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

• Additions to Eddie Bond discography.
• Massive update on Blake Records. Thanks to Eric from Goner Records (Memphis, TN)!
• Discography updates on Willie Gregg.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Big Bee Bishop

Nuel "Big Bee" Bishop and the Oeb Mohawks - I Told a Lie (Big Bee BBS-501), 1967

The guitar and the overall sound of "I Told a Lie" always reminds a bit of Sleepy LaBeef's Wayside version of "Lonely." Compare it, I just want to know if anyone feels the same.

I have not much to say about this record. The flip side, "I Guess I'll Always Be a Fool for You," was written by "Mr. and Mrs. Nuel James Bishop" and copyrighted on June 20, 1967 (according to the "Catalog of Copryright Entries"). I guess the guy who choose a silver font on a light blue colored label didn't exactly know what he was doing. There was also a different pressing with a bright red yellow label and green print ot it, which made it much more readable.

I believe this disc to be one of Wayne Raney's Rimrock custom pressings, judging from the facts 1.) that it was an Arkansas based label and 2.) that the catalogue number is BBS-501. Rimrock custom pressings used to carry numbers created after the same pattern: Two or three letters (label name + S) and a two or three digit number. In addition, the dead wax bears the Nashville Matrix stamper and Rimrock's account number at Nashville Matrix, #88 (Rimrock used metal parts from them for the pressing plant). Oddly, also a Columbia custom code can be found in the dead wax. Conclusion: Raney sent the tapes to Columbia to master them but did press the record with his own plant? Comments on this?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ray Lunsford on Excellent



Ray Lunsford - Shelia (Excellent EX-400), 1958

Here we have a nice record by Ray Lunsford, "King of the Electric Mandolin." Lunsford (somtimes mis-spelled as "Lunceford") is mostly remembered as being Jimmie Skinner's mandolin player but otherwise largely forgotten today. Not more than a footnote in country music history, his impact on Skinner's distinct sound is nevertheless noteworthy. Also, he was one of the few musicians to play an electric mandolin as a lead instrument in a band during this era, being mentioned in the same breath as Tiny Moore of the Texas Playbos or Bob White of the Brazos Valley Boys.

Raymond "Curly" Lunsford hailed from Brodhead, Kentucky, and was born on November 8, 1908. Therefore, he was only a couple of months older than his later long-time companion Jimmie Skinner, who was born April 29, 1909, on a farm in Blue Lick, twenty miles away from Brodhead. Eventually, the Skinner family moved north to Hamilton, Ohio. Jimmie Skinner started out in the music business with his brother Elmer, auditioning unsuccessfully for Gennett Records in 1931 and for Bluebird ten years later in 1941. During the early 1940s, the Skinner brothers recorded a couple of demo sessions that included Skinner's later claim to fame "Doin' My Time." 

Reportedly, Skinner and Lunsford were neighbors for several years when Skinner invited Lunsford to a barbecue and discovered he was a musician. Skinner had worked as a deejay and also tried his hand at songwriting. In 1946, Ernest Tubb recorded his "Let's Say Hello (Like We Said Goodbye)" and in late 1947, Skinner held his first professional recording session at E.T. Herzog's studio in Cincinnati. The backing for this session consisted of Ray Lunsford and an unknown bass player, possibly Joe Depew. This sparse line-up was a bit reminiscent of later rockabilly bands, especially the slap bass technique. The results from this session were released on Red Barn Records (Red Barn #1101), a custom label.

In early 1948, Skinner and his band, consisting of Lunsford on electric mandolin, Esmer Skinner on fiddle, and Joe Depew on bass, returned to Herzog's studio in order to cut more sides, including the famous prison song "Doin' My Time," which became a classic in country but especially bluegrass music.

During the next years, Lunsford played on nearly all of Skinner's recording sessions. Approximately in 1948, Skinner moved to Cincinnati, where he met Lou Epstein, who signed him to a recording and managing contract. Epstein owned the Radio Artist label, which released several singles by Skinner and his band during the years 1949 and 1950. Afterwards, they recorded for Capitol (1950-1953), Decca (1953-1956), and Mercury (1957-1962). At some point in 1961, Lunsford dropped out of Skinner's recording band.


