favourite is the irrepressible JOHNNIE FOX. Tonight is the debut gig for his brand new band. Don't expect a tender and reflective set from the great man. He will be giving it some.

Almost anything can happen when PORKY'S HOT ROCKIN' hit the stage. Expect a zany, in your face, no holds barred performance. Do not miss their show nor our opening act THE LONESOME VALLEY BOYS who have come rollin' out of the Deep South on a mission to rock 'n' roll. They have an exciting future."

Tockets for the show are now on sale at £23 in advance or £26 on the day. Cheques or postal orders should be made out to Dixie Fried Music and sent with a stamped self-addressed envelope to:- Ian Wallis, 111 Worlds End Lane, Orpington, Kent BR6 6AW.
Callers are welcome between 9 am and 5 pm Mondays - Fridays or telephone 01689 860980. Tickets can also be purchased from the RIVERMEAD BOX OFFICE 0118 901 500. Or at any rock 'n' roll venue from WILD CAT PETE 01494 672605. Credit card purchases (subject to a £2 booking fee) can be made from VIV BRITTAN on 01522 752453. Stall enquirires should directed to WILD WILLIE JEFFERY on 01883 714289.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No.77 - Ray Doggett - It Hurts The One Who Loves You

Ray Doggett - It Hurts The One Who Loves You
Spade 1932

Ray Doggett was a middle sized rockabilly from the town called Sweetwater, Texas. That don’t mean he was 5 foot 9, it means he was a bigger artist than your one record wonder, but not quite a household name in the rockabilly world we live in. He was one of only a handful of singers to have a release on Bennie Hess’ little Spade label. Hess musta dug him (ooh, that’s corny) because he had two singles with him.
It Hurts The One Who Loves You was the second release and made enough impact in the small circle that Hess circulated in that the 45 was picked up by Decca Records. Unfortunately the bigger label didn’t net a hit record, something that was to hound Doggett (even cornier!).

It Hurts is so Elvisy’, with vocals that are the Memphis Flash to a tee. The only thing that says Texas not Tennessee to me is the backing vocal group. It sounds more like the Crickets or the Roses/Picks than say the Jordannaires. The musicians lay down a gentle rockin’ beat that was like the sort of rockaballad’s that adorned Elvis pre-Army catalogue. You can pick it up on Bear Family’s That’ll Flat Git It Vol. 9 – Decca release, the Best of Space CD or on some of those We Wanna Sound Like Elvis type CD’s. Sadly, Ray Doggett died of a heartattack in Nashville, TN in March 2002.

Recommended downloads: His first single, Go Go Heart is a hot rocker. No Doubt About It is a strong rocker with good backing vocals and a neat guitar solo. Whirlpool of Love is a bit poppier but definitely worth a listen. If you can get hold of it, Hydra Records’ LP, Doggone It Doggett will give you the lot. (BLK7709).

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Art Adams EP on Norton

Art Adams & The Rhythm Knights
Rock Crazy Baby/Indian Joe/Dancing Doll/She Don’t Live Here No More
Norton EP-150

Norton Records have a load of 45’s on the market at the moment but the one that tempted me was the Art Adams EP. I’ve got the Hydra CD but somehow that’s not the point. The cover of this vinyl single is enough to sell the record, without the four great tracks on offer. With his ruffled hair and half-sneer, half-drunken grin, Art Adams looks like the thing that parents were warning kids about at the time.

The a-side features both sides of his 1959 single, Cherry 1004/5. Cherry was a label out of Scotsville, Kentucky, owned by Joe Dyson. Everybody who’s taking the time to read this page will have heard Rock Crazy Baby, it’s on hundreds of rockin’ compilations and since the rockabilly revival of the 70’s has earned Adams a deserved cult status. I love the line “doesn’t matter to her if the words to a song don’t rhyme” was that his get out clause, because sometimes it doesn't. That aside, this is prime time rockabilly and one of the greatest ever songs of the genre. It starts flat-out and gets quicker – a brilliant slice of rockabilly. After it’s Jungle Rock like intro, Indian Joe is a manic, novelty rocker with tinges of country and shed loads of red-hot guitar.

