“Without Really Thinking”: In No Way Influenced by The Beatles

Amusing to hear The Beatles’ considerable (though certainly understandable) footprint     in the baroque pop stylings of closing track, “Without Really Trying,” from 1967‘s self-titled debut album by The Sunshine Company on Imperial, a subsidiary of Liberty:

Sunshine CoSunshine Autograph LP

Also amusing to consider that The Sunshine Company & Jimmy Bryant were label mates.

Jimmy Bryant - The Fastest Guitar LP

Speaking of those Liverpool lads, The Sunshine Company would later concoct a fresh arrangement of beloved Beatle B-side, “Rain,” for their third and final album on Imperial, 1968’s Happy Is.

Bill Graham:  An Unlikely Champion of The Sunshine Company

Founding member Maury Manseau (in Richie Unterberger’s fab liner notes for The Best of The Sunshine Company) “recalls Bill Graham introducing the Sunshine Company at a San Francisco show at the Fillmore with the words:  ‘I know that San Francisco audiences haven’t really warmed to this group. But I think it’s one of the few good things that ever came out of L.A.’ “

“Rockin’ Red Wing”: New Spin on an Old Tune

I first learned of the song “Red Wing” from Asleep at the Wheel’s 1993 tribute album to Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys that features two original members of the Texas Playboys, Eldon Shamblin and Johnny Gimble.  I somewhat assumed Bob Wills had written the tune, but no – Kerry Mills & Thurland Chattaway put it to paper in 1907, Mills having adapted the music from an 1848 Robert Schumann piece (“The Happy Farmer Returning from Work“).

In 1959 Sammy Masters updated the song not only with a “new” rock beat but also a more contemporary storyline and thus, “Rockin’ Red Wing” was born:

This song was originally released in 1959 on fledgling label, Warner Brothers, but going nowhere – according to 45cat – until reissued in 1960 on Lode, at which point the song found its footing and climbed the pop charts to #64.

Rockin Red Wing - Sammy Masters 45

Original lyrics:

There once was an Indian maid,
A shy little prairie maid,
Who sang a lay, a love song gay,
As on the plain she’d while away the day;

She loved a warrior bold,
This shy little maid of old,
But brave and gay, he rode one day
To battle far away.

Updated lyrics:

There once lived an Indian maid
A teenage Indian maid
Who heard one day her radio play
And the rock an’ roller stole her heart away

And now every single night
All around the campfire bright
All the braves they yearn just to take their turn
And dance with their heart’s delight

Oh yeah, let’s rock, rock tonight with Rockin’ Red Wing
While the tom tom’s wailin’, her feet are sailin’
Oh yeah, let’s rock, rock tonight with Rockin’ Red Wing
A little Indian maiden loves to rock and roll

Time Machine:  Three Years in Reverse

Several years prior Sammy Masters teamed up with guitar legend, Jimmy Bryant, on two songs, “Pink Cadillac” and “Whop-T-Bop” – both released on 4-Star in 1956.

1954: An Explosive Year for Music

We all know that 1954 was the year of Elvis Presley’s famous and influential Sun recordings, but 1954 was also highly noteworthy for the combined impact of these 3 particular tunes — all instrumentals:

1.  “Stratosphere Boogie” by Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant:  phenomenal, blazing twin guitar work – rock and roll by any other name (although some might call it “hillbilly jazz“).  Recorded September 2, 1954.  Bryant is using a “Stratosphere Twin” double-neck guitar with 6-string and 12-string necks.  The 12-string neck, curiously, is tuned in thirds, thus sounding like twin lead guitars playing lines in harmony.

Stratosphere Twin - Jimmy Bryant

“Stratosphere Boogie”     Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant     1954

2.  “Space Guitar” by JohnnyGuitarWatson:  unhinged guitar paired with playful production (and unpredictable reverb) – as Larry Nager so adroitly dubbed it, “punk blues.”  Recorded as ‘Young John Watson’ in Los Angeles on February 1, 1954 and released on Syd Nathan‘s Federal Records.

“Space Guitar”     Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson     1954

Space Guitar 453.  “Pork Chop Stomp” by Grady Martin and His WinginStrings – crisp production,       great chops (so to speak) and a little humor go a long way.  That’s Bud Isaacs on pedal steel, with Grady Martin and Hank Garland both playing lead on this spirited piece of western swing – recorded January 13, 1954.

“Pork Chop Stomp”     Grady Martin & His Wingin’ Strings     1954

Grady Martin doubleneck guitarApproximately 12 Years Later:

Johnny Echols of seminal Los Angeles folk-punk band, Love, would be seen playing one of those rare Stratosphere double-necks originally made famous by Jimmy Bryant:

Johnny-Echols-with-Stratosphere