Already in 1952, Lunsford had backed up Estel Lee on some of her recordings for her own Excellent label (first based in Hoover, Ohio, then moved to Cincinnati). In 1955 and 1956, Lunsford also made some solo recordings for Excellent. He returned to Excellent in 1958 to record the instrumental "Shelia," written by him and Skinner. It was released in 1958 (Excellent #400) with the flip by Ralph Bowman "Tragedy of School Bus 27." Lunsford followed up with an EP on Hollywood's Sage label in 1959 featuring mandolin instrumentals.

In 1966, Lunsford appeared on a single on Style Wooten's Style label of Memphis. Credit was given to "Randell Barker, Ray Lunsford and the Melody Boys" and the disc featured "Down and Out Feelin' (Called the Blues" b/w "Mt. Vernon Rag" (Style #45-1928). In the late 1970s, Lunsford reunited one last time with Jimmie Skinner and recorded a session at Rusty York's Jewel recording studio in Mt. Healthy, Ohio. The results were released on a Rich-R-Tone LP. Jimmie Skinner died on October 27, 1981.

Ray Lunsford passed away nearly two years later on October 17, 1981. Please visit hillbilly-music.com, emando.com and The Ohio Valley Sound for pictures of Ray Lunsford.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tommy Mitchell

Tommy Mitchell - Juke Box, Help Me Find My Baby (Mercury 70930X45), 1956

I first heard Tommy Mitchell's version of Hardrock Gunter's "Juke Box, Help Me Find My Baby" on the Redita LP "I Want a Rock and Roll Guitar," even before the original version. Hardrock Gunter had recorded it around June 1956 at radio WWVA's studio in Wheeling, West Virginia, with Gunter on vocals and guitar, Buddy Durham on fiddle, and Bob Turston on bass. It was originally released on Cross Country #CX-524 but oddly, was picked up by Sun Records (Sun #248) soon after. With its back wood flavor, it was not really aimed at the rising rock'n'roll market that Sun tried to reach.

Tommy Mitchell was a Dallas based artist, I assume, and performed there as early as 1954, when he was a regular on WFAA's Saturday Night Shindig, a live stage show from the Dallas Fair Park Bandshell. Billboard also reported that he made a guest appearance on the Circle Theater Jamboree with Doc Williams that year. Williams performed regularly on the WWVA Jamboree like Hardrock Gunter - a connection? However, in the summer of 1956, we find Mitchell recording for Mercury "Little Mama" / "Juke Box, Help Me Find My Baby," which seems to have remained his sole release on the label that year. It was also released in New Zealand by Mercury. The same session yielded also another song, "If You Love Me," which remained unissued.


Billboard August 25, 1956, C&W review

In 1957, Mitchell joined the cast of the Big D Jamboree. From one of those shows, a live tape of Mitchell performing Elvis Presley's hit "Too Much" has survived. In 1960, Mitchell was back at Mercury recording "My One and Only Love" / "Completely" (Mercury #71638X45). There was also a Thomas Mitchell from Grenada, Mississippi, whose real name was possibly Thomas Mitchell May, according to Terry Gordon's RCS site. He owned (and recorded for) the Flash label - actually, his "I'm a Wise Old Cat" was recorded at Fernwood Studio in Memphis. Dave Travis states in his liner notes to the CD "Fernwood Rockabillies" that he is the same Tommy Mitchell on Mercury and hailed from Louisiana. Nevertheless, I doubt he is the same Tommy Mitchell.

Mercury one page ad in Billboard, August 11, 1956, advertising amongst others
Tommy Mitchell's disc. Note the wrong title of "Juke Box, Help Me Find My Baby."

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Walt Shrum on Calico

 Walt Shrum and the Westernairs - Playing with My Heart" (Calico W-1002)

Once described as dreary by my favorite record dealer, I nevertheless find both tunes - but especially "Playing with My Heat" - very delightful. It shows once again: tastes are different.

