Jimmy Heap & Melody Masters: Release Me
The legend of the central Texas dancehalls, Jimmie Heap never achieved much success. He recorded the original version of Release Me, as well as dance classics and rockabilly stomps like Sebbin Come Elebbin,
Go Head On, Heap Of Boogie, Ethyl In My Gas Tank, You're Nuthin' But A Nuthin', and Conscience I'm Guilty. The 30 Capitol recordings from 1951 to 1955 are here, and they all feature Texas beerhall legend Perk Williams on lead vocal and Butterball Harris on singing steel guitar.
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Jimmy Heap, from Taylor, Texas, was another veteran western bandleader, a recording artist for a decade when he signed to 'D' in 1958. He'd enjoyed a couple of major hits in the early '50s, introducing the classics Dessau Waltz and The Wild Side Of Life and recording the definitive hit version of Eddie Miller and Bobby Gene Yount's Release Me in 1953. Even more adaptable than Lindsay, he also proved more successful. He didn't enjoy any hits in the post rock 'n' roll era, but he built a popular and widely-touring show band that tackled everything from the Texas honky-tonk on which he'd cut his teeth to convincing pop, rock 'n' roll 'n' all manner in between.
He'd employed the fantastic honky-tonk singer Perk Williams through the middle '50s, but Williams had been both unwilling and unable to adapt to the changing scene. So Heap brought in more flexible singers like trumpeter Bill Taylor, a veteran of dance bands like R.D Hendon's (and reportedly a cousin of Elvis) and the young Dale McBride. Heap's 'D' releases (he also had a release on Dart), some of which were issued under Taylor's adopted half-pseudonym William Tell Taylor, abandoned the band's previous honky-tonk sound almost entirely, with steel guitarist 'Butterball' Harris usually far in the background (though not so here -- he provides some nice steel fills, reminiscent of Billy Williamson's work on Bill Haley's records, on Someone Else Is Filling My Shoes), and instrumental lead work shared among Heap or guitarist Kenny Frazier and saxist Ken Idaho.
Heap's releases usually coupled a deft, often gimmicky pop-rocker with a slow drag rock ballad, and both McBride's feature Somebody Else Is Filling My Shoes and Taylor's I Like It are prime examples of the former. Heap continued to lead bands into the 1970s, and had a number of releases on his own Fame label (both before and after his 'D' association). He drowned in a fishing accident shortly after giving up the Melody Masters in 1977. McBride enjoyed a moderately successful country music career over the years before his death in 1992, while Bill Taylor eventually joined Jerry Lee Lewis's revue and became one of Jerry Lee's most successful songwriters (There Must Be More To Love Than This, etc.) He is currently in retirement in Florida.
Jimmy Heap & Melody Masters Release Me
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