Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“Truckin'”: Charlie Jackson on the Spar Label

A huge tip of the hat to the late, great Charlie Coleman of WKHS 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

8-Track, too

Charlie Jackson 8-track

Back cover liner notes

Truck drivers enable modern world convenience 

“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What was once a few gas pumps and a restaurant known for its good food has been replaced by a combination hotel, supply depot, repair center, and last but not least, entertainment supplied by juke boxes, friendly talk from other drivers and bright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.

Spar LP aSpar LP bSpar LP cSpar LP d

The Internet also helped to fill in some of the gaps in the library’s catalog of Spar releases.


Interesting to see this LP …

Spar LP La

… later get re-branded in this fashion:

Spar LP Lb

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 (pg. 28) entitled “Independent Fledging Giants:

Today’s Hits Today

sound studio + pressing plant + own distributors à la King Records

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Spar-Records-Billboard-article-Oct-18-1969.jpg

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.

Spar RecordsInformative 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.


December 21, 1968

Much gratitude to Tom Avazian – record collector extraordinaire – for bringing this record to my attention in the first place.

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4 Responses

  1. This song Truckin’ was recorded by Bobby Russell, author of Honey, Little Green Apples, etc. as a studio vocalist. Spar reissued older recordings originally made for Hit Records and Country & Western Hits of Nashville on albums, and used made up names for the artists. That’s because the vocalists (Bobby Russell) was paid as session singers so Spar could not use their real name.

  2. I’m anxious to acquire a copy of Charlie Jackson’s “Truck Stop” lp to grace my ‘Bobby Russell’ collection. Does anybody have any details of the lp release (Spar release number, tracklisting), please ? Nothing showing on ebay, musicstack or discogs at the present time.
    Any information – or other pointers – would be appreciated.


    Chris Chambers

  3. I have a copy of the 8-track tape that my Dad had. The truck on the front of the album was the one my Dad drove when he drove for Union Carbide. I’ve looked for a copy of the LP but have had no luck.

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