The duo on the flip come from both sides of his 1960 single on Cherry 1018/9. Dancing Doll is a top of the range rocker with drums to the fore. The song opens with a drum beat not unlike Gene Vincent’s Jump Back Honey. The guitar solo sizzles and Art Adams is on fire throughout. She Don’t Live Here No More is a mid-paced slap-bass rocker which pounds along relentlessly. It rounds of a brilliant EP that will appeal to anyone who likes to spin that 45.

Check out the youTube clip below where Art Adams shows he can still rock it like crazy. This recent show was filmed at the Red Rose Club, London, on the 16th February 2007.

Flip's Clips No. 4 - Wilbert Harrison

Let's have some rocking r&b for a change. Through the 60s all I had of Wilbert Harrison was the old Top Rank 45 of Kansas City (which I first heard by the Beatles, with a bit of Hey hey hey on the end, they copied the more frantic Little Richard Specialty version) which had a wonderful shuffly charm like the best of the Jimmy Reed or Buster Brown sides.

In the late 60s Canned Heat covered Wilbert`s epic Let`s Work Together (later annihilated by Bryan Ferry and the howlin Jerry Hall) which Dave Edmunds had been figuring on doing, then decided to do Smiley Lewis` great I Hear You Knockin instead which gave him a deserved UK no 1 and a Billboard no 2.

But here`s dapper uncle Wilbert plonked in front of a piano with his atmospheric ciggie trailing smoke throughout his fine rendition of the old New Orleans saga Stagger Lee, mighty fine it is too despite the brupt cut off. No idea when or where, but just glad it exists (one day the holy grail of Larry Williams footage will be realised -don't be fooled by that Billy Preston Shindig clip of Short Fat Fannie (steady Shaun) claimed to be Mr Williams, it aint.

What we also need is some more Wilbert preferably with Wild Jimmy Spurrill on guitar and several shouts of " Ah moustache".

Monday 12 October 2009

The Influence of Bennie Hess

I’ve never really thought about Bennie Hess and the fact that his music may have influenced anyone. For all the years I’ve been aware of him, I just thought of him as a bit of a bullshitter who happened to lay down a couple of real hot rockers. Such was his bravado and bs, Jack Scott’s Tall tales could have been written about him. Today I was driving to work listening to the Best of Spade CD and for the first time I was hit by a couple of resemblances.

It’s one thing for the man with the hit records and portfolio of Jerry lee Lewis to sing Lewis Boogie, Rockin’ Jerry Lee et al, but for Bennie Hess to do Bennie Hess Boogie, is big balls in cow town indeed. It’s a fantastic rocker with piano and guitar giving the Bennie Hess Boogie everything they’ve got. What struck me today was this song had to have influenced Hank C. Burnette. The bass line for one, the echoed voice, but most of all the guitar that sounds like it’s breathed a mouthful of helium balloon.

The second song that had me thinking of his influencing others was Boppin’ The Rock. It had all the hallmarks of a Freddie Fingers Lee record. In particular I think I was reminded of Dib Dab Boogie. Is Freddie a big fan? I’ve know idea, but I’m sure I could hear him in Bennie Hess.

So here's a tip of the cowboy hat to a true Texas legend. Larger than life, with stories that were larger than reality. For what it's worth, his best known song is Wild Hog Hop which is considered a rockabilly classic. I don't like it at all and think it's a shocker. But the Bennie Hess Boogie, that's different, that's a beauty.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Jerry Lee's Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

Jerry Lee fan Graham Knight found the following article on the web, and it's well worth a look.

