Welcome to Mellow's Log Cabin. This blog's purpose is to supply information on a diversity of American southern music - ranging from country, blues, old-time and folk to R&B, rock'n'roll and rockabilly. I regularly present my research results about artists, labels, shows and also give guest writers a chance to publish their texts here on occasion.


• Updates on the AFS discography.
• Added info to Regal Records.
• Updates on the Do-Ra-Me discography.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

The Sparkletones on ABC-Paramount

Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones - Boppin' Rock Boogie (ABC-Paramount 45-9837), 1957

Due to the recent passing of Joe Bennett, I thought it would be a good idea to spotlight Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones' career a little bit more today. I chose not to include "Black Slacks" here but the flipside of the bands' top single, "Boppin' Rock Boogie." It is much in the same vein of all their other ABC-Paramount recordings but much lesser known.

The Sparkletones were made up of students from Cowpens High School in Spartansburg, South Carolina, formed in 1956. Joe Bennett was on vocals and lead guitar, Howard "Sparky" Childress on electric rhythm guitar, Wayne Arthur on bass, and Irving Denton on drums. The four teenagers played rock'n'roll locally. They were part of a musical transition that took place during this time: the rural rockabilly sound evolved into a smoother, urban style that was soon known as rock'n'roll.

In January 1957, the Sparkletones took part in a talent show at Spartansburg Memorial Auditorium, organized by CBS talent scout Bob Cox. The band won first prize and Cox was impressed right from the start. He was convinced the Sparkletones would became teenage stars and immidiately quit his job with CBS in order to manage the young group. Cox and his new protégés flew to New York City, where they signed a recording contract with ABC-Paramount.

Already the next day, the Sparkletones went into the studio to record the Bennett-Denton composition "Black Slacks" as well as "Boppin' Rock Boogie," written by Bennett and Arthur. Paul Anka, who had recorded hours before them in the same studio, watched them while they recorded and even sang harmony during their session. Both songs were released in the summer of 1957 on ABC-Paramount #45-9837, credited to "Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones." Cliff "Farmer" Grey was the first DJ to play "Black Slacks" at WSPA in Spartansburg. Soon other DJs also played the record and it eventually peaked #11 on Billboard's R&B charts and #17 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Billboard July 15, 1957, pop review

The Sparkletones set out on the road to tour the US and to promote their record. The tour took them across the country to the west coast. They would also play the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas for a couple of weeks. TV appearances on the Nat King Cole show, American Bandstand, and the Ed Sullivan show followed.

Promo picture of Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones

In late 1957, ABC-Paramount released a follow-up, "Penny Loafers and Bobby Socks" b/w "Rocket" (ABC-Paramount #45-9867), which also hit the charts but only at #42. Nevertheless, the Sparkletones kept up a busy touring schedule across the country and recorded further singles, including the great "Cotton Pickin' Rocker." Subsequent singles failed to chart, however, and ABC-Paramount did not renew their contract in 1959. At the same time, Childress left the group and was replaced by Gene Brown. Denton also eventually left and was replaced by Donny Seay.

The Sparkletones signed a contract with Jack Gold's Paris Records. On the Paris label the group had one last minor hit. "Boys Do Cry," a slower teenage pop song coupled with "What the Heck" (Paris #45-537), reached #105 on the charts in 1959. In 1960, Box Cox left the group and the Sparkletones broke up in October 1960 after years of touring, promoting, and recording. Howard Childress performed country music for some time in the early 1960s.

Eventually, all members took regular day jobs and reunited from time to time in the 1990s. They appeared at the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Festival in 2011. Joe Bennett passed away on June 27, 2015, at the age of 75.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The OJ label

The beginnings of the OJ record label in Memphis probably date back to late 1956. Founded by Charles G. "Red" Matthews and Bill Biggs, OJ released a total of 15 records over a two year stretch. Although it was only a small operation, OJ managed to score minor hits with its first two releases.