Walter Franklin Shrum was one of the Shrum brothers, the other being Cal Shrum, who appeared in several B western movies and also recorded a great body of noteworthy western swing music on the west coast. Born on July 4, 1912, in Missouri, Walt Shrum formed the "Colorado Hillbillies" in the 1930s in Denver, Colorado. Also part of that group was brother Cal. Their first movie appearance was in Gene Autry's 1938 "The Old Barn Dance." More western movies followed, including "Land of Fighting Men" (1938), "Blue Montana Skies" (1939, also starring Gene Autry), "The Desert Horseman" (1946), "Sagebrush Heroes" and "The Lost Trail" (both 1945), and "Swing, Cowboy Swing" (1946). Brother Cal had formed his "Rhythm Rangers" in the 1930s, with whom Walt also recorded during the 1940s.

Billboard August 4, 1945, ad for Shrum's new releases
on Coast Records

Walt Shrum also cut a string of great singles for Coast, Westernair, and Constellation during the second half of the 1940s. He also recorded for K and K as well as Calico in the 1950s. Walt Shrum died on May 1, 1991.

See here for a 78rpm discography of Walt Shrum. See also Some Local Loser and this website for more information on Cal Shrum.


See Walt Shrum and his Colorado Hillbillies in the 1946 movie "The Desert Horseman". Virgil Braly on accordion, Rusty Cline on guitar, and Jeannie Akers on vocals (although Adelle Roberts is seen in the movie).
 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Merle Haggard R.I.P.

For those you don't know yet...

Country music star Merle Haggard died on April 6, 2016, at the age of 79 years. One of the pioneers and biggest starts of the Bakersfield Sound, Haggard will be remembered for hits like "The Fightin' Side of Me," "Oakie from Muskogee" or "Mama Tried."

Read more at hillbilly-music.com.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jerry Barlow on Khoury's

 
Jerry Barlow and his Louisianans - Mama Don't Allow (Khoury's 701), ca. 1949

Jerry Barlow and his Louisianans
Unfortunately, I was not able to collect any info on Jerry Barlow or his backing band, the Louisianans. Barlow had another release on OT Records in 1949, "Louisiana Baby" b/w "Drifting Along the River" (OT 103). 

Khoury's Records
The Khoury's and OT labels were operated by George Khoury (1909-1998) in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Khoury, a record store owner of Lebanese ancestry, noticed that Cajun music, one of Louisiana's original music styles, was generally ignored by music companies and decided to change the situation. After being involved in the founding of OT Records, Khoury also set up the Lyric and Khoury's labels in 1949. He recorded a great body of authentic Louisiana music, including cajun, blues, swamp-pop and country music in subsequent years. He also produced the 1959 hit "Sea of Love" by Phil Phillips & the Twilights, releasing it originally on Khoury's. He stopped producing music in 1965.

Some confusion surounds this Khoury's release, since there is a later disc with the same catalogue number by Nathan Abshire from 1957. However, the Jerry Barlow release is believed to be from an earlier date, most likely from around 1949 (like his OT disc) and was probably the first non-Cajun recording on Khoury's and predated the 100 Lyric series as well. There is a lot of confusion regarding the label's release dates, since George Khoury often used numbers twice or left blankets in the label's catalogue.

Mama Don't Allow No Low Down Hangin' 'Round: A Chronology
The song "Mama Don't Allow" has been around for more than a century in American music. Peter C. Muir suggests in his book "Long Lost Blues: Popular Blues in America 1850-1920" that the song has a longer tradition in American folklore and existed in one form or another at least since the early 1900s. Further, he explained that one of those variants was the draft for W.C. Handy's 1912 work "The Memphis Blues," first recorded by the Victor Military Band for Victor and the Prince's Band for Columbia, both in 1914.

Papa Charlie Jackson
Apparently, W. C. Handy already performed a song called "Mr. Crump Won't 'Low No Easy Riders Here" in 1909 in Memphis, referring to the city's mayor Edward H. Crump. A similar version was created by Frank Stokes, a black blues guitarist also from Memphis, who recorded "Mr. Crump Don't Like It" circa in September 1927 in Chicago for Paramount with Dan Sane under the name of "Beale Street Sheiks." Both songs were based loosely on "Mama Don't Allow."