1980 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Rockin' Roller. Jerry Lee Lewis' 1980 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Is A Great Ball Of Custom-Corvette Fire - By Meggan Bailey
Rock 'n' roll tunes, "killer" fame, and a red Corvette. No, we're not talking about cruising down the road in your C6 with your iPod ablaze, dreaming of international superstardom. No, let's turn the clock back to 1957, when a man and his pumping piano made history in the emerging rock-music scene with the now-famous single, "Great Balls of Fire."

So what does Jerry Lee Lewis have to do with Corvettes, you ask? Actually, reports show that Lewis owned several Vettes over the years, including the '80 convertible you see here. And since Chevrolet didn't build any droptop Vettes from '75 through '85, this customized version caught our attention in more ways than one.

The car started life as a T-top model with a 190hp 350 and an automatic transmission-nothing out of the ordinary there. It's unknown whether the droptop conversion took place immediately or a few years down the road.

Indeed, much of the life of this red beauty was spent hidden away from the eyes of the public. Some rumors state that Lewis bought the car after recovering from stomach surgery in 1981, and that it was later seized by the IRS. (We tried to reach Lewis through his publicist but were unsuccessful.)

What the documents show is that the car was traded in at John Ellis Chevrolet in 1989. After that, it was kept in numerous collections until it resurfaced at a Mecum auction just over two years ago.

Conversion Factor
The mid '70s spelled the end for many factory convertibles. With sales slumping and federal safety regulators breathing down manufacturers' necks, many carmakers decided to eliminate their convertible offerings altogether. While many topless-Vette fans were content to make do with a T-top model, the more ardent among them clamored for a proper droptop model. For them, a conversion was the only way to go, and a handful of specialty coachbuilders-including Duntov, Flint Corvettes, Greenwood, and Perfection Auto-were happy to oblige.

The most famous of these creations was the Duntov-ACI turbo, of which an estimated 86 (of a scheduled 200) were built. To some, aftermarket convertible conversions like these are a legitimate part of Corvette history. Others regard the whole enterprise as a regrettable mistake. Whatever your thoughts on the matter, it's clear that historically noteworthy examples like the Lewis car will continue to pop up at auction for years to come.

The Auction Block
On May 28, 2007, at the Belvidere High Performance Auction in Illinois, a red Corvette took its spot at center stage as the auctioneer unleashed an especially breathless sales pitch:

"Here before you is an absolutely fabulous 1980 Corvette convertible-yes, convertible-previously owned by the infamous Jerry Lee Lewis! Crazy Jerry . . . had to have a Corvette convertible . . . so he built one! Here she is, the 1980 Corvette convertible owned by the man himself! Included with the car is a letter from a dealership confirming that this vehicle [was] owned by Jerry Lee Lewis. This Corvette has been freshly painted, [has] a brand-new interior, and comes complete with a 350ci motor [and] automatic transmission."

The car sold for $15,500 and has since been kept in a private collection and rarely driven. It will be interesting to see when this unique piece of Corvette history surfaces again.

Flip's Clips No.3 - Bobby Helms

Forget Jingle Bell Rock and for a moment ignore the superb Fraulein, country star Bobby Helms had a rocking soul (as testified by the better tracks on his BF 2cd set). It's personified by the stone classic Tennessee Rock and Roll and this here lil` darlin from the Town Hall Party show, I`m Leavin Now (Long Gone Daddy)

Great version of the Hank classic and watch out for uncle Joe Maphis laying out that twintwangtastic good ole basic roadhouse stomp behind the Helmeister and though the quality is average surely that`s Mr Skeets Macdonald lurking in the back.

Saturday 10 October 2009

Flip`s clips No.2 - Dave Dudley

If Chuck Berry had lusted over a big semi instead of Caddies then he coulda written and recorded this, the greatest trucking song of all time. Ladies 'n gentlemens I give you Mr Dave Dudley doing 6 Days On The Road on his debut Opry appearance in 1966 in absolutely magnificent retro-colour.

Dig the guitar, the Presley-Cash-ish slurring on the end of lines. Didn't the censors spot the Little White pills line, all this fuss bout Jagger/Morrison breaking the rules on Sullivan (hell Bo n Elvis did that in 55-57). This is the bible belt temple of American values here in Nashville and he gits away with that line, white line fever in deed.

