Monday, July 20, 2009
Texas Rockabilly II: Fifteen Forgotten Classics
A few months back when I posted on the evolution of Texas rockabilly, I realized the post would only scratch the surface of the Lone Star state' s recordings during the 1950's. Texas, along with Tennessee and Arkansas are the states where rockabilly flourished and virtually eclipsed country music for several years as the preferred style. In my previous Texas rockabilly post I touched on some of the more canonical artists from Texas: Ronnie Dawson, Johnny Carroll, Bob Luman, Lew Williams, Sonny Fisher and Sid King. This post will serve to extend on the previous one, some of the musicians are fairly well known and others obscure to say the least. A couple things strike me about these recordings: most are of very high quality and also demonstrate in some instance a distinctive Texas flavor, which may reflect a tension created by the regional pull of Texas swing (Spade Cooly, Hank Williams and Bob Wills) and the popularity of Buddy Holly - in contention with the surging popularity of the Sun sound, spearheaded by Elvis, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. There is a scarcity of information available for some of these musicians but fortunately youtube allows us all to appreciate these unique, historical recordings from the 1950's . Enjoy them, some are true gems.
Mac Curtis: Mac's 1956 recording "That Ain't Nothing but Right" is incredibly pure rockabilly. Excellent guitar and piano solos. Superb.
Gene Summers: Gene never had a national hit but was quite popular in the Dallas - Fort Worth area. "Nervous" is a unique in its pacing with superb vocals and guitar. Robert Gordon covered it some twenty years after its initial release.
Wally Deane: "Cool Cool Daddy" is another superb arrangement by Texas born Deane. Great piano solo here.
Buddy Knox: "Party Doll" was a huge hit for Buddy in 1956. . "My Baby's Gone" is the flip side and is also excellent.
Jimmy Dee: "Henrietta" has more of a Rock n' Roll feel to it but still can be classified as rockabilly. Very tight arrangement.
Link Davis: The incredible Link "Big Mamou" Davis of "Don't Bigshot Me" fame performs his wonderfully conceived "Sixteen Chicks," a tune later covered by Joe Clay.
Scotty Mckay: "Evening Time" is another classic tune which showcases the mix of emerging rock n' roll and rockabilly. Scotty later went on to play with Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps.
Cecil Moore: A little more Bakersfield sound in this fabulous recording. Cecil is an absolutely master guitar player in this tune "Walking Fever." Unbelievably good.
Jerry Irby: "49 Women" is classic rockabilly with pedal steel, nifty guitar work and that Texas edge. Outstanding cut from Jerry, a New Braunfels native.
Billy Eldridge: I remember this one from the Imperial Rockabilly reissue from 1978. "Let's Go Baby" is echoed and has that classic 1958 sound. Nifty guitar work.
Ray Doggett: "Go Go Heart" from 1956 has very unique vocal arrangements and nice guitar work.
Dean Beard: Dean is one of the few Texans that recorded on Sun. "Rock Around the Town" has that Sun sound. Superb.
Milton Allen: "Don't Bug Me Baby" from 1957 is just pure, unadulterated, energetic rockabilly. Tremendous sound, nice guitar.
Sonny West: "Rock Ola Ruby" from 1956 embodies the "essence" of west Texas rockabilly.
Al Urban: "Won't Tell Your Name" from 1958 is another uniquely Texas arrangement with killer guitar and piano. Al just released a new album this year.