Sunday, May 31, 2009

Messiah - Alpha Wave - Easy Livin'

Keeping w/ the Funk, here are 2 kill tracks from Messiah. Alpha Wave is a bit more modern and trippy sounding, not unlike something you might hear on a Billy Cobham record... while Easy Livin' goes a little more towards traditional funkiness, it still has a bit more modern vibe. Either way pretty cool tunes and a record you don't see everyday.

Messiah - Alpha Wave
Messiah - Easy Livin'

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Mohawks - The Champ

Oh man, this is a GOOD ONE! Funky ass organ mover from 1968 w/ The Champ, from the Mohawks!

The Mohawks were a band formed from session musicians and fronted by the undisputed king of Library music composers, Alan Hawkshaw. The Mohawks were never actually a 'touring' band, but rather the clever idea of some guy at KPM music in the 60's who decided to release a bunch of incredibly groovy and funky library music tracks and package it under the name "The Mohawks".

The Champ is also a widely known song for having been sampled in so many other songs, notably because the actual word they're shouting in the songs opening and chorus is actually Tramp, which may or may not have anything to do with it's popularity amongst hiphop artists. One could also argue the point that the beat is so genuinely great, making it an obvious candidate for popularity.

The Mohawks - The Champ

Friday, May 29, 2009

King Rubin and the Counts - Cow Peas - Party Girl

Some funky ass jams from 1973 here to get your weekend started! I never got around to scanning the party girl side so please accept my apologies!

A side is a bumping instrumental with cool wah wah guitar and horns, flip is a vocal about the virtues of the female party life! haha!

Once again i did a quick search for King Rubin but found very little except Abdullah, Ahmed, trumpeter, worked with the group and a few other soul blogs have already put this up with very little info either so... whatev...

King Rubin and the Counts - Cow Peas
King Rubin and the Counts - Party Girl

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Forward to the Caves 5/28/09 Play List:

were on the air for those that care 8 to 10 PM tonight!

Here is what we are playing:

Pure Hell - No Rules
45 Grave - Black Cross
Fatal Rage - I'm Appalled
Avengers - We Are The One
Middle Class - Out Of Vogue
Weirdos - We Got The Neutron Bomb
Bishops - Somebody Is Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In...
Ether - Ya Gotta Kill Me
Victims - Real Wild Child
Cyanamid - This Is Hell
Happy Flowers - Mom & Dad Likes Baby Better Than Me
Minor Threat - Salad Days
Guinea Worms - Box Of Records

Vee Dee - Glimses of Another World
Les Face - Pull My Trigger
Mac Blackout - Whos Gonna Set The Fire
Mac Blackout - Pocket For Everything
Les Face - She Was A Mutant
The Lights Out - Somethings Rotten In The Land Of Hope
The Lights Out - Destroy Create
Les Face - Tylenol Killer
Haunted George - Buzzards Are His Flesh
Cynics - She Fell
The Chocolate Watchband - Till The End Of The Day
Loot - Baby Come Closer
Q65 - Cry In The Night
Surf Teens - Point Of Surf
Ramrods - Flowers In My Mind
Werps - Loves A Fire
The Starfires - Fender Bender
Crossfires - Fiberglass Jungle
Craftsmen - Rock Along
Clease - The Weird One
The Rugby's - You , I
Pamela Web and the George - Hold On I'm Coming
Mongo Santamaria - I Can't Get Next To You
Riot - Put The Gun Down Brother
Tribe - Think People
Skull Snaps - Al's Razor Blade
Mody-Vations - Ghetto Kung Fu Pt. 1
Pan Earth - Mandingo

Pamela Web and the George - Hold On I'm Comin'

OH MY GAWD! THE FUZZ!!!!!!!!!!

A MONSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pamela Web and the George - Hold On I'm Comin'

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cool Heat - Are You Nuts?

I'm gonna try this again...

Q. Are You Nuts?

A. Yes.

Cool Heat - Are You Nuts?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Laura Lee - I Don't Want Nothing Old (But Money)

I've been on a soul kick of late so i think i'm gonna keep on with that vibe for a while. I don't have much to say so read the wiki below if you want the 411...

Laura Lee (born Laura Lee Newton, 9 March 1945, Chicago, Illinois) is an American soul and gospel singer and songwriter, most successful and influential in the 1960s and 1970s particularly for her records which discussed and celebrated women’s experience.

Lee was born in Chicago, but as a child relocated to Detroit with her mother. After a few years, she was adopted by Rev. E. Allan Rundless, who had previously been a member of the Soul Stirrers, and his wife Ernestine, who led a gospel group, The Meditation Singers. Featuring Della Reese, they were the first Detroit gospel group to perform with instrumental backing. The group recorded on the Specialty label in the mid 1950s, appeared on the LP Della Reese Presents The Meditation Singers in 1958, and in the early 1960s recorded for Checker Records.

As Laura Lee Rundless, she replaced Reese in The Meditation Singers in 1956, and over the next few years toured widely around the country. In 1965, as Laura Lee, she launched her secular solo career as an R&B singer in clubs in Detroit, although she also continued to record occasionally with The Meditation Singers. She first recorded solo for Ric-Tic Records in 1966, with "To Win Your Heart". The following year she won a recording contract with Chess Records, and travelled to Rick Hall’s FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals to record "Dirty Man", which became a # 13 R&B hit (also # 68 pop). She stayed with Chess until 1969, touring and also recording "Up Tight Good Man" and "As Long As I Got You".

Lee then moved to Holland, Dozier and Holland’s newly established Hot Wax label. One of her first recordings for Hot Wax, "Women’s Love Rights", became one of her biggest hits, reaching # 11 on the R&B chart in 1971 and # 36 pop. In 1972, "Rip Off" reached # 3 on the R&B chart, but only # 68 pop. She also recorded an album, Two Sides of Laura Lee, while in a relationship with singer Al Green.

Lee left Invictus / Hot Wax in 1975 and signed with Ariola Records, but became seriously ill shortly afterwards and retired from the music industry for several years. She returned in 1983 with a gospel album, Jesus Is The Light Of My Life, on which she worked with Al Green. By 1990 she was recovered from illness, and had been ordained as a minister. She has continued recording music to this day.

Laura Lee - I Don't Want Nothing Old (But Money)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Storey Sisters - Bad Motorcycle

Something to start your work week, a female rocker from 1957 here by The Storey Sisters on Cameo Records. Also credited as The Twinkles, the gals are Ann & Lillian and based from where i am currently located, the city of brotherly love Philadelphia. Real cool guitar break in this jammy, anyone know who he was? Hound?

Get on it, puddin' puddin' puddin'!

Storey Sisters - Bad Motorcycle

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bobby Williamson - I Need Everything

Going in a completely different direction then the R&B dance craze number from Gene & Wendall here's another hillbilly who-dat, best remembered for his twanged-up cover of the doo-wop classic, "Sh-Boom," "Texas" Bobby Williamson was a regionally successful country cat and veteran of the Dallas-based Big "D" Jamboree radio show who recorded for a few years for RCA from 1951 to 1954, then faded from sight...

Bobby Williamson - I Need Everything

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gene And Wendell - The Roach

God Damn I'm bored!
I've had about enough of this sitting around waiting to mend bull shit. I've had enough day time TV and even the 45's are started to annoy me. I need some fresh air and action. Man, if i ever fall victim to house arrest or become crippled please just fucking kill me... anyway my being bored is your gain as i guess i'll keep the 45's coming. at least it gives me something to do around the house since i can't really do much else. Who knew stomach operations were so damn painful and recover time so LOOOOOOOOOONG....

So what you get today is a 45 that has been on continuous play 'round these parts. A cool soul like R & B dance number from Gene and Wendell from 1961. Eugene "Gene" Washington and Wendell Jones, were a duo from Los Angeles who recorded for an obscure label named, Ray Star.

Probably the most exotic and most quintessential of the R&B dances
was The Roach, popular in late 1961 and early 1962. The Roach is
generally a line dance with a somewhat fast tempo, with steps similar to
the Watusi. Its most characteristic step was a squishing motion made
with one's foot on a non-existent cockroach to the song's sharply sung
refrain, "kill that roach." This cut also appeared in the Waters film Hairspray in 1988.

Gene And Wendell - The Roach

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Pentagons - Down At The Beach

Here is one I've been threatening to post for real long time but for some reason I'm just getting around to it now. Maybe its the fact that the weather here was been pretty chilly lately but i hope summer is right around the corner, i'm ready for some warm weather and summer nights.
Anyway, I'm just started to feel 1/2 normal after my surgery and I am going to send this out to the lady friend as i know she is chomping at the bit the get her tattooed ass down to the Jersey shore. Seaside or Point, it's up to you...
usually i don't agree with records on the beach, sand and all, but the lady seems to dig it, and seeing as i dig her i guess that's its a-ok in my book!

This is the flip to the 1961 hit "To Be Loved (Forever)" by the Pentagons:

The Pentagons are remembered for two 1961 hits, "To Be Loved (Forever)" -- which peaked at number 48 nationally -- and "I Wonder." The original lineup featured Joe Jones, Carl McGinnis, Bill James, Otis Munson, and brothers Kenneth Goodloe (lead) and Ted Goodloe and formed in 1958 in San Bernardino, CA, northeast of Los Angeles. Sometime during this early period, Munson left and James was later replaced by Odie Jones, Joe's brother, making for two sets of brothers in the Pentagons' lineup. A trip to Los Angeles that same year attracted the attention of George Motola's Fleet International, a label Motola owned with Lee Silver. The group recorded their first single, "You'll Be Coming Home Soon," which Motola released under the name the Shields. They were forced to change their name to the Pentagons after discovering a local act from Los Angeles had a hit that year under the same name ("You Cheated"). The group's next single would be the 45 that most doo wop fans and collectors remember them fondly for, the graceful and understated ballad "To Be Loved (Forever)," written by Ken Goodloe. The single was a regional hit in late 1960 and was immediately picked up for national distribution and reissue on Donna Records, a division of Bob Keene's Del-Fi Records. It later broke wide open after it was played on Dick Clark's TV show and in February of 1961, it peaked nationally at number 48 pop. After this initial glimmer of success, Lester Sill joined Silver and Motola as the Pentagons' managers. The group's next single was another Motola production, "I Like the Way You Look at Me," which was once again licensed to Donna Records. Though not a major hit, it still carried over that string-laden sound the Pentagons were becoming known for. The B-side, "Down at the Beach," written by Joe and Odie Jones, was a minor hit as well (although this happened two years after it was recorded). Beginning with the very distinctive "Billboard March" -- a calliope-like flourish heard at the start of a circus and also used in James Darren's number two 1961 hit "Goodbye Cruel World" -- the lyrics of "Down at the Beach" really captured the whole sunny SoCal surf and sand scene -- "you look good in your short shorts...I really go for your ta-yan." After this release, the Pentagons signed to Jamie Records, with whom Sill had connections, causing Keene to lose interest in promoting the Donna-released second single. Their final hit was the Jamie-released "I Wonder (If Your Love Will Ever Belong to Me)" which peaked at number 84 pop in October of 1961, but with no additional hits forthcoming, the group disbanded and faded into obscurity. Lester Sill, incidentally, also produced Duane Eddy's early recordings for Jamie. He passed away on October 31, 1994, in Los Angeles.
— Bryan Thomas , All Music Guide

The Pentagons - Down At The Beach

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Harmonica Fats - Tore Up

OK some mid week blues here that i am sending out to the fine folks at Its Great Shakes as this 45 showed up on one of their many record digging posts and i made a comment that i had this in the can and ready to go over here @ the devil's music and since i am trying to get caught up with things as far as getting some request and other things tied up it seemed like a perfect time to get this bad little boy posted!

Anywho, nothing long winded, just dig the tune, great gruff voice and a nice walking bass groove, sweet horns and then that harmonica = sweet! dig that 2:09 mark as well!
Just the thing to get you over the hump!

Harmonica Fats was actually Harvey Blackston, a former Louisianan who learned the blues growing up on his grandfather's farm; his longtime partner, Bernie Pearl, a native Angeleno, learned the blues from the musicians who frequented the fabled Ash Grove (a folk and blues club run by Pearl's brother Ed), including Lightnin' Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb.

In the early '50s, Fats took up harmonica as self-prescribed therapy while recuperating from an auto accident. Once confident, he formed a band, playing clubs around Los Angeles, and was known then as "Heavy Juice." Just as carefully, he perfected his songwriting, scoring on the R&B charts in 1961 with the self-penned single "Tore Up." After changing his name to Harmonica Fats, this success led to work as a studio musician, playing dates with performers as diverse as Bill Cosby, Ringo Starr, and Lou Rawls. He even did a stint as a traveling solo musician, seeking gigs as he drove in a station wagon around the country.

Harmonica Fats - Tore Up

Monday, May 18, 2009

The C.O.D's - Cry No More

Ok peeps getting some more work done here today with another request for The C.O.D's doing Cry No More. I got this request once again a way while back after i played this cut on my Forward To The Caves radio show and i figure while I'm filling requests I finally got around to this.
Sorry for the long delay Baby James!

Here is a nice sweet soul cut with a certain lo-fi quality that really makes it all the more better!

After a quick search of the internet i came up empty except that they cut a few more 45's from 65 to 66, so for those in the know pleased drop the knowledge!

The C.O.D.'s (members Larry Brownlee (who wrote all their songs), Robert Lewis and Carl Washington. Session Ruby Andrews)

Michael/ Cry No More by The C.O.D.'s
Label: Kellmac 1003
Year: 1965
Condition: EX

Chart info: #5r, #41p in December 1965

Written by: Larry Brownlee (A&B)
Produced by: Leon Singleton, Arranged by Pete Matthews

The C.O.D's - Cry No More

Friday, May 15, 2009

Joe Maphis - Pickin' & Guitin' - Rose Lee Maphis - Country Girl Courtship

OK switching things up here with some wicked country guitar pickin!

A good long while ago i got a request for this 45 after i played it on my goofy little radio show, well i finally got around to pulling it out and scanning the labels and downloading the songs and its been so long i doubt Nate Gibson
who requested it is even still reading this shit blog but anyway don't ever say i don't at least try and cater to those who drop by as i do appreciate the business!

So what we have here is a serious guitar picking instrumental by Joe Maphis and i mean serious pickin'! The other side is sung by his wifey poo about how she longed for the guitar pickin' Joe.

Joe Maphis, born Otis W. Maphis (born May 12, 1921 – died June 27, 1986), was an American country music guitarist. He married singer Rose Lee Maphis in 1948.

One of the flashiest country guitarists of the 1950s and 1960s, Joe Maphis was known as The King of the Strings. He was able to play many stringed instruments with great facility. However, he specialized in dazzling guitar virtuosity. Working out of Bakersfield, California, he rose to prominence with his own hits such as "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music)" as well as playing with acts like Johnny Burnette, Doyle Holly, The Collins Kids, Wanda Jackson, Rose Maddox and Ricky Nelson. His playing was an influence on such greats as Merle Travis, Jimmy Bryant and Chet Atkins. He was known for his use of a double-neck Mosrite guitar, specially built for him by Semie Moseley, which was a boon to Moseley's fledgling career as a guitar builder. He was a regular guest on the Jimmy Dean television show in the 1960s.

Joe's guitar hero was Mother Maybelle Carter, matriarch of the Carter Family. Her daughter June Carter Cash and husband Johnny Cash so admired Joe's guitar playing that Joe is buried in a Hendersonville, TN cemetery next to Maybelle, her husband, Ezra Carter (A.P.'s brother), and daughter, Anita Carter.

Joe Maphis - Pickin' and Guitin
Rose Lee Maphis - Country Girl Courtship

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cyanamid - Stop The World - Mutha 018 7"

OK peeps i survived my surgery but man am i in some serious pain right now and half out of my mind of percocets and darvocets so i will be brief here as i feel as if i am about to fall over in my chair after practically crawling up 2 flights of stairs to get to the computer in the attic. (how's that for dumb ass blogging dedication?) I though i was up for this, but fuck this shit, i need to get my ass back on the couch...

Anyway, what you have here is some more rare NJ Hardcore Punk shit on the Mutha label and one of my faves of the Mutha releases. These guys go from short sonic blasts to long dissonant Flipper like dirges and its very apparent that they just don't give a fuck... awesome shit. Yeah i have the insert but was too lazy to scan it...

Band consisted of: Dan Mulleavey (vocals), Sparky (bass), Chris (drums), Jim (guitar)

If you don't know this, get it now! For me, more percocet here i come!

Cyanamid - This Is Hell
Cyanamid - I Hate Pigeons
Cyanamid - I Love B.P.J.S.
Cyanamid - Older People
Cyanamid - In The Hole
Cyanamid - Stop The World

Monday, May 11, 2009

Weirdos - We Got The Neutron Bomb - Solitary Confinement

OK peeps happy Monday.

By the time you read this I'll will be fully sedated and under the knife this Monday. I'm having some surgery this morning and if all goes according to plan i should be back and posting in no time. If you don't hear from me in a while.... well lets not go there.

Alright, keeping in the punk side of things here is a classic 7 inch by the weirdos:

If you dig punk you will already know this, if not, get on board ASAP!

The Weirdos were an American punk rock band from Los Angeles, California. They formed in 1976 and broke up in 1981, were occasionally active in the 1980s, and recorded new material in the 1990s. Critic Mark Demming calls them "quite simply, one of the best and brightest American bands of punk's first wave."

The band was formed by singer John Denney and his brother Dix on guitar; they were the only constant members, though guitarist/bassist Cliff Roman, bassist Dave Trout and drummer Nickey "Beat" Alexander were relatively long-term Weirdos.

They were originally an art rock band formed in 1976, and were featured in a news article featuring punk rock groups in Time magazine and so the "punk" label stuck.

I was 12 when this record came out and from a small town in NJ so it took me a few years to catch up to the punk thing. I had heard about the sex pistols and the clash but when i brought home a magazine with pics of the sex pistols Mom was more than happy that i was listening to the cartoon sounds of Kiss. But when i got into Jr High there was no stopping the punk influence and i meet a few other odd ball guys that turned me on to bands like The Dickies, The Rubber City Rebels, The Germs, Fear, Dead Kennedy's, and of course Black Flag so thanks Richie Dagger & Gary Hemp where ever you are...

