JOHNSON CITY (July 10, 2020) – “Tell It to Me: The Johnson City Sessions 90th Anniversary Celebration,” a two-day event held in Johnson City, on October 18-19, 2019, was named “Festival or Event of the Year” during the recent Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association’s Pinnacle Awards.
decorative image for Reaching a Pinnacle
Reaching a Pinnacle
"Tell It to Me: The Johnson City Sessions 90th Anniversary Celebration," held in October 2019, received the Pinnacle Award for "Festival or Event of the Year," which is the most competitive category in this annual competition sponsored by the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association.
“Tell It to Me” celebrated the influential Johnson City Sessions, which were commercial recording sessions of Appalachian regional music conducted in downtown Johnson City in October 1928 and October 1929. Those recordings, released by Columbia Records at the dawn of the Great Depression, have inspired several generations of musicians in such genres as country, bluegrass, folk, rock and Americana. Until recently, though, there has been little public awareness that the recordings originated in Johnson City. The 2019 event was intended to generate broader awareness about the significance of those recordings locally and regionally as well as nationally and internationally.
The Pinnacle Awards program pays tribute to Northeast Tennessee’s peak performers in the tourism industry. According to NETTA’s website, nominations are reviewed by a panel of unbiased judges, and exemplary projects and individuals are selected as Pinnacle Award winners. NETTA Director Alicia Phelps said that the decision to award “Tell It to Me” the top Festival/Event honor “was a unanimous decision in what is always our most competitive category.”
The post-rocker I am still has mixed feelings about (Big) Joe Turner on Atlantic Records. He's often identified as the archetype of the 'shouter' and a transition artist between rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll ('Shake, Rattle And Roll', 'TV Mama' and other 'Flip Flop And Fly's'). This beautiful re-release rattle and roll/TV mama and other Flip, flop and fly), this beautiful re-release of New York sessions from 1956 (two versions: stereo and mono + an unpublished one) pretends him as he is: a beautiful Kansas City jazz-swinging stylist - the title is explicit - surrounded by musicians from Count Basie and Duke Ellington, loved by the Ertegun family. Pete Johnson masterfully plays the boogie blues piano. An accompanying guitar, the lecterns, the brass section in white tuxedos that one can easily imagine leaning against the stage, the white dancers and the champagne...
It's quite remarkable that the first blues recordings from Baton Rouge, a renowned city and not so far from New Orleans, date back to 1954, when song smith and label owner of Feature Records first recorded J.D. `Jay' Miller as Lightnin' Slim. This double focuses on blues and root music from then until 1971, when these styles fused with more contemporary ones.
"Approximately in chronological order" is a first indication of the messy composition. Moreover, you'll be misled by the photo of the cover of the acclaimed Excello collector Swamp Blues', with which this double CD barely over-laps a song. The fact that Slim Harpo is the performer of nine of the 57 songs and is almost a `best or on its own with a.o. 'I'm A King Bee' and 'Baby, Scratch My Back' doesn't help either. There was also room for magic versions of 'Boogie Chillun' (The Nitehawks) and 'I'm Evil' (Lightnin' Slim) which never look like the original.
At the same time, the although numerous biographical information is only marginally released through the different trackcom-mentars. These are just a few formalities that make these discs more suitable for those who want to discover the blues of Baton Rouge or don't take the time to make a compilation themselves. It's a shame because of the treasure trove of gems in it. The acoustic version of 'Smokestack Lightning' by Clarence Edwards is delightful, Moses Smith (aka Whispering Smith) knows how to captivate solo on harmonica in 'Baton Rouge Breakdown', Robert Pete Williams moves in his ode `Goodbye Slim Harpo' and in `Who Broke The Lock' we hear a rare time Butch Cage on fiddle. Names like Lonesome Sundown, Raful Neal (Kenny's father), Henry Gray, Silas Hogan or Sally Dotson (lonesome girl power) & Smoky Babe may not be forgotten, but it's all served up more attractively. Olivier Verhelst
Destination Lust: Songs Of Love, Sex And Violence
Review by Gary Hill
This is an interesting collection. The tie that binds all of this together is the undercurrent of sex that was sort of hidden with a wink in the post World War II, pre-sexual revolution days. This set features a booklet that is really "adults only" and plenty of music that also is. I think that main strength here is from a historical perspective. That said, there are quite a few songs on the set that I really like, while there are others that don't stand up as well to the test of time.