There's only one decent Dudley CD and I think that is now deleted. So why have BF ignored the consistently great albums he did for Mercury in the 60s/70s, go figure ( I mean they`ve even done Pat Boone and that`s without a rope n feathers ----;-))).

Flip's Clips No.1 - Hank Snow

An Occasional Visual Treat aka Flip`s Clips

youTube is to music fans what early eBay was to vinyl collectors. Loved Mister Hank Snow since hearing his Nobody`s Child on an old RCA country EP,I only knew the cool Billy Fury version back in the mid 60s.

When Shaun and I visited the Great Escape record store on Broadway in Nashville I picked up a great Opry promo pic of Hank at the vintage mic and a few years later Shaun got me a great autograph of Mr Snow to frame alongside the pic, now sits here above the PC. I also picked up a great promo 45 of I Don't Hurt Anymore and his Sings Jimmie Rodgers LP.

Hank, like say Marty Robbins, couldn't be pegged to one style, he often dabbled in proto rockabilly and was a great singer, songwriter , always had great sidesmen in his Rainbow Ranch Boys and always dressed like a star (probably to make up for the rags he wore in his often difficult years as an abused child).

This clip of him doing his Uber-classic I`m Movin On is amazing, sounds just like the recording even though this Opry clip is from 1967. There are earlier clips on the tube of you but this is in glorious technicolour, breathtaking outfits, small in stature (but a giant talent) the oh so cool (ahem!) Mr Snow lives up to his name in a blaze of red and the canary yellow suits of da Boys are only outmatched by epic black and white spat like boots, these boots are made for strumming, enjoy - - - -

Check out the man`s music on Bear Family, if you can't afford the mega boxes then I highly recommend the single cds Snow On The Tracks (rail songs natch) or especially the Goldrush Is Over probably the best comp ever.

Thursday 8 October 2009

RIP Shelby Singleton

Another figure from the great Sun label was passed away. Although he wasn't there during the heyday, he bought out Sam Phillips and started an extensive reissue program that gave the world many never previously heard gems. Who knows, if he hadn't bought Sun when he did, a lot of those tapes may have ended got lost before we had a chance to hear them. Peter Cooper of the Tennessean has written an excellent obituary, a copy of which follows.

"Shelby Singleton died just before 1 p.m. Wednesday in Alive Hospice Care at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, at age 77.

Mr. Singleton was a renegade producer, record executive, song-hunter and promoter who helped fuse country and R&B music in the 1960s and who perpetuated the Sun Records label since 1969. He had been battling brain cancer.

“A lot of people in this town owe a lot to Shelby,” said friend and protégé Jerry Kennedy, himself a famed producer. “He created a place here for a lot of us. Shelby did things in a different way. He was a maverick.”

Mr. Singleton produced Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” a No. 1 country hit that became one of the biggest independent records in Nashville history when released on his Plantation Records. He was an essential enabler in the careers of Ray Stevens, Jerry Reed, Roger Miller, Merle Kilgore and many others, He may be the only producer to record three No. 1 country records in one day on three different artists: Stevens, Leroy Van Dyke and Joe Dowell.

He was also, as Belmont University music business professor Don Cusic noted, “A wheeler-dealer.” And, as Kennedy said, “A clique-buster.” Most everyone who came into contact with him agreed that he was a character. He was also the owner of a brand new Rolls Royce.

“The Rolls came in on Monday,” Cusic said. “I’d seen him last week and he told me he’d ordered it. He said he’d always wanted one, and he said, ‘At my age and in my condition, I figured I’d better get it soon.’”

If Mr. Singleton’s career in music is any indication, it’s likely a very, very nice car. And he probably got it at a good price. During the early 1960s, he headed Mercury Records’ Smash imprint, where over and again he found quality recordings and viable artists, snapped them up for Smash and released hit records.

