Browse Tag

Memphis Rockabilly Band

Ripsaw records


Jim Kirkhuff and Jonathan “the Spider” Strong formed Ripsaw in 1976.
Their legacy may seem small in terms of releases (nine singles, two mini-albums and three lps) but it had a lasting influence on the Rock’n’roll scene.
The catalog numbers run from 209 to 224. 209 is a tribute to Elvis’ first record (Sun 209 That’s All Right / Blue Moon of Kentucky). But there’s no Ripsaw 210 neither Ripsaw 218.
Ripsaw 210 was scheduled to be a bluegrass gospel 45, with two different artists, but they eventually abandoned the idea. Ripsaw 218 would have been a single by Johnny Seaton scheduled for fall 1981. The songs (a cover of Charlie Feathers and another of Roy Orbison) produced by Charlie Feathers were ready, the label and the covers were printed, but Jim Kirkhuff finally decided not to release it.
Around 1982 Strong and Kirkhuff dissolved their partnership. Strong kept the name and the label while Kirkhuff, who sadly died in 2006, formed No Club records.
After the Uptown Rhythm Kings album in 1990, Ripsaw went into hibernation before, Marti Brom, co-jointly with Goofin released Not For Nothing in 2010 on the label.

Louie Setzer & The Appalachian Mountain Boys – Bluegrass Hall Of Fame

Ripsaw Records 209 [1976]
Bluegrass Hall Of Fame / Sweet Allalee

Though Ripsaw records is known for his first-class Rockabilly recordings, the debut release of the label is solid slab of pure bluegrass and hillbilly with banjo, mandolin, and fiddle.
A-side is an original penned Jim Kirkhuff (Ripsaw co-founder) and is a slow number. The traditional Sweet Alla Lee on the B-side is a fast-paced tune. Very good debut, but the best is yet to come.

Billy Hancock and the Tennessee Rockets – Rootie Tootie

Ripsaw 211 [1978]
Rootie Tootie / I Can’t Be Satisfied

Billy Hancock

For their first Rockabilly release, Ripsaw records borrowed the winning recipe that Sam Phillips used to introduce Elvis to the world. Recorded by Billy Hancock and the Tenessee Rockets, this superb piece of stripped-down Rockabilly features a hillbilly cover (Hank Williams’ Rootie Tootie) on side A, while a blues cover can be found on the flip (Muddy Waters’ Can’t Be Satisfied).
At the time of its release in 1978, it was probably the most authentic-sounding Rockabilly ever recorded since the fifties. Very few, if none, before (and even after) captured that early Elvis Sun sound – with a slight Charlie Feathers influence – like Billy Hancock. In that, he’s ideally helped by Don Mulkey on double bass and Jeff Lodsun on drums.

Tex Rubinowitz – Bad Boy

Ripsaw Records 212 [1979]
Bad Boy / Feelin’ Right Tonight

Tex Rubinowitz

Tex Rubinowitz recorded this excellent single in 1979 with Billy Hancock and Bob Swenson on guitars, Bryan Smith on double bass, and Jeff Lodsun on drums.
On side A, he covers a song penned and sung by Marty Wilde in 1959. While the original version sounds rather inoffensive, Rubinowitz’s cover is quite unhealthy, full of anguish with tortured vocals. Sprinkle the whole performance with a superb honky-tonk styled guitar, and you have one hell of a song that sounds like a mix between Charlie Feathers and the Cramps.
B-side is a raw rockabilly track featuring two blistering guitar solos and a smoking vocal performance. The song proved to be popular on Ripsaw, later recorded by Martha Hull in 1981 (Ripsaw 217) backed by Tex Rubinowitz and his band, the Bad Boys, then in 2010 by Marti Brom (Ripsaw 223) with a version that has come full circle with Billy Hancock and Bryan Smith playing on it.

Billy Hancock and the Tenessee Rockets – The Boogie Disease

Ripsaw 213 [1979]
The Boogie Disease / Knock-Kneed Nellie

Billy Hancock

For his second single for Ripsaw, Billy Hancock covers Dr. Ross blues classic and turns it into a frantic Rockabilly tune. Mitch Collins on piano and Tex Rubinowitz, Little Nelson, and the Spider (co-founders of the label) on backing vocals augment the line-up of the Tennessee Rockets (Bob Newscaster, Bryan Smith, and Jeff Lodsun).
The B-side features an original song by Hancock titled Knock-Kneed Nellie written with Charlie Feathers in mind and his long tradition of impaired women (Tongue Tied Jill, Stutterin’ Cindy). Hancock gives one of his best vocals performance. In addition to the obvious influence of Charlie Feathers’ hiccups, one can also perceive a bit of Buddy Holly, another favorite of Billy Hancock, in the melody.