This review is available in book format in Music Street Journal: 2020 Volume 3 at
Track by Track Review
Jayne Mansfield - That Makes It
A ringing phone with Mansfield answering it starts this cut. The tune is a bouncy, over the top kind of number. The horns bring some jazz to the table. This is fun. The lyrics are pretty risqué for the time.
The Playboys - Charge It
The sexual tension as the "hi"s are exchanged at the start of this is thick. The cut has a cool jazzy groove to it. There aren't really lyrics, as such, but just a few moments of spoken question and answer. The horns really sing it like crazy on this number.
Big Joe Turner The Complete Bass Of The Blues ***** Das 1956er-Album des Blues-Shouters, erweitert
Es waren die famosen Boswell Sis-ters, die 1934 zum Soundtrack der frivolen Komödie „Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round" den Song „Rock And Roll" beisteuerten. Die Gelehr-ten werden sich dennoch immer dar-über streiten, ob „Good Rocking To-night" von Wynonie Harris, Goree Carters „Rock Awhile" oder „Ro-cket 88" von Ike Turner den Urknall für allen Rock'n'Roll auslöste. Gesi-chert ist in jedem Fall, dass Jazz- und Blues-Veteran Joseph Vernon „Big Joe" Turner Jr. mit dem von Jesse Stone komponierten „Shake, Rattle And Roll" einen so nie erwarteten Erfolg hatte.
An den knüpften Bill Haley und Elvis Presley mit eigenen Aufnahmen des Songs umgehend an. Songwriter-Legende Doc Pomus spä-ter über diese Phase im Schaffen des Sängers: „Rock and roll would have never happened without him." Aber der Jahre zuvor von Ahmet Ertegun entdeckte und unter Vertrag genommene Blues-Shouter mit der mächtigen Stimme blieb auch da-nach seiner ersten Liebe treu. Seit 1951 Stammgast in den Top Ten der Rhythm-&-Blues-Hitparade, sah er keinen Grund, seine Fan-Gemeinde zu verprellen. Als er sich 1956 mit Jerry Wexler, Nesuhi Ertegun und Musikern von Count Basies Orchester an die Aufnahmen zu seiner neuen LP machte, war das auch eine „senti-mental journey" zurück zu seinen musikalischen Anfängen, waren Songs wie „Roll 'Em Pete" und „How Long Blues" lange in seinem Reper-toire, der „St. Louis Blues" in der DNA des Musikers aus Kansas City.
Der von Basie ausgeliehene Arrangeur war verantwortlich dafür, dass die für die Sessions verpflichteten Jazzmusiker sich auch mit Soli profi-lieren durften - und das auch bei Popsongs der frühen 30er Jahre wie „You're Driving Me Crazy", „I Want A Little Girl" und „Pennies From Hea-ven". Die damals eingespielte Cover-version des Bing-Crosby-Hits (ur-sprünglich nicht auf dem Album) findet man hier neben diversen an-deren Outtakes, die Aufnahmen im Ping-Pong-Stereo- und auch im Mono-Mix exzellent überspielt. (Bear Family)
The Elvis Presley Connection: 33 Roots and Covers of Elvis Presley, 2019, Various Artists, CD, Bear Family BCD 17561 The Bill Haley Connection: 29 Roots and Covers of Bill Haley and His Comets, 2018, Various Artists, CD, Bear Family BCD 17531
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were a perfectly imperfect pair. They portrayed The Odd Couple in the 1968 motion picture version of Neil Simon's hit Broadway play. To many fans of rock and roll music, Elvis Presley and Bill Haley seem as mismatched as Lemmon and Matthau. In what ways were they opposites? Although Elvis was supported on stage and in the recording studio by guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, and drummer D. J. Fontana, he was always a singular performing sensation.
