Philip Paul: The Pulse of King

How fun and fulfilling to see Philip Paul (as well as Bootsy Collins and Otis Williams) included in the official photograph taken on the day when Jack White was awarded the key to the city in early June, 2018 by Cincinnati mayor, John Cranley, while strategically positioned outside the original King Records headquarters in Evanston.

[L to R:  Bootsy Collins; Otis Williams; Jack White; Mayor John Cranley; Patti Collins & Philip Paul at Cincinnati’s King Records = photo courtesy of Jack White]

Paul would recount for historian Steven C. Tracy in Going to Cincinnati: A History of the Blues in the Queen City (1993) the creative pressures of being a studio musician and the demands placed on the drummer by Syd Nathan to keep rhythms endlessly fresh:

Well, like I would get a call the same morning.  You know, maybe 7 or 7:30 a.m.  Can you get over here in a half hour?  O.K.  I’d get up and walk over there.  And, uh, maybe the artist wouldn’t be there.  But maybe whoever the A&R man was may have, would have a little riff or something in his head.  He’d say, ‘It goes like this’ or something, you know?  And we’d wait until the artist arrived, and the artist would sing.  Maybe they couldn’t keep four bars together.  But we’d work until we put something together.  If it took all day … Yeah, with the little head sets.  And they used all kinds of recording devices.  But basically they never came, very seldom did they come in with charts for everybody and say play this, play this, play that.  It was always – Syd Nathan wanted you to do something fresh all the time.  I don’t care if you recorded three albums a day, he always wanted something different.  He didn’t want the same beat on every tune.  And you would have to sit there and come up with something.  Because he would be in the booth hollering at you, you know.  I look back on that and it was very insulting at the time, but it was a lesson also, because he provided musicians an opportunity to record under those conditions and see what recording was really about.

Getting the “right sound” at King would, for Paul, also involve the occasional use of kettle drums, wood blocks, and even a suitcase in place of a kick drum, points out Tracy.

Paul would initially intersect with King Records in 1952 through his professional relationship with Tiny Bradshaw — whose group had the house band gig at Cincinnati’s top black nightspot, the Cotton Club, according to Tracy.  Six months earlier, Bradshaw had first taken notice of Paul’s playing at the Savoy Ballroom.  The next nine years with Bradshaw would serve as a proving ground:

We knew we had to work hard.  Like we would play an hour set; he didn’t restrict us.  We was basically a blues band, but we had, at times we had some guys in the band that were very good jazz players. Sonny Stitt played with us. Johnny Griffin played with us. Al Sears played with us.  We had all kinds of musicians out of Duke [Ellington]’s band playing with us.  So when they came in the band, even if it was for one night or two nights, they really had to work.  Noble Watts, Sil Austin – oh God, we wore out tenor players.  But Red [Prysock] was the backbone; he could really handle it.

It was through Bradshaw, as Tracy writes, that “Paul got hooked up with King, and countless sessions followed.”  According to Brian Powers, Paul has played on over 350 recordings and, like CalvinEagle EyeShields, backed a number of King’s country artists, such as Bonnie Lou, Cowboy Copas, and Hawkshaw Hawkins (also Grandpa Jones, say both Tracy and Nager), even though documentation is similarly and frustratingly scant.

Paul – whose father (from St. Croix) played trumpet and uncle drummed professionally – grew up in Harlem.  While in New York, according to Steven Tracy, “Paul played with Milt Larkin, recorded for Decca with Buddy Johnson, and cut some sides with Basie sidemen accompanying Jimmy Rushing.”  As Powers notes in A King Records Scrapbook:

His career took off when he began playing with jazz musicians Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis, Sonny Stitt, Bud Powell and Dizzy Gillespie.  He got a regular gig at the famed Savoy Ballroom in Harlem with Buddy Johnson’s Big Band that featured the great vocalist Arthur Prysock.  Eventually Paul met bandleader Tiny Bradshaw whose drummer, Calvin ‘Eagle Eye’ Shields, was leaving the band.  Bradshaw was impressed with Paul’s playing.