"Mama Don't Allow" soon became popular with both black and white musicians and a standard in different musical genres, including jazz, blues, and old-time folk. In fact, one of the first known recordings was made by popular old-time singer-guitarist Riley Puckett in 1928. However, probably the first who recorded it was the black singer Papa Charlie Jackson in 1925. In 1929, the black piano player Cow Cow Davenport recorded it for Vocalion as "Mama Don't Allow Now Easy Riders Here" and copyrighted it. Tampa Red recorded a version of this variant twice also for Vocalion. Davenport had performed on occasion with Tampa Red - probably also around that time -, which would explain why it became part of Tampa Red's repertoire. That same variant was also cut by John Oscar for Brunswick.

Subsequently, the song was recorded by countless artists. The following list contains historical recordings which I was able to track down. I am sure the list is incomplete - additions are appreciated.

Papa Charlie Jackson, Mama Don't Allow It (And She Ain't Gonna Have It Here) (Paramount 12296), recorded August 1925 in Chicago, Illinois  
Riley Puckett, Mama Won't Allow No Low Down Hanging Around (Columbia 15361-D), recorded April 11, 1928, in Atlanta, Georgia
Byrd Moore, Mama Don't Allow No Low Down Hagin' Around (Gennett 6991), recorded April 10, 1929, in Richmond, Indiana 
Cow Cow Davenport, Mama Don't Allow No Easy Riders Here (Vocalion 1434), recorded June 22, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois
Happy Bud Harrison, Mama Dont't Allow No Easy Riders Here (Vocalion 5405), recorded August 14, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois
Tampa Red and Georgia Tom, Mama Don't Allow No Easy Riders Here (Vocalion 1429), recorded September 4, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois
Tampa Red and his Hokum Jug Band, Mama Don't Allow No Easy Riders Here (Vocalion 1430), recorded September 4, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois
John Oscar, Mama Don't Allow No Easy Riders Here (Brunswick 7104), recorded 1929 prob. in Chicago, Illinois
Allen Brothers, No Low Down Hanging Around (Victor 23536, Bluebird B-5448, Montgomery Ward M-4797, His Master's Voice N4305 [India]), recorded November 22, 1930, in Memphis, Tennessee
Frank Welling, No Low Down Hanging Around (Champion 16709), recorded July 28, 1932, in Richmond, Indiana
Smilie Burnette, Mama Don't Like Music (Banner 33082, Melotone M13046, Melotone 91844 [Canada], Oriole 8344, Perfect 13011, Romeo 5344, Conqueror 8387), recorded May 29, 1934, in New York City, New York
Bill Boyd & His Cowboy Ramblers, Mama Don't Like No Music (Bluebird B-5855), recorded January 27, 1935, in San Antonio, Texas
Leon's Lone Star Cowboys, Mama Don't Allow It (Champion 45151, Decca 5423, Montgomery Ward 8015), recorded August 14, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois 
The Ink Spots, Mama Don't Allow (), recorded 1935
Washboard Sam, Mama Don't Allow It (), recorded 1935
Hackberry Ramblers, Mama Don't Allow No Hanging Around (Bluebird B-2187), recorded February 19, 1936, in New Orleans, Louisiana
Milton Brown & His Brownies, Mama Don't Allow It (Decca 5281), recorded March 3, 1936, in New Orleans, Louisiana
The Yellow Jackets, Mama Don't Allow (ARC unissued), recorded October 26, 1937, in Chicago, Illinois
Jerry Barlow and his Louisianans, Mama Don't Allow (Khoury's 701), recorded ca. 1949 prob. in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Vern Pullens, Mama Don't Allow No Boppin' Tonight (Spade unissued), recorded September 27, 1956, in Houston, Texas 
Lynn Pratt and his Rhythm Cats, Come Here Mama (Hornet 1002), recorded ca. late 1950s poss. in Jackson, Tennessee
Billie and Dede Pierce, Mama Don't Allow (Folk-Lyric FL 110 "New Orleans Jazz"), recorded ca. 1960 
Billy & Jimmy [Billy Wallace & Jimmy King], No Low Down Hangin' Around (Sims 120), recorded 1961 in Nashville, Tennessee
Flatt & Scruggs, Mama Don't Allow It (Columbia 4-42840), recorded February 25, 1963, in Nashville, Tennessee 
Al Brundage / Pete Lofthouse Band, Mama Don't Allow It (Winsor 4826), recorded ca. 1963
The Rooftop Singers, Mama Don't Allow (Vanguard VRS-335020), recorded prob. 1964

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Jim Dandy label

The Jim Dandy label story:
Memories of photos and records

Jim Dandy advertising in "The Colonnade"
(Milledgeville, Georgia), December 7, 1957
I have been into the story of the small Jim Dandy record label since late 2010. Since my first post about it back then, I was able to assamble more detailed information about this local South Carolina label that was operated by Jim Price. Carolina music researcher Vance Pollock as well as a handful of witnesses and relatives of Price made it possible to present now an extended write-up about it.