He heard a Texas pop duo named Jill and Ray on a recording of a song called “Hey Paula.” The recording was soon reissued on Smash, but not before Mr. Singleton changed the duo’s name to Paul and Paula. Jill and Ray didn’t like the idea at first, but they grew used to it by February 1963, when the song topped American pop charts.

A year earlier, he heard Bruce Channel’s “Hey! Baby,” a song that featured distinctive harmonica from a young Delbert McClinton. That one became a No. 1 hit for Smash after Mr. Singleton bought the master recording. With Smash, Mr. Singleton also presided over a roster that grew to include Roger Miller, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bobby Hebb, Ivory Joe Hunter, Pete Drake, Patti Page and James Brown. That roster included artists of varying styles, and it was not uncommon for Mr. Singleton to preside over sessions that featured African-American artists and white musicians.

“He brought (African-American) artists to town and put them up at his house,” said Kennedy, who often engineered sessions that Mr. Singleton produced, and who also produced hundreds of records for Kennedy-owned labels. “He brought people like Clyde McPhatter, Brook Benton and Ruth Brown here, and the only hotel where they were allowed to stay was the old Eldorado, in North Nashville. So most of the time, the artists stayed with Shelby.”

When Mr. Singleton heard Roger Miller singing witty, up-tempo numbers that were at odds with the serious-sounding material Miller was recording for RCA, Mr. Singleton signed Miller and told him he’d been singing the wrong songs. Miller immediately entered the studio and recorded 16 sides, including “Dang Me,” and his career turned a corner. And when Mr. Singleton — at the time a southeastern regional promotions man for Mercury — heard Stevens singing in an Atlanta nightclub, he soon offered the young performer a job in Nashville.

“When I left that job, he did the same thing for Jerry Reed,” Stevens said. “Shelby brought a lot of people to town. And working with him on the music later on, he had good instincts. Sometimes he did things I didn’t think were right at the time, but it turned out the decisions he made were right. Like, ‘Ahab’ was a four-minute song. He sliced it up and made it shorter. That bothered me at the time, but there’s no way the song would have been a radio hit if it had been four minutes long.”

In 1967, Mr. Singleton left Mercury and started Shelby Singleton Productions Inc. with $1,000. Twenty months later, his corporate value was estimated at more than $2 million. Much of that increase was due to “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” a song from the pen of Tom T. Hall. On Friday, July 26, 1968, Mr. Singleton produced Riley’s recording with featured instrumentation on the “pickin’ Dobro” from Kennedy. That night, he rushed the finished product to influential WSM disc jockey Ralph Emery. By daybreak, it was a hit: a literal overnight success. In a country music era dominated by Music Row’s major labels, Mr. Singleton’s little Plantation label sold millions of copies of “Harper Valley P.T.A.”

On July 1, 1969, Mr. Singleton purchased Sun Records, the label for which Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich and others had recorded. Mr. Singleton began mining many of those artists’ back catalogs for release on Sun, and he oversaw licensing of reissues and the marketing of the ever-popular Sun Records T-shirts and other souvenirs.

“He was the all-around record guy,” Kennedy said. “Just a great merchandising guy, promoter and producer. He did it all, and he seemed to get along with everybody. Shelby was one of the biggest-hearted people around.”

Stevens, himself one of the most unique souls to smack boot heels on a Music City sidewalk, said, “Shelby Singleton was absolutely one of a kind.”"

The photo below shows Shelby with Sam Phillips and Kittra Moore, wife of Nashvilly bass legend Bob Moore.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Nashville Blues on youTube

You gotta love Marty Stuart for keeping the faith. Check out the clip of Chuck Mead and Chris Scruggs on Marty's tv show. They sing the Delmore Brothers' Nashville Blues and they sound so authentic. The guitar playing is great with a couple of lovely solos, and there's a bit of acoustic playing immediately before Scrugg's solo that sounded sublime to these ears.