Tex Rubinowitz – Hot Rod Man

Ripsaw Records 214 [1980]
Hot Rod Man / Ain’t It Wrong

Tex Rubinowitz

Ripsaw 214 is another killer double-sider from Tex Rubinowitz and the label. This one has written “classic Rockabilly” all over it.
The A-side features Tex’s commanding vocal highlighted by a terrific twin guitar attack by Billy Hancock and Bob Swenson. It would later be covered by Sean Mencher and Go Cat Go.
The flip is equally good that it could as well be the A-side. First-class Rockabilly in less than two minutes. It was also heavily covered, including versions by High Noon and Ruthie and the Wranglers.

Billy Hancock and the Tennessee Rockets – Miss Jessie Lee

Ripsaw 215 [1980]
Miss Jessie Lee /I’m Satisfied

Billy Hancock

Another killer release by Billy Hancock. Side A is a cover of Eddie Burns (who probably took his inspiration from Sonny Boy Williamson’s Good Morning school Girl.) With its breathless vocals, Hancock’s version perfectly nails the Rockabilly’s sense of urgency. Once again, the musicians (Bob Newscaster on guitar, Bryan Smith on slappin’ bass and Jeff Lodsun on drums) are top-notch.
I’m Satisfied is an original penned by Hancock as an answer to I Can’t Be Satisfied (see Ripsaw 211.) It’s another solid piece of rockabilly that features two pairs of guitar solos performed by Hancock and Evan Johns.

Billy Hancock – Redskin Rock ‘N Roll

Billy Hancock

Ripsaw Records 216 [1980]
Redskin Rock’n’Roll / Lonely Blue Boy

The A-side of this single is a solid Rock’n’roll song with piano and a final arrangement in the best Elvis tradition. Lonely Blue Boy is a cover of Conway Twitty but Hancock’s version leans more on Elvis and he delivers a superb vocal performance.

Martha Hull – Feelin’ Right Tonight

Ripsaw Records 217
Feelin’ Right Tonight / Fujiyama Mama

martha hull

Martha Hull first sang Tex Rubinowitz’s Feelin’ Right Tonight (Ripsaw 212) when she was singing for the punk band D.Ceats. She somehow caught the attention of Tex Rubinowitz who decided to record her.
Thus, on May 29, 1980, Martha Hull got into Bias studio to record these two tracks. The session was produced by Rubinowitz and his band, the Bad Boys (Eddie Angel, Ratso, Johnny Castle and Scotty Flowers) backed her up.
Side A is a hot rockin’ version of Tex’s song and the flip is Wanda Jackson’s Fujiyama Mama. Both are solid Rockabilly with strong vocal. One can only regret that Martha Hull didn’t record more stuff in that style.
Released on Ripsaw, the 45 is now very sought after. It now can be found on the Part reissue compilation “the best of Ripsaw”. This serie of compilations also included an alternate take of Fujiyama Mama recorded during another session.

Kid Tater & the Cheaters – Wheels on Fire

Ripsaw Records 219 [1982]
Wheels on Fire / You Oughta Now Better

kid tater

Kid Tater was a singer-guitarist from Illinois. He sent these songs to Ripsaw, who decided to release them in collaboration with Relic Records.
The Cheaters were Rocky Valley on drums, Jeff gates on piano, and Scotty Beld on bass. Both songs are originals.
The A-side is a galloping Rockabilly with two hot guitar solos. Nothing too original but very efficient. The B-side is more interesting. It’s a Rock’n’roll number with a blues edge, in the same style than Elvis‘ Fool Such As I, featuring an excellent barrelhouse piano part.

Billy Hancock – Wanted True Rock’n’Roll

Ripsaw Records 220 [1985]
Oh Caroline / All The Cats Join In / I Need You Now / I’m Free / Take Your Time / Sarah Lee

billy hancock

After releasing albums for Big Beat in France and Solid Smoke, Billy Hancock returned to Ripsaw in 1985 with this mini-album. The title says it all; it’s a shot of true Rock’n’Roll instead of the Rockabilly stuff he played with the Tennessee Rockets.
Oh Caroline, written by Hancock after the French tour of 1981, is a frantic piano-led rocker. Benny Goodman’s All The Cats Join In, first discovered by Billy in Disney’s movie of the same name, is turned into a wild neo-rockabilly number.
Initially done by Eddie Fisher as a pop tune, I Need You Now becomes in the expert hands of Hancock, a superb Elvis Presley type of ballad. The Velons, a Maryland doo-wop band, take in charge the Jordanaires part.
The b-side opens with a surprise: a cover of the Rolling Stones’ I’m Free. While one would expect Hancock covering one of their Rock’n’roll tunes, he chose this pop song and took the occasion to bring a good dose of Buddy Holly, one of his idol, to it.
Talking about the rocker from Lubbock next is Take Your Time. For this cover, he remains very faithful to the original, with a note for note organ part.
Sarah Lee, the closing song of the mini-lp, comes from the pen of British rocker Dave Travis. It has a very menacing edge, a bit like The Way I Walk, and features a tremendous guitar solo.