The Jim Dandy record label originated from the small Jim Dandy recording studio, which was located in the Jim Dandy Film Service in Newberry, South Carolina. The film service was opened by James Broy "Jim" Price (born in 1918) and his wife Rita in 1957. By the late 1950s, Price also built a small recording studio within the film service and in 1961, set up the Jim Dandy record label. Its first release was the Elvis inspired "Destiny and Desire" / "Please Be Fair" by Fred Thompson that same year.

In December 1961, Billboard reported that Jim Dandy "offers jockey samples on its two new releases," which were by Melvin Morris with "Charlie's Got a Horn" / "Remember You're Mine" (Jim Dandy #1004) and Jim Stocks with "Knock on Another Door" / "Shadows" (Jim Dandy #1005). Further, Billboard explained that Price was always looking for new artists and songwriters.

Most of the releases were by local artists, including Eddie Kirkley and the duo Buck & Tommy. Songwriter Bill Trader, well-known for penning the hit "(Now and Then) There's a Fool Such As I", recorded an album of his own compositions on Jim Dandy. Trader was born on May 1, 1922, and hit big in 1952 with "(Now and Then) There's a Fool Such As I." It became a hit when Hank Snow recorded it and was later successfully covered by Elvis Presley, Jo Stafford, and Petula Clark. In 1962, Trader and his band, the Castaways, recorded an album of his own compositions. The songs "Cherokee Call" and "Bitter Harvest" from that album were also released on 45rmp.

Another act that recorded for Price was the duo Buck Jones and Tommy Hagen. They were from Wilson, North Carolina, and performed locally with Jimmy Capps, specializing in Louvin Brothers songs. In 1960, they had recorded their first disc for Ronald Killette's Glendale label and followed up with "A Lost Love" / "Never Love Again" for Price's Jim Dandy label (Jim Dandy #1007). The songs were in the Louvin style, which is no suprise since their lead guitarist Jimmy Capps was playing with the Louvins since 1959. Another disc by Buck and Tommy was rushed out by Price in 1962, comprising "Forever" and "Where Shattered Memories Are" (Jim Dandy #1008). Hagen joined up with Charlie Louvin about eight months after the Louvin Brothers split up in 1963. He played mandolin and sang the high harmony parts that Ira used to provide. Buck Jones remained in the Wilson area, recording some more 45s for Tiki Records, working on radio and television as well as running his own nightclub that closed in 2015

In 1962, Bill Haney and the Dixie Buddies had at least two releases on Jim Dandy. While "Oh! How I Cry" (Jim Dandy JD-1012) was a bluegrass song, his version of the "Crawdad Song" on Jim Dandy JD-1013 is a country outing with rock'n'roll elements. Haney was born in Haywood County, North Carolina and in 1957, he was part of Curtis Lee and the Dixie Buddies, with whom he appeared on the WRVA New Dominion Barn Dance out of Richmond, Virginia. His first record was made for the Atlanta based Super label. He toured the east coast in the 1950s and 1960s, playing country, bluegrass, and rock'n'roll, and also recorded for Dee-Dee and JFI.  In the 1980s, he performed locally with a band called the "Zassoff Boys" and also recorded an album with this group.

Jim Price closed down his Jim Dandy business in the early 1960s. In 1968, his wife Rita died but he remarried in 1971 and moved to Clinton, South Carolina, where Jim Price died in 1989. He was buried at the Newberry Memorial Gardens next to his first wife.


