Here we are again, the third volume in a series set to outstrip my “Legendary Deep Funk” comps. We do hope so, as we much prefer the music on these. The funk and soul thing seems much too serious nowadays. Whereas rockin tunes are all about fun. Not to detract from the quality of music on these tunes, but you can clearly here the fun they had recording them.
The majority of the tunes on volume 2 were ultra-rare rockabilly classics. This time we’ve gone for pure fun with a few deeper sounding rarities thrown in to add a hint of diversity. Dj’ing is also much more fun for us now as this music generates happiness in the crowd too. The old northern soul days of “drowning in a sea of my own despair” have been replaced with “having a ball”. That seems the condition we left the UK in too, with lots of younger club goers having a ball to the likes of Johnny Burnette or Charlie Feathers.
Japan is already in the grip of Rockabilly fever, but we have our work cut out in other countries over here in South East Asia. Noel Coward once said “funny how powerful cheap music is”, and Joseph Goebbels would have been proud of the way that mass marketing of shite works here. Still give us a few years and we will save them from a life of pish music. Already little pockets of resistance are breaking out. A bit like the UK ten years ago then ??
Onto the tunes.
1. Charles Chick Ganimian was an Armenian American who played his oud at belly dancing clubs in Manhattan through the fifties whilst training to be a butcher. He didn’t have great success in the music business, but did have an album of the same title released on Acto.
2. Angie Bokeko and her band had a wail of a time playing live gigs around the Pennsylvania coal region. They had a few releases, “dance her by me” and “I wanna dance” becoming local hits. An obvious live dance band who’s highlights must have been opening for both the Byrds, and Beach Boys at the Lakewood ballroom.
3. Birmingham, Alabama born Baker Knight wrote the delicate ballad “wolfman”, and is supposedly (not known for sure), the vocalist too. Surprising when you realize he was a prolific song writer for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, and Elvis. He also recorded a few good rockers for Decca records in the late fifties. “Bring my Cadillac back” being a regular spin for us in the early days of “Lost & Found” at Madame Jo Jo’s.
4. Gene Maltais from New Hampshire recorded a few good rockers during 1957 and 59 whilst touring the country in his old 49 Chevy doing odd jobs and looking to break into the music industry. The first “Crazy Baby” on Decca is great rockabilly which the label didn’t bother to market properly. In 1958 he recorded an OK double sider “Lovemaking” and “The Bug” for Regal records. Then in 1959 having been disappointed with the way a certain group on Aladdin records had recorded his song “Raging Sea” he formed his own label in order to record and release his own version.
5. Johnny Knight recorded “Rock and Roll Guitar” for California’s tiny Morocco label in 1958. The flip is a slightly twee yet fun dancer titled “Snake Shake”. The label did produce at least one more tune that I know of, Buddy & the Fads “Won’t you love me”, but apart from that I know nothing.
6. “Young Long John” a tremendous rockabilly tune was Phil Barclay’s first recording for the Tennessee based Doke label in 1958. Later that year he recorded “Short Fat Ben” and the flip “I Love ‘em All”. Both sides would fit easily into my top fifty records of all time. There is just so much life in these two songs. Towards the end of the year he went a bit downhill with “Hey Gang”. His final release for the label in 1959 “Lovin Baby” restored some of his honor, but nowhere near the level of his first two singles.
7. The line “Her knees began to tremble” makes me smile every time. Especially when you realize that Tony and Jackie Lamie were a father and son outfit. “Wore to a Frazzle” and this the flip side were custom pressed in Virginia for them in April 58. No label would sign them so they put the money up themselves. A marathon of a tune by rockabilly standards at almost 3 minutes. Believe it or not the flip is over 15 seconds longer.
8. How did a thumping rockabilly style instro get onto a Detroit label like Amon in 1963. I only knew the label for a few northern soul tunes. A couple from the American Gino Washington, and the $2,000+ Johnny Rogers – “Make a Change”. That was until I found out that the Atlantics, Gino’s backing band at the time were all white boys with an ear on the South.
9. “Thunder” and “Taylors Rock” by Bob Taylor and the Counts were written and recorded by Bob in October 1958 for the Yucca label from New Mexico. Both featured a young Bobby Fuller on guitar, and both became rockabilly classics decades later. Jump forward a few years, move up to California, give it a more surf influenced sound, add “Reef” to the title, add Bobby Fuller to the writing credits, and we get what is for me a slightly stronger version.