Paul’s ability to be on call as a session musician at King was facilitated by means of a house in Evanston “which Syd Nathan had helped him purchase,” points out Powers.  Even after Nathan’s passing in 1968, Paul continued to forge a musical career, as Powers explains, that enabled him to remain rooted in Cincinnati but with the flexibility to tour as needed:

By the late 1960s, Paul began several years of recording for Columbia Records in New York as one-third of Roy Meriwether‘s hard-driving gospel-influenced trio.  [Stone Truth and Popcorn & Soul, both LPs from 1966].  He played for six years at the Carrousel Inn on Reading Road in [Cincinnati’s Roselawn neighborhood], but also toured with jazz artists like Herbie Mann, Jimmy Smith and Nat Adderley throughout most of the country.  He played festivals and clubs, including the famous Apollo Theater in New York.  Paul has accompanied George Wein & the Newport All-Stars throughout the United States and Canada.

Philip Paul:  the Roselawn connection

Paul would eventually get “overdue” recognition for his contributions to music history, thanks to Larry Nager‘s profile “Keeping Time” in the October, 2009 edition of Cincinnati Magazine.  Among Cincinnati’s household names and musical institutions, Nager notes unequivocally, “when it comes to impacting American music and culture, this quiet, unassuming octogenarian stands alone.”  Furthermore, Nager cogently observes, “as America struggles to find something – anything! – we can sell to the world, the one unqualified success continues to be our music,” as Ebay prices in the new century for original vinyl make clear (see discography/listening section below).

In 2002, the Cincinnati Enquirer would bestow upon Paul a Lifetime “Cammy” (Cincinnati Area Music) Award as part of a select group, Legends of King Records.  Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, in 2009, would create a special exhibit, as part of its of Songwriters to Sound Men series, to celebrate the session work of Paul — who would also receive that same year an Ohio Heritage Fellowship, “the state’s highest honor for traditional artists,” notes Nager.  Says the Ohio Arts Council:  “The Ohio Heritage Fellowship program recognizes Ohio folk and traditional artists who are influential masters of their particular art forms and traditions, and whose work has had a significant impact on their communities.”

[Photo courtesy of bill Hulsizer]

The 21st century would find Philip Paul issuing his first album, 2003’s It’s About Time, on which he served as bandleader — supporting musicians would include Peter Frampton, Edwyn Conley, Kenny Poole, Steve Schmidt, and Mike Sharf.  The following year, Paul and Conley would comprise the rhythm section for Big Joe Duskin‘s final album, Big Joe Jumps Again!, joined by Frampton on two tracks, as well as producers, Larry Nager (bass) and William Lee Ellis (guitar).  A 2016 Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame Inductee, Paul – who has been a weekly fixture at the Cincinnatian Hotel’s Cricket Lounge for countless years – would be feted in 2018 by Cincinnati’s Listernmann Brewing Company with a beer “Fas’ Foot Phil” named in his honor.

[Photo courtesy of Bill Hulsizer]

Earliest Philip Paul Recordings
[*Special Update – April 8, 2020]
→ Click on song title links below to hear streaming audio of songs ←

Big note of appreciation to Ben Levin, a force for good, who has been working behind the scenes on various Cincinnati music history fronts.  Ben helpfully suggested that I dig a little more deeply into Philip Paul’s earliest recordings for the Buddy Johnson Orchestra.  Here are some of the things that turned up in the research.

First of all, thanks (once again) to the Europeans for their devotion to American music, as evidenced in the detailed musician credits for the Buddy Johnson compilation album, I’ll Dearly Love You, released in Sweden in 1989. Philip Paul is listed as drummer on the first three tracks = “Down Yonder”; “Li’l Dog” and “The Stars Fell on Alabama.”  We know that Philip Paul recorded for Buddy Johnson prior to joining the Tiny Bradshaw Orchestra in 1951, but it is a challenge to validate exactly which other recordings he played on besides those three titles.  This Philip Paul discography from Switzerland provides a couple more clues.  Skim past the album listings and note that Paul is linked to two other recordings – “I’m Gonna Jump in the River” (with vocalist, Ella Johnson) and “Root Man Blues.”  45Cat says “Jump in the River” was released January 1952, while “Root Man Blues” was released the following month.  Are these Paul’s final recordings with the Buddy Johnson Orchestra?

