The Blues Kings including, in this case, Elmore James on guitar and Little Johnny Jones on piano. Two other songs from this session (10-7-1953) are “Ti-Ri-Lee” and the great “TV Mama,” the flip of today’s song.
In the early 60s a bunch of us from the block used to gather in the living room at my parents’ house and watch the five-minute 8mm movies that Surfer magazine used to sell, little excerpts from John Severson’s surf films, classic early hotdogging from California, big surf in Hawai‘i, etc., along with whatever 8mm stuff some of us were shooting at the time. Everybody would bring their 45s, I would pull out my little portable toy record player, we’d set up a screen and a projector, one of us would play DJ, and we’d all watch in awe while our version of surf music soundtracked the proceedings: Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Take Five” (“Blue Rondo A La Turk” was on the flip); Part I of “What’d I Say” by Ray Charles (not only a classic surf tune with that great electric piano, but also a jumping off point for dirty added-on junior high school lyrics), never mind that it was mostly a vocal, that long piano intro more than made up for it; “Walk—Don’t Run” by the Ventures was always a safe bet (and later, anything off their first three albums would also do just fine); and the toughest of them all, several instrumentals by The Fireballs, from Raton, New Mexico of all places: “Bulldog,” “Vaquero,” and “Torquay” (we thought Torquay was a Spanish word when it was really the name of an English seaside town!) were all great, “Bulldog” being the musical equivalent, for me, of the small wave hot dog maneuvers of Dewey Weber, Phil Edwards, Mickey Dora, and other top surfers of the day. There was also “Harlem Nocturne,” an old standard that was given the noir treatment by The Viscounts; it came out in 1959, hit, and then was rereleased in 1965 and hit again; a really great, spooky tune. Here, then, is the 1959 version of “Torquay.”
Fireballs • Torquay • 1959 click on song title to play
About a million years ago I stumbled across the LP pictured, probably at Folk Arts, and it quickly became one of my favorites, twelve tracks of 50s–60s Cajun honky tonk by some of the artists Jay Miller was recording at the time: Nathan Abshire, Aldus Roger, Robert Bertrand, Louis Alleman, and the Clément Brothers. The Clément sides quickly became my favorites, even though an acquaintance at the time poo-pooed them, saying they weren’t real Cajun music, they were Cajunized rock’n’roll. Whatever. They’re still my favorites from the album, especially “La Valse De Te Maurice.” Terry Clément plays accordion, his brother Purvis plays fiddle and takes the vocals, and everybody sounds like they’re having a blast.
Thanks to Lyle Ferbrache for album cover pic and “Sugar Bee.”