This massive picture book of German shel-lac records is hardly susceptible to a conven-tional review. Quite apart from the impossibil-ity of reading every page on a reasonable time scale, who other than the authors themselves is qualified to judge the contents? Band 1 starts with a brief history of the German record in-dustry up to the mid-fifties, followed by a tech-nical section defining terms and including an il-lustrated section on `Lisenzmarken' (copyright stamps). This section also includes some pic-tures of `Sprechpuppe' (talking dolls). The text proper begins on page 31 with 59 pages de-voted to anonymous discs, fifteen of which are indeed devoted to discs for Sprechpuppen. The format of the main text is label photo-graphs accompanied by a tabulation of Series-Owner-Manufacturer-Distribution-Repertoire-Dates of Issue, and a description of the label. Longer notes are also provided for many labels to elucidate histories too complicated for tab-ulation. Coverage extends to phantom labels (advertised or trade-marks registered but no issues made; there are a lot of the latter) and I have noted a few labels known only from liter-ature and therefore not illustrated.
VARIOUS ARTISTS THAT'LL FLAT GET IT VOL 33 (Bear Family) From the vaults of Renown Records. 8/10
It's astonishing that over 60 years after they were recorded and the fact the rockabilly and rock n roll from the 1950's has been voraciously collected in Europe pretty much since then that so much quality music is still being discovered and recovered for release on compilations like this. This time it's the Renown label of Durham North Carolina that gets the spotlight.
DAS BILDERLEXIKON DER DEUTSCHEN SCHELLACK-SCHALLPLATTEN
Dr. Rainer Lotz first published his seminal work Grammophon-platten au der Ragtime Ara in 1979, since when he has produced a large body of work culminating in the magisterial, 44 CD, 2 volume Black Europe in 2013. It seemed impossible for him to produce anything that was even more impressive — but he has. This stupendous work is in 5 volumes with over 2200 pages, more than 10,000 colour pictures of record labels and countless black & white repro-ductions of trade-mark regis-trations and more. This book is not a discography; it has no catalogue reconstructions but it is, as described in the title, a picture encyclopaedia of German record labels. This does not mean that it con-tains information about record labels only sold in Germany; it embraces all records pressed in Germany ir-respective of the country of origin of the master.
In this set, Bear Family Records has created the ultimate package for this album. The combination of Ernie Wilkins’ arrangements, Jerry Wexler and Nesuhi Ertegun’s production and Turner’s roaring vocals alongside his backing band helped to shape the success of the original album. Colin Escott and the team at Bear Family have continued their legacy. Boasting pristine sound quality, attractive packaging and an abundance of bonus material, this is worth picking up if you’re looking to discover or rediscover a huge contribution to Big Joe Turner’s catalogue.
BEAR FAMILY PRESSE
BCD 17600 LINK WRAY "Rocks" BAF 11021 LITTLE RICHARD "The BEst of."
LINK WRAY: Rocks Bear Family BCD 17600 (77:19) Link Wray is reputed to be the loudest of rock guitarists but from personal experience I rate him below Dick Dale though the smaller size of Dale's venue may have been a volumetric factor. Nevertheless, Link certainly is very loud, the reason for which may be explained in Bill Dahl's notes when he states that Fred Lincoln Ray Jr's "childhood bout with the measles had robbed him of a good portion of his hearing". These recordings, dated between 1958 and 1966, were mainly released on the Cadence. Cameo, Epic, Mala, Rumble and Swan labels, and include some rare tracks. Predominantly instrumentals of course, Link himself does sing gruffly on 'Ain't That Loving You Baby' and 'Mary Ann', while his brother Vernon Wray (knrwn as Ray Vernon) vocalises on 'I'm Counting On You' and 'Danger One Way Love'. The CD opens with the great 'Raw Hide' and closes with the classic, slow-paced 'Rumble', the two British hits which make outstanding 'bookends' with dynamic and sometimes tremolo guitar that lives long in the memory. Other outstanding tracks include the easily recognised 'Batman Theme' with deep, ominous notes and a guitar-spoken 'Batmanr: the full sound of 'I'm Branded' with shimmering guitar break; the energetic 'Deuces Wild' with drums upfront; the relaxed tempo and mellow tone of 'Radar; a slow track entitled 'Dinosaur' which includes sax inserts; and a radio/television show derivative 'The Shadow Knows'. With all 34 tracks timed between 1:43 and 2:50 there is little time to be bored. The sound quality is great and the 36-page booklet contains some welcome vintage photos. I'm sure that this digipack will be popular with rocking instrumental fans. Paul Harris