They might not have the CMT image of Brooks and Dunn or be as shaggable as Faith Hill but give me Mead and Scruggs anyday. No wait a minute, can I just have a couple of minutes with Faith Hill, and then listen to them?

Occasional Bootleg Series No.9 – Chuck Mead in Charlotte

Chuck Mead and the Grassy Knoll Boys
July 12, 2009, Neighborhood Theatre
Charlotte, NC

Introduction, Out On The Natchez Trail, No Train To Memphis, Change The Way I Look, Sittin' And Thinkin', After The Last Witness Is Gone, Gun Metal Gray, She Got The Ring (I Got The Finger), Hot Rod, Sweet Sweet Girl, Big Big Love, I Wish It Was Friday

This bootleg is a soundboard recording from Chuck Mead’s 2009 summer tour where he was plugging his latest release Journeyman’s Wager. With him due to tour UK later this week the timing of this boot couldn’t be better. The opener is from Wager and it’s a great way to open the show. The others from the album all hit the spot, with the closer, I Wish It Was Friday sounding just like BR549 at their best.

The tracklist shows Sittin' And Thinkin' as being an Elvis Costello song. You gotta be shitting me! Chalrie Rich and half of Memphis had written, sung and mastered the song before Costello started wearing kiddies glasses. Chuck’s version here is a bit pedestrian and not the high spot of the show. The best of the oldies covers is Don Gibson’s Sweet Sweet Girl which I first heard courtesy of Warren Smith.

With his band called the Grassy Knoll Boys, I thought he’d have covered Jerry Lee’s Lincoln Limousine! A pretty good album that is worth digging out and would get me excited about the upcoming shows if I was going.

Check out the clip below for a great clip of Chuck and the GKBoys doing Cadillac In Model A.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Jay Cee Hill - Romp Stompin' Boogie Boy

I first became aware of Jay Cee Hill on the CBS album, CBS, Epic & OKeh Rockabilly Classics, Vol. 3 in the mid 80’s. I loved Bump and Romp Stompin’ Boogie, the first a brilliant novelty rocker with funny lyrics, the other a buoyant bit of rockin’ hillbilly, or a romp, stompin’ boogie I suppose. The sleevenotes from Stuart Colman offered little information about Hill, and if he didn’t know anything about him, there was little chance of anyone doing so. Things have changed over the ensuing years and a potted history has been put together, mainly through the persistence of Bear Family.

He was born Hillman Baker in 1931 near Nashville in Big Sandy, Tennessee. His stage name has varied from Jay Cee to Jaycee Hill and even J.C. Hill on Argo. By the 1945 he was living in Cleveland before moving to Valley View, Ohio. Together with mate Joe Sway he formed Hill & Joe, the Valley Boys, a little country band who played on the local radio and TV.

Along with Tom, Dick and Harry they started to get hooked on the emerging rockabilly sounds and on July 3rd, 1956, they went to Cleveland’s Audio Recording Studio where they recorded four songs. A Love So Fine and Romp Stompin' Boogie were released on Epic 9185 in September. Since My Baby Left Me was a neat untempo hillbilly that was unlucky to remain unissued for nearly half a century and My Suspicious Heart has still to see daylight. Epic were happy enough to get Jay Cee back in the studio. This time they took him to New York where he worked with producer Joe Sherman and a crack band that included no less than George Barnes and Danny Perri on guitar, Milt Hinton on bass and Panama Francis on drums. The session on October 29, 1956 produced another single (Epic 9193) Bump! and Crash-Out.

Two more singles followed but even an appearance on the Dick Clark Show couldn’t help land a hit. A single apiece on Argo and MGM was about it for Jay Cee Hill, other than co-writing Yea, Yea for the Kendall Sisters and producing the wild rocker, Lorraine for Buddy Covelle.

Flips Instro Gems No.1

Flips Instro Gems No.1
Santo & Johnny - Sleepwalk

At a recent poll at the excellent Shaking All Over yahoo music group (that both Shaun and I are members of) I voted for Sleepwalk the great atmospheric guitar/steel guitar instro from 59 by Santo and Johnny as a 59 fav.