Once more, Europe helps us unearth our country’s own jazz history in this “Enciclopedia del Jazz” webpage tribute to Buddy Johnson that lists Philip Paul on a New York City recording session that produced “Jump in the River,” “Root Man Blues” and two other tracks – “Till My Baby Comes Back” (with Ella Johnson) and “My Aching Heart” (with vocalist, Arthur Prysock).  Also, fascinating to find this related bit of history in Nelson Harris’s Roanoke Valley in the 1940s:

“Buddy Johnson and his orchestra played for a dance at the American Legion Auditorium on September 23 [1948].  Vocalists were Ella Johnson, Arthur Prysock, and the Four Buddies.  Johnson was known for his hits ‘Baby Don’t You Cry,’ ‘Since I Feel For You,’ ‘Fine Brown Frame,’ and ‘Li’l Dog.’  White spectators were admitted [!].”

Also, from the Nov. 13, 1948 issue of Billboard:

“Betty Lou Purvis, WPGH, Pittsburgh, reports that Buddy Johnson’s Decca ‘Li’l Dog’ is pulling heavy mail and a phone response on her Strictly Jazz show.”

Similar report in Billboard’s Nov. 20, 1948 edition:

“Don Potwin, KYAK, Yakima, Wash., says: ‘Buddy Johnson’s Decca ‘Li’l Dog’ receives the most comment from my listeners.  People ask me to incorporate it into my theme, which I did.”

Lastly, this Wikipedia page for Buddy Johnson lists all his single releases.  As I scan the song titles from “Li’l Dog” all the way down to “Root Man Blues,” would love to know which of these recordings feature Philip Paul’s drum work –- especially want to know, for instance, if Mr. Paul played on the flip side of “Down Yonder,” “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball.”


A Philip Paul Jukebox!
King Recording Session Chronology:  1952-1963*

[*Source: The King Labels: A Discography, edited by Michel Ruppli & Bill Daniels]

→ Click on song title links below to hear streaming audio of songs ←

  • Tiny Bradshaw & His Orchestra — Oct. 6, 1952 — Cincinnati

Soft” + “Strange

1956 ‘Soft’ LP on King = $208 at auction in 2006

  • Bullmoose Jackson w/ Tiny Bradshaw’s Orchestra — Oct. 6, 1952 — Cincinnati

I Needed You” + “Big Ten Inch Record

Original “Big Ten-Inch Record” 78s & 45s can do well at auction

  • Tiny Bradshaw & His Orchestra — Jan. 19, 1953 — Cincinnati

Off and On“; “Heavy Juice“; “Free For All“; “Hold On, Josie

  • Tiny Bradshaw & His Orchestra — Jul. 29, 1953 — Cincinnati

Powder Puff“; South of the Orient“; “Later“; “Ping Pong

1954 King EP = 4 songs on 45

  • Tiny Bradshaw & His Orchestra — Apr. 5, 1954 — Cincinnati

The Gypsy“; “Don’t Worry ’bout Me“; “Overflow“; “Spider Web

  • Wynonie Harris — Apr 14, 1954 — Cincinnati

I Get a Thrill“; “Keep a-Talkin’“; “Don’t Take My Whiskey“; “Shake That Thing

Original King single sells respectably well at auction

Other single from the same recording session does even better at auction

  • The Midnighters — Apr. 24, 1954 — Cincinnati

Work Baby“; “Sexy Ways“; “Don’t Say Your Last Goodbye

“Sexy Ways” one of 1954’s top 10 R&B records (sales & jukebox) per Billboard  

NOTE:  Released on the Federal label in US but on King in Canada — what gives?

  • Tiny Bradshaw & His Orchestra — Sep. 1, 1954 — Cincinnati

Light” “Stack of Dollars“; Choice“; “Cat Fruit

1955 “Light” & “Choice” King EP$100 at auction in 2014

  • Tiny Bradshaw & His Orchestra — Jan. 11, 1955 — Cincinnati

Cat Nap“; “Come On“; “Stomping Room Only“; “Pompton Turnpike

King “bio disc

Flip side refers to the bandleader as “Brad”!