10. Joe Smith the drummer on “Geraldine” created a wonderfully exotic jungle rhythm on this in September 1961. Some sources mix the group up with an eight piece band from Memphis, and give the tune a 1965 recording date. The label is from Memphis, but the band hail from Oxford, MS. I got this from the drummers’ brother.
11. “Whiphash” I’m sure is a typo for this Ohio custom pressed rocker recorded in January 1961. I’m pretty sure the band set up the label just to get this pressed, and then to wait for the call from the big label boys. Sadly they are probably still waiting as I only know of this one record by them, and only this one release on the label. The flip is a pretty good strolling instro.
12. Marlon “Madman” Mitchell cut this much covered rockabilly anthem in September 1957 in Alabama. Seven months later Billy Hogan cut the rocker “Shake it over Sputnik”, and that seems to be your lot from Vena records.
13. I put the flip of this Johnny Powers on an old comp I did with that lovely Cut Chemist chap. Both sides fit into my all-time top 20 very easily. Johnny from Detroit recorded under various guises from the Motor City to Australia. He was one of the major brains behind the Motown sound of the sixties. As with most of the sharper people at the label in the mid-sixties he fell out with Berry Gordy. He left Motown, and founded his own Sound, Drew, and Sidra labels to give us some northern soul classics. He was the only artist to have recorded for probably the two most influential labels in musical history, Motown and Sun. He should have been a household name, but never got the recognition he deserved.
14. Eddie Gaines recorded this in April 1958 in Kentucky. Exactly a year later he cut the not so instant “She captured this heart of mine” for the same label, and that was that. I don’t know if it’s Eddie playing lead guitar on this, but whoever it is does a sterling job.
15. “Connie Lou” and the as good flip “My Hamtramck Baby” were recorded in April 1959 for the tiny Michigan based Clix label. Ray originally from Tennessee moved to Alabama at the age of five where he no doubt met the “Pals”. The label gave us a handful of rockabilly/hillbilly blues records including another favorite of mine by Ford Nix & the Moonshiners called “Nine Times out of Ten”.
16. Staying with young men from Alabama, Everett Carpenter (who actually worked as a carpenter), moved up to Chicago to record “Run, Run Mabel”, and this in 1960. Frank Lewis (an African-American), ran the Square Deal label, and it was just that. Any artist could pay for their session, and all Frank wanted was a demo, and the pleasure of helping struggling musicians. Everett wrote this after watching the struggle some girls had with hair disorders at a local dance. The flip was written after he witnessed a man chasing his cheating wife down the street, and heard someone shouting “Run Mabel” to her.
17. The king of what Daddy Bones named “Tittyshakers” back in the late nineties, “Crawlin” just oozes sleaze. I know nothing about the record or label at all. I do know that some people grumble at the use of the term “tittyshaker”, but that’s exactly what the young girls do at the clubs I play at when tunes like this come on. Indeed a lot of the tunes so grouped were obviously designed to garner such a reaction.
18. “Barricuda” was recorded in 1958 for a subsidiary of Dot records which was in turn part of the Paramount pictures group. I wonder if it made it into a movie, and if so what the scene was like. I assume that Ernie Fields the writer is the same man that played piano for the Hollywood based Aladdin, Modern, and Specialty labels.
19. Let it be known that I hate Jazz. I don’t mind a bit of swing but the rest all sounds too smug, and “look at me, look how clever I am”. Having said that the next couple of records are a tad jazz tinged. Joe Lee recorded two records of interest for the Memphis based Fernwood label. Of more interest is the fact that they were both produced by Scotty Moore, the man behind the guitar sound on Elvis’s Sun recordings. Therefore one of the main men behind the birth of rockabilly.
20. The Rebel Rousers, not the British group by the same name these Rebel Rousers must have been heavily inspired by Duane Eddy. They took the title of one of his tunes as the name for their group, and this is a cover of one of his hits. Apart from that all I know is that this is probably the rarest version of the tune to turn up so far
21. As before, a haunting, melancholy number sung by Clay Allen of The Country Dudes to finish. Until relatively recently this tune was unknown in the rockin world. Then one of my heroes, Barney Koumis of No Hit Records bought a copy blind on E-bay. The tune was soon filling dance floors, and shooting up in price. Recorded in September 1959 for the Houston based Azalea label which gave us a few interesting records, but none as good as this. After a few listens it will be stuck in your head.
Keb Darge and Little Edith 2013.