Monday, October 27, 2014

Ray Sharpe - Texas Boogie Blues

The phrase "one-hit wonder" seems to have been invented for Texas blues and rockabilly artist Ray Sharpe. Best known for his 1959 dual market hit "Linda Lu," the singer-songwriter has parlayed interest in his early recordings into a solid following in domestic clubs and international festivals.
Described by the late producer Major Bill Smith as "the greatest white-sounding black dude ever," Sharpe's style encompasses all the best elements of early rock 'n' roll. As a singer-songwriter, he has mined Chuck Berry-type humor from the situations and wordplay in his songs. As a guitarist, he alternates snarling single note Albert King guitar bends with with twangy, free-flowing rockabilly. Moreover, after 40 years in the business, he manages to sound eternally fresh and youthful.

Got His Start in Fort Worth
Sharpe was born into a poor family split by divorce. One of his earliest memories is of living in a house without electricity or running water. The family's situation got marginally better when his mother relocated with her four children into a small apartment. A neighbor's radio first introduced Sharpe to the bluesy, big band sounds of T-Bone Walker, Pee Wee Crayton, and Lucky Millander. Yet, it was hearing such country-western icons as Jimmie Rodgers, Lefty Frizzell, and Hank Williams that inspired him to take up the guitar.
Young Sharpe worked as a janitor's assistant to earn the twenty-four dollars he needed to purchase his first guitar, a Stella. Once he became steady on the guitar, Sharpe played country music at high school talent shows, until he heard legendary bluesman Jimmy Reed's Vee Jay recording of "You Don't Have to Go." Reed's rudimentary style was easy to copy, and once the youngster learned it, he had all the building blocks he needed to make rock 'n' roll music.
The Sharpe family lived near a seedy bar called Cocoanut Grove. Undaunted by the bar's tough reputation, young Ray talked the owner into letting him play and sing for tips. He proved so popular that he was repeatedly asked back, and by the time he graduated from high school, music had become a lucrative alternative to training for a career as an interior decorator. Forming a band called Ray Sharpe and the Blues Wailers, he built up a good circuit of blues and rock gigs in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The group briefly enjoyed a regular spot on KCUL radio, which catapulted them into one of the area's top nightspots, the Penguin Club.
Among Sharpe's early supporters were "Crying in the Chapel" tunesmith Artie Glenn and his son Darrel, who enjoyed a 1953 country hit with the song. Impressed by his Penguin Club performances, the Glenns offered Sharpe leftover time at Darrel Glenn's next session, in exchange for some guitar work. The deal yielded two strong demos, a rock 'n' roll instrumental titled "Presley" and a spirited R&B shuffle "That's The Way I Feel." The senior Glenn circulated the demo to music industry contacts, finally securing meaningful interest from independent producers Lester Sill and Lee Hazelwood.

"Linda Lu" Was a Big Hit
Two of the most important independent producers of their era, Hazelwood had already made a star of twangy-guitar master Duane Eddy, and the veteran Sill would eventually help Phil Spector form his ground-breaking Philles Records label. Together they saw possibilities in Sharpe, and brought him to Phoenix's Audio Sounds studios to re-cut "That's the Way I Feel," and a new song, "Oh My Baby's Gone." Today, this coupling is regarded by collectors and archivists as inspired Chuck Berry-styled rockabilly, blessed with the feel of Texas blues. However, in 1958 the Dot Records' subsidiary Hamilton Records was unable to sell the disc to the public.
Sill and Hazelwood still had faith in their young singer, and called him back to do the four-song session that was destined to jumpstart his career. Continuing in the style of his first release, Sharpe first recorded two self-penned originals, "Kewpie Doll" and "Monkey's Uncle," along with a sax-led shuffle version of the standard "Red Sails in the Sunset." He needed one more song to fill out the session.
"When I wrote 'Linda Lu' back in the 1950s, I didn't think much of it," Sharpe told Randy McNutt, author of We Wanna Boogie: The Illustrated History of the Rockabilly Movement. "A buddy of mine named Mike had asked me to write a song about his girlfriend, Linda, who used to come into the club to dance." He further recalled, "I wrote the song to rib her a little bit. You see she had a fascinating rear end, so to speak. When she danced, people watched." After playing the song in clubs, the singer forgot about it until his second recording session at Hamilton. "Then in the winter of 1958 I went to the Audio Sounds recording studio to make a record with Duane Eddy's band backing me up," Sharpe recalled. "My producer Lee Hazelwood, asked me if I had one more song to make four, and I was stuck. So I started playing 'Linda Lu" for him."
"Linda Lu," with it's half-stuttered phrasing and rhythmic guitar hook, was the perfect teen rocker. Coupled with "Red Sails in the Sunset," the song was leased to Jamie Records in Philadelphia. Initially the latter tune was considered the A-side, but once Dick Clark began playing "Linda Lu" on his American Bandstand TV program, there was no question as to which side was the hit. Eventually the record rose to number 46 on the pop charts and number eleven on the R&B charts. It might have garnered more success, but the Blues Wailers felt Sharpe would be abandoning them by playing with the customary local musicians on tour. As a result, without strong management to advise him, Sharpe bowed out of an East Coast package tour that would have surely spurred his record sales. Undeterred, producers Sill and Hazelwood capitalized on the record as best they could, replacing "Red Sails in the Sunset" with Sharpe's rocker "Monkey's Uncle," on which they held publishing rights. "Linda Lu" became something of a bar-band anthem in the United States, where it was covered by various acts, most notably blue-eyed soul rocker Wayne Cochran. In the United Kingdom, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates hit the British Top 50 with their version.