  • Rufus Gore — Feb. 24, 1955 — New York City

Firewater” + “Ghost Walk

This Rufus Gore session is only one Paul recorded outside of Cincinnati

  • Bill Jennings Quintet — Jul. 24, 1955 — Cincinnati

Willow Weep for Me“; “Day Train“; “Glide On“; “Three Little Words” + 2 unissued

People have paid three and even four figures for Bill Jennings’ King releases

  • John Puckett Trio — Jun. 7, 1957 — Cincinnati

12 songs that comprise Meet John Puckett & His Piano ($100 at auction in 2015)

  • Tiny Topsy & the Charms — Oct. 2, 1957 — Cincinnati

Come On Come On Come On” + “Ring Around My Finger

Tiny Topsy “mit orchester”:  Single enjoyed release in Germany & the UK

  • Titus Turner — Nov. 7, 1957 — Cincinnati

Stop the Pain” + “Hold Your Loving

45 can fetch three figures at auction

  • Earl Connelly King — Nov. 7, 1957 — Cincinnati

Every Which Kinda Way” + “I Don’t Want Your Love

 People will shell out up to $300 for the 45 — A-side reissued in UK in 2012

  • Tiny Bradshaw — Jan. 16, 1958 — Cincinnati

Short Shorts” + “Bushes

  • Hank Ballard & the Midnighters — Aug. 6, 1959 — Cincinnati

Said I Wouldn’t Beg You“; “Look at Little Sister“; “I Could Love You“; “Never Knew

  • Gene Redd & the Globe Trotters — Sep. 4, 1959 — Cincinnati

Zeen (Surfin’) Beat” + “Old Virginny Rock

1959 A-side got “repurposed” as “Surfin’ Beat” for 1962 King LP below

  • Trini Lopez — Sep. 25, 1959 — Cincinnati

The Search Goes On“; “Nobody Loves Me“; “Then You Know (You’ve Been in Love)”; “Won’t You Be My Queen For a Day“; “Nobody Listens to Our Teenage Problems” & “Sweet Thing

  • Rudy West — Sep. 29, 1959 — Cincinnati

Just To Be With You“; “You Were Mine“; “The Measure of My Love“; “This Is Something Else“; “My Mother’s Prayers“; “As Long As I Live

Rudy West — lead tenor for The Five Keys

  • Trini Lopez — October 1, 1959 — Cincinnati

The Club for Broken Hearts“; “Don’t Go“; “Jeanie Marie“; “I’m Just a Poor Little Schemer“; “Chain of Love” & “It Seems

Lopez’s 2nd album for King (right) would see release in Venezuela in 1964

  • Little Willie John & Strings — Dec. 23, 1959 — Cincinnati

A Cottage For Sale” + “Loving Care

Both songs included on 1961 King LP

  • Lynn Hope — Mar. 4, 1960 — Cincinnati

Juicy“; “Tenderly“; “Full Moon“; “Shockin’“; “Ghost of a Chance“; “Body and Soul

King 45 issued on UK ‘ska’ label note “corrected” spelling to King’s English!

  • Lynn Hope — Mar. 28, 1960 — Cincinnati

Blue and Sentimental“; “The Very Thought of You“; “Rose Room“; “Sands of the Sahara“; “Little Landslide“; “Oo Wee“; “Stardust

  • Hank Ballard & the Midnighters — Mar. 31, 1960 — Cincinnati

I Must Be Crazy“; “These Young Girls“; “Finger Poppin’ Time“; “Thinking of You

Finger Poppin’ Time” enjoyed release in Australia & New Zealand

Tab Smith — Apr. 28, 1960 — Cincinnati

Drivin’ the Blues“; “In a Mellow Dream“; “Over and Under”; “They’re Off“; “Lovely Springtime“; “Easy Going”; “Big Wheel”

  • Little Willie John — Jul. 8, 1960 — Cincinnati

The Very Thought of You“; “I’m Sorry“; “Walk Slow“; “Sleep“; “There’s a Difference

Billboard chart history for “Sleep” (#13), “Walk Slow” (#48) & “Very Thought” (#61)

  • Hank Ballard & the Midnighters — Jul. 26, 1960 — Cincinnati

Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go“; “Sick of You“; “Keep on Dancing“; “Goodbye So Long

The Chambers Brothers & East Bay Soul Brass among groups to cover “Let’s Go”

  • Tab Smith — Aug. 5, 1960 — Cincinnati

Chuggin’ Along“; “Night Hawk Prowl” + “The Midget” & “The Old Mill” [unissued]

  • Hank Ballard & the Midnighters — Aug. 16, 1960 — Cincinnati

When I Need You“; “If You’d Forgive Me“; “The Hoochi Coochi Coo

Note: “Hoochi Coochi Coo” peaked at #23 on Jan. 30, 1961 — 11 weeks on chart

Canadian 45                                                      French EP

  • Hank Ballard & the Midnighters — Aug. 17, 1960 — Cincinnati

Mona Lisa“; “Just One More Chance“; “Summertime

$100 (and more) has been paid for 1961 Hank Ballard Spotlight LP

  • Smokey Smothers [w/ Freddy King] — Aug. 25, 1960 — Cincinnati

Smokey’s Lovesick Blues“; “Crying Tears“; “Midnight and Day“; “Honey, I Ain’t Teasin’“; “Blind and Dumb Man Blues“; “What Am I Going To Do“; “I’ve Been Drinking Muddy Water“; “I Ain’t Gonna Be No Monkey Man No More“; “You’re Gonna Be Sorry“; “Can’t Judge Nobody“; “Give It Back“; “Come On Rock Little Girl

Jon Hartley Fox writes in 2009’s King Records history, King of the Queen City: “Guitarist and singer Otis ‘Smokey’ Smothers [Howlin’ Wolf’s guitarist prior to signing with King] never came close to stardom, but for a period in the early 1960s, he had one of the most talked-about albums of the day.  Smokey Smothers Sings the Backporch Blues, released in 1962, is highly coveted by collectors today as one of the rarest of blues albums.  Forty-five years ago, it was an unexpected blast of down-home blues that took everybody by surprise.”

1962 King LP released (and retitled) on Polydor in UK (1966) & Germany (1967)

[Auction alert!   $1223 paid in 2009 for original Smokey Smothers King LP]

  • Freddy King — Aug. 25, 1960 — Cincinnati

You Know That You Love Me“; “See See Baby“; “You’ve Got To Love Her With Feeling“; “Have You Ever Loved a Woman“; “Hide Away“; “I Love the Woman

Attn:  Disc Jocks – This instrumental will be liked by The Teenagers!”

3 figures paid for 1961 King LP = reissued in Europe (2014) & Spain (2015)

  • Clifford Scott — Nov. 26, 1960 — Cincinnati

Shu-ee“; “Fros-Tee Nite“; “Blue Lady“; “Broadway Caravan

  • Clifford Scott — Dec. 6, 1960 — Cincinnati

“No. 1 in the Book”; “Chocolate Malt“; “Bushy Tail

1962 French EP on Odeon

  • Freddy King — Jan. 17, 1961 — Cincinnati

Lonesome Whistle Blues” + “If You Believe (In What You Do)

  • Freddy King — Jan. 18, 1961 — Cincinnati

It’s Too Bad (Things Are Going So Tough)” + “I’m Tore Down

Canada                                                          US

  • Hank Marr [w/ Freddy King] — Jan. 18, 1961 — Cincinnati

Ram-Bunk-Shush” + “The Push

  • Freddy King — Apr. 5, 1961 — Cincinnati

Sidetracked“; “Stumble“; “San-Ho-Zay“; “Wash Out“; “Just Pickin’“; “Heads Up

$255 paid in 2008 for this 1961 King LP

  • Hank Ballard & the Midnighters — Jul. 18, 1961 — Cincinnati

Big Red Sunset“; “Nothing But Good“; “Do You Remember

  • Freddy King — Jul. 24, 1961 — Cincinnati

Christmas Tears“; “Let Me Be“; “Takin’ Care of Business“; “You Mean Mean Woman“; “I Hear Jingle Bells“; “In the Open“; “Out Front“; “Swooshy

“Christmas Tears” & “Jingle Bells” strictly 45 tracks — reissued in 1975 (below)

  • Eddie Clearwater [w/ Hank Marr & Freddy King] — Nov. 22, 1961 — Cinti.

