Sunday 28 February 2010

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 89 - Ramsey Kearney

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 89 - Ramsey Kearney
Rock The Bop (Jaxon 501)

This song is dedicated to the young Welsh star Aaron Ramsey who suffered a sickening injury yesterday. Being a Spurs fan, no one hates Arsenal more than me, but what happened yesterday goes beyond all that. I’ve been gutted by the injury ever since I saw it last night. We haven’t got the world’s biggest squad here in Wales and can ill afford to lose a player of Ramsey’s quality. I hope he makes a full and speedy recovery.

So, what about Ramsey Kearney? Well, to be honest, it’s not the greatest rockabilly song you’ll ever here, but he gets the nod this week because he’s called Ramsey. Born in Boliver, Tennessee on October 30th, 1933, he was into music from an early age, performing a radio show on WDXI Radio in Jackson, TN at the age of fifteen. Known as the Dixie Farmboy, he secured this slot from 1948 to 1952.

On his official website, Keaney’s remembers that “after he had done several radio shows, he received a phone call from CARL PERKINS, and could he come up and pick guitar on radio with him? Carl appeared the following Saturday with his guitar and amp. Carl had a National acoustic guitar, with a silver plated pick-up mounted above the sound hole and under the strings. The strings were about one-half inch above the fingerboard on the neck, the amp was about as big as a cracker box.” He adds that to his surprise, Carl sounded pretty good, playing in a style resembling Merle Travis, but wanting to play like Chet Atkins.

After High School, Ramsey moved to Memphis where he became the lead singer of the Snearly Ranch Boys, a local band of high acclaim whose line-up over the years included Warren Smith and Stan Kesler.

Some unreleased recordings at Sun and a spell in the army came and went before he moved to Nashville where he made his name as a songwriter. His best known was Emotions which he co-wrote with Mel Tillis.

Best place to hear Rock The Bop is the brilliant Stompertime CD, The Last Great Rockabilly Saturday Night, which unfortunately gives no details other than the song was written by Kearney and Eddie Starr.

According to the Rockin’ Memphis box set on Proper Records, the song was recorded in December ’56 at a Jimmie Martin Combo session, with Martin and Kearney along with Junior Vestal on guitar and Ickie Havener on piano. The other side is listed as Red Bobby Sox.

Check out the photo below from 1949 with a young Carl Perkins.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Thats Love - Billy Fury. The Jean Caroll Show - 23 June 1960

Wow - this is astounding. Forgive me if I'm wrong but I'm sure I've never seen this before. Until now the only best primetime Billy Fury clip is the Don't Knock Upon My Door slice of magic from Oh Boy! This clip comes along and it blows my mind. Unfortunately the sound is overdubbed from record, but who gives damn, this is the dogs bollocks. It's nothing short of stunning. Hope you enjoy it - if you don't, I think you're on the wrong blog.

According to the guff, "An American freelance producer of film and video archive material, Ron Furmanek, who is based in New York, discovered this long-lost excerpt on ancient film stock.

Jean Carroll was an American comedienne, who had a short-lived sit-com on US television in the early 1950s.

Paul Rumbol tells me that the clip is from the ATV programme Val Parnell's Spectacular : The Jean Caroll Show. It was recorded on 23 June 1960, and probably broadcast that summer."

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Marshall Grant - I Was There When It Happened: My Life with Johnny Cash

I’m reading Marshall Grant’s book, I Was There When It Happened: My Life with Johnny Cash, at the moment. Published by Cumberland House in 2006, I must own up to borrowing it from Phil, but having got half way through I recommend it to anyone with an interest in JC, Sun Records or country music in general.

Marshall Grant was with Johnny Cash from the very beginning, being a founder member of the Tennessee Two with Luther Perkins. What I love about the book is the stories of life on the road and the pranks they pulled to alleviate the boredom.

He tells of a time in West Texas when JC and the T2 where touring with Elvis and Warren Smith. At a truck stop in Amarillo in the early hours of the morning, Grant put a pile of shaving cream onto a pumpkin pie, leaving Elvis and Johnny doubled up with laughter. They waited in vain for ages for someone to order the pie. In the end they had to leave but Elvis stayed another couple of hours just waiting, dying to see the face of some unsuspecting trucker order the pie. I just love the thought of these two future icons of America, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, sat in this truck stop, two young guys, howling at such a childish prank. The innocence of youth.

Get the book and enjoy other fun stories, but beware. The picture he paints of the pill-popping papa isn't so golden. Depending on whether he was strungout or straight, JC was too very different men.

Saturday 20 February 2010

Rockin' Song of the Week No.88 - Webb Pierce

Webb Pierce – Walking The Dog
Decca 9-28834

Today I was supposed to be going down to South Wales to watch Crazy Cavan play their annual hometown gig. A shitload of snow left the roads closed and with no gritters and no salt I was left in mid Wales with nothing to do but walk the dog. As fate would have it, Phil has just phoned to say the gig is sold out, so we wouldn’t have got in anyway. Mind you, if it’s the same PA as last time we could’ve listened from the car park.

So I was walking Charlie, and it made me think of Webb. The honky tonk stomp, from the pens of Cliff Grimsley and Tex Grimsley was cut at the Castle Studio in Nashville on July 30th 1953. Producer Owen Bradley gave Webb a strong, beaty backing that helped take some of the focus from Webb’s sometimes strained vocals.