Weirdos - We Got The Neutron Bomb

Weirdos - Solitary Confinement

Friday, May 8, 2009

Rosemary's Babies - Bloodlust

OK one more Red Boy shout out this week and then I think I'll be done talking to him for the next month! Here ya go ya skinny legged prick!

In my never ending quest to find all thing Jersey here is one that had eluded me for a long while but i finally tracked it down and now for those that give a shit, i now give it to you.

Rosemary's Babies - Bloodlust is a fairly decent NJHC record but i guess the reason this has become sort of sought after is the fact that Eerie Von, who later went on to play w/ Danzing was a member. Misfits freaks who have to have all things Misfit take note.

Rosemary's Babies was an American hardcore punk band formed in Lodi, New Jersey in 1980. Its Members included J.R. - Vocals, Post Mortem (Robert Montena) - Bass, CA Richie (Craig Richardson) - Guitar, and Eerie Von (Eric Stellman) - Drums. The band was active until 1983 and produced a 7" EP titled "Blood Lust", released on the band's own Ghastly Records. A 2004 CD, Talking to the Dead includes tracks from the EP, previously unreleased songs, and tracks recorded live at CBGBs NYC May 15, 1983.

The band's early musical influences included The Misfits, and DC bands such as Minor Threat, The Bad Brains, and State of Alert (featuring vocalist Henry Rollins) as well as early British Oi! bands like Blitz, Charged GBH and Discharge. Other stylistic influences include films such as A Clockwork Orange and Caligula.

Rosemary's Babies was notably active in the New Jersey and New York hardcore punk scenes of the early 80's, and all band members continued to work in the music industry after the demise of the band. Eerie Von moved on to work with Glenn Danzig in the bands Samhain and Danzig.

Side A;
Rosemary's Babies - Bloodlust
Rosemary's Babies - I'm Gonna Be Sick
Rosemary's Babies - Happy Song
Rosemary's Babies - Inferior
Rosemary's Babies - Small Minds, Think Small

Side B:
Rosemary's Babies - Talking To The Dead
Rosemary's Babies - Sanctioned Violence
Rosemary's Babies - Let's molest 10 Year Olds
Rosemary's Babies - One Dead Low-Life
Rosemary's Babies - That's Right, That's O.K.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pee Wee King and His Band - You Can't Hardly Get Them No More

This one goes out to my kids and once again the redboy.

See when i first got this here 45 a way back when and was playing it my kids were asking about it saying Daddy, what's a mustache cup? (listen to the song to fully understand) and i tried to explain it to them and they just had this puzzled look on their faces like "huh?". So what i did was actually took a coffee mug and cut out a piece of paper to make a mock mustache cup to show them...

So when i was telling the story to my my co-worker, fellow record collector geek and all around swell guy (well most times) the redboy i was shocked and dismayed that the man who knows everything was a bit clueless about the mustache cup as well. So we did what everyone does these days and looked it up on the interwebs. Now he had never heard this song before but i told him about it and the line "You Can't Hardly Get Them No More". Well low and behold a few weeks later i came to work and there on my desk was a fancy antique mustache cup (a few chips but its thee thought that counts right?) with a note in it saying 'i guess you CAN hardly get them no more". Nice!

So anyway here is a real goof-ball of a country song from 1955 about a mustache cup, among other things... Do any of you care about my story that is just as goofy as this song?
Most likely not, but i found it very amusing...

I already did a post about Mr. King so if you desire the info click HERE:

Pee Wee King and His Band- You Can't Hardly Get Them No More

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sonny Richards - Skinny Minny Olive Oil

I posted the B side Voodoo Walk to this 45 during my Halloween song bombardment. And here now i give you the A-side for your listening pleasure.

I am also sending this out to the Red Boy
and this time for way different reasons than in the Ronnie Self Bop-A-Lena post, and he knows why....

Sonny Richards - Skinny Minny Olive Oil

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ronnie Self - Houdini

Keeping this a Ronnie Self weekend here is my minty copy of Houdini w/ company sleeve.

After his Decca contract expired in 1962 Self's credibility was still sufficiently high for him to secure a one year deal with Kapp Records.

I for one dig this tune, i mean its a song about freakin' Houdini! How do you go wrong with that?

See below the below post whole R.S. story...

