A huge tip of the hat to the late, great Charlie Coleman for playing the righteous sounds on his Coleman’s Classic Country radio show in the greater Annapolis/DC area — a part of the nation that desperately needs help with the quality of its radio programming. Charlie was gracious enough to allow me the opportunity to program a couple of all truck-driving radio shows, and it delights me every time to hear his bemusement over the fact that this hot little number by Charlie Jackson – “Truckin’” – was issued on a tiny label, Spar, that not a lot of people can honestly say they have represented in their vinyl record collections:
[Pssst: Click on the triangle above to play ”Truckin'” by Charlie Jackson.]
An obvious candidate for an A-side, “Truckin'” – recorded at Spar Recording Studio and produced by Tommy Downs – unfortunately, was never released as a single.
Released on LP
Back cover liner notes
Note: Click on image above to view in ultra high resolution
“This album of great country hits by Charlie Jackson is dedicated to all the many truck drivers who spend a good part of their time pushing a rig down a lonely stretch of road so that you and I can benefit by all of the many products and foods that come to us from coast to coast. [Their] home away from home is the truck stop that is fast becoming a familiar sight along the superhighways that criss-cross the nation.
What was once a few gas pumps and a restaurant known for its good food has been replaced by a combination hotel, supply depot, repair center, and last but not least, entertainment supplied by juke boxes, friendly talk from other drivers and bright lights that seem to never go off. It’s a 24 hour world that never closes seven days a week.”
Thanks to the Bowling Green State University’s library catalog, I was able to identify a handful of other titles released on Nashville’s Spar label, such as Ricky Page Sings Harper Valley PTA, Hits Are Our Business by The Now Generation, Country Hits and also Straight from Nashville – the last two by The Nashville Country Jamboree and all four released between the years 1968-1970.
The Internet also helped to fill in some of the gaps in the library’s catalog of Spar releases.
Interesting to see this LP … … get re-branded Later in this fashion
Richie Unterberger, in his review of a 2007 CD anthology by The Now Generation, sheds some much-needed light on Spar’s operations:
“In the late 1960s and early ’70s, the studio-only ensemble, The Now Generation, were principally known for issuing albums full of soundalike covers of contemporary hits, although they did put out some original material. Top Nashville session men like Henry Strzelecki, David Briggs, Norbert Putnam, Wayne Moss, Bill Purcell, Kenny Buttrey, “Pig” Robbins, and Charlie McCoy were among the musicians who played on Now Generation releases. Fortunately, this 20-track compilation concentrates on the original material, as much of the CD is taken from their self-titled 1967 debut LP, their only album not to fall into the ‘soundalike’ bag.”
Billboard‘s October 18, 1969 edition included a supplemental publication — “World of Country Music” — with words of praise for Spar in a piece entitled “Independent Fleging Giants”:
For those who don’t have the time to trawl through second-hand vinyl, help has arrived: those fine folks at Yellow Label have rounded up enough material for a three-CD set of 7-inch recordings from Spar Records, home of such unsung musical artists as Bobby & the Beagles; Sandy & the Beachcombers; Jimmy Tig & the Rounders; Phoebe, Unky & Fatty Ann; Joe Pain; Ken Kennedy & The Now Generation, among many, many others.
Informative piece about Spar Records’ budget subsidiary – Hit Records – in which MusicMaster Oldies makes this hilarious observation:
“[Ted Jarrett and Bill Beasley] ran another budget label called Spar Records. It was on that label that Bobby Russell made his recording debut with a Nashville teen garage band called Bobby Russell And The Beagles. It was 1964, the year the Beatles hit it big in America. Clearly the “Beagles” was intended to trade off the success of The Beatles.”
Fascinating to learn that Bobby Russell would go on to have a Top 40 hit with the song “1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero” – memorably covered later by The Ray Charles Singers. That’s Bobby Russell, by the way, doing the lead vocals on today’s featured song (Charlie Jackson is strictly the piano man), thanks to Paul W. Urbahns of Hit Records of Nashville and his insightful comment attached to this piece.
And, of course, much gratitude to Tom Avazian – record collector extraordinaire – for bringing this record to my attention in the first place.