Magazin: Blues & Rhythm , UK Ausgabe Feb. 2020
Blues and r&b sides by artists from Baton Rouge, Louisiana are usually associated with the Excello label: Slim Harpo, Lightnin' Slim, Lazy Lester. Tabby Thomas, Lonesome Sundown plus other fine blues artists (but not as well known) such as Arthur 'Guitar' Kelley, Silas Hogan, Whispering Smith and Jimmy Anderson. Well, they are all here but Martin Hawkins (who produced the set. wrote the notes and track by track analysis) has cast his net wider to include the likes of of Robert Pete Williams, Smoky Babe, Butch Cage, Willie B. Thomas and Clarence Edwards. Covering the years 1954 to 1971, the tracks are taken from sides released on 78s, 45s and albums. As Hawkins states: "We really don't know what the blues sound of Baton Rouge was before 1954", so we kick of with Otis Hicks, (aka Lightnin' Slim) who cut 'Bad Luck' and 'Bugger Bugger Boy', in 1954 for Feature which is swiftly followed by Cleveland White's (Schoolboy Cleve) 'Strange Letter Blues' also cut for Feature but a year later.
Die Älteren unter Ihnen werden sich erinnern: Es gab mal eine Zeit, als die Frau noch Vollweib sein durfte und das Schönheitsideal nicht der 'Hungerhaken' war. Der Sex wurde nach und nach aus der Schmuddelecke befreit und auf der Kinoleinwand und musikalisch per Vinyl-Platte ans noch zart errötende Publikum gebracht. Das war Ende der 50er, Anfang der 60er Jahre, als im Zuge der moralischen Abrüstung die ersten Busen-Titelseiten an Zeitungskiosken auftauchten und Sexbomben wie Jayne Mansfield und Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren und Gina Lollobrigida, Anita Ekberg und Ann-Margret, Elke Sommer und Brigitte Bardot den Männern den Atem nahmen. Vielleicht sprach man noch nicht offen über die schönste Freizeitbeschäftigung der Welt, doch besungen wurde sie implizit.
LITTLE RICHARD: The Best Of... Bear Family BAF11021 Lucille! Good Golly Miss Molly/ Send Me Some Lovin'! Miss Ann/ She Knows How To Rock/ Kansas City/ Jenny, Jenny/ True, Fine Mama/ Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey/ Doh! My Soul/ I'll Never Let You Go/ Baby Face Do I need to even mention the music? Probably not if you're even considering buying this. This remastered ten-inch vinyl album is released in Bear Family's aptly-named 'Vinyl Club Exclusive' series, available only from the company directly and limited to 500 copies. The original contained Specialty recordings and was issued in Japan in 1962 on London/King MPL 1031, becoming a much sought-after item. It would be interesting to know if any contemporary Japanese reviews exist. You want it? Get your skates on then... Norman Darwen
Buck Owens and Merle Haggard are undoubtedly the twin towers of the singular sound invented in Bakersfield, Calif. But as this massive new box set from the Bear Family label so intricately details, there is a Gold Rush of incredible music to be discovered beyond the gates of the Second City of country music.
The Bakersfield Sound is a veritable college course on the evolution of the region, born out of the barrooms and barn dances of the Dust Bowl era with the concept of conspiring a small combo iteration of the Western-swing big-bands who used to roll through town to perform for the laborers. It was a sound that would quickly be dubbed "Honky Tonk," and served as an edgier, more electrified alternative to the Nashville twang of the East Coast. This 10-CD set goes back to the mid-1940s via rare recordings of acts who cut their teeth performing for migrant communities in Central California like Tex Butler and Ebb Pilling, not to mention a live radio performance from Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys, who made Bakersfield a regular stop on their traveling roadshow.
These are the stories record collectors dream of! Many more previously uncomped artists are on board here for the first time, such as Lonnie Dee, Joe Franklin & The Hi-Liters, Daryl Petty, Bobby Strigo with The Blue Notes and many more. Sixty years after the original recording dates, Bear Family makes it possible for these artists to receive the attention they have always been entitled to.