Discography

45rpm  
JD4501: Fred Thompson - Please Be Fair / Destiny and Desire (1961)
JD-1000:
JD-1001:
JD-1002: Saxons - You Are the One / The Power of Love (1961)
JD-1002: Judy Wright with Musical Accp. - Stop / The City of Despair (1961)
JD-1003:  
JD-1004: Melvin Morris - Charlie's Got a Horn / Remember You're Mine (1961)
JD-1005: Jim Stocks - Knock on Another Door / Shadows (1961)
JD-1006: Jim Hardin - It's a Shame / Blue Eyes
JD-1007: Buck & Tommy - A Lost Love / Never Love Again
JD-1008: Buck & Tommy - Forever / Where Shattered Memories Are
JD-1009: Eddy Kirkley - I'll Keep Telling Myself / Ole' Blues (1962)
JD-1010:
JD-1011: 
JD-1012: Bill Haney - Oh! How I Cry / 27 Strings (1962) 
JD-1013: Bill Haney & the Dixie Buddies - Crawdad Song / Lookout, I See a Heartbreak (1962)
JD-1014: Castaways - Caravan / Carol's Theme
JD-1015: Ideals Combo - Lift-Off / Double Shot
JD-45-962: Bill Trader and the Castaways - Cherokee Call / Bitter Harvest

Note: The number JD-1002 was apparently used twice.
 
Extended Play
EP 101: Lulu Belle & Scotty - Tenderly He Watches Over Me / When They Ring the Golden Bells / Have I Told You Lately That I Love You / Spanish Fandango
 

EP 102: Arthur Smith and the Crossroads Quartet - Deliverance Will Come / Will the Circle Be Unbroken / Amazing Grace / Beyond the Sunset / The Ninety and Nine / Whispering Hope
 
Albums  
JD-LP-963: Bill Trader & the Castaways - Bill Trader Sings his Songs 

Sources: Billboard, RCS, Country & Western blog, eBay, Bill Haney's website, Jerry Kendall, Bob, Kay Bank Custom Pressings, Mr. TeenSwe, Lightnin', Hayne Davis, Safran's Antiques, The Directory of American 45 RPM Records (by Ken Clee)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Gene & Martha Burns on Camaro

 
Gene and Martha Burns - You're Looking at Me (Camaro 45-3447), 1971

Following my latest post, here's another one from Style Wooten's Camaro imprint. I don't know very much about Gene and Martha Burns other than they had three releases in 1971 on Camaro and another on Ouachita Records.

The Ouachita record was a Rimrock custom pressing and featured their version of the old Gene Autry & Jimmy Long hit "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine." The label was based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, which is located south of Hot Sprints and likley took its name from the Lake Ouachita or the Ouachita River in the Ouachita National Forest north of Hot Springs. Thus I believe they were a local act from Arkadelphia and possibly a brother-sister duet rather than a husband-wife duo, since it reads on their Ouachita release "arranged and produced by the Twins."

If anyone out there has more information on them to share, please feel free to contact me. I'm really interested in their story.

Gene & Martha Burns Discography

Camaro 45-3432: The Valley of Death / Old Time Faith (1971)
Camaro 45-3447: You're Looking at Me / Wonder Who (1971)
Camaro 45-3448: Shake You From My Mind / 100 Proof Tears (1971)
Ouachita OS-34: Silver Haired Daddy of Mine / ?

Read more

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Wallace Gillispie on Camaro

Wallace Gillispie - Dim Lights Thick Some (Camaro 45-3491), 1973

Here's an odd one from Style Wooten's Camaro label in Memphis. Being a custom pressing company, amateur singers were no rarity on Wooten's labels. Gillispie recorded this gem in 1973. For the flip side, he used all of his songwriting talent to come up with "The Son of a Farmer," which was pretty much a reworking of "Life to Go." To be sure to escape any copyright infringements, Wooten didn't put up the composers of "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke," which were of course Joe Maphis and his wife Rose Lee. Their original version became a hit in 1953 on the OKeh label.


Read more:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Story of Perfect Records

The (short) Story of Perfect Records
(Miami, Florida) 
 
According to researcher John Miller, Perfect Records "made its appearance during the early 1950s and was devoted exclusively to Country and Western music." I hope I don't tell no lies because I'd say, nothing in this sentence is true. Maybe Miller did not knew better when he wrote these words in 1979 for the first volume of the "Miami Rockabilly" LPs but neither issued Perfect only country material nor made the label its first appearance on the market in the early 1950s.