Ronnie Self

Ronnie Self - Houdini

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ronnie Self - Bop-A-Lena

Long ago when I first met The Red Boy and we got to talkin' about records and the fact that we both collected and we were talking about some of our fave tracks he asked me if i had ever heard this here gem and told him i had not, so he spun this here monster rocker that borders on insanity for me and my tongue fell out my face and my brain popped out the top of my head like a Tex Avery cartoon! I mean really this thing burns with fire and passion and thrashes about kinda like punk rock 50's music, some other folks might have been this amped up but reckon most must have been black performers on goof balls!

Needless to say I have been a Ronnie Self fan ever since, so even though you are a skinny legged prick thanks Red Boy, you aint half bad half the time....

Now i didn't write the below info i lifted it from the free web see, but if you don't know Mr. Self's story read on dear reader because his tale is almost as good as his music and that is pretty fucking good...

Why Ronnie Self never made it as a performer is one of the great mysteries and injustices of pop music history. He had the look and the sound - a mix of country, rockabilly and R&B that sometimes made him sound like a white Little Richard, but mostly like the young Elvis or Carl Perkins - and he wasn't lacking for good songs, which he mostly wrote himself. He should have been there, thought of in the same breath as Perkins or Jerry Lee Lewis; instead, he's a footnote in rock & roll history outside of Europe, where he's treated as a legend. (AMG - Bruce Eder)

Ronnie Self was born the first of five children of Raymond Self, a farmer-turned-railroad worker, and Hazel Sprague Self. Self had a reputation as a wild boy, with incidents of vandalism and assault in his background. He became interested in music while still a boy, and began writing songs while in his teens. The relationship between Ronnie and his parents is somewhat clouded. "When I first met him," recalled his wife Dorothy, "he carried a Bible in his pocket and talked of being able to make enough money to get his folks out of poverty, but as the years went on he showed an increasing hostility toward them that I never really understood."

On December 16, 1957 Self entered the cavernous Bradley's studio in Nashville and, armed with a composition from the unlikely team of Webb Pierce and Mel Tillis, turned in one of the most frenetic performances from the early days of rock & roll. Quite what Columbia's debonair expatriate Englishman, Don Law, thought as he sat behind the console is open to conjecture. Session stalwarts Marvin Hughes, Ray Edenton and Buddy Harman probably left the session shaking their heads. But when Bop-A-Lena, was released early the following year, during the height of the short lived vogue for primitive, energised rockabilly, it broke into the 'Billboard' charts, peaking at number 68. Unfortunately, it was Ronnie Self's only chart entry as a performer, a statistic that galled him as the years passed.

Self had a unique and tortuous career in the music business. He eventually gained a fairly steady income from his songwriting but, with the exception of Bop-A-Lena, he was capable of much more than the larynx-searing Bop-A-Lena, though, and could move with ease from country to pop and onto R&B, leaving his imprint on it all. However, a mixture of problems and sheer bad lick conspired to keep his name no more than a by-word among a few.

Since 1954 KWTO Springfield, MO had been the originating station of the Ozark Jubilee, ABC's alternative to the Opry. They had recruited Red Foley to head the regular cast and made the show available for network television. One of the producers, Si Siman, later became a music publisher and had an on/off involvement with Self. During the early '50's, Red Foley was managed by Dub Albritten, who had a close involvement with Cedarwood publishing by virtue of the fact that he also booked Webb Pierce who owned a piece of Cedarwood. Siman, Albritten and Cedarwood would play a large part in Self's career.

"Ronnie was in and out of the station with demos," recalled Siman, "and showed all kinds of promise as a prolific writer." The exact train of events that took him to Nashville to cut his session for ABC is still a little cloudy.

Self was signed to a songwriting contract. His first recording sessions were held in Nashville on behalf of ABC Records, which led to a contract and the release of a single, "Pretty Bad Blues"/"Three Hearts Later," both of which were written by Self. Issued in 1956, the record failed to chart.

It is unclear why Albritten, who had strong ties to Decca via Foley, Webb Pierce and another Jubilee regular, Brenda Lee, would place Self with ABC. Even stranger was the fate of the second single, "Sweet Love" b/w "Alone". It was assigned an issue number (ABC 9768), scheduled but apparently not released. The tapes also disappeared. That disc has never been found, nor have the tapes for those two songs. It was an inauspicious debut but Self had acquired an important booster in Dub Albritten, as well as his first significant publishing affiliation.

In early 1957 Albritten was called upon to help assemble a cast for the Phillip Morris Caravan and act as promotion manager. Wayne Russell's research has dated the origin of the Caravan to some annual shows that the company sponsored for their employees. They launched the Caravan in January 1957 with a troupe that included Carl Smith, Red Sovine, Goldie Hill, Gordon Terry, Mimi Roman and Ronnie Self. Admission was by invitation, probably to those bearing a sample of Phillip Morris's product. Most of the acts on the package show were country players, and Self was the resident rockabilly representative - he quickly began attracting attention with his wild and highly animated stage act, not to mention the nature of his songs, which combined the intensity of R&B with high-energy rockabilly. A spurious 'live' album was issued featuring studio cuts with overdubbed applause.

