Okay, I’ll take you commenter’s suggestion and try and make this a weekly feature. Five 45’s. Here’s this week’s stack.
Since I’m a lazy shit, this week I just leaned over, from the reproduction of the couch that Sigmund Freud had in his own office, if I lay backwards on the one in my own office I find myself at eye level directly in front of the instrumental section of the 45 shelves. Easy enough. I love rock’n’roll instrumentals, especially guitar instrumentals. For seventeen years I opened my radio show with five instrumentals (take a listen here). I didn’t exactly grab these randomly, I wanted to give you some discs that hadn’t been re-issued, at least not on CD as far as I know, and by guys who you might’ve heard of, if it not heard of, at least heard (and maybe didn’t know it). And I wanted ’em to be great records. I think these past the test.
Roy Buchanan was amazing in his early days, he contributes some truly ominous guitar sounds to Dale Hawkins sides like Cross-Ties, early fuzz wackiness on Cody Brennan’s version of Ruby Baby and even made a handful of great 45’s under his own name. By the time his ship came in via a PBS documentary which portrayed him as the great, lonesome blues man, he’d turned into a bore, but this platter, a rendition of Erkstine Hawkins’ After Hours for the Philadelphia based Bomarc label illustrates just how cool he once was. Buchanan himself had long credited the Jimmy Nolen (guitarist with the Johnny Otis Show and James Brown, see the Dec. Johnny Otis I for more on him) waxing of After Hours (Federal, you can hear it on the Johnny Otis I posting) as his all time favorite and most influential disc. Here, Buchanan adds a few of his own tricks, including using the volume knob on his Telecaster as a primitive Wah Wah pedal (or as Hasil Adkins called it– the Bow Wow pedal), and some almost tasteful use of feedback. Quine used to say Buchanan was the only guitarist whom he couldn’t tell if he was black or white, on this disc he sounds grey with red pinstripes.
J.J. Cale is somebody I used to file in the same part of my brain as Jimmy Buffet, but the aforementioned Quine re-introduced me to Cale’s stuff and damned, if you really listen he’s almost the white Jimmy Reed. Ask Eric Clapton, who stole Cale’s sound, songs and band and durn near modled himself after the lazier than hell Okie trash genius (when told he had a hit record and should go out and tour to promote it Cale asked his manager “if I got a hit, why do I have to promote it”? Turns out Cale has a long history and appeared on quite a few great rockabilly and hillbilly discs back in Oklahoma before setting out for L.A. where he recorded as the Leather Coated Minds for Sidewalk in 1968 before returning to Tulsa and laid back near stardom. This instrumental, Shock Hop he’s billed as Johnny Cale, it is from ’63 and could sit proudly next to such classics as the Frantics’ Werewolf (see Halloween I posting) as instro-spook rock’n’roll at it’s best.
Jody Williams- Lucky Lou (Argo). Jody Williams started out in Bo Diddley’s band when they were called the Langley Ave. Jive Cats or something like that. He can be heard soloing on Bo’s Who Do You Love. As a session man he’s on dozens of incredible Chess/Checker/Argo discs including many by Howlin’ Wolf. He only got his due recently, and as of a few years ago was still playing at top of his game. I have fond memories of the first Ponderosa Stomp (when it was still called the Mau-Mau Ball) at the Circle Bar in New Orleans when Jody played a killer set with blues steel player Freddy Roulette. On this Argo disc, his only solo record for the Chess brothers, he displays all his best tendencies. Great record, no bout a doubt it.
Jimmy Dobro (James Burton)- Swamp Surfer (Phillips). This is of course James Burton, hero of countless fine rockabilly records by Dale Hawkins (Suzi Q), Bob Luman, Ricky Nelson, as well as sides by Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gram Parson and even John Denver. He’s probably one of the most deservedly praised guitar players in history but his solo work (an LP for A&M in ’72 and a duet LP with Ralph Mooney for Capitol in ’66) are good but never quite click into high gear. This, my favorite of all his solo sides, was cut under the name Jimmy Dobro because the a-side is a corny dobro-novelty called Everybody Listen To The Dobro that really isn’t worth posting. I love the vibe of this one, especially the way the rhythm section modulates south without breaking tempo. Swamp Surfer isn’t so much a monster as a real sleeper, in the best sense of the term.