Monday, May 31, 2010

Eddie Noack on Allstar 7299

Eddie Noack - You Can't Keep a Good Man Down / When the Bright Lights Grow Dim (Allstar 7299)

"You Can't Keep a Good Man Down"

Recorded at ACA and released in early 1964 (it was reviewed in Billboard on February 27, 1964), "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down" is a solid Buck Owens-styled effort from Noack that once again failed to dent the charts. The flipside is an inferior revival of a tear-jerker he had made with greater effect on Starday.

Walt Breeland's name is seen on the writer's credits of a lot of Houston country singles from the early 1960s (most famously, Willie Nelson's "Family Bible" and "Nite Life"), and he pops up again here and on several other contemporaneous Noack singles. Billboard described Breeland as a "record hustler," and he appears to have been a Jack Rhodes-type character, given co-ownership of songs in exchange for promoting them. It seemed to have worked for Nelson, but did nothing for Noack.

By this time, Noack's stage career was fading fast, and there's no evidence that he continued to perform publicly after moving to Nashville around 1965. Outside of Houston, if he was mentioned at all, it would always be as "songwriter Eddie Noack," instead of singer-performer Eddie Noack. Having to swallow this bitter pill probably contributed to Eddie's self-immolation 14 years later, at age 47.

Eddie Noack c. 1969. Courtesy James Silver Collection.

Friday, May 28, 2010

MIA: Dee Hasley and Eddie Noack in Germany (UPDATE)

Dee Hasley and the Hoedowners, 1956, NCO Club, poss. Mannheim, Germany. From left: unknown, Anne Schmidt, Dee Hasley, unknown drummer, Eddie Noack, poss. Smokey Paul. Click to enlarge. Courtesy the James Silver Collection.

An Internet search on the name "Dee Hasley" returns numerous references to a woman who runs a Barbeque restaurant and exhibits show dogs, but nothing on the musician of the same name who worked with Eddie Noack both in Germany and Texas during 1956-57. Hasley is also completely absent from country music literature, save for a lone Billboard reference in 1956. Who was he?

Eddie Noack spent two years in the armed forces: October, 1954 to September, 1956, a period that coincided with his Starday era. The final nine months of that time was spent in Germany. Almost nothing is known of this period, but Eddie probably spent more time performing in U.S. military officer's clubs than he did performing maneuvers. The photo above, which surfaced just recently, captures just such a performance. Hank Snow had made Eddie's song "These Hands" a big hit that year, so it's not hard to imagine Hasley introducing Eddie as "the boy who wrote 'These Hands'" to the audience.

The 1950s country music scene in Germany has been poorly documented. As an indication of the shows that went on, Billboard carried this in its July 7, 1956 issue: "Sgt. Red Jones of the American Forces Network (sic -- Armed Forces Network), Frankfurt, Germany, types: 'Good old-fashioned country music is by far the more popular here, as was proven recently when Bill Haney and the Crackerjacks, Chuck Hahn and band, Dee Haseley (sic) and the Hoedowners, and Eddie Noack brought down the house at a three-hour stage show presented recently in Kaiserslautern, Germany.'"

After Hasley was discharged, presumably around the same time as Noack, he moved to Texas with a German wife and started a new band, the Southwesterners. Noack continued to play with this group, as San Antonio musician Ray Szcepanik remembers seeing them play locally, and kept a poster advertising Hasley's band.

Dee Hasley poster, c. 1957. Courtesy Ray Szcepanik Collection.

Hasley apparently never made a record, and I've never heard anyone except Ray mention him. So I'm posting this message hoping that somebody related to Hasley will find it, and help rescue him from complete obscurity.

UPDATE: Norman DeWitt "Dee" Hasley died in Austin April 7, 1990.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Red Hayes on Starday 164

Red Hayes - A Satisfied Mind / Doggone Woman (Starday 164)

"A Satisfied Mind"

Am I the only person disturbed by the fact that Red Hayes' original version of "A Satisfied Mind" was last reissued when Lyndon Johnson was President? Apparently so. After his Starday single came and went in 1954, it appeared on a couple of various artists albums in the '50s and '60s, and then dropped off the map completely. This is partially due to the fact that it's not rockabilly, or even close to rockabilly, and therefore of no interest to the market driving reissues of '50s music; and partially because of the horrendous mismanagement of the Starday catalogue in the hands of its current Nashville keeper, the infamous used car salesman, Moe Lytle. There was a chance to correct this on a recent reissue of 1954-55 era Starday material, but "A Satisfied Mind" was left off in favor of its throwaway flipside, "Doggone Woman." I'm pretty sure Red Hayes is spinning in his grave.

Joe "Red" Hayes in the late '40s or '50s. Courtesy Kevin Coffey Collection.

This is particularly troubling because I believe that Red's original is the best version of "A Satisfied Mind." When Porter Wagoner covered it (making it a #1 hit in 1955), he introduced the vocal trio arrangement, deliberately trying to make it sound like a gospel quartet. Most subsequent versions have stuck to this idea, but I prefer Hayes's original treatment, sans the trio/quartet. There is a heartfelt simplicity to Red's vocal that I think is absent from all of the more famous renditions.

Adding insult to injury is the circulation of a completely spurious tale that involves Hayes, "A Satisfied Mind," and a UFO abduction. Colin Escott, writing about the song's origins in the recent Bear Family CD "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke, and Hillbilly Music: 1955" (which features Wagoner's version), says that there are "at least two stories" about the song's genesis. "In one, Red Hayes had an encounter with a UFO. A quasi-magnetic force pulled his arm up against the extra-terrestrial object, inflicting a burn, and, after the burn healed, Red realized that the aliens had given him a song by way of compensation."

The "other" story was the one which Hayes himself related to a journalist in 1973: "The song came from my mother. Everything in the song are things I heard her say over the years. I put a lot of thought into the song before I came up with the title. One day my father-in-law asked me who I thought the richest man in the world was, and I mentioned some names. He said, 'You're wrong, it is the man with a satisfied mind.'" Colin concludes by stating, "It's hard to know which version to believe."

No, it's not hard to know which story to believe. The story Hayes himself told is the believable one. The "story" involving a UFO abduction is an imaginative variation on the eternal theme of bullshit tall tales that musicians of less truth than tongue love to circulate among the drunk and the credulous, and should be given about as much credence as some of the more elaborate 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Red Hayes and Johnny Manson in Dallas, March, 1951. 

Colin speculates that Hayes recorded "A Satisfied Mind" at Jack Rhodes' motel, which is on firmer ground than the UFO story, but it, too, is incorrect. Red cut this at Gold Star in Houston with his old cronies Al Petty (steel), Freddie Frank (rhythm guitar), and Leon Hayes (bass), augmented by Sonny Burns (lead guitar) and an unknown studio pianist. Singer Gene Tabor drove down with the group from Odessa, and recorded his "A Real Gone Jesse (I'm Hot to Trot)" at the same session. (Gene remembered that Eddie Noack was also present, not recording, but observing in Gold Star's control room.)

Jack Rhodes, who wasn't at the session, received co-writer credit on "A Satisfied Mind," and has been referred to as the song's co-author in the literature for the last 55 years. But did Jack, in fact, actually "co-write" it? Probably not. "He didn’t write one word of 'Satisfied Mind,'" Freddie Frank told me in 1999, "but Red was broke, and I think Jack let him have $500." Red's little brother, Kenneth "Little Red" Hayes, agreed, stating in a 1995 interview that "Jack got credit for a lot of songs he didn't write. My brother wrote 'Satisfied Mind' back in about '52. He wrote it in 15 minutes." In his 1973 quote, Red himself gives no indication that Rhodes had any hand in writing the lyrics.

Unfortunately, we don't have Rhodes' side of the story, but it's known that he would often purchase songs from others, as just about every other professional songwriter did at the time. A great deal of unnecessary finger-waving has been expended in modern music journalism toward people who purchased songs in the '50s. There was nothing controversial or underhanded about it most of the time, and it only becomes an issue when the song in question was a hit -- which, most of the time, it wasn't. If Red sold Jack an interest in the song's ownership, he had every right to be co-credited. The writer's credits on records indicate who owned the song, not who wrote it. If only modern music journalists would learn this, we would be spared a lot of nonsense.

Hayes remained a full-time musician the rest of his life, but only put out a few more records as a vocalist. He was touring with Faron Young in England when he died in 1973. He was 47.

Now, will somebody give his original version of "A Satisfied Mind" the proper reissue it deserves?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Danny Ross on Minor 104

Danny Ross - You're Not in Love / Why Did I Doubt You (Minor 104)

"You're Not in Love"

Danny Ross's earliest known record was spotlighted back in August, 2009 (heard here). This was his second release, probably recorded at Gold Star in Houston and essentially a Starday record with a different label on it. Why Starday didn't sign this guy, I have no idea. Billboard gave it two thumbs up on September 29, 1956, stating that "You're Not in Love" had "a lot of imagination in treatment" and could "sell handily in its field," but a few local spins was all it got.

*Minor 101 has still yet to be run to earth.

Billboard, September 29, 1956

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bashful Vic on Premium 101

Bashful Vic (with) Charlie Frost, Glen Barber's Music Masters - Ramblin' Fool / Let Love Show Us How (Premium 101)

"Ramblin' Fool"

It's not often that previously unknown singles on Texas labels from the 78 rpm era turn up these days, but that's what we have here. Bashful Vic Thomas is known for his later "Rock and Roll Tonight" on Premium (heard here), a prime example of a country band thinking that they could jump on the rock and roll bandwagon by simply writing a song that had the words "rock and roll" in the lyrics -- leaving the steel and fiddle intact. I suspect that teenagers at the time weren't impressed, but the honky-tonkers probably thought they were being "hip" by dancing to it.

"Ramblin' Fool" is a Gold Star pressing, dating from around 1952-53. Glen Barber, whose band provides the music here, was probably still a student at Pasadena High School when he cut this. The steel guitarist is "Dusty" Carroll, and the fiddler is Charlie Frost. Musically, this is far from great, but hey, it's a group of teen-agers. Cut them some slack.

