“Stop and Go Boogie”: It’s the Spaces in Between

Thanks to Dave Sax, whose liner notes from King Hillbilly Bop ‘n’ Boogie provide the back story on Louis Innis, a member of the “dream band” at King Records who had cut his first tune with the label in late 1947.   Prior to joining King, Innis had been a member of WLW’s house band, The Plantation Boys, playing bass on Hank Penny’s first King session.  Innis would later “gain his own radio and television shows at WLW, as well as on the Indiana Hayride at WFBS, Indianapolis.”

According to Sax, “This ‘dream band’ for both King & Mercury [Innis (bass/rhythm guitar); Zeke Turner (guitar); Jerry Byrd (steel); Tommy Jackson (fiddle)] is heard on many sides here including ‘Stop and Go Boogie’ which was intended as a backing track for ‘Rag Man Boogie,’ a song scheduled for Hawkshaw Hawkins’ March 1950 session”:

“Stop and Go Boogie”     The Brewster Avenue Gang     1950

The liner notes explain further – “Hawk never did get around to singing the song, and it seems that it was decided that Red Perkins should record it instead, which he did in July.  When the hoped-for track arrived at Ace in this form, Ace’s Tony Rounce suggested that the musicianship and interest might still merit its inclusion as a bonus track.  Master guitarist’s Zeke Turner’s crisp sound is well evident here and becomes a part of the King hillbilly sound for several years.”

Rag Man Boogie

Songwriting credits go to label owner Syd Nathan & Henry Bernard – alter ego for songwriter/arranger/producer/talent scout/trumpeter, Henry (Bernard) Glover, one of the first African-American music industry executives, whose professional reputation was cemented in the 1940s & 50s working for King.  Even though Glover left King in 1958 to join Morris Levy’s Roulette label, he would later re-join King briefly to serve as label head until its acquisition by Starday.

Henry Glover & Levon Helm:  A Shared History

It’s really true:  Henry Glover and Levon Helm went into business together, co-founding a new recording venture, RCO Productions, in 1975.   I Estivate, Therefore I Am states that Glover and Helm’s friendship goes back a couple decades:

“Glover’s relationship with Helm dates back to the late 1950s, when Helm was hanging in Canada with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson as Ronnie Hawkins’ backup band. Glover, who as a consummate A&R man knew talent when he saw it and had become friendly with Helm, convinced the Hawks, as they were known, to go out on their own (initially recording them as the Canadian Squires), then as Bob Dylan’s backup band and ultimately, The Band.   Years later, after The Band dissolved, Helm asked Glover to shepherd his first solo project into existence, which was this RCO All-Stars album.”

Levon Helm & Henry Glover at Woodstock, Spring 1977

Henry Glover & Levon Helm

Wikipedia, furthermore, asserts that Glover “partly arranged with Garth Hudson, Howard Johnson, Tom Malone, John Simon and Allen Toussaint the horn section on The Band’s concert, The Last Waltz, and thus subsequent album, The Last Waltz.”

“Electrified Donkey”: Western Swing on King – The Later Years

Really nice toe-tapper of a tune from Ferlin Husky during a brief period in the dawning Rocket Age when he was on Cincinnati’s King Records:

“Electrified Donkey”     Ferlin Husky      1959

“Electrified Donkey” was the album closer on Ferlin’s King LP, Ferlin Husky.

Ferlin Husky - King EP

The album was originally issued in 1959 as Country Tunes Sung From the Heart and then again, with a new cover and title, in 1961.  “Electrified Donkey” was also the A-side of a 45 released in March 1961 on King.

It needs to be pointed out, however, that Ferlin’s releases on King all appear to have been leased from another label, 4 Star, and thus not likely to have been recorded in Cincinnati.

“Twin Guitar Polka”: Western Swing on King – The Early Years

According to Michel Ruppli’s, The King Labels:  A Discography, in King Records’ first year of existence – 1943 – there was exactly one recording session that yielded two singles  (Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis using aliases, since they were under contract to WLW).  King’s first recording session took place in Dayton, and subsequent sessions were conducted at outside facilities both near and far:  New York City, Detroit, Nashville, Los Angeles, Chicago, Oklahoma City – even the Wurlitzer Music Store studios in Cincinnati.

As far as King’s own recording facilities are concerned, I can only infer from Michel Ruppli that recordings in Cincinnati had begun taking place by 1949.  When Syd Nathan’s abrasive personality got him kicked out Earl “Bucky” Herzog’s studio, Nathan had no other suitable recording facilities in Cincinnati at his avail, thus the impetus for building his own studio.  According to Jon Hartley Fox’s King of the Queen City:  The Story of King Records, “Until that studio was finished, recordings were done at Brewster Avenue, in the office of the Accounting Department – but only at night.  When the whistle blew, and the staff went home for the day, Nathan and anybody else who might  be around for the session pushed the desks and filing cabinets to one side of the room and set up microphones in the cleared space.  A small control booth sat at the end of the room, separated from the room by a glass window.”