As most of the original master tapes are lost forever, the majority of masters have been taken from the original rare and hard to find Renown single (45s) releases and have been carefully restored and re-mastered to meet the quality standards of Bear Family.
This is a truly worthy and long awaited project which will find favor among fans of rockabilly music, 1950s music aficionados, and folks into North Carolina culture and history, and just plain music fans in general.
This is one Bear Family release that you don’t want to miss!
This was just fun from start to finish, with former stars of one of Nashville's so-called middle tier labels (Jesse McReynolds, Frankie Miller, Sleepy LaBeef, Bill Clifton etc ) getting another chance to shine thanks to Nate Gibson's painstaking efforts.
‘The Bakersfield Sound’
(Bear Family; 10 CDs plus hard-bound book, $179.68)
The city of Bakersfield, Calif. emerged in the 1950s to rival Nashville as the place defining country music. The Bakersfield sound clung tenaciously to country’s most twangy, sinewy elements — bluegrass, Western swing, honky-tonk, rockabilly — to accompany lean, down-to-earth, working-class storytelling. Buck Owens and Merle Haggard were the city’s superstars, but this copious 10-CD set, which includes an extensively researched hardcover book, digs far deeper. It starts with Library of Congress recordings of migrant Southwestern farmworkers in California — real “Okies” — and celebrates Bakersfield’s studio mainstays. It rediscovers rowdy rarities like Phil Brown’s “You’re a Luxury” and Rose Stassie’s “Out of My Mind.” Instead of well-worn hits, it selects lesser-known cuts from Owens and Haggard, including their barely distributed debut singles. While Nashville eventually won country radio, at least Bakersfield never got slick. JON PARELES
LINK WRAY `ROCKS' (Bear Family)
Aficionados of music of the 50's and 60's will almost certainly have some of guitarist Link Wray's tunes in their collection, that's going to include 'Rumble' which hit the top 20 in the USA and UK in 1958. Apparently, the disc was shunned by some radio stations because it was considered to be inciting violence amongst teen gangs, some achievement for an instrumental. It's here but you have to wait until the 34th and final track for the hit. What you glean listening getting that far is the rich musical legacy this hugely influential guitarist left. There's none of the earliest Western Swing because this collection includes just tracks from 1958 to 1966 over several labels. They feature some lesser known gems including 'Big City After Dark' backing his brother Ray plus two tracks where Link provides the vocals. This is a fascinating collection easily illustrates why artists diverse as Neil Young and the Cramps were huge fans.
BILLY FURY `WONDEROUS PLACE' (Bear Family)
Billy Fury is on one hand considered up there with the best of the best of the breed of British rockers. His 1960 album 'The Sound Of Fury' thought of by some with a respect usually reserved for recordings that came out of Sun. True, that 10" is the nearest thing to authentic rockabilly that a UK artist recorded back in the day. On the other hand the conversation then tends to be that Billy Fury turned his back on rock n roll to concentrate on ballads, hits and money. The facts, like them or not is that the sort of music Billy was laying down in 1960 was almost half a decade out of date back in the States, their own brand of fabricated teen idols were flooding the charts while the originators of rock n roll were either in the army, out of vogue, hitting the bottle or both. Worst still, dead, Eddie and Buddy had already started looking beyond rock n roll before their untimely deaths. As far as record company bosses were concerned there was nowhere else commercially to go with Billy but ballads, mostly penned by someone else, they were proved right too, his ballads were much bigger hits than his early rockers. This goes some way to show that despite being know for ballads at the height of his career, when Billy was off the leash he was still rocking, here's the proof.
VARIOUS ARTISTS `AUTUMN LEAVES' (Bear Family)
Bear Family are taking a chance on their loyal listeners broadness of musical mind with this quirky series of seasonal compilatiOns. True there's a lot of something for everyone on here but when you consider the tracks date from 1930 —1962 there is broad musical spectrum encompassed. Whoever complied it did a magnificent job because listen to the album as a whole then it really does work. That's quite a feat when you consider Eddie Cochran's 'Cotton Picker' and Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs `Shuckin' The Corn' are compilation mates with Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe wondering `What Happened To The Mill?' and Don Duke's cover of 'Wild Wind'. It's an ambient musical adventure which will introduce you to music you are never likely to hear otherwise and well worth the dip in unless you really are blinkered musically, in which case it won't be for you.