While there is no information on Bill Biggs, Charles Matthews had been a songwriter for some time by 1956 but success had eluded him. With the advent of rock'n'roll and the rising of independent labels in Memphis like Sun Records, Matthews and Biggs set up OJ Records on 1018 North Watkins Avenue in Memphis. OJ was a shortcut for Old Judge, Matthews' music publishing firm. Apart from OJ material, Old Judge handled the publishing for a considerable amount of other songs in the Memphis area, including releases on House of Sound and Hornet.

Matthews' first artists were Bobby Chandler and the Stardusters, a white teen rock'n'roll vocal group from Little Rock, Arkansas. The Stardusters were founded in 1956 while Chandler was a student at Little Rock high school. It included Chandler, Bill Sharp, Bobby Blount, Bill Glasscock, and Bill Dedman on guitar. Later on, also Trumann Mitchell and Bob Walters sang with the group. The Stardusters appeared at local high school dances in Little Rock and were signed to a recording contract by Matthews in 1956. Their first release comprised the Quinton Claunch/Bill Cantrell penned "Im Serious" and "If You Love'd Me." The coupling appeared in either late 1956 or early 1957 and saw review in Billboard on February 2, 1957. Although the magazine was sceptical about the single's hit potential, it eventually entered several local charts in Tennessee as well as Arkansas and even peaked at #38 on Billboard's Hot 100 charts. Chandler and the Starduster became OJ's most prolific recording artists with a total of three releases. Chandler also had one release on Hi ("The Voice of a Fool" / "By-O", Hi #2012, 1958). He toured the US a couple of years before returning to Little Rock. Chandler died in 2012. Visit his website here.

Charles Matthews also placed several of his own compositions with his artists. Dave Gardner, who went on to fame as comedian Brother Dave Gardner, recorded his "White Silver Sands" in 1957 for OJ. Gardner, born in Lexington, Kentucky, had previously recorded for Decca in 1956 and then for OJ in 1957. "White Silver Sands" was coupled with "Fat Charlie" on OJ #1002 and became the label's second hit. "White Silver Sands" peaked at #28 in July 1957 on the Billboard Hot 100. Don Rondo also recorded a version for Jubilee, which became a #7 hit that same year. "White Silver Sands" was eventually also recorded by Owen Bradley, Bill Black's Combo, as well as Sonny James and was voted #27 in Billboard's "1957 Top Tunes."

Gardner recorded a second single for OJ that same year as a follow-up on OJ #1006. "Mad Witch" was a spooky rocker written by Matthews, while "Love Is My Business" was again a Claunch/Cantrell penned song, which was later also cut by Cliff Gleaves (an unreleased take for Sun and a released version on Summer) and Bobby Wood (Vin). Gardner's version seems to be the first one recorded. However, it appears that there was a second version of this single released with "Love Is My Business" as the top side and a different flip, "I'll Never Make You Blue."

Both OJ #1000 and OJ #1002 became the label's biggest sellers. There are still many 45rpm and even 78rpm copies popping up. Other artists on OJ were less successful, though probably not less talented. Wailin' Bill Dell, Nancy Lee, the Rockin Dukes, and Charles Senns also had releases on OJ but they didn't caught on with the record buyers back then. Another singer worth mentioning is another Jackson, Tennessee, native, namely Wink Martindale, who started his career on OJ with two records. Martindale also hosted "Top Dance Party" on WHBQ already since 1956 in Memphis. In June 1956, he had a special guest on his show: Elvis Presley. Martindale began recording for Dot in 1958 and continued to release disc for the label well into the 1960s. He eventually became a famous game show host.

By 1958, OJ's last records were released and Matthews finally closed down the label. Interest in the OJ label has been limited in recent years to unknown reasons. Some releases like "Mad Witch" by Dave Gardner or the Rockin Dukes' record, nevertheless, became collector items. 

thanks to DrunkenHobo and Xavier Maire

OJ 1000
Bobby Chandler and his Stardusters
I'm Serious (Claunch; Cantrell) / If You Love'd Me (Bobby Kindred)
M-1005 / M-1006
1957 (BB)

OJ 1001
Chester Guyden
Miss Fannie Brown () / You Gotta Help Me Some ()

OJ 1002
Dave Gardner
White Silver Sands (C. Matthews) / Fat Charlie (G. McCarty)
M-1011 / M-1012
1957 (BB)

OJ 1003
Wailin' Bill Dell and the Bachelors
Do You Care (B. Dell) / You Gotta Be Loose (B. Dell)
M-1016 / M-1017 

OJ 1004
Nancy Lee and the Bachelors
You're My Inspiration (A. Doddona; J. Ayre) / My Heart Has Wings ()
M-1018 / ?

OJ 1005
Bobby Chandler and his Stardusters
Shadows of Love (Matthews; Biggs) / Me and My Imagination (Claunch; Cantrell)
M-1009 / M-1010

OJ 1006
Dave Gardner
Mad Witch (Matthews; Baffa) / Love Is My Business (Claunch; Cantrell)
45-1020 / 45-1022

OJ 1006
Dave Gardner
Love Is My Business (Claunch; Cantrell) / I'll Never Make You Blue (Ollie Shepard)
M-1022 / 45-1024

OJ 1007
The Rockin Dukes
Angel and a Rose (Butts; Robinson) / My Baby Left Me (L. Grant)
45-1032 / 45-1034

OJ 1008
Princess Ming Chu
Island of Love () / Hearts are Trumps ()

OJ 1009
Wink Martindale
Thought It was Moonlove (C. Matthews) / Love's Got Me Thinkin' (Matthews; Hunter) /
M-1038 / M-1040

OJ 1010
The Escorts
Arrow Two Hearts (Biggs; Matthews; Tate) / Misty Eyes (Nelson; Parker; Roberts)
45-1044 / 45-1045

OJ 1011
Wink Martindale
Love Brooke Loose (Singleton; Cathy) / I Don't Suppose
45-1041 / ?

OJ 1012
Bobby Chandler and the Escorts
Winter Time (Nelson; Crutchfield) / Junior Prom (G. Nelson; F. Burch)
J8OW-1140 / ? (RCA)

OJ 1013

OJ 1014
Charles Senns
Gee Whiz Liz (Halen Hudgins) / Dig Me a Crazy Record (C. Matthews)
J8OW-1137 / J8OW-1138 (RCA)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Freshest Live Albums in 50 Years plus

Another Bobsluckycat post presented by Mellow's Log Cabin!

After the recent passing of blues Icon B.B. King, I read somewhere and probably more than once that his recording of "Live at the Regal" was the definitive live blues performance on record. I bought that record when it first came out and it was a favorite of mine and my now 50 years old son used to dance to it in his playpen. He also still likes it (I warped him early. He's a blues freak still.) In any case, I get the record out and gave it a play, and yes it's still fresh and alive as the first time I heard it. I wondered how many "live" recordings from the late 1950s and the 1960s would still be fresh after 50 years the way they were when they debuted.

B.B. King - "Every Day I Have the Blues"

I thought immediately of "James Brown Live at the Apollo" recorded on October 2, 1962, and I knew it was a multi-million selling LP. I played that and confirmed again that it was also as fresh and dynamic as the first time I heard it. Let me digress for a moment. From 1959 well into 1961, I had the opportunity to catch both performers live doing pretty much the same program and in the same order in San Jose, California, along with the likes of Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Bobby 'Blue' Bland, and others. So I was familiar with the programs, somewhat, before the LPs were ever recorded. Also just for the record, I got to see and hear Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs & The Foggy Mtn. Boys in concert in much the same time frame, but later, at lesser venues in the East, probably late 1962 or early 1963. The James Brown LP was more theatrical in nature and had to be seen to get the whole picture, but the sound version is indeed a ground-breaking historical R&B definitive live show unmatched to this day. The sound quality of the recording is fantastic. James Brown produced this recording and the sound engineer was Chuck Seitz of Columbia Records in charge.