Returned to Texas Blues
Despite a strong rapport with producers Sill and Hazelwood, Sharpe was never able to conjure a follow-up hit to "Linda Lu." First-rate Chuck Berry-flavored teen rockers "Long John," "T.A. Blues," and "Gonna Let it Go This Time" were not successful. Eventually the singersongwriter's masters were shopped around to such small independent labels as Trey, Garex, and Gregmark, who reissued the artist's lone hit with an over-dubbed vocal chorus and called it "The New Linda Lu." This was also the title of a 1964 LP of Jamie sides and rock covers titled Welcome Back, Linda Lou. Although he was happy to finally have his own album out, the ploy didn't restore Sharpe's chart fortunes.
Sharpe returned to the Texas bar scene, where he earned a steady living playing his danceable mix of rock and blues. Occasionally, an opportunity with a big label would raise his hopes. A smart one-off single with Monument, "It's Too Cold," b/w "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go," disappeared without a trace. The first of two raw and groovy soul singles with Atco, "Help Me Get the Feeling, Parts I & II," featured King Curtis's Orchestra and a young Jimi Hendrix on guitar. Best of all was the country soul number "Another Piece of the Puzzle," released by A&M in 1971. Pleading yet hopeful, the song should have signaled his mainstream reemergence, but didn't.
In an interview with Where Ya At, Sharpe tried to explain his career conundrum. "I wouldn't have called myself a blues singer but that's all I was doing in clubs. But they didn't record me because R&B was not happening in clubs. They were pursuing crossover artists, somebody that brought something different to the table. And the uniqueness with me is that I'm black but I sound white and play blues guitar. So they pitched me from one extreme to the other. I was never able to do some of the songs I wrote, like 'Justine' which had kind of a good funk/R&B thing to it."

Corrected link

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Frits's tapes Number 77 & 78

Tape 77:

Tape 78:

Hayes Ware - Blues Ghetto Woman From Mississippi To Chicago

Billy Branch: One memorable session that comes to mind was with Hayes Ware. You've heard of Hip Link Chain? For a few years Hayes played bass with Hip but he also played a little guitar. Hayes called me to do this project. The studio was right down the street from Theresa's. This old guy named Grover had a little basement studio. We had no rehearsal and this guy he played very rudimentary guitar but his songs were so original. Every time I play it for anyone, they always want a copy. The actual LP it's called Hayes Ware's Blues He Got A Woman. It is the funkiest sound and man you never heard a tone like I got in that studio. Never. This guy Grover was some kind of recording engineering genius. The tone of the harp is like the best of the tone of Sonny Boy on Chess Records. It's deep. That one was memorable because everything just fit. It was one of those magical moments. There were no rehearsals. Then you listen to it 20 years later and think damn that was some brilliant shit. (found on Youtube)
Doesn't get much funkier and low down than this gem.

Henry Brown - Henry Brown Blues

Henry Brown left Tennessee for St. Louis, MO, at the age of 12 and took up the piano while still in school. His playing style, an economical form of piano blues, was taught to him by a Deep Morgan Street blues player known to the public only as "Blackmouth." Brown later worked with St. Louis Jimmy Oden and trombonist Ike Rogers; with Rogers and guitarist Lawrence Casey, he formed a trio called the Biddle Street Boys. He recorded sides (often in tandem with Rogers) with Mary Johnson, among others, in between playing in clubs around St. Louis, where he lived most of his life and worked regularly right up through the mid-'70s.
LP has been re-released on Cd with an extra track.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Visitors requests....maybe you can help out

From now on I'll be using this post for your requests that I'll copy from the Chatbox. I'll do my best to keep it up te date.You may also leave requests, comments  and replies in the usual way and after moderation they will appear. As this posting will drop down the list with every new posting I will update it once a week to insure that it stays visible and near the top. Comments will be deleted regulary to keep them up to date.
Please do not request new or easy to find CD's as they will not be posted here. There are other excellent blogs that can help you out with your request.
That all been said we will have to start from scratch with the requests.