"He'd start at the far back of the stage," recalled his sister Vicki, "throw his guitar over his back and run out to the mike, grab the mike stand and go right down on the floor with it and sing the first song. That was how he'd start. He'd never stop moving on stage ... He'd turn around with his back to the audience and face the band - but he never stood still. He'd never talk to the crowd, just went from one song to another but the band never knew what it was gonna be. He did "Roll Over Beethoven" and he rocked up some stuff that was country, like Hank Williams, and his own tunes."

Because of the response that Self generated on the Phillip Morris tour, Albritten secured him a contract with Columbia. He was signed on February 10th to a deal calling for a paltry two per cent royalty. The first session, held on February 16th, resulted in one single, "Big Fool"/"Flame of Love", with a session band to include Grady Martin and Hank Gariana on guitars with the singer, Floyd Chance on bass, Buddy Harman on drums, and Floyd Cramer on piano. This single failed to chart, and a third song, Self's own "Black Night Blues," was unissued until 1990.

The follow-up, recorded in June of the same year, allowed Self to display a little more originality. "Ain't I'm A Dog" and "Rocky Road Blues" being his second release for Columbia. By now, his pronounced rasping hicuppy vocal styling was well to the fore and he was constantly urging on the backing musicians in rockin' creativeness. These are examples of rock 'n' roll excitement at their finest. From accounts of his frantic stage act, it was a small wonder that he stood in front of the microphone long enough to snarl out the lyrics. "Ain't I'm A Dog" had a proto punk snarl and lyrics to match ("Forget about the danger and think of the fun..."). It apparently sold well on a regional basis (indeed Dorothy Self thought it was his best-selling record) and encouraged Columbia to shelve the two remaining cuts from the June session.

Come December 16th, 1957, Ronnie was back in the studio with John T. Hill, and Ray Edenton on guitars plus the faithful Buddy Harman on drums along with Ike Inman on bass plus Marvin Hughes on piano, he laid down the rapid-fire, high-powered rock 'n' roll classic "Bop-A-Lena", a little ditty composed by country stalwarts Webb Pierce and Mel Tillis. The raw power of Self's singing, coupled with the frantic beat, has resulted in "Bop-A-Lena" being labeled as the first punk single in some quarters. That might be a bit extreme, but not too far off the mark - that record moves, and it's just anarchic enough to be recognizable not only to modern rockabilly practitioners like The A-Bones, but lots of punkers as well. It was a classic of raucous overstatement that would inspire uncounted garage bands. Two other sides, "I Ain't Going Nowhere" and the raucous "You're So Right For Me" were also recorded.

"Bop-A-Lena" slowly but surely started to break out big and eventually peaked at position 68 on the billboard charts. There is a photograph of Self with Dick Clark on the American Bandstand TV show, the use of the word American before Bandstand in the picture dates it after August 5th, 1957 when the show started to broadcast across the nation. He also appeared on the Grand Ol Opry and, never one to compromise, rocked like crazy.

Ten days after the "Bop-A-Lena" session, Ronnie took a bride. "I met him when he was dating a friend of mine." recalled Dorothy, "and we went backstage at Wally Fowler's All Night Singin' show. 'Pretty Bad Blues' had just been released. He looked at me and said, 'I'm gonna marry you.'" On December 26, 1957 Ronnie and Dorothy were married.

After "Petrified" faltered, Don Law lost no time in jetisoning Self from the roster. Albritten's credibility at Decca was still high, though, and he succeeded in placing Self on a three year deal with the label in which he was also contracted to Decca's publishing affiliate, Champion Music, for five years. It was during 1960 that Self saw his greatest success as a composer with Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry", of which Dub Albritten took a 20 per cent share. Brenda had started on the Ozark Jubilee and was managed by Albritten after he had disassociated himself from Foley. She earlier recorded another of Self's compositions, "Sweet Nothin's" on which her pharasing is strongly suggestive of the writer. Some have said that Self effectively produced the sessions.

The Decca contract expired in 1962. They left a novelty song, "Whistlin' Words", in the can. Ironically it foreshadowed Roger Miller's success with offbeat novelties by a couple of years. Self's credibility was still sufficiently high for him to secure a one year deal with Kapp Records. The top side, "Houdini", was a fairly trite piece of material but the flipside, "Bless My Broken Heart", was a beautifully melodic song that featured the then omnipresent twelve string guitar. It was probably during the Kapp session, held at Sam Phillips' Nashville studio, that Phillips' guitarist and publishing manager, Keelso Heerston, picked up one of Self's songs for Jerry Lee Lewis's last Sun sessions a few weeks later. The song, "Love On Broadway", was unissued in 1963 but fared quite well when Shelby Singleton released it in 1971.