Introduction to James Brown by Fats Gonder

James Brown - "I'll Go Crazy"

Live LPs from about 1951 forward were in monaural and on small jazz labels such as Fantasy and Verve among others. Big Bands were breaking up due to the financial considerations more than anything else and were not doing live recordings. Occasionally a big pop star such as Lena Horne would do a live LP and have a hit record. Her recording of "Lena Horne Live at the Waldorf Astoria" on RCA-Victor jumped high onto the Billboard charts giving her a major hit LP for several weeks in 1957. She became the largest selling female artist on RCA-Victor for quite some time after this hit. As the recording techniques improved during the late 1950s, with the introduction of first, high fidelity sound and then stereophonic recording, "Live" became more practical and sold very well in the jazz and popular music categories, while at the same time most of the new music (rock'n'roll, country, R&B and the such geared to a younger audience) was being served by the 45 RPM 7" record (the 78 RPM went defunct in 1957). Sometimes it crossed over but most of the jazz and pop music was by and for older adults who had a lot of money to spend and they bought LPs and "Hi-Fi's" and stereo's and such and in some cases in elaborate furniture pieces with 12 inch stereo speakers. However, now 50 years later or so, do any of those live recordings still stand up as fresh and contemporary as back then?

Most of those musicians and their audience is long deceased, but as for the music... I have two great examples coming up. Ahmad Jamal had been a jazz/lounge style piano player for a few years with a light style and touch with a trio consisting of piano, bass and guitar and it was bland but successful, somewhat, and did some early recordings for CBS/Epic records. When he changed out the guitar for more percussion in the person of Vernell Fournier, the entire trio seemed more complete. On January 16, 1958, at the small Pershing Club in Chicago, Jamal recorded the entire 43 song evening for Chess Records, 8 cuts were released as Argo LP 628. "But Not For Me" and a rather long version of "Poiniciana" at 8:07 caught the ear of the American public and the album took off like no other into the "Pop" music scene with a vengeance. 107 weeks in the Billboard album charts, millions of units sold of the LP and more with follow-up and repackaged LPs over the next several years. A footnote today. The one thing I always liked about Jamal was his sense of whimsy. He played a variety of songs, pop song hits, show tunes and others that allowed him to play with the music and in doing that play with the musical sensibilities of the audience. On this LP I have chosen "Music, Music, Music," a pop hit for Teresa Brewer and the Ames Brothers in 1950 to illustrate my point. 

Ahmad Jamal - "Music, Music, Music"

Frankie Carle, pianist and band leader from the 1930s had a string of hits and covers on Columbia Records into the 50s at which time he signed with RCA-Victor Records and put out several albums which sold well enough to warrant a live LP, "Top of the Mark" as by Frankie Carle & His Orchestra (RCA-Victor LSP-2233?) was recorded on May 7, 1960, a deluxe LP with many pages about San Francisco in words and pictures and short on songs. It's as slick as it could be, but I doubt it made its negative cost back. It's a great overlooked LP. I was in the San Francisco area at the time, but alas I had no tuxedo nor the $50.00 dollars per ticket to get in either. What's a twenty year old to do in such a sophisticated world, anyway? I ran across this LP still wrapped several years later. I love it. (Truth behind the story.) My father was a giant Frankie Carle fan for years. He played Frankie Carle records all the time. I heard them all from a very young age. The opening song "Beg Your Pardon" was a personal favorite of my father's and it's included here. So sue me.

Frankie Carle and Orchestra - Intro and "Beg Your Pardon"

In the late 50s and early 60s, the two major labels doing live LPs were RCA-Victor mostly out of L.A. (Hollywood) and Capitol Records which was doing recordings of Louie Prima and Keeley Smith with Sam Butera and The Witnesses in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, and other locations as well. On May 4, 1959, at the first Grammy Awards in L.A., Louie Prima & Keeley Smith got the award for "Best Vocal Performance," on the strength of an album cut which went to the top 20 and a gold record for "Old Black Magic" in November of 1958. With a lot of million selling "groups" having hit records, it's a little dubious that they should win the Grammy, but they did. Vegas? Reno? You do the math. The first commercial country music LP was "Hank Thompson at the Golden Nugget" (Capitol Records LP S1632) which was recorded in March 1961. It was a fine showcase for Hank and his large western swing type band featuring Merle Travis on lead guitar and it is still fresh today as far as traditional "golden age" country music goes.