King Studios a

Before the advent of his own recording studio – a radical idea for an independent label at that time – Syd Nathan’s search for talent sometimes took him rather far, indeed.  Nathan’s first trip to Los Angeles in 1946 resulted in a marathon recording excursion, and as Kevin Coffey writes in the liner notes to Westside’s Shuffle Town:  Western Swing on King CD anthology, when Nathan blew into Hollywood in September 1946, “Syd and his King Records hit Hollywood  with the force of an earthquake, and over the next month Nathan waxed a hundred-plus sides on Jimmy Widener, Hank Penny, Red Egner, and Tex Atchison, and others.”

Among those other artists were Ocie Stockard and his backup band, the Wanderers, whose “Twin Guitar Polka” is a sure-fire way to get the folks out onto the dance floor:

“Twin Guitar Polka”  – according to Kevin Coffey – was a hit in several markets.

Twin Guitar Polka 78Who Are the Ocie Stockard All-Stars?

Coffey says, “Stockard’s lone session for King was an all-star affair that combined musicians from several bands.  Fiddler Cecil Brower was another former Brownie    [Milton Brown’s band], an even more important and influential musician than Stockard, while steel guitarist Andy Schroder had worked with the Hi Flyers and others, and pianist Frank Reneau had recorded with the Light Crust Doughboys – as had guitarist J.B. Brinkley.  Guitarist Robert “Lefty” Perkins was then working with the reconstituted Doughboys and had previously recorded with Bill Boyd, W. Lee O’Daniel, Derwood Brown and others.  Bassist Wanna Coffman was yet another former Brownie, while drummer Homer Kinniard had worked with the Hi Flyers and the Crystal Springs Ramblers.  Stockard himself played tenor banjo, and the acoustic rhythm guitarist here might be Buster Ferguson, soon to go to Odessa with Brower, Reneau, and Schroder under Brower’s leadership.”

Tore Up vs. Tore Down? Musical Retort, Possibly

On March 12, 1956 drummer and vocalist, Billy Gayles, recorded “I’m Tore Up” in Cincinnati at the King Records studio backed by Ike Turner and His Rhythm Rockers:

“I’m Tore Up”     Billy Gayles     1956

      Note songwriting credits:  Ike Turner & Ralph Bass

I'm Tore Up 45

Nearly five years later on January 18, 1961, guitarist and singer, Freddy King, recorded  “I’m Tore Down” in the same location, with Sonny Thompson on piano, Bill Willis on bass, two (possibly three) tenor hornsmen — and drummer, Philip Paul (whose jazz trio plays a standing gig at the Cincinnatian Hotel every Saturday night):

Raise your hand if you hear Eric Clapton every time Freddy sings one of those high notes.

Did King (actually, Sonny Thompson) write his song as a playful riposte to Gayles?      How likely is that he had simply been unaware of the work of a fellow King recording artist?

Goodbye 78s:  The Slow Death of the 10-Inch Record

Interesting to note that the Gayles song from 1956 had also been issued as a 78, but the same cannot be said for King’s 1961 single.

I'm Tore Up 78

“We Did”: Herb & Kay, in fact, Did

We Did” by Herb & Kay sure sounds like an A-side to me:

“We Did”     Herb & Kay     1955

And yet, this song – recorded on August 19, 1955 at Cincinnati’s King Records studio – ended up as the B-side to “I’ve Got a Right to Be Jealous.”

Herb & Kay

Billboard’s review from the November 26, 1955 edition would seem to validate Zero to 180’s assertion:

“A cute, swingy ditty [‘I’ve Got a Right to Be Jealous, Honey’] by the couple on their first disk.  Features clever back-and-forth lyric bits as they tell each other why they have a right to be jealous.  [‘We Did’] More rhythmic dueting with a good lift from electric guitar backing. Flip, however, has more to sell.”

According to Dave Sax in his liner notes to Ace’s King Hillbilly Bop ‘n’ Boogie compilation:

Herb & Kay Adams, who originally met at Chicago’s WLS Barn Dance, where they were married in January 1950, “were signed to King Records in December 1953 and sold well with their first release, ‘Coffee Blues.’   The very talented couple was popular at daily radio and TV shows at WFBN in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The catchy and clever ‘We Did,’ co-written by Charlie Gore, was recorded at their last session for King in August, 1955 and reflects the banter for which they were well known on the Indiana Hoedown.”