I picked up the original 45 in a great oldies shop in Toronto back in the 90s, same day I saw Ray Condo live down by the lake, JLL tear up Larry King`s prog on tv and had a drink with Ronnie Hawkins' then manager (shame every holiday isn't like that) whilst feeding the local black squirrels with the bar`s peanuts!!!

Back in 59 this strumtastic gem barely crept into the UK top 30 (prob coz of Pye`s crap label design and distribution system) but in the US it sailed to the top of Billboard`s hot 100 for 2 weeks and stayed in the top 40 for over 3 months making it the instro summer/autumn hit of 59. The Brooklyn boys song had been quietly going into obscurity until the great Alan Freed started giving it heavy rotation on his Noo Yawk tv and radio show, and the Canadian American 45 started selling like Krispy Kremes outside a cop shop.

Some rock critics will have you believe tha 1959 was sorta teen idol/rock decline year but just check the hot 100`s rocking chart names underneath Sleepwalk`s heady fortnight at the top, Lloyd Price,Everlys,Phil Phillips, Fats, Johnny & Hurricanes, Sandy Nelson, Jan & Dean, Webb Pierce (the epic I Aint Never),Johnny Horton, Duane Eddy, Drifters, Crests,Coasters,Coway, Sgt El, Jackie Wilson, Eddie Cochran (Somethin Else),Ray Shapre (Linda Lu),La Vern Baker Johnny Cash ( 5` High and Rising), Little Willie John, Johny Restivo, Jack Scott (The Way I Walk) and the Clovers --- I rest my case.

Fellow radio station jock Scott Muni then promoted (along with the NY catholic Youth Org)a massive r`n`r live show at the Coliseum in NY and the duo joined forces with Jack Scott, ex Bluecap Tommy Facenda, Johnny Restivo, The Isleys, Connie Francis and Roy Hamilton.

The Farina boys follow up Teardrops crept into the top 30 for Xmas but by the new decade they were yesterday`s newspapers as instro bands like the Ventures and the Uk`s Shadows in particular became the norm, 58 to 62 became bit of an instro golden age and we will be checking outa few more over the next few weeks.

Horror writer supremo Stephen King is a rocker (check out Christine etc) and had the good taste to include our lad`s slinky instro repeatedly in the movie Cat`s Eye.

Here's a cool clip of da boys on US tv in 59 and as a special treat for uncle Shaun if he checks the side bar some young upstart called Setzer gives it a going over but in the immortal words of Dobie Gray the original is still the greatest.


For the ultimate in getting the emotion of the song to gel with the sentiments of a film, how about at the end of the Ritchie Valens biopic, La Bamba. Sleepwalk is playing as Ritchie's family hear the news of his death on the radio. It's perfect cinema - Shaky.

Monday 5 October 2009

Behind the scenes with Hayden Thompson at Hemsby

Shaun and I were invited along with Rod Pyke, to attend a final rehearsal by Hayden Thompson at Hemsby around 10 years ago, we chatted for ages before he sat at the piano and regaled us with impressions of JLL and Charlie Rich (an awesome On My Knees and a stunning Midnite Blues), had great stories such as being with JLL when he cut GBOF and that JLL gave him his red waistcoat that Hayden had admired, he sang several requests (songs that he didn't have time to do on stage at Hemsby such as his brill Boy From Tupelo) and did hilarious take offs of Elvis and especially Johnny Cash.

He stayed chatting for ages and even posed for pics with all of us having upturned collars and a sneer. This couple of hours was probably the most enjoyable Hemsby experience of all for me personally, a charming and gracious man, very like Carl Perkins.

Hayden is still a high class act on stage and on record, he's cut some great rockabilly and country cds in the last few years and apparently another rab cd with the great Barnshakers is in the pipeline. Here`s a great clip of Hayden doing Midnite Blues recently in Finland,superb backing which augurs well for the new CD.