Field Reportings from Issue #20
Radio Revival: Bloodshot Revival, a new imprint of Bloodshot Records, has teamed with Soundies Records to issue a series of radio transcriptions originally recorded five decades ago.
The inaugural release, a collection of tunes by singing cowboy Rex Allen, comes out March 23. Allen, known as the Arizona Cowboy, starred in 19 musical westerns between 1950 and 1954; his hits included “Sparrow In The Tree Top” and “Crying In The Chapel”.
The Allen disc will be followed by the April release of a Spade Cooley collection featuring Tex Williams on vocals. Williams sang lead for Cooley’s orchestra in 1945-46, when the band scored six straight Top Ten hits, including “Shame On You” and “You Can’t Break My Heart”.
An Ernest Tubb collection is also in the works and probably will be issued later this year. Other artists being considered for releases are Pee Wee King, the Sons of the Pioneers, and Hank Thompson. Bloodshot’s Rob Miller said the label hasn’t determined how many releases will be included in the series, but that there are “literally thousands of hours” of previously unreleased transcription recordings to sort through.
Soundies label head Kevin Parks contacted Bloodshot after learning that a retired radio engineer was interested in releasing some of these recordings. Most are from the ’40s and early ’50s, but Miller says there may be some material from the ’30s.
The transcriptions are not radio programs, but rather live-in-the-studio performances that were recorded specifically for airplay. Decades ago, record companies generally did not mail promotional copies of records to radio stations; instead, radio stations would subscribe to transcription services, which would send out recordings on 16-inch lacquer platters. Stations would broadcast these recordings in lieu of the regular, commercially available releases.
As for the sound quality, “There is some audio cleanup, but truthfully, not much is needed,” Miller said. “These [lacquer platters] are immaculately preserved, and they sound great.”
TEN SECOND NEWS: In other radio-transcription developments, Old Homestead Records has just reissued The Original Carter Family, From 1936 Radio Transcripts. The album, which has long been out-of-print and has never been available on CD before, contains the only known recorded version of the Carter Family’s original version of A.P. Carter’s “No Depression In Heaven”. Old Homestead’s address is Box 100, Brighton, MI 48116. …
Keyboardist Karen Grotberg played her final show with the Jayhawks on January 9 in Lutsen, Minnesota. No word yet on Grotberg’s future musical plans; the Jayhawks will continue as a four-piece, though guitarist Gary Louris says the band is “thinking about looking for another person,” likely a multi-instrumentalist who plays both keyboards and guitar….
Joining Whiskeytown recently in the making of their second record for Outpost was Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, who also performed onstage with the group in Raleigh, North Carolina, in late December. The band spent much of January and February at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, New York, working on the album, which is tentatively scheduled for a late-summer release….
Addicted to Noise webzine reports that the debut solo album from Mike Ness of country-influenced punk band Social Distortion will include a vocal contribution from Bruce Springsteen. The album is scheduled for release April 13….
New York City roots-rockers the Hangdogs have signed with Shanachie, which plans a spring reissue of the group’s self-released 1997 disc East Of Yesterday. (The first 8,000 copies will also include a copy of their ’96 debut EP Same Old Story.)…
David McComb, former leader of 1980s Australian band the Triffids, died Feb. 1 in Melbourne, apparently from injuries sustained in an automobile accident. He was 37. No Depression contributing editor Kevin Hawkins says of the Triffids: “Their sound was most definitely American(a), going as far as incorporating pedal steel and mandolin as primary instrumentation on a great wealth of their material.”
ALL THE FIXINS: A few miscues to clear up from ND #19 (Jan.-Feb. ’99): A live review of Michael Hurley credited Hurley with writing the song “Negatory Romance”, which was in fact written by Tom T. Hall….
A Town & Country article on Tom Roznowski misidentified lap steel and dobro player Robbie Turner as Robbie Taylor….
A listing for the Cry Cry Cry album in the No Depression Top 40 incorrectly credited the record label as Red House. The disc was released by Razor & Tie….
In the byline of a record review (and in the staff box), we misspelled the name of the writer. It’s Steve Rostkoski, not Rostoski….
The cover story on Don Williams stated that Williams had recorded a duet with Kathy Mattea, which is a slight overstatement. Williams has a prominent harmony vocal on Mattea’s version of Nanci Griffith’s “Love At The Five And Dime”, and Mattea sings harmony on “That Old Trail” from Williams’ album Currents, but they’ve never recorded a full-fledged duet together….
An article on Townes Van Zandt claimed that an import CD-single by the Walkabouts contained a version of Van Zandt’s song “Sanitarium Blues”. In fact, this CD-single was a radio/promo-only item and was never released to the public.