Bakersfield, California is a long way from Nashville – a little under 2,020 miles west, actually. But the distance isn’t quite as great when one considers how much significant country music came out of the city in Kern County. Recent years have seen numerous reissues from legendary Bakersfield artists like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, as well as a fine exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame. But now Bear Family Records has delivered the ultimate tribute to the city’s remarkable legacy of music. The Bakersfield Sound: Country Music Capital of the West 1940-1974 is a beautifully sprawling chronicle of how Music City West came to be, as told via 10 CDs, almost 300 songs, and a definitive, 224-page hardcover tome.
While the sound of Bakersfield came to signify a raw, grittier honky-tonk country style (as opposed to the lush strings and choirs of The Nashville Sound as pioneered in the 1960s by Chet Atkins and others), folk, western swing, and so-called “hillbilly music” all figured into the embryonic Bakersfield Sound Those individual sounds are all explored on the early discs of the box set before local discs cede to the major label releases from Capitol Records and others which drew on the city’s talented artists. Once Bakersfield was established, its artists touched on further genres like rock, pop, and even psychedelia.
Some of the included tracks here make it seem obvious why the Bristol Sessions are considered seminal and these are not so well known. The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers are perhaps more individual in hindsight and their influence can be traced clearly and strong through the generations of future artists and musicians. However, here we find examples of the music of the people, which is as fine and representative of the people of the day living in those rural areas as was the work of the Carters and Rodgers.
There is quite a shortage of female voice here. That is possibly the only thing which sticks out as unusual. Otherwise, the 26 artist names also bring to mind charmingly a bygone world. There are names and song titles which bring vibrancy and life to a time long gone. Despite this evocation, this music feels as fresh today as ever.
Bear Family Records have re-issued 1962 album The Ventures play Telstar – The Lonely Bull as part of their 11000 collectors series. This is a very special reproduction of the 10-inch Japanese pressing, including the hard-to-find rare cover featuring artwork of the group with a space-craft. The 11000 series from Bear Family Records is a selection of limited edition vinyl reissues of rare and sometimes pricey vinyl collectables. The album is available in many forms on several formats, Is this edition worth picking up?
British listeners may equate the sound and style with being like The Shadows. In so much as The Ventures do instrumental covers of popular songs, this is true. In the cases of some tracks, it feels somewhat like they are capitalising on a trend for background-sound for parties and dances in the early 1960s. Many tracks are of a very similar vein as the library music used in the TV action shows produced by ITC and ATV in the mid to late 60s.
Their interpretation of popular tunes are competent but a little pedestrian. Sometimes the elements can seem like they are more of an exercise in experimenting with different sounds. It all ends up achieving a similar effect to that of the original or best-known version, though, with every number very well executed and enjoyable. The whole album has presumably the desired effect: it is very tempting to get up and get moving. Disappointingly, the renditions still have a rather safe vibe about them.
The Best Of Little Richard !! (vinyl EP)
Review by Gary Hill
I know the conventional wisdom is that Elvis Presley was "The King of Rock and Roll." Personally, I've never felt he deserved that title. For me the triumvirate of most important contributors to early Rock and Roll is Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Of the three, I think Richard (I know his real last name is "Penniman," but I'm using Richard as his last name for the sake of this review - and the general alphabetization over the whole publication) was the most consistent (in terms of quality) and important of those three.
It could be argued that Richard has been the biggest influence on rock music for decades. Certainly a lot of his style became tied the genre. His little screams might well be the roots of metal screamers like Rob Halford. Lemmy Kilmister said that he thought Richard was the best rock singer of all time. His flamboyance and style really are rock and roll.
This cool EP captures a dozen Richard classics. It's a disc that manages to stand tall even today. That is just one of the charms of it. This is a 10" record on orange vinyl, and it's well worth having. The music is great, and the packaging really works for this release.