Saturday, December 5, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 33

 The Valley of Dying Stars

Being the inquisitive type, I like to compare the regional scenes to one another. At the time most of this music came out (1959-63) Albuquerque's local scene didn't amount to much other than The Knights and Al Hurricane. By comparison, El Paso was blowing up. A couple of factors were in play. With Ft. Bliss shuttling in draft era troops by the thousands for basic training, there was always a demand for entertainment and literally speaking, the music would never stop. (Long John Hunter was working 13 hour shifts at the Lobby Club) As far as the number of venues available to local musicians, El Paso, had the Duke City beat by a country mile. El Paso also fostered a long reputation as a rough and tumble “bordertown” while Albuquerque in the early 1960s was basically Des Moines, Iowa with Mexicans.

Ooh! I meant to say Hispanos, my bad. The rocking side of the border gets the Dirt City royal treatment on this go-round. This episode comes fully loaded with both the familiar and the obscure. The fifth installment in a six part series covering the local scene in El Paso, Las Cruces and beyond.... but no further north than Clovis N.M. Call me provincial, call me archaic, I don't really care. Let's see what the cat drug in: It's a shame that Lloyd Nash's “The Quiver” didn't start a national dance craze, sounds much sexier than the Twist or The Mashed Potato. I did manage to sneak one Albuquerque band in,The Knights' “Cut Out” made the cut, mainly because I couldn't fit it into any of my other playlists. It's a rocking little number that I want my jockey to play...

Dick Liberatore was one of two vocalists for The Ravons (Jenny Johnson being the other) a band made up of airmen from Holloman AFB, who recorded for Yucca Records in the early 1960s. Airman Liberatore who went on to have a long and storied career in radio as Mark Richards, got his start in radio at KALG in Alamogordo, N.M. (Calvin Boles' studio of choice) He didn't have the job for long as he locked himself out of the studio while signing on with “The Star Spangled Banner” at 6 a.m. Rushing out to hear his handiwork on his car radio, he inadvertently left the studio keys on the counter, next to the religious tape he had cued up to play. The kind folks who had paid for airtime complained to the program director at home... he promptly drove to the station, unlocked the door and fired Liberatore on the spot.

Not to be discouraged, Dick Liberatore, aka, Mark Richards established himself as one of Cleveland's top jocks at WZAK hosting “The Big Beat Show” He also hosted a local version of American Bandstand called Good Times Rock 'n Roll and was able to talk Dick Clark into joining him as co-host for one memorable segment. Prior to his Cleveland stint, while working at WWIZ in Lorain, Ohio. Liberatore hooked up with Destiny Records as a producer. He also has the distinction of having written a song for Bobby Fuller “My Heart Jumped” which Bobby recorded for Yucca Records while Dick was stationed at Holloman AFB. Dick also composed “Why Did You Leave Me” which The Ravons recorded for Yucca Records. Dick eventually transitioned into television,  the highlight of which was a one shot stint as a guest host for The Tonight Show. The entertainment blog “Classic Television Showbiz” hammered Dick's appearance “Talk about a shit excuse for a guest host”

Don Guess grew up in Clovis, N.M. part of a well known musical family (his mother and sisters recorded at Norman Petty Studios as The Guess Sisters) In 1956, Don Guess and Sonny Curtis (known informally as Buddy Holly & The Two Tones) accompanied Holly to Nashville for the “Bradley's Barn Sessions” under the stern watch of Owen Bradley. Don parted ways with Buddy Holly just before the Crickets came together. He recorded four solo singles but mostly earned his way as a session player, working on records by Faron Young, Marty Robbins, Buddy Know, Trini Lopez, Roy Orbison, Hank Thompson, Sonny James, George Jones and Wanda Jackson. On “Shirl Lee” Don Guess is joined by sax honker, Boots Randolph of “Yakety Sax” fame otherwise known as “The Benny Hill Song”

Bob Taylor and The Counts had that Bobby Fuller Four connection going (Jim Reese and Dalton Powell) The Original Rockets were interchangeable with Jerry Bell or Don Orr. The Impostors were one of Steve Crosno's slap dash studio bands, who recorded one single for Frogdeath Records. “Tulsa” being the b-side of “Wipe In” Bobby Fuller checks in with four early tunes, including his take on Buddy Holly's “Not Fade Away” I've always assumed “Black Cadillac” as recorded by Sonny Wallace on Yucca Records, was a cover version, but it appears to be an original... of sorts. It starts off with the same guitar intro as Joyce Green's “Black Cadillac” recorded in 1959 and that's where the similarities begin and end. Joyce's version came first, for what it's worth.

Joyce Green makes reference to attending her cheating boyfriend's funeral in a black Cadillac (after she's done shooting him dead) “I'm gonna buy me a pistol, a great big 45” Sonny on the other hand wants to buy himself a long black Cadillac in order to cut out on his unfaithful woman... “I'ma hit that road and I ain'ta comin' back” Throaty rockabilly revivalist, Marti Brom covered Joyce Green's “Black Cadillac” and does an admirable live version. “I'll hire a black Cadillac to drive you to your grave” Lightning Hopkins recorded a song called “Black Cadillac” also known as “Big Black Cadillac Blues” he sings a different tune: “Wo'ah, Baby Please come on back, for you've got something of mine, my big black Cadillac” If you ask me, that's a whole lotta fuss over a big ass gas guzzler.

This is the cactus land, here the stone images are raised, here they receive the supplication of a dead man's hand under the twinkle of a fading star. Between the conception and the creation, between the emotion and the response falls, Dirt City Chronicles. Here we go 'round the prickly pear, prickly pear.... here's a penny for the old guy, Thank U Mr. Eliot.

Holy rats feet over broken glass! Click play for full effect.

Text accompanied by music, Dirt City Chronicles

The Quiver- Lloyd Nash & The Cavaliers
Cut Out- The Knights
Say Honey- Bobby Fuller
Thunder- Bob Taylor & The Counts
Not Fade Away- Bobby Fuller
Little Rome- Max Alexander and The Hi Fi Combo
Party- Al Sims & The Alpine Two
Jungle Bunny- Jerry Bell & The Original Rockets
Ride With Me- Long John Hunter
Taylor's Rock- Bob Taylor and The Counts
Tulsa- The Impostors
Down on the Farm Boogie- Bill Chappell
Thees Plane Ees Mine- Big Lloyd Dalton
Shirl_Lee- Don Guess w/ Boots Randolph
Black Out- The Sherwoods
Sarah Jane- Don Orr & The Original Rockets
Judy- The Chancellers
Annie Lou- Bobby Fuller
Hot Rod Ford- D.Y. & The Motivators
Black Cadillac- Sonny Wallace
I'm Tired- Big Lloyd Dalton
Hold It- D. Y. & The Motivators
I Love You Baby- The Ravons
Saturday Night- Bobby Fuller