Bashful Vic lived up to his name -- I've never heard anyone on the Houston '50s scene mention him at all. After re-cutting "Ramblin' Fool" for a Nebraska label in the late '50s, he disappears from the vinyl map completely.

Thanks to Al Turner for providing the sound files and label scan.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dub Adams on Dude 1498

Dub Adams and his K-Bar Ranch Hands - Pocahuntas Stomp (sic) / Income Tax (Dude 1498)

"Pocahuntas Stomp"

Western swing par excellance from San Angelo cattleman C.W. "Dub" Adams (1919-1987) and his group of very swing-oriented players, who, among other things, put to rest the stupid but very persistent myth that drums were considered "the Devil's instrument" among country musicians and their audiences prior to rock and roll in West Texas. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A small army of musicians seemed to have been K-Bar Ranch Hands at one time or another, but the group heard here are Jelly Greene (fiddle), "Roly Poly" (possibly Pete Etchison) (steel guitar), Bill Freeman (piano), Gordon "Jelly" Teagarden (drums), Elgin "Tex" Johnson (bass), Hal Tennyson* (clarinet) and a trumpeter who remains unknown. This was probably recorded in San Angelo in 1947 and released the following year by Jim Beck on his Dude label in Dallas. They also had releases on Swing and Bullet.

(* Kevin Coffey confirmed that this was the same Hal Tennyson who played with Glenn Miller, Stan Getz, etc.)

Dub Adams and his K-Bar Ranch Hands on stage, c. late 1946-early 1947. From left: Joe Penny (Pennington), Claude Fewell, Vivian Earle (piano), Dub Adams, Charlie "Snuffy" Smith (bass), Bud Ashcraft (steel guitar), Mal Rhinehart (drums?). All photos courtesy Kevin Coffey Collection. Click to enlarge.

Jelly Greene, who appears on the records but not in the photos, and bassist Charlie "Snuffy" Smith, who appears in the photos but not on the records, were both pretty famous musicians in West Texas, as was drummer "Jelly" Teagarden (a relative of Jack). Two musicians who worked with Adams, Jimmie Webster and Little Joe Penny (Pennington), were also members of Hank Williams' Drifting Cowboys when he was still a local attraction in Alabama. Webster, a teen-ager who also played with Eddie Shuler in Lake Charles and Dean Rasberry in Beaumont during his brief career, was killed when a car driven by "Snuffy" Smith collided with a train at 2:30 a.m. while driving home from a Dub Adams gig. This happened in March, 1947. Joe Penny worked with Adams prior to the fatal car crash, then left for a steady job with Hank Williams in Alabama for the rest of 1947. He rejoined Adams in 1948, when they were the house band at the Ace of Clubs in Odessa. He is apparently the same Joe Penny who later cut the rockabilly single "Bip a Little, Bop a Lot" on Federal.

On stage, possibly at the Ace of Clubs in Odessa, c. 1948. From left: Claude Fewell, Joe Penny, Dub Adams, unknown bass.

Like many musicians, the concept of monogamy seems to have been lost on Dub Adams, who, according to his grandson (the Dallas musician J.D. Whittenburg), was married no less than eight times. It's not known how long his time as a bandleader lasted, but his recording career was over by 1950, and had receded far enough from memory by 1987 to go unmentioned in his San Angelo Standard-Times obituary that year.

Thanks to Kevin Coffey for his research and photos on Dub Adams.

Dub Adams band outside of the Hangar Club in San Angelo, c. late 1946-early 1947. The sign above the club identifies them as "a Western Swing Band," possibly the first time this expression was used to promote a band in Texas. From left: Mal Rhinehart (drums?), Bud Ashcraft (steel), Billy Pieratt (piano), Pete Etchison (steel guitar), Blackie (?), Dub Adams, Joe Penny, Claude Fewell (fiddle), unknown, Snuffy Smith (bass).

Obituary from the San Angelo Standard Times

C.W. "Dub" Adams, 67, died at 8:15 a.m. Thursday in Shannon West Texas Memorial Hospital. Services are pending with Johnson's Funeral Home.

C.W. Adams

C.W. "Dub" Adams, a longtime resident of San Angelo, died Feb. 5, 1987, at Shannon West Texas Memorial Hospital after a lengthy illness.

Mr. Adams was a charter member of the International Charlois Cattle Association of America. He established the American Cattle Breeders Hall of Fame in Grand Prarie and spent many years in West Texas in various aspects of the cattle industry.

Mr. Adams was born June 20, 1919 in Comstock to Harmon Adams and Alice Martin Adams. He is survived by his wife, Brenda; and one son, C.W. "Dub" Whittenburg of Waco; and four grandchildren.

Services for Mr. Adams will be a 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9, 1987, in Johnson's Funeral Home chapel. Burial will follow at Lawnhaven Memorial Gardens.

Pallbearers will be Billie Hanks, Calvin Barbee, Gene Manning, Roy Byrd, Buddy Carmes, Bill Collins, Clarence Geistman and James Pentecost.

* Note: the original post was amended for corrections.