Calvin Carter’s dynamite string-laden instrumental version of What’d I Say was released in 1961, just a couple of years after Ray Charles’s original hit. It was put out by Vee-Jay, a label his sister (Vivian, the Vee in Vee-Jay) co-founded and he worked for as an A&R man. Carter also wrote songs. His biggest, I Ain’t Got You, was recorded by everyone from Jimmy Reed and Billy Boy Arnold to The Blues Brothers and Andrew Dice Clay in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.
Here are two sax-driven dirty-sounding instrumentals from The Fifty Milers, a group I can’t find out anything about. Both sides were produced by Bobby Day, who wrote Little Bitty Pretty One; the writing credit is under his birth name, Robert Byrd. The Grunt was written by guitarist Adolph Jacobs, one time member of The Coasters. You possibly know it already from the salacious Las Vegas Grind compilation series. Like Day, Jacobs recorded for Class Records in the late 1950s. Today’s offering is Eva Records catalogue number 101, which is likely to have been the label’s first release. The only other Eva release I can find is 103, Dennis Weaver’s Chicken Mash. That one came out in 1963, so I guess The Grunt wouldn’t have been too far ahead of it.
mp3: Ricky Nelson – My Babe
Rock’n’roll tearjerker Lonesome Town was a hit single for an eighteen-year-old Ricky Nelson in 1958. He was already a showbiz veteran by then, having grown up on American television screens with his real-life family in the sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Nelson’s version of My Babe was only included on the flip of the UK release, which came out just after Dale Hawkin’s version and just before Cliff Richard’s. You’ll also find Lonesome Town on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, so you can expect me to slip it in sometime this Saturday night.
John Fred was a Louisiana native who had an interesting career in music. His biggest hit by far came in the form of a bubblegum-pop Beatles pastiche called Judy In Disguise (With Glasses), which inexplicably went to #1 in 1967. Today’s offering is a swampy-garage medley of John Lee Hooker’s Boogie Chillen’ and Frankie Lee Sims’ Walkin’ With Frankie. Released on N-Joy in 1964, Boogie Children later also came out on the Jewel label. It didn’t sell nearly as well as Judy In Disguise, but is superior in every other way. What we have here is an absolutely cookin’ tune that even Elvis was a fan of.
Here’s one I played on my latest Bo Diddley themed radio show. What’s the Bo Diddley connection you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Despite the onomatopoeic title, Don Hosea’s Uh Huh Unh is a cover of Willie Cobb’s You Don’t Love Me, which, if you remember either this or this post, takes heavily from She’s Fine, She’s Mine by Bo Diddley. I played all three back-to-back on the radio last week. Like many of the records I dig, this one defies categorisation. It’s a rockabilly artist’s take on a blues song that sounds like neither; it’s often described as popcorn these days. Uh Huh Unh was released as a b-side by Sun Records in 1961.
J.M. Van Eaton is a drummer from Memphis. He played on a whole bunch of Sun Records records, including ones by Billy Lee Riley, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, as well as on Jerry Lee Lewis’s Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On and Great Balls Of Fire. After leaving Sun, but before taking a break from the music industry, Van Eaton recorded this instrumental version of Bo Diddley’s eponymous breakthrough #1 R&B hit. It was released in 1960 on Billy Lee Riley’s Nita Records, the sister label to Rita Records. Riley is rumoured to have played guitar on it, but the rest of Van Eaton’s band, The Untouchables, remain unknown to me.
mp3: Buddy Miller – Teen Twist
Although I didn’t buy this record in Belgium, the label is the same Moonglow that I’ve written a little about in my previous two posts, so it’s an appropriate follow up. Today’s selection was first released on VEM Records in 1959 as The Twist by Buddy Miller. The following year VEM pressed it up as Teen Twist, as did Moonglow in Belgium. Two years later Teen Twist appeared on Band Box Records. My initial thought was that this just followed the pattern of Chubby Checker’s iconic rendition of The Twist, which topped the charts in 1960 and then again in 1962. Miller’s version sounds not dissimilar to Checker’s, but adds a fierce Texas rockabilly snarl to the family-friendly dance craze instigator. The shock news is that Miller’s take on the Hank Ballard dancer came before the Checker juggernaut. Miller apparently sent his twist single to television personality Dick Clark, hoping he would play it on American Bandstand, instead Clark gave the song to a young Checker to record, and the rest is history.
mp3: Ray Maxwell – Misirlou
I mentioned Moonglow Records in my previous post. It was a subsidiary of the Belgian label Ronnex and run by Rene Jan van Hoogten, the brother of Ronnex founder, Alfred Jan van Hoogten. Alfred sent Rene to the USA to set up Moonglow. While there he became Ray Maxwell, apparently to make it easier for Americans to pronounce his name. Maxwell achieved heroic and legendary feats, such as discovering the Righteous Brothers and recording this mighty take on Misirlou. It doesn’t stray far from Dick Dale’s version, but even managing that is heroic enough.
I bought this from a now defunct record shop several years ago and must admit that I didn’t like it too much at first. I think I was looking for Wanda Jackson’s original hit at the time and picked up this garage rock version on impulse and then found it a little too garagey. Anyway, my ears have now come around to The Rivieras take on the classic Let’s Have A Party. It was the flipside of the follow-up to their best known, biggest and only hit record, which was also a cover, California Sun.
January of 1957, Jerry Lee Lewis walked into 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee and recorded this cover of Roy Orbison’s Go! Go! Go!. Naturally, he sang and played piano and was accompanied by Sun Records regulars Billy Lee Riley on guitar, J.M. Van Eaton on drums and either L.W. Brown or Stan Kesler on bass. The result was this high energy but slightly shambolic tune he called Down The Line. It was released the following year as the b-side to his third most successful chart hit, behind Great Balls Of Fire and Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On, Breathless.
An Aquarium Drunkard
Be Bop Wino
The B Side
Carlos Rene's Scene64
Derek's Daily 45
The Devil's Music
Flea Market Funk
Frankie Bundle's Mazzetta78
Home Of The Groove
Jester Wild Show
Kogar's Jungle Juice
La Dimension De Trastos
Liam Large's Rekkids
Mean Mojo Mathias
Night Beat Records
So Many Records, So Little Time
You Got Good Taste