Bonnie Guitar: Intimate Session
An intimate session with one of the unheralded greats of country music! Sexy, sultry, and riveting! A previously unissued 1959 session arranged and produced by one of the era's top songwriters, Don Robertson.
In 1957, Bonnie Guitar recorded the haunting original version of Dark Moon. Two years later, she signed with RCA Victor and recorded several sessions with a small band of Los Angeles session veterans, augmented by voices on one session, and strings on another. The result was some of the most blissfully poignant vocals ever committed to tape. On a par with Julie London, Peggy Lee, or any of the era's finest female artists. ,
Singing in her languid ultra-lounge style and playing her white Gretsch Country Club guitar, Bonnie Guitar brought her distinctive, sultry vocal style to songs that were originally hits for The Ink Spots (Maybe) and Sanford Clark (The Fool), plus newer material from young songwriters like Hal David, Jeff Barry, and Harlan Howard. ,
To that, she added a couple of her own originals. Four of these sides were released as singles, the rest remained unreleased in their original form until now. With new input from Bonnie Guitar, Todd Everett's liner notes tell the whole story.
Deluxe packaging and informative liner notes add the cherry to the cake.” Blue Suede Shoes, # 97
Bonnie Guitar ,
...She was signed to RCA by the label's West Coast A&,R head, Dick Peirce, whom she'd known socially. Peirce at the time was married to Gail Davis, a protégé of Gene Autry best remembered for having starred in the 'Annie Oakley' TV series. "Dick was talking about producing me, but somehow I was assigned to Darol Rice." ,
A reed and woodwind player, Rice can be seen and heard in numerous screen musical westerns from the 1940s onward, and, very conspicuously, as the bass clarinetist on Tennessee Ernie Ford's Sixteen Tons. Working out of RCA's Hollywood office, Rice specialized in gospel acts, though his credits also include jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton, and some easy-listening albums under his own name (Peirce's credits included albums by Henry Mancini, Lena Horne, jazzman Shorty Rogers, and Chet Atkins' 'In Hollywood' sessions).
The session's arranger, Perry Botkin Jr., was familiar enough with all types of music that he wound up working as arranger and sometimes producer with Shelby Flint, Connie Stevens, Jennifer Warnes, and Harry Nilsson. He arranged The Righteous Brothers' Ebb Tide for Phil Spector, and the Lettermen's hit medley of Goin' Out Of My Head and Can't Take My Eyes Off You (he's also written numerous film and television themes and scores). ,
The backing musicians included members of Hollywood's old guard (mainly on strings) and relative youngsters like future 'Wrecking Crew' members Tommy Tedesco, Bill Pitman, Billy Strange and Lyle Ritz (including Bonnie, four guitarists played on both sessions, Bonnie sticking to rhythm).
First up was Bonnie's version of The Fool, originally recorded four years earlier by Sanford Clark and written by its producer, Lee Hazelwood, under the name of his then-wife. Botkin retains the loping guitar riff Al Casey had appropriated for the Clark record from Howlin' Wolf's Smokestack Lightnin', though Rice places the guitars much lower in the mix...
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Article properties: Bonnie Guitar: Intimate Session
|Guitar, Bonnie - Intimate Session CD 1|
|01||I'll Step Down|
|03||Where Was I (When We Became Strangers)|
|04||There On A Match|
|05||Broken Hearted Girl|
|07||If My Tears Could Talk|
|08||Who Is She?|
|09||An Old Fashioned Love|
|11||I'm Tired Of Pride (overdub)|
|12||Tell Her Bye|
|13||I'll Step Down (alt)|
|14||I'm Tired Of Pride (overdub)|
Bonnie was born on March 25, 1923 in Auburn, Washington. Hers was a musical family: father, John Buckingham, was a farmer; and, like his brother, Bert, an amateur fiddler. Her two elder brothers shared a flat-top Gibson guitar. From early on, Bonnie was a jazz fan. "When I was five," she remembers, "we lived behind a big dance hall where all the bands came through. I'd creep out of the house and would sit on a bench listening to bands led by people like Bumps Blackwell [whose later credits included producing Sam Cooke, and discovering, producing and managing Little Richard]. My mother worked in the dance hall, and they had a band come through every Saturday – it was incredible.
