Monday, July 25, 2011

Freddie Frank on Starday 117

Freddie Frank - Gypsy Heart / Al Petty - Al's Steel Guitar Wobble (Starday 117)

"Gypsy Heart" was Freddie Frank's second single, after his first release on Abbott (heard here) went nowhere. It was, regrettably, his only release on Starday, and remains far less known than Jim Reeves' cover version (though I don't think many would argue today that Reeves's version was better). This was one of the few early Starday singles to have been made in Dallas instead of Houston or Beaumont, and the sound quality is superior to many early releases on the label. This is a solid, commercial country single that should have at least qualified as a regional hit.

Jack Rhodes would soon give up band leading, but this still features his group from Mineola, which in the summer/fall of 1953 included Jimmy Johnson (lead guitar), Al Petty (steel guitar), Joe "Red" Hayes or Kenneth "Little Red" Hayes (fiddle). They were augmented here by Harold Carmack (piano), and unknown rhythm guitar, bass, and drums. Though credited on the label to "Jack Rhodes with Freddie Franks (sic)," Rhodes does not actually play on the record.

Freddie remained bitter about this session when I interviewed him 40+ years later. "What happened, it was another one of those manipulation deals," he said. "I cut 'Gypsy Heart' ... my record hadn’t been out a week, and Jim (Reeves) covered it. Mine was a demo. It was intended to be a demo. Jack had that in mind -- to pitch it to somebody else. Jack was one of those first-person people. Everything is, 'I, me, my...' Nothing is 'ours,' or 'we did this.' That was Jack." But the songwriter credits would seem to contradict this observation, since Jack shared credit with Dick Reynolds and Lorraine Dean.

The flipside is from an unrelated session by Al Petty with the Western Cherokees.

* Note: "Frank" is the correct spelling of Freddie's surname. Starday's misspelling as "Franks" was a common error that still gets repeated today.

Below: Freddie Frank (courtesy Beamon Forse Collection).