A Real Good Time” + “I Was Gone

$261 in 2017 for this A-side

Philip Paul with Charles Brown & Amos MilburnHistorical Sidebar

Philip Paul informed Zero to 180 directly – in private consultation over the phone – that he, in fact, provided the backbeat for all of Charles Brown & Amos Milburn‘s Cincinnati recording sessions for King in the years 1960-63 and beyond, for which we know the following song titles and little else:

Essential Christmas LP alert!

Charles Brown‘s Cincinnati King Sessions

September 21, 1960

Please Come Home for Christmas

December 13, 1960

Baby Oh Baby” + “Angel Baby

January 22, 1961 (*with Amos Milburn)

I Wanna Go Back Home” + “My Little Baby

June 27, 1961

This Fool Has Learned” + “Butterfly

July 3, 1961

“It’s Christmas All Year Round” + “It’s Christmas Time

August 7, 1961

Let’s Make Every Day a Christmas Day“; “Christmas in Heaven“; “Christmas Blues”; “Bringing in a Brand New Year“; “Christmas Finds Me Lonely Wanting You” & “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”

August 10, 1961

Christmas Questions“; “My Most Miserable Christmas” & “Wrap Yourself in a Christmas Package

October 9, 1961 [?]

“Without a Friend” + “If You Play With Cats

January 26, 1963

“I’m Just a Drifter” + “I Don’t Want Your Rambling Letters”

August 26, 1963

If You Don’t Believe I’m Crying, Take a Look at My Eyes“; “Lucky Dreamer“; “I Wanna Be Close”; “Too Fine for Crying“; “Come Home” & “Blow Out All the Candles (Happy Birthday to You)”

January 3, 1967

Regardless” + “Plan”

August 13, 1968

“Hang On a Little Longer”; “Black Light” & “Merry Christmas  Baby”

Amos Milburn‘s Cincinnati King Sessions

September 21, 1960

Christmas Comes But Once a Year

January 22, 1961 (*with Charles Brown)

I Wanna Go Back Home” + “My Little Baby

March 7, 1961

My Sweet Baby’s Love” + “Heartaches That Make You Cry

July 5, 1961

“Movin’ Time” + “The Hammer

January 31, 1967

“Same Old Thing” + “Whiz a Shoo Pepi Dada

  • Hank Ballard & the Midnighters — Jan. 6, 1962 — Cincinnati

It’s Twistin’ Time“; “Good Twistin’ Tonight“; “Get Ready“; “I Want to Thank You“; “Your Lovin’“; “She’s the One“; “Dream World

1962 King LP does pretty well at auction

  • Freddy King — Jan. 10, 1962 — Cincinnati

Closed Door“; “Texas Oil“; “She Put the Whammy On Me“; “On My Way to ATL“; “Overdrive (Untouchable Glide)”; “Driving Sideways“; “Sittin’ On the Boat Dock

  • Hank Ballard & the Midnighters — Sep. 12, 1962 — Cincinnati

Shaky Mae“; “Christmas Time for Everybody But Me“; “I Love and Care for You

  • Hank Ballard & the Midnighters — Sep. 13, 1962 — Cincinnati

Santa Claus Is Coming“; “Love Oh Love”; “Bring Me Your Love

  • Bob Kames — October 1-4, 1962 — Cincinnati

Songs that would comprise 1962 King LP Bob Kames Goes Western

  • Milt Buckner [w/ Gene Redd] — Nov. 26, 1962 — Cincinnati

Misty“; “Why Don’t You Do Right“; “I Left My Heart in SF“; “All Blues“; “Take Five