12-06-2014 Gerard Herzhaft/Blue Eye: Calvin Leavy:Give me your loving loving loving (originally on a Soul Beat 45 116).
13-06-2014 Owlface: Victoria Spivey and her Blues - Spivey Records LP-1002
18-06-2014: MarcD: Jody Williams - Time for a change / Lonely without you (Yulando 8665)
07-07-2014: Steve626: Ronnie Hawkins - Rrrracket Time, with James Cotton
24-07-2104 Anonymous: Guitar Shorty "On The Rampage" Olive Branch Blues LP - this is Guitar Shorty/David Kearney
04-08-2104 HM: Earl Hooker Put Your Shoes On Willie. Checker 45 B side to Tanya
10-8-2014 Bob Mac: Alfred Bolden: His Last and Greatest (King KS-G3-1106)
13-08-2014 Anonymous: George & Ethel McCoy: Early In The Morning - Adelphi AD 1004
18-08-2014 Gerard Herzhaft: Elmon Mickle & Ernie Pruitt Whatever You're Doing, Keep On Doing It/ Short 'n' Fat (E. M. and E. P. Records 133)Good Morning Little School girl(Wonder 15001)
20-08-2014 Rob F: Va - Those old happy days: 1960s blues from the Gulf (Flyright FLY 513)
23-08-2014 Aunt Fin: VA - Take A Little Walk With Me The Blues in Chicago  1948-1957
Boogie Disease
01-09-2014 Steve626: Big Joe Turner - The Real Boss of The Blues on Bluestime
07-09-2014 Leroy Slim: VA - Savannah Syncopators (CBS [UK]
12-09-2014: Riley: VA - Orange County Special (Flyright)
15-09-2014: Kempen: Snooks Eaglin: Message From New Orleans (Heritage vinyl)
03-10-2014 Anonymous: Herwin 405 "Cannonball: Piano Ragtime Of The Teens, Twenties & Thirties Vol. 2" and Wolf WSE106/WBCD-006: James "Yank" Rachel: Complete recordings in chronological order Vol. 1 (1934-38)
03-10-2014: Aunt Fin: New Orleans Willie Jackson ‎– 1926-1928, Old Tramp ‎– OT-1215
03-10-2014 Fabio: CC Richardson - Blues Of The City (Blue Jay) & I Ain't Got Nothing But The Blues
10-10-2014 Anonymous: Down Home Slide – Testament record
14-10-2014 Anonymous: Memphis Slim - 'If The Rabbit Had a Gun LP
17-10-2014 Sanma Bluesandroll:  Wade Walton: Shake Em On Down" Bluesville LP BV 1060
19-10-2014 Anonymous: Screamin' Joe Neal - Rock & Roll Deacon
21-10-2014 Luis Lisboa: J.DeBerry & W.Horton - "The Complete 1972/73 Memphis Sessions
21-10-2014 Snakeboy: Clifton Chenier / Rod Bernard Lp - Boogie in Black & White
26-10-2014 Anonymous: Big Bill Broonzy – Lonesome Road Blues LP

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Menard Rogers - Oh My Love "Titty" Can't Be Still

Filling a request from Gerard and I'll point you to his excellent blog for info on Menard Rogers.
I don't know if Menard packed the night clubs but this LP is a bit dodgy, a crap pressing and not for the blues fans out there but the track "Ain't nothing but a titty" is fun.


Sunny Land Slim - Plays The Rag Time Blues

A Lp that hasn't been listened to in years and thanks go to Luis Lisboa for requesting it. Backing by the fabulous Aces.
Thanks also to Stefan Wirz for the correct tracklisting taken from his Bluesway discography.
- Get Hip To Yourself
- Mr. Cool
- Bassology
- Ain't Gonna Drink No More
- It's You Baby
- Everytime I Gets To Drinkin'
- Lonesome Ride
- Canadian Walk
- Rice, Salmon And Black-Eyed Peas [not listed on back cover]
- Got To Get To My Baby [listed as "Goin' to My Baby" on the back cover]
- When Your Mama Quit Your Papa [not listed on back cover]


Frits's Tapes Number 75 & 76

Tape 75:

Tape 76:

Some more fine and sometimes obscure offerings from Frits.

Willie Egan - Rocks, Rolls & Boogies

If ever an artist was undeserving of obscurity, it was Willie Lee Egan, a Louisiana rocker in the style of Fats Domino and Smiley Lewis. Until the early 1980’s, nobody seemed to know if he was still living, which is not surprising, since even during Willie’s heydays in 1955 -56 his excellent records were poorly distributed and although he never cracked the national R&B charts, he developed an unrivalled reputation around Los Angeles clubs as "the House Rocker" with a pounding right hand piano style such as Jerry Lee Lewis would later make famous. The long out of-print ground breaking records he recorded for the tiny Mambo / Vita label have become the stuff of legend and trade hands among collectors for hundreds of dollars apiece. Willie Egan is back in the house and the house is definitely rocking! - Borrowed from Amazon