Hank Thompson & the Brazos Valley Boys - "Honky Tonk Girl"

"Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys at Carnegie Hall" (CBS/Columbia CS8845), recorded on December 8, 1962, is the definitive live recording of the group and it also included Merle Travis. In 1998, however, the tiny label Koch Records reissued the complete concert of 32 songs on Koch-CD 7929 and that CD is the more definitive Flatt and Scruggs live concert. It is beyond that even. It is the only bluegrass album you really need to own. Those 32 songs run the gamut of bluegrass as defined then in 1962 and now. Even if you came down from Mars or somewhere, this is the only Bluegrass album you need to have to know the genre.

Flatt and Scruggs - "Salty Dog Blues"

Jerry Lee Lewis over the years recorded several live albums and they run from grade "A" to grade "D" and never doing a really bad one. Jerry's first live LP was recorded on April 5, 1964. "Live at The Star-Club" for the Dutch label Phillips and it was a "grade A" monster LP across Europe, very popular LP with a terrific number of units sold and due to legal conflicts was never issued in North America. This is the opening song attached.

Jerry Lee Lewis - "Mean Woman Blues" (live at the Star-Club)

Three months later on July 1, 1964, at the Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham Alabama, Jerry recorded what was supposed to be the American equal to the "Star-Club" LP. It wasn't. It was a much larger room, the sound was somewhat off, the song selection somewhat off as well. The opening number tells all. The LP "The Greatest Live Show on Earth" as it was titled, wasn't. It came onto the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 albums before falling off quickly and was in the cut-out bins by years' end. "Grade D."

Jerry Lee Lewis - "Jenny, Jenny, Jenny" (live in Birmingham, Alabama)

Johnny Cash had two "Live at" LPs in 1968 and 1969. "Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison" in 1968 and "Johnny Cash at San Quentin" in 1969 and they are bookends. One pretty much equals the other. The "Folsom" album sold well and was high in the charts. The "San Quentin" album was a smash album and went to number two on the album charts. The song "A Boy Named Sue" was number one on the country charts and number two on the pop music charts. Written by humorist and sometime Playboy cartoonist Shel Silverstein, the song went on to win a Grammy award and a CMA award as "Single Of The Year."

Johnny Cash - "A Boy Named Sue"

With a nod to my European readers, I am including a live album cut from 1968 by Israeli singer and light comedian Aliza Kashi, who was taking America by storm in the late 60s both in live performances and on television on many national programs with an eclectic mix of songs in various languages and from many different sources. Her last American album was "Hello People" (Jubilee JGS-8012) recorded live at the Caesar's Monticello supper club in Framingham, Massachusetts. Aliza was 28 years old at the time and at the very top of her game. I chose the song from the LP that I've always liked "Mala Femmana." Except for the English language songs, it's the only one I understand all the way through. It could have been recorded yesterday. Viva Aliza!

Aliza Kashi - "Mala Femmena"

Finally this final cut is from July 22, 1954. "Wailin' at the Trianon" (Columbia LP CL711) by Lionel Hampton And His Orchestra and it's a train wreck. The Trianon Ballroom until shortly before this point in time was a segregated white only venue, even though it was located in the blackest section of South Chicago. On this night, after Lionel himself kicks off the opening line to the song "How High The Moon," a pop hit from 1951, the band, the audience and all got into the act as the various forms, big band, jazz, R&B and whatever else came to mind, came together on a jam session that has to heard to be believe. It will wear you out listening.

Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra - "How High the Moon"

Download all files here
Enjoy all of these. My best to you all.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Zonia Records Discography

3635 Allandale

45-1964: Hugh Ronell - Who La Ta Da Da Do / Jag

Wooten Records Discography

3373 Park Avenue

45-1969: Travis Vance - Gonna Tell the Blues Good Bye / Crazy Me (1969)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tri-State Records Discography

P.O. Box 11522

The Tri-State label had a post office box adress printed on all labels, in contrast to other Wooten productions. The reason for this oddity is still unknown.