Webb sang, I'm walking the dog and I'm paintin' the town, well, I walked the dog, but I didn’t get to paint the town. I’m sure Cav is though.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Dale Hawkins - RIP

I can't believe Dale Hawkins has gone. I'm not sure how many heroes I've got left, but there's certainly one big one less. I only saw him once at the Tennessee Club in London, and although he'd lost his baggage and played in the clothes he travelled in, he was in great spirits and put on a superb show. I had my photo taken with him afterwards and it was in the men's toilet. He couldn't have been any more cheerful with the gathered crowd if he'd been back stage at the Albert Hall.

Everyone knows his story, if not there's loads of obits out there, and deservedly so. He had a shed load of crackers but here's my top 5.

1. Every Little Girl
From March 1960, the great Roy Buchanan picks behind a wonderful Dale vocal. It's on MCA's 1993 reissue of the Oh! Suzy-Q album as a bonus track. It's my favourite Dale hawkins numbers, I love it, and I can't believe that Ace didn't include it on their otherwise superb Rock 'n' Roll Tornado CD.

2. Lovin' Bug
I first heard this on the Chess Rockabillies lp many moons ago. Roy Buchanan launches this song into orbit from the get-go and it must be aone of the rockinest songs of 1961. A bit too boppin' for the Bobby era.

3. Superman
The summer of 1958 was one hell of a lot hotter the day he cut this at the KWKH Radio studio in Shereveport.

4. See You Soon Baboon
Are you sure Tarzan did it this way? It was good enough for Mark Lamarr to use the intro for his radio programme and it's good enough to make my top 5.

5. Little Pig
One of his classics, this winter '57 number first came my way courtesy of the Polecats. I'd bow my head in shame, but I like there version to.

There's a load of others that I love from the great ballad Heaven, to La-D-Dada, to Teenage Dolly, Mrs Merguitory's Daughter, to Wildcat Tamer. Oh yeah, then there's that one with the cowbell.

To sum him up, nearly in his own words - Four Letter Word (Dale).

Rest In Peace buddy, you were one of the greats.

Saturday 13 February 2010

The John Terry EP

Side A
Jerry Lee Lewis - Last Cheater's Waltz
Trent Tomlinson - Cheatin’ On My Honky Tonk

Side B
The Pearls - Your Cheatin' Heart
Dale Watson - Cheatin' Heart Attack

Since I've been having a break from the blog, the British press have been having a field day with John Terry, laughably awarded Father Of The Year around the same time he was poking team mate Wayne Bridges' misses. I know they say in football that when the left back leaves his position, the centre half covers the hole, but this was still a bit naughty. I hate John Terry, so I'm loathe to name an EP after him, but what the hell, he did provide the inspiration for an EP of cheating songs, so here goes.

I love Jerry Lee more than I love life itself, and when he sings a Sonny Throckmorton song, if jest don’t get any better. Their 1978 collaboration, Middle Aged Crazy is in my top 10 songs of all time, an absolute peach. From the same year came Last Cheater's Waltz. This was a period where Jerry Lee was singing country music better than anyone outside of George Jones’ house and Throckmorton starting a three year run as the Nashville Songwriters Association’s, Songwriter of the Year the song couldn’t help but be pure gold. Taken from the Killer’s final Mercury album, Keeps Rockin’, it’s one of the great cheatin’ songs. “She was going to pieces when he walked in the door, She had to see him she can't wait no more, Tonight she'll be with him no matter the cost, As the band plays The Last Cheater's Waltz”.

Trent Tomlinson is a modern country singer who won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. His debut album Country Is My Rock, from 2006 produced three Top 40 singles, Drunker Than Me, One Wing in the Fire and Just Might Have Her Radio On. A couple of them are pretty good but it’s the album track, Cheatin’ On My Honky Tonk that really appeals to me. Set to a modern day country rocker beat, the lyrics are great fun, with Tomlinson being embarrased to be going home when he should be tonkin’ with his buddies. “Hey, I'm cheatin' on my honky-tonk, 'Fraid my friends are gonna talk, Tryin' hide it best as I can, Well, I don't want no-one to know, What I'm doin', where I go: Think I'm any less of a man, I know they'll really kill me,
Try to pull me back if they only knew, I've been cheatin' on my honky-tonk, An' comin' home to you.” I look forward to his upcoming album, A Guy Like Me later this year. As Waylon said “Are you sure Hank done it this way”, well, no he didn’t, but then he never did it like Waylon either. Ignore the modern drums, and this is a honky tonk classic.

And if ol’ Hank didn’t do it Trent Tomlinson’s way, he sure didn’t do it like the Pearls. They were a doo-wop band on the Onyx label, a short lived affair from New York whose either prime-time woppers were the Velours. Their 1957 cover of the Hank Williams classic is a brilliant interpretation that leaves you wishing they’d stayed around long enough to do a full album of Hank covers. Check out the 1998 CD, Here Come The Pearls on Onyx 2003 to sample such delights as The Vow, Zippity Zippity Zoom and the fabulous, Ice Cream Baby.

It was a rave review in Country Music People that led me to buy Dale Watson,’s 1995 Highton debut, Cheatin’ Heart Attack. It was the same day I bought my first Anson Funderburgh album, Rack ‘Em Up, with my favourite track, Lemonade. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I still believe this is still Dale Watson’s finest album to date. Nashville Rash is a brilliant insight into the way Music City has done away with the old legends that’s as relevant today as it was 15 years ago. The whole album is hardcore honky tonk music, with Merle to the fore.