Sunday, March 21, 2010

Deacon Anderson on Bayou 1008

Deacon Anderson and the Village Boys (Carl Bradley, vocals) - Red Hot Flame / I Hate to See You Cry (Bayou 1008/9)

"Red Hot Flame"

Steel guitarist / Bob Dunn disciple James "Deacon" Anderson worked with many of the western swing luminaries in Southeast Texas in the '40s and '50s (Bruner, Mullican, Choates), and led his own bands for many years. Perhaps unique among steel guitarists, he refused to change with the times, and continued to play a lap steel long after they had been written off as too old-fashioned by the steel guitar cognoscenti. We've already covered Deacon's 1950 Gold Star outing with Cotton Thompson (heard here), but far less known are the two singles he put out on his own Bayou label. "Red Hot Flame" was the first and best of these four sides, featuring some pretty hot steel solos from Deacon. It dates from late 1953/early 1954.

Deacon Anderson, Beaumont, Tx., c. 1950.
Anderson claimed to have written the huge 1950 novelty hit "Rag Mop," which merited an article about him in Time magazine. "'Deacon' Anderson, 26, had worked out a kind of K.P. chantey as he swung his mop (during his WWII service). As he explains now: 'It's hard to think up words with any sense when you're tired, and I got to spelling out r-a-g m-o-p.' Last year he made a recording—he didn't know how to write the notes down—and sent it to a friend with the Johnnie Lee Wills band," wrote Time.

(I love the fact that Time felt it necessary to point out that Deacon "didn't know how to write the notes down." Try to imagine Time, or any magazine, calling attention to a musician's inability to write music today.)

Though Deacon may not have been consciously aware of it, "Rag Mop" was simply an adaptation of Red Allen's 1946 jazz tune "Get the Mop (The Ignorant Stick)," released on RCA-Victor. Allen's publisher brought this swiftly to the attention of Bob Wills Music ("Rag Mop"'s publisher), resulting in a substantial out-of-court settlement in Allen's favor.

Thanks to Al Turner for the sound files and label picture.