Thursday, August 23, 2012

Find Of The Week

A quick one before a three week hiatus: Jimmy Gartin, from Taylorville, WV. Best known for his recordings "Gonna Ride That Satelite" - spelt as is - on the Hi-Q label (as Jimmy Gartin And His Highlanders) and "Honey, Won't You Love Me" (as Jimmy Gartin And His Bad Cats), on two other Detroit-based labels, Fortune and Strate-8.
There do not seem to be any other releases by him, according to several sources. The more proud we are to present a previously unlisted 45 that has two distinguishing features: 1) the writing on label (WOL) indicating that the previous owner knew Charly, the bass player on this 45 and 2) the unique fact that Jimmy Gartin seemed to have a different band on each of his releases. Here it is "Jimmy Gartin With The Prides Of Detroit". While "Sometimes" is a beautiful country ballad, "Pains Of Love" convinces with an infectious groove and great  lap steel work.

Biographical info on Jimmy Gartin is almost non-existent. Fortunately, there is an interview out on Youtube showing an bare-chested and aged Jimmy Gartin playing guitar, drinking Johnny Bootlegger Apple shots and telling stories from the past. The "Agile, Mobile and Hostile" of Detroit Rockabilly, so to speak.
The video maker (Jimmy's niece's boyfriend) mentions that a book on Fortune records is in the making. Hopefully it will shed more light on Jimmy Gartin's biography.

Equally obscure is the Big Chief record label. We can assume that it was also in Detroit, but hope for more information through some comments. Any help here is highly welcome - we are here to learn.


Pains Of Love:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Find Of The Week

This is a real puzzler - and we do not mean the convoluted history of "Night Train", a blues instrumental that evolved from Johnny Hodges' 1940 opening riff to "That's The Blues, Man". Jimmy Forrest was part of Ellington's band when it performed this composition and used it for his original recording in 1952. Since then, it has been covered incountable times, and one of the less well known (and rocking instead of big band, soul or ska style)  renditions is featured here. 

From what we could gather about this version, it is not by an early Lemmy Kilmister (whose real name is Ian Fraser Kilmister and who indeed played guitar before joining Hawkwind), but by fellow Brit Ian Fraser, who was a pianist, composer, music director and conductor for the British Decca label. In addition, he also composed soundtracks, was an 8-time Emmy Award winner and had been nominated for an Oscar for Scrooge in 1970. 

In 1961, he produced and directed an album for Decca called "50 Fingers 5 Guitars". The virtuosity of the five guitar players, Alan Weighell*, Don SanfordEric FordJudd Proctor, and Terry Walsh was featured on tracks like Lullaby Of Birdland, Mack The Knife, Sleep Walk and Night Train. While most of the tracks are sleep-inducing easy-listening atrocities - they were even re-released by Hallmark in 2011, Night Train stands out as a wild reverb-and echo-laden rocker. British Decca was not allowed to use its name in North America, there already being an American Decca, so apparently Decca UK's American subsidiary London released it as a single in the US, omitted the "Orchestra" and added the exotic bongo-heavy, but guitar-less groover "African Waltze" (by Galt McDermot) as a non-LP bonus track. Nobody knows why they added an olde-fashioned "e" to "Waltz". Of course, any further information is highly appreciated.

Night Train:

African Waltze: 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Find Of The Week

This weeks find is a twin: two 7 inches that run on 78 rpm and are made of styrene, not shellac. Yessir, those have been around in the early 50s, during the "War Of The Speeds" - when the five major record labels could not decide yet which format would actually make it. After Columbia introduced the long player in 1948, RCA Victor countered with the 45 rpm 7inch record, whose USP was portability. Yet, many radio stations and jukeboxes still used 78 rpm equipment way into the mid-fifties, and smaller labels like Bell prodiuced their first record on 7-inch 78rpm styrene records - an opportunistic compromise?

A very good account of the 45 rpm disc development can be found in Jim Dawson & Steve Propes book: "45 rpm - The History, Heroes and Villains Of A Pop Music Revolution" (Backbeat Books, 2003; ISBN 0879307579).

Switching to music, here are Artie Shaw's own versions of two classics: "Besame Mucho" b/w "That Old Feeling". A stellar performance by Mr. Shaw and the Gramercy Five: Artie Shaw (cl), Hank Jones (p), Tal Farlow (g), Joe Roland (vib), Tommy Potter (b), Irv Kluger (d). Also one of Artie Shaw's last recordings in 1953 before he retired after being brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee. 

Besame Mucho:

That Old Feeling:

The second find comes from the same box, is in the same format and plays very similar notes - and also belonged to Arlene.... A latinized jazz standard, perhaps one of the jazz standards backed with a serious competition to Rosemary Clooney's all-time favorite Mambo Italiano. In contrast to Rosemary Clooney, only very little biographical information can be found for Ms. Russell: in the early and mid-50s, she had several sides on Bell records, most fo them on the 7-inch 78 rpm "39c series".  A complete discography can be found here. How come a singer with quite an output and a great voice did not leave more footsteps behind? Here is Billboard's review from December 1954: "An okay cover job on Rosemary Clooney's hit, with Bell's a personable vocal."

St. Louis Blues Mambo:

Mambo Italiano: