Friday, April 29, 2016


Today we feature a previously unheard take of “Evalena” with a typically fine Tampa vocal (but no stinging slide), a barking amplified harmonica break by Big Walter Horton, and fabulous rollicking piano by the great Little Johnny Jones. Couldn’t be better.

Tampa Red • Evalena [take A] • 1953

Tampa Red, vocal/guitar; Little Johnny Jones, piano; Walter Horton, harmonica; Willie Lacey, guitar; Ransom Knowling, bass; Odie Payne, drums. Chicago, 4 December 1953

Sunday, April 24, 2016


“The western half of country-and-western has a long and intimate relationship with pop music, particularly the pop music of Hollywood movies. . . . ‘(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance’ [was] a song written for, but not included in, what was destined to become one of the greatest big-screen westerns, director John Ford’s film of the same name. . . .” 
—David Cantwell, Heartaches by the Number

134.  (The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance • Gene Pitney • 1962

Get it: Burt Bacharach & Friends – Gold

Label pic: 45cat

Saturday, April 23, 2016


Ike Turner & His Orchestra • Cuban Get Away • 1955

Ike Turner, guitar; Dennis Binder, piano; Jesse Knight Jr., bass; Willie Sims or Robert Prindell, drums. Clarksdale, Mississippi, Mar 1954

Get it: Dust My Rhythm & Blues: The Flair Records R&B Story 1953–55

Image: Tumblr

Friday, April 22, 2016


Jimmy Reed & His Trio • High and Lonesome • 1953

Jimmy Reed, vocal/harmonica/guitar; John Brim, guitar; bass; Albert King or Morris Wilkerson, drums. Chicago, 
poss. 6 Jun 1953

Album cover: All Music

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016


Elmore James • Sho’ Nuff I Do (Alternate take) • 1954

Elmore James, vocal/guitar; Raymond Hill, tenor sax; Oliver Sain, alto sax/baritone sax; Johnny Jones, piano; Ike Turner, guitar; bass; Odie Payne, drums. Chicago, 5 Apr 1954

Get it: The Classic Early Recordings 1951–1956

Sunday, April 17, 2016


“‘No matter what, Charlie Rich was going to tell you the truth,’ Sam Phillips once said. If you need evidence, this record, a barroom weeper that Rich easily could have subtitled ‘The Story of My Life,’ might as well be exhibit number one. Charlie grabs you from the outset—‘I got loaded last night on a bottle of gin / And I had a fight with my best girlfriend.’ Set to a creaky roadhouse shuffle, this couplet alone would’ve been enough to make ‘Sittin’ and Thinkin’ a jukebox staple, but it’s Charlie’s next confession, ‘When I’m drinking I am nobody’s friend,’ that knocks you off your barstool. . . .” —Bill Friskics-Warren, Heartaches by the Number

279.  Sittin’ and Thinkin’ • Charlie Rich • 1962

Get it: The Essential Charlie Rich

Label pic: 45cat

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Doctor Feelgood & The Interns • Mister Moonlight • 1961

Piano Red, piano; Roy Lee Johnson, vocal/guitar; Curtis Smith, Beverly Watkins, guitars; Howard Hobbs, bass; Bobby Tuggle, drums. Nashville, 31 May 1961

Get it: The Doctor’s In!

Friday, April 15, 2016


“On the Road Again” is Floyd Jones’ update to his classic “Dark Road” which is itself an update of Tommy Johnson’s 1928 “Big Road Blues.” 

Floyd Jones & His Trio • On the Road Again • 1953

Floyd Jones, vocal/guitar; Sunnyland Slim, piano; Moody Jones, bass; Alfred Wallace, drums. Chicago, 31 Jan 1953

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Patsy Cline • You Belong to Me • 1961

Get it: Sweet Dreams: The Complete Decca Studio Masters 1960–1963

LP cover: Discogs

Monday, April 11, 2016


Bo Diddley • Signifying Blues [Unedited Version] • 1960

Get it: Road Runner: The Chess Masters, 1959–1960

Sunday, April 10, 2016


An Alternate 100*  
Sea of Heartbreak • Don Gibson • 1961

*“If we determined we had nothing much worthwhile to add to the conversation about a single, then that record didn’t make the cut, no matter how good it was. . . . [T]hose singles were were bumped down to “Once More with Feeling: An Alternate 100.” That supplemental list gathers, for the curious, our runners up, but, just as importantly, it presents an alternate, compressed version of the arguments made throughout the book.” —David Cantwell, Bill Friskics-Warren, “How to Use the Book” in Heartaches by the Number

Saturday, April 09, 2016


Freddy King • Hide Away • 1961

Get it: The Very Best of Freddy King Volume One

Friday, April 08, 2016


John Brim’s “Rattlesnake” was slotted for issue on Checker in 1953 but was withdrawn before release and first saw the light of day on a late sixties Chess reissue LP shared between Brim and Elmore James.

John Brim & His Gary Kings • Rattlesnake • 1953

John Brim, vocal/guitar; Little Walter, harmonica; Louis Myers, Dave Myers, guitars; Willie Dixon, bass; Fred Below, drums. Chicago, Mar 1953

Get it: Whose Muddy Shoes

LP cover: Blues Stuff

Wednesday, April 06, 2016


Merle Haggard died today at 79. I just received the news and am too stunned to do more than offer this apropos collaboration from Willie and Merle, off last year’s Django and Jimmie album.

Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard • Live This Long • 2015


Etta Jones • Don’t Go to Strangers • 1960

Monday, April 04, 2016


George “Bullet” Williams • The Escaped Convict • 1928

Find it: Alabama Blues 1927–1931

Sunday, April 03, 2016


“As Hank Snow tells us how his girl cuckolded him with ‘a man they called Big Dave,’ and how he subsequently murdered them both, an echo-y backing choir follows along behind like a taunting Greek chorus or maybe voices in his head. . . .” —David Cantwell, Heartaches by the Number

Hank Snow • Miller’s Cave • 1960

Hank Snow image: Hank Snow Home Town Museum

Saturday, April 02, 2016


The compilers never thought the Odds & Ends series would reach ten volumes, but the wildly enthusiastic responses from our listeners compel us to carry on. And on. We will not “Hide Away” from “Mister Moonlight” nor will we make a “Cuban Get Away” or duck behind the “Iron Curtain.” We shall dance the “Blue Mambo” with “El UFO Cayó” at the “Tabarin.” But “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” Couldn’t “Somebody Tell Me”? Is it “Suspicion”? —“Irv” Sneed, Radio K-ODD, Lompoc

Sleepy LaBeef • Baby Let’s Play House • 1956

Get it: Sleepy Rocks

Image: Tumblr

Friday, April 01, 2016

BLUES IN CHICAGO—The Early to Mid Fifties

In the first years of the fifties the Chicago blues band sound was becoming tougher and louder and beginning to solidify into what we now call “classic” Chicago blues. Almost all of the music we’ll hear in this segment was made for independent labels, larger ones like Chess and Vee-Jay, and smaller, short-lived outfits such as J.O.B., Sabre, Chance, and States. First up we have Little Walter’s first two Checker singles: an in-the-studio improvisation called “Juke” and the atmospheric “Mean Old World.” Jimmy Reed’s first record, “High And Lonesome” from 1953, has John Brim on guitar and possibly Albert King on drums and is noticeably “heavier” sounding than many of his subsequent recordings. Little Walter also makes an appearance playing harmonica on John Brim’s “Rattlesnake,” slotted for issue on Checker but withdrawn before release. Newcomers J. B. Hutto and His Hawks come crashing in with a primitive but exciting “Combination Boogie” and Tampa Red updates his late career sound with Big Walter’s amplified harp.

As we move into the mid-fifties, we’ll hear a jivin’ record by Willie Nix based on the “Catfish” theme with Eddie Taylor on guitar and Snooky Pryor playing harmonica; and one of Junior Wells’ early outings on record as a leader, recorded while he was AWOL from the army.

Little Walter & His Night Cats • Juke • 1952

Little Walter & His Night Caps • Mean Old World • 1952

“Juke”: Little Walter, harmonica; Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, guitars; Elgin Evans, drums. Chicago, May 1952

“Mean Old World”: Little Walter, vocal/harmonica; Louis Myers, Dave Myers, guitars; Fred Below, drums. Chicago, 
October 1952

Get ’em: His Best: The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection