Don Hosea was a singer/guitarist from Missouri who headed south to seek his musical fortunes in Memphis, Tennessee. Misery, released in 1960, was the second record he made of three, for three different labels. I posted the third, Uh Huh Unh on Sun, not too long ago. Rita is a label Billy Lee Riley started with Roland Janes, both of whom were alumni of Sun Studios. As well as Janes (mistyped as James on the label) on guitar, it’s likely that Misery featured J.M. Van Eaton on drums; earlier this year I posted a version of Bo Diddley that Van Eaton recorded, around the same time, for Rita’s sister label, Nita. Whoever was involved, the result is one and a half minutes of sound that stands the test of time. Difficult to categorise, Misery is often described with reference to the Belgian popcorn scene.
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.
Sun Records was about a lot more than just Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. A lot more than Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins too. Following his success in 1960 with the country-pop ballad Mountain Of Love, Harold Dorman came up with Uncle Jonah’s Place. Not unlike Don Hosea’s Uh Huh Unh – released on Sun just a month prior – this is a record that is decidedly racially ambiguous and somewhat defies pigeonholing. But, as a wise soul once said, there’s only really two kinds of music, and for me this belongs firmly with the former.
Jack Scott was a certified rock’n’roll star in his day. Born in Windsor, Canada of Italian heritage, he grew up just over the border in Detroit. Released in 1958, this was his third ever single and his first for the Carlton label – mine’s a UK pressing on London. It was a big hit, a million seller. Both sides climbed the charts; Leroy
went to #11, then the flip My True Love made it all the way up to #3. Leroy’s the rocker. It was originally called Greaseball and is the story of a guy who’s always finding himself in jail. You might say it’s a jailhouse rock.
Ray Vernon was the pseudonym of Link Wray’s elder brother and bandmate Vernon Wray. Along with youngest brother Doug on drums, they played together on most of Link’s well known records. On Big City After Dark, Link Wray’s epic guitar takes the distorted badassery of Rumble to a whole nother level. Released on Mala in 1962, this is the sound of bliss.
Late last year I referenced Bo Diddley’s She’s Fine, She’s Mine when writing about Willie Cobbs’ You Don’t Love Me, which clearly borrowed heavily from it. I’m happy to have since picked up the original from The Originator. It was released in 1955 as the b-side to Diddley’s second single, Diddley Daddy. Billy Boy Arnold plays harmonica, but it marks a split between the two of them because of what happened with the a-side.
Arnold had written a song, that he played with Diddley, called Diddy Diddy Dum Dum. He got the impression that Chess Records weren’t interested in him as a recording artist, so he took it to Vee-Jay and cut it with different lyrics as I Wish You Would. However, Chess had heard Diddy Diddy Dum Dum and wanted to release it as Diddley’s next single, maybe even with Arnold singing. But since he had just recorded it with Vee-Jay, that couldn’t happen. Chess were still keen on Diddley recording the song, so they also changed the lyrics and brought in Little Walter on harmonica. The result was Diddley Daddy.
Having two records as great as I Wish You Would and Diddley Daddy is some consolation for the fact that we’ll never get to hear Diddy Diddy Dum Dum as it was originally intended with Bo Diddley’s primitive guitar rhythms and Billy Boy Arnold’s heavy harmonica.
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.
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.
Although it was released just a few years after his well known Specialty Records releases, Larry Williams’ work for Chess is fairly unrecognised. Not for any good musical reason though, as this banger from 1960 shows. I Wanna Know was written by Harvey Fuqua, a founding member of the Moonglows and key figure in Motown’s early days. It was recorded in Chicago with Willie Dixon on bass and probably serving as a producer as well. Rock’n’roll had grown slightly more sophisticated by the time this was cut, but it was still a perfect vehicle for Williams’ impassioned vocals.
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