45-1921: "The Rambler" Max Riggs - The Playboy / The Story of the Country Boy (1967)
45-1922: Curley Fields - Son of a Gun, I Done It Again / Could It Be (1967)
45-1923: Clyde Nelson and Ronnie - Stairway to the Top / Wrong Side of Town (1968)
45-1924: Cousin Zeke - Get Your Finger Out of It / Lover Man Minus Sex Appeal (1968)
45-1925: Johnnie White - Two Old Mais, Part 3 / Two Old Maids, Part 4 (1968)
45-1926: Patsy C. Sharp - Lara / Cherry Hill P. T. A. (1969)

Torino Records Discography

3373 Park Avenue
P.O. Box 29004 (1057)

Another label named after an automobile. Torino 45-1057 gives a different adress that usual, which is probably a special customer adress.

45-1050: Jackie Foster and the Persuaders - Treat Her Right / ? (1969)
45-1052: Frank Gilreath & the Southern Swingsters - Homesick for Home / The Talk of the Town (1969)
45-1057: Duke Tintle - Out of a Clear Sky / Only Yesterday (1970)

Tentay Records Discography

3635 Allandale

There is nothing to say about this Style Wooten label except for the assumption that Bob Taylor was likely the same who recorded for the Cotton Town Jubilee and Express labels.

45-1041: Bob Taylor - After the Trial / Like a Crazy Fool (1965)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Style / Style Way Records Discography

Style / Style Way
3635 Allandale
3109 Park Avenue

Presumably Wooten's third label, after launching Eugenia and Big Style also in 1964. It was the first outfit to feature a distinct label design and was active at least until 1967. The next known release then appeared in 1977 (Guitar Harp McKinley James, now a valuable disc). Style also released one of the few LPs that Wooten produced. At least one release (#45-1967) was issued under the label name of "Style Way" with a different, green design.

Thanks to DrunkenHobo, Bob, Xavier Maire

45-1920: Dave Hollie - Lonely Street / Let's Start Our New Love Affair (1964)
45-1921: Don Willis - Mar's Dame / A Glass of Wine (1964)
45-1922: Billy Raye - Charles the Blues / How Was I to Know (1964)
45-1923: Johnny Gentry - Do You Take This Woman / Memphis, Rave On, Tennessee (1964)
45-1927: Little Chico - Little Green Man / My Wishes
45-1928: Randall Barker & Ray Lunsford - Down and Out Feelin' / Mt. Vernon Rag (1966)
45-1930: Landon Auburn and the Shifters - When I Met Daisy / Baby Don't Go (1966)
45-1933: The Country Travelers - I'm Losing Again / A Glass of Wine (1966)
45-1934: Danny Marshall - Miya Son / Yes I Do (1966)
45-1935: Paul Fannin - I Don't Trust Me / Honky Tonk Tramp (1967)
45-1936: Thelma Roy - Leaving You This Time / Queen of the Farm (1967) 
45-1937: The Cavaliers - Turn Your Leaf / W. F. 67 (1967)
45-1967: Odie Palmer - Half a Notion / There'll Never Be Another Like You (1967)
PAG 1977: Guitar Harp McKinley James - Flying Home / You Can't Tell Them Nothing (1977)

SLP-1919: McKinney Sisters - Sing 12 New Gospel Songs (1964)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pretty Girl Records Discography

Pretty Girl 
3373 Park Avenue

The earliest known releases on Pretty Girl are from 1968. Along with the founding of Pretty Girl, Wooten also launched Pretty Girl Publishing as an alternative to his Stylecraft division. The Pretty Girl label was intended for Wooten's "favorite" femaly country singers.

45-8167: Sherry Pierce - How Can I Fight What I Can't See / My Son's Last Mission (1968)
45-8171: Laurie Hunt - Dear Heart - L-O-V-E / The Shadow of Your Smile - Mama (1968)
45-8172: Bonita Stevens - All Girl Band / Little Bitty Cry (1968)
45-8174: Marianne Miller - Crashing the Grand Ole Opry / Walk Thru This World with Me (1968)
45-8178: LeAnne Mack - Pieces of My World / Just One More Time (1969)
45-8181: Tina Mari - Don't Lock Your Heart Up / The Love Bug Bit Again (1969)
45-8190: Joyce Lynn - Pieces of My World / One More Time (1971)
45-8193: Ruth Hartman - The Worlds Greatest Man / It's Like Heaven Here on Earth Loving You (1972)
45-8196: Helen Jean - Why Don't the Eskimoes Peek / Mommy for Christmas (1972)