“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 [Louis 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

[eagerly awaiting the return of streaming audio]

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

Brian PowersKing Records Scrapbook notes that, while with RCO Productions, “Glover’s projects included producing a Muddy Waters album and the soundtrack for the Martin Scorcese documentary The Last Waltz, about the Band’s last concert in 1976.”

“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, as well as the A-side of a 45 released in April 1961 on King.

Ferlin Husky - King EP

The odd thing about this album is that it appears to have been released twice in 1959 with the same catalog number but different title — Country Tunes Sung From the Heart — and cover art.  It needs to be pointed out, though, 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.

Johnny Horton dressed up “Electrified Donkey” with a roots rockin’ backbeat — released by Columbia in November 1959 as the flip side of “They Shined Up Rudolph’s Nose.”

LINK to “Twin Guitar Polka”:  Western Swing on King — The Early Years

“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 himself 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 Wanderers, whose “Twin Guitar Polka” is a sure-fire way to get the folks out onto the dance floor:

“Twin Guitar Polka”     Ocie Stockard & His Wanderers     1946

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

*

Billboard‘s March 8, 1947 issue lists “Twin Guitar Polka” as one of eight “folk” Advance Record Releases from the King label and includes this review:

With several labels currently pushing guitar hillbilly ditties, King comes up with a strong contender in this “Twin Guitar Polka.”  While tune is repetitious, the melody is so catching that it’s pleasant to hear the many repeats.  Stockard’s Wanderers couple the imposing “Polka” with a pertinent “O.P.A. Blues,” a comedy lament built on the death of the government price regulating agency and the resultant price hikes.

A twin winner for locations that have a rustic trade.

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 RobertLeftyPerkins 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.”

Postscript: .Billboard‘s August 21, 1948 issue reports Ocie Stockard to be one of two banjoists (Millard Kelso being the other) for Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.

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 the 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 (profiled in depth here):

“I’m Tore Down”     Freddy King     1961

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.

“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:

“Without Really Trying”     The Sunshine Company     1967

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

Neal 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:

“Sewer Lady”     Neal Hefti     1966

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 also saw 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 Neal Hefti classic:

“Batman Theme”     Les & Larry Elgart     1966

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.”

1965 Belongs to Gary Lewis & the Playboys

Hard to believe this song was a B-side — hopefully, Liberty won’t make that mistake again:

Gary Lewis 45 sleeve

The A-side – “She’s Just My Style” – was part of an incredible run of commercial success:  the band’s fifth consecutive Top Ten hit of 1965.   Along with The Lovin’ Spoonful, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, are one of only two acts whose first seven single releases all reached Top Ten (not counting “Doin’ the Flake” – a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes promotional release – which didn’t chart).

                                Limited edition promotional party platter

Gary Lewis record bowl

As Ray Shasho points out in The Examiner:

“1965 became a momentous year for Gary Lewis & The Playboys. “This Diamond Ring” sold over one million copies and became a gold disc. Cashbox Magazine named Gary Lewis “Male Vocalist of the Year,” and a string of hits just kept on coming. The Playboy’s second hit single “Count Me In” reached #2 on the charts. The band continued to churn out the hits with “Save Your Heart for Me” (#2 Billboard Hot 100 Hit), “Everybody Loves a Clown” (#4 Billboard Hot 100 Hit) and “She’s Just My Style” (#3 Billboard Hot 100 Hit).”

“Fifteen Gears and Fourteen Wheels”: What Satisfies the Soul

Live truck driving country doesn’t get much better than this:

  From the 1973 Capitol album, Live at the Wheeling Truck Driver’s Jamboree.

Dick Curless LP

Harold Bradley - guitar/leader
Buzz Evans - guitar
Curly Chalker - steel
Joe Allen - bass
Buddy Harman - drums
Jerry Smith - piano

Recorded:
Sept. 2, 1972 - live - Wheeling Truck Drivers Jamboree; Wheeling, WV

Dick Curless Can’t Drive 45

Capitol would release one single from this album – “Chick Inspector” – backed with a non-album track, “Travelin’ Light” in February, 1973.

Chick Inspector 45