Champion Music placed him on salary in the early '60s because he had a tendency to cash a big royalty or BMI check and spend all the money in a few hours. After parting company from Decca and their publishing companies, Self wrote once again for Cedarwood and eventually reunited with Si Siman. The craziness continued unabated, especially after Dub Albritten died in 1971. Albritten had retained his faith in Self and had assumed the role of a father figure.

Around the mid 60s, Self recorded a five track demo session for Cedarwood, according to his sister Vicki. It was through Si that he got a recording deal with AMY Records who released Self's "High On Life" and "The Road Keeps Winding" in 1968 with Dale Hawkins producing. The first of these two titles was also recorded by Gene Vincent on his "The Day The World Turned Blue" album issued by Karma Suttra Records in 1971. There was to be one more record release by Ronnie Self during his lifetime and this was "Long Distance Kiss" and "Ain't I Dandy" on the obscure Scratch label circa 1969.

Ronnie wrote a sacred song "Ain't That Beautiful Singing" performed by Jake Hess which received a Grammy for Best Sacred Performance in 1969.

With the death of Dub Albritten, Self decided to move back to Springfield, where he formed Tablerock Music with Si Simon on a 50/50 basis. Siman provided the funds and Self the music. One song published by the company was "Home In My Hand" and was recorded as a great rockin' opus by Dallas Frazier. However after two years Self abruptly terminated the partnership. He was becoming more and more unpredictable and was becoming meshed in a vicious cycle of booze and pills. There is a story that one night he blew up a shelf of his demo recordings with a shotgun.

Dorothy left for the last time in 1978 and remarried another man. Ronnie called her again shortly before he died trying for a reconciliation. "I'd tried and I'd have given anything to see it work," she said. "It was unbearable to see someone so talented destroy themself."

Self had also burned his bridges with Si Siman, "He came back to see me after a few more bumps in the road and wanted to start over but I couldn't afford to re-tie that knot. I think he was probably clinically insane then, doing real unusual things. It wasn't safe to be around him although I still thought he was a terrific writer. When he was straight, he was great to do business with. He was a gentleman. But when he got some juice inside him he'd shoot holes in the wall, fire off a bow and arrow, chase people and try to run 'em down with a car. He was in and out of jail God knows how many times. His talent was a curse. When success was real close, he'd have only had to do what people were telling him, but he couldn't handle that - and he blew it.

"He was a perfectionist. He wanted to do it all. He was like the guy who hires an artist then tells him how to paint the picture. I wanted to be his friend but he wouldn't let me. Nobody could get real close to him."

Self moved into an apartment building in Springfield. His brother ahd a room in the same building. It was there that he died on August 28th, 1981. A year before Self died, Dave Edmunds received one of his songs, "Home In My Hand". Five months after he died, Diana Ross scored a huge pop and R&B hit with "Mirror, Mirror"; on the flip side, generating mechanical if not airplay royalties, was "Sweet Nothin's". It highlighted the timeless and cross-cultural appeal of Self's work. He could write or perform in a variety of styles and sound convincing in all of them. On an unissued Decca recording, "Some Other World", he wrote his own epitaph:

Down with your theories/Down with your conventions
This cat lives in another dimension
You like my sounds/You like my song
I guess I'm right and you cats are wrong.

One of the last recordings, if not the last, that Ronnie made was "Waitin For My Gin To Hit Me" in June of 1981.

Self had some good moments and good times as a performer later in his career. He was especially highly regarded in Europe, practically like visiting royalty. Ronnie Self left behind some four hundred songs, and what is amazing is their sheer quality. As a singer/songwriter/performer, he was a triple threat, equally strong as a singer of country ballads, hot white (and white-hot) R&B, and some of the fastest, most bracing rockabilly heard this side of The Sparkletones. It's been said too many times about too many performers, but as a singer, Self could have been another Elvis Presley, and had the potential to be bigger....he lacked Elvis' dark, brooding, charismatic sexuality (although he had a dark side, to be sure), which translated well on screen, but he could take a song and turn it into the hottest piece of dixie-fried rock and roll this side of Carl Perkins, and with a frantic Jerry Lee Lewis edge to it as well. He may have been a little too country-fried for the rock & roll market after 1956 (a problem that Carl Perkins also ran into), but his songwriting had enough variety to keep his stuff fascination, and the quality of his music was extraordinary.

Ronnie Self - Bop-A-Lena