  • Milt Buckner — Mar. 5, 1963 — Cincinnati

Fever“; “Kansas City“; “Pick Yourself Up“; “Moon River“; “Fly Me to the Moon

1963 Milt Buckner LP reissued in Japan in 2013

  • Freddy King — Sep. 26, 1963 — Cincinnati

Now I’ve Got a Woman“; “Surf Monkey“; “If You Have It“; “Low Tide (Zoo Surfin’)”; “Remington Ride“; “Monkey Donkey“; “Meet Me at the Station“; “Full Time Love“; “King a Ling

1965 LP would be reissued in 1984 (Germany), 1996 (Japan) & 2010 (US)

“If You Have It” — from especially rare Freddy King album (King LP 931)

[*Info Source: The King Labels: A Discography, edited by Michel Ruppli & Bill Daniels]

A King History Moment:  Session Bassist Bill Willis

Bill Willis quoted in 2000’s Rollin’ and Tumblin’:  The Postwar Blues Guitarists:

King Records had four of us who played on everything — me, Philip Paul on drums, Sonny Thompson on piano and Freddie Jordan on guitar.  Everything was live so you had that spontaneous feeling going.  None of us played together outside.  The only time we played together was in the studio.  A lot of times I didn’t hear what I was playing, like on “Hide Away,” because I went directly into the board.  They turned my bass amp off, and I very rarely used headphones.  I wanted to hear everybody through the room and catch all the nuances. 

Philip Paul Postscript from Brian Powers — in a Zero to 180 exclusive:

I am sure Paul played on some Cowboy Copas stuff — before Copas left King in 1955, but I couldn’t tell ya what.  I’m pretty sure he played on Hawkshaw Hawkinsalbum recorded in fall 1962 (with Gene Redd on vibes and Bill Willis on bass), which had a number one country hit with “Lonesome 7-7203.”  I know this because Ray Pennington told me – he produced it and there quite a few songs written by Ray.

But, as Jon Harley Fox notes with a heavy heart (in King of the Queen City):

After a long, dry spell with only one hit to his credit, Hawkins returned to King in 1962.  He cut twelve songs in a September session, including the song that restarted his career, “Lonesome 7-7203,” a honky-tonk shuffle in the style of Ray Price.  It would be Hawkins’s first number one hit single, but he wouldn’t live to see it happen.  Just three days after the record entered the Billboard county chart, Hawkshaw Hawkins was killed in a plane crash with Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas.  Nothing else from Hawkins’s last session made the charts.

Be sure to check out these special radio moments with Philip Paul:

“Untamed World”: Top TV Theme

Unless you were a nature nerd in the late 1960s to mid-1970s, chances are you have never heard Mort Garson‘s mysterious and exotic instrumental theme for the CTV television series, Untamed World.

“Untamed World Theme”     Mort Garson     196?

Uncanny emulation of steel drums that is/are undergirded by a percolating, undulating rhythm track — but what about those flute sounds, are those electronic, too?  Ditto with the reverberating drum you hear in the final seconds of the opening theme.

I am hardly the only one, as it turns out, to have been entranced by this 60-second composition, as the comments attached to this YouTube video clip attest:

  • “Growing up in the late 60’s, this was one of my favourite TV shows of all time. After all these decades, I still remember the tune nearly note-perfect. Thanks so much for posting, and bringing back such wonderful memories!”
  • “That song has been ruling my world for 35 years!”
  • “thank you for posting. been wanting to hear it a long time big childhood memories. maybe a little creepy sounding but great to hear it again after 40 yrs or so”
  • “thx so much for posting this. Haven’t heard this for years…gave me goosebumps!!! what a simple wonderful thing from childhood. thx for the memories”
  • “Ok raise your hand if you & your brother used to do weird jungle dances to this song.”
  • “I feel like crying. Huge memories of my childhood!”
  • “One of the best music intros for a tv show of all time”
  • “Genius indeed, but that opening, especially when one was a little kid, was 1000% SCARY!!!!! :O”
  • “Sensational musical theme!”
  • “THANK YOU! I remembered everything about this intro but could not for the life of me remember the name of the show! I remember my mom and dad watching this in the mid-1980s…I think either on Saturday or Sunday nights. I guess it must have been in re-runs by that time.”
  • “yeh something eerie about it for sure…..”
  • “Yes, it’s been exactly the same for me. So great to hear this again.”
  • “This song always makes me want to run naked through the forest.”
  • “Fantastic, trippy ’70s graphics and a great “tribal”-sounding theme that makes you wanna dance wildly around the living room. So glad to hear and see this again after many, many years – thank you!”
  • “Oh, those were the days. Life was simple then, watching an old B&W Zenith TV with 2 channels, and the other choice was usually some religious show. Being 6 yo I chose the animals.”
  • “Love the awesome wipes!” [technical term]
  • “one of those songs that sticks to your brain after all those years….up there with Rocket Robin Hood and Ultraman…”
  • “I always thought this was traditional African music It is computer generated”