"That's when I fell in love with the clarinet and tenor sax players like Ben Webster; later alto, and Johnny Hodges. The only kind of music in our house, though, was pop singers like Nick Lucas and Gene Austin; and my father liked Irish tenors. I, on the other hand, could listen to Ella [Fitzgerald] and [Mel] Tormé all day, and Anita O'Day."
When she turned thirteen, Bonnie took up her brothers' guitar. "I wanted to be a clarinetist, but the school's band director played clarinet, and we only had one. He wouldn't let me play guitar, because to him it was a hillbilly instrument. I tried other instruments, but I only wanted to play guitar. My brothers had a nice little Gibson; and when they got tired of it, they passed it on to me.
"As a guitar player," she continues, "I loved Nick Lucas's records." Lucas was the singer and instrumentalist who, in 1922, is said to have played the first guitar solo ever recorded, and whose hit records (mostly in the 1920s) included Always, Bye Bye Blackbird, My Blue Heaven, I'm Looking Over A Four-Leaf Clover, and Tip Toe Through The Tulips.
Bonnie told Linda Ray for a 2007 'No Depression' feature, "I'd try to copy off those instrumentals. I also listened to a lot of folk, like Woody Guthrie, or Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club of France. One of the things I used to like to do was to take a song and put as many chords to it as I could, and running bass lines. I studied all those things. I took lessons as often as I could."
She took up singing, and before long was appearing before audiences; first in amateur shows (her first 'win' was at the Rialto Theater, with a version of Jimmie Rodgers' Mississippi Moon) and talent contests, and then professionally – though for Depression-era wages.
She also took lessons from a number of teachers; oddly never learning in the process to learn to read music. One of those teachers was Paul Tutmarc.
He made a strong impression, and no wonder. First, he was a divorcé 27 years older than his pupil. Second, he was an experienced entertainer; having experience with a vaudeville troupe based in his native Minneapolis, though he'd relocated to Seattle in the early '20s to work in the shipyards. Before long, he'd become a celebrity throughout Washington state; first on Tacoma's radio station KMO, and with Sam Wineland's Orchestra at the Broadway Theater. Moving to Seattle, he performed on radio station KJR, and in various vaudeville houses. Like many of the singers Bonnie heard while she was growing up, he was a tenor.
But for bad luck – and maybe a bad partner – Tutmarc might have become even better known; and much richer. In the early '30s, he and Art Stimson developed what appears to be the first pickup to electrify acoustic instruments. The pair was discouraged from patenting the device, Tutmarc's son has written, because "after investing $300 with attorneys who initiated a patent search with the government, Tutmarc was ultimately advised that their pickup design was non-patentable because the telephone companies had already patented similar devices.
"One can imagine the shock then when Tutmarc…eventually took notice after a Los Angeles-based firm began selling their 'Electro String Instruments' in August 1932. Then, in the spring of 1933, the Dobro firm began marketing their All-Electric model of electrified Spanish-style guitar." The device was patented; not in the form Tutmarc had been advised was unpatentable, but - and this made all the difference - as part of the overall guitar design. Art Stimson, by then living in Southern California, was listed as assignor on Dobro's patent application; he had evidently sold the invention for just $600, forgetting to send half the proceeds back to his former partner in Seattle. In the meantime, Tutmarc, who had also been working in bands exploiting the current Hawaiian music craze, had been manufacturing lap steel guitars under the Audiovox brand.
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This was the age of pure pop innoncence and Ms Guitar, though in her thirties at the time, captured it perfectly.
Maverick 3-4/2013 Alan Cackett
Wunderschön und gleichzeitig rätselhaft, warum diese Aufnahmen nicht schon früher ans Licht kamen.
Good Times 3/12 Uwe Twelker
Deluxe packaging and informative liner notes add the cherry to the cake.
Blue Suede Shoes # 97 Gaby Maag-Bristol
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