Perfect Records was one of Harold Doane's labels, owner of the American Transcription and Recording Service, later shortened to ART. Much has been written on this blog about about his other labels Art and AFS. My intense research over the last few years showed that Perfect was likely established by Doane in 1955. No records dated earlier than 1955 have surfaced so far. Miller's statement that Perfect was solely intended for country & western material can be neglected as well. The fact that latin jazz records by Machito & his Afro-Cuban Orchestra were released as earky as 1955, makes it hard to believe that Doane had an exclusive country label in mind when he set up Perfect.

Though, one has to admit that the label's first releases in its 100 series seem to be country recordings without exception. The 100 series was issued only in the US - or South Florida to be precise. Other discs with different catalog numbers were likely produced for markets outside the US, including Panama and Costa Rica.

By 1956, rockabilly entered the repertoire of Perfect, as it was the case with so many labels in those days. The first recordings in this new style were those by Tommy Spurlin and the Southern Boys, a local Miami country outfit that had developed their own rockabilly tunes by then. West Palm Beach singer Wesley Hardin followed up with two recordings of hits of the day, "Honky Tonk Man" (Johnny Horton) and "Cry! Cry! Cry!" (Johnny Cash). The last known rockabilly release on Perfect was by Mike Shaw, once a member of radio and TV personality Happy Harold Thaxton's popular country band (who also had a release on Perfect). Shaw laid down two rasping recordings of "Long Gone Baby" and "Frankie and Johnnie," which became local hits.

The Perfect label was, however, a rather short-lived affair. By the tail end of 1956, the label vanished from the local music scene. In 1957, Doane replaced it with AFS Records, which operated well into the early 1960s.

If anyone can contribute to the discography or can share memories of Harold Doane's operations, artists, or the Miami country music scene in general, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me via e-mail. 

Read more about Miami's musical past:
 

Discography

Perfect 100

Perfect 101

Perfect P-102
Harold Donelson with the Buckeroos
Hillbilly Waltz (Harold Donelson)
ART-126 A
Eddie Thorpe with the Buckeroos
Rose of San Antone (Bob Wills)
ART-126 B

Perfect 103

Perfect P-104
Happy Harold and his Dixie Millers
Queen of the Smokeys (Cecil Carbonell)
Art 136-A
Mary Peck with Happy Harold and his Dixie Millers
Broken Hearted (Cecil Carbonell)
Art 136-B

Perfect 105

Perfect 106

Perfect 45-C-107
Tommy Spurlin and the Southern Boys
Danger! (Spurlin) / Ain't Had No Lovin' (Since the Last Time It Rained) (Spurlin)
A / B
1955
Billboard C&W review on October 22, 1955

Perfect 45-C-108
Tommy Spurlin and the Southern Boys
There Might Have Been a Love Song (Spurlin) / Tomorrow I'll Be Gone (Spurlin)
A / B

Perfect 45-109
Tommy Spurlin and the Southern Boys
Hang Loose (I've Gotta Rock) (Spurlin; Frost) / One-Eyed Sam (n.c.)
A / B
1956
Billboard C&W review on August 4, 1956

Perfect 45-C-110
Wes Hardin with the Southern Boys
Cry Cry Cry (Cash) / Honky Tonk Man (n.c.)
1 / 2
1956

Perfect 45-C-111
Mike Shaw with Sons of the Drifting Sands
Long Gone Baby (Shaw) / Frankie & Johnny (arr. by Shaw)
1 / 2
1956
Billboard C&W review on October 27, 1956

Perfect TR 45-4000
Machito and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra
Holiday Mambo (Chico O'Farrill) / Si Si - No No (Rafael Blanco Suazo)
ZTSP 24603 / ZTSP 24604 (Columbia)
1955

Perfect 45-4001
Machito and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra
with Graciella & the Rigual Brothers
Hay Que Recordar (Piloto-Vera)
ZTSP 24518 (Columbia)
Machito and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra
Negro Nanamboro (Mariano Merceron)
ZTSP 24519 (Columbia) 
1956  

Perfect No.#
Machito and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra
Adios (Woods-Madriguera)
ZTSP 24093 (Columbia)
Machito and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra / Vocal: The Skylarks
Mambo a la Savoy (Fuller-Machito) 
ZTSP 24094 (Columbia) 
1956