YouTube contributor, Warren Jay, rightfully chides the program’s producers:

  • “Just look at those untamed Africans and Balinese.”

One Canadian contributor to IMDB’s jazz impressions as a lad:

  • “Sundays at 5:00 on CTV were a time of wonder and discovery.  The fields with their chaff-like growths blowing in the wind signaled the start of a highly informative and haunting half-hour documentary.  The thin straight lines speeding in a single direction, albeit staggered, brought us the silhouettes of images (offset by pink, orange, red, and teal backgrounds) that would have been lost in time if not for a YouTube account.  And then the announcer, one Alan Small, would finish off almost every episode with “the Untamed World.”  I remember being scared half out of my wits by, yet strangely drawn to, these simple images (all of which repeated in the outro accompanied by five others) and Mort Garson’s haunting theme, but now that fear seems just silly and ridiculous.”

Produced by Canadian Television (CTV), Untamed World was shown regularly between January and August 1969, according to IMDB, and then went into syndication – broadcast in the US through the mid-1970s and beyond, perhaps.

Fifty years or so ago, Billboard would report in its December 28, 1968 edition, under the banner TV Doings:

Mort Garson scoring 26 half-hour Untamed World shows for Metromedia, utilizing an electronic synthesizer.

Behold Untamed World‘s equally intoxicating outro theme:

Untamed World Outro Theme     Mort Garson     1967?

Mort Garson’s Mother Earth’s Plantasia vs. Stevie Wonder’s Secret Life of Plants

“Full, warm, beautiful mood music especially composed to aid in the growing of your plants,” Garson’s conceptual and all-electronic Mother Earth’s Plantasia from 1976 would predate Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants by three years.  Mother Earth’s Plantasia sells for an easy three figures at auction.

Waylon Did Dylan in ’65

How humorous to browse a chronological listing of Waylon Jennings albums starting in 1964 – eleven on RCA by my count, following his debut LP At JD’s – when out of nowhere, A&M suddenly decides to issue its first and only album by Jennings, long after his brief run of singles (1963-65) with the label.  Jenning’s country (folk) rock take on Bob Dylan’s “I Don’t Believe You” — originally recorded January 4, 1965 at Phoenix’s Audio Recorders would enjoy release that year as the B-side for “The Real House of the Rising Sun“:

“I Don’t Believe You”     Waylon Jennings     1965

Is it possible that Jennings’s March 25, 1970 appearance on ABC’s wildly successful Johnny Cash Show is what prompted A&M that same year to make a renewed attempt to cash in on their mid-60s recordings of Waylon?

A-side                               B-side

Jennings’ tenure with A&M amounted to four single releases released between the years 1963-65.  Don’t Think Twice — Waylon’s only LP on A&M — would be issued in the US and UK in 1970, four years into his 20-year run with RCA.

Typo alert

Know Your Product!

Examine the album cover above carefully and note that A&M couldn’t even be bothered to transcribe the song title correctly:  “I Didn’t Believe You”!

The Deep-Bottom Sound of Early Waylon Jennings

Jennings, you might recall (though likely not), was the subject of an early Zero to 180 piece that featured his unusually bass-centric take on Bob Gibson’s “Abilene.”