Thanks also to Hillbilly-Music for the biographical info:

Herb and Kay Adams were a husband-wife duet team that were new on the scene when they started at WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio around 1955. They were both Ohio natives. Herb was a vocalist and played the violin. Kay, who was a native of Greenville, Ohio, played the guitar, did vocals and could also do yodel numbers, too. She was also said to have done some commercials, too as well as a bit of emcee duties. Herb and Kay met when they were featured on a radio station in Dayton, Ohio.

Herb Kay, unsurprisingly, were part of the featured talent on the Midwestern Hayride in 1955.

“Bi-Weekly”: All I Hear is Al Kooper’s Groovy Organ

Is it just me, or does Appaloosa sound like the name of a fairly obscure band?  And yet they were signed to Columbia.   But which Appaloosa, you ask.  That’s where it gets a bit complicated.  Fortunately, Discogs has each one numbered.

Appaloosa #1, for example, is a 90’s trio of drum & bass producers, while Appaloosa #2 is a British/French duo who also work in a contemporary electronic dance vein.  Appaloosa #4 is an Italian group of “math rockers,” while Appaloosa #5 from Champaign, Illinois released their lone country rock album in 1980.  The Appaloosa we’re looking for – the group that recorded exactly one album for almighty Columbia in 1969 – is #3.

Columbia issued one single from this album — and it did not include the song, “Bi-Weekly”:

1970 Brazilian Single release

Appa 45

Album produced by Al Kooper, who plays the groovy organ part that opens and closes the song (and also writes the liner notes below).  Orchestra arranged and conducted by Charlie Calello on this track, with drumming support from Jimmy Alcaimo and oboe work by Romeo Penque, who we last heard playing winds for Charlie Byrd the very same year on Byrd’s Aquarius album.

The Strings of Deception:  Meet the Band

“The strings you hear in this album are exclusively Robin Batteau and Gene Rosov, violin and cello respectively.  There is never any overdubbing of sel-synching of extra strings in this album.  When you hear strings, there are only two strings playing at all times.  The illusion of hearing twenty or thirty is a tribute to their consummate technique and arranging which belie their early years of training.”

“David Reiser is the bass player, and a strange perfectionist he.  At the time of this writing, there is no percussionist in Appaloosa, so David must be two musicians in one.  Listen to him accomplish this musical feat on “Tulu Rogers” and “Pascal’s Paradox.”  By the way, David is 17 and crazy for California, to which he has never been.”

“The songs you hear in this album fell out of the head of a 19-year-old rustic named John Parker Compton.  He sings them in his own special way paying 19-year-old tribute to his favorites:  Tim Hardin, Donovan, John Hammond, and Bobby Vee.”

Appaloosa

“You Need a Change”: Sadly, Confined to Album

Harpers Bizarre do a great job with David Blue’s “You Need a Change” from their second of two albums recorded for Warner Brothers in 1967, Anything Goes:

Harpers Bizarre LPProduced by Lenny Waronker, “You Need a Change” would have made a great B-side, but alas, it remains an album track only.  David Blue would record his own version of the song the following year for his Reprise album, These 23 Days in September.

“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.’ “

“Sewer Lady”: Musically Unsanitary

Neil Hefti’s soundtrack to the Batman TV series is top-flight 60s instrumental music – playful and imaginatively-produced.  “Sewer Lady,” from the 1966 album, Batman Theme and 11 Hefti Bat Songs, was inexplicably overlooked by RCA for single release:

RCA Victor would release the “Batman Theme” 45 in late 1965 in the US and in Europe the following year – here’s the 45 picture sleeve for the Netherlands market:

Batman 45 - Netherlands1966 would see the release of Dickie Goodman’s affectionate sample-laden tribute, “Batman and His Grandmother” (who, at story’s end, gets drafted – reverse spoiler alert).

RCA would later issue “Batman Theme” as a single in the UK and Australia with “Holy Diploma, Batman – Straight A’s!” as the B-side in 1988.

“Batman Theme”: Mod + Brass

Les & Larry Elgart get the mod brass thing happening in their take on the Neil Hefti classic:

Batman Theme – Les & Larry Elgart

[Pssst:  Click the triangle to play “Batman Theme” as interpreted by The Brothers Elgart.]

“Batman Theme” closes side one of 1966 Columbia album, Sound of the Times.

Elgart LP

Album review from the July 9, 1966 edition of Billboard:

“Les & Larry Elgart are right in the groove with some swinging contemporary dance music.  There’s “Michelle,” “Taste of Honey,” “Batman’s Theme” and more in the go-go vein.  It’s fine for the youngsters, and the Elgart name will help with the adults who want to cavort like youngsters.”