Bobby Smith – Two Sides

Ripsaw 221 [1987]
What Do I Hafta Do / Tough Girls / Leave My Woman Alone / Both Wheels Left The Ground / I Wanna Be With You / It’s Summertime

bobby smith ripsaw

I don’t know much about Bobby Smith. Besides Smith on vocals and lead guitar the core of the band was Johnny Castle on bass, Dave Unger or Mitch Collins on piano, George Oakley on sax, and Jim Lethbridge on drums.
This mini-album features four originals and two covers.
What Do I Hafta Do is a classic but solid rocker with pumping piano. Members of a Gospel choir provide the backing vocals on this one.
Most surprising is Tough Girls that has a strong 60’s feel revisited by the 80’s with sax and weird guitar part, a bit like John Cafferty.
Leave My Woman Alone is a cover of Ray Charles.
Guitar freaks will jump on his cover of Crazy Cavan’s Both Wheels Left The Ground that features a fantastic guitar part by the late Danny Gatton. There’s a change of pace with the joyful It’s Summertime, and the boppin’ I wanna Be With You.

The Uptwon Rhythm Kings – Oooh-Wow!

Ripsaw Records 222 [1990]
Oooh-Wow / Something’s Going On In My Room / No Use Knockin’ / Tell Me Pretty Baby / Let Me Give You Lovin’ / House Rocker / Open Up The Back Door / Honey Baby / ‘Til I Say Well Done / Sad As A Man Can Be / I’m Gonna Have To Send You Back / Sittin’ On It All The Time

uptown rhythm kings

The Uptown Rhythm Kings was an 11-piece jump blues combo from Maryland. On this recording, they had a mighty horn section made of two tenor saxophones, two baritones, one trombone, and one trumpet. They recorded this album and released it on Ripsaw the following year. It kicks off with a cover of Roy Montrell, the perfect vehicle for Eric “Shoutin” Sheridan as is Open Up The Backdoor, their cover of the Midnighters. The piano player takes the lead vocals on a couple of numbers, which brings a New-Orleans feel, in the style of Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, and Lloyd Price.
One of their secret weapons of the band is their guitar player, Rusty Bogart, as demonstrates their cover of House Rocker, a BB Kings’ instrumental. He literally steals the show on Let Me Give You Lovin’ plays some tasty blues-jazz licks on ‘Til I Say Well Done and proves that he’s also at ease when it comes to playing in a Johnny Guitar Watson/T-Bone Walker vein (the fast-paced Sad As A Man Can Be.) There are even hints of Mambo here and there (I’m Gonna Have To Send You Back).

Marti Brom – Not For Nothin’

Ripsaw Records 223 / Goofin GRACD 6705 [2010]
Finders Keepers / Get A Little Goner / Mascara Tears / Not For Nothin’ / Forbidden Fruit / Something Blue / Never No More / Sweet Baby of Mine / Blues Keep Calling / Sweet Thang / Write Me In Care of the Blues / Feelin’ Right Tonight / I Get the Blues When It Rains / A Fool Such As I / Spook House

marti brom

“Not For Nothing” saw not only the return of Marti Brom but also the return to life of Ripsaw. For this album, the rockin’ brunette gathered a cast of musicians from the Washington DC scene.
The opening track – Finders keepers – is a cover of Wynona Carr on which she’s appropriately backed Del Pushert (who toured with Elvis) on sax. The singer does a great job, and it’s good to hear her on this genre of tune. Get A Little Goner, the following number finds her in familiar territories. It’s a twangy honky-tonk number featuring Bill Kirchen. It’s by far the best track of the album with Arty and Linda Hill’s Mascara Tears a straight honky-tonk on which her Patsy Clyne’s voice does wonders. In the same vein, you’ll find Something Blue from the pen of Teri Joyce. The Austin songwriter wrote some of the best songs ever sang by Brom and this song makes no exception. The title track, penned by Sean Mencher, features an organ. The arrangement is perfect until a weak, distorted guitar solo ruins the song.
Pat Brown’s Forbidden Fruit is way better and the solo more inspired.
Bobby Sharp’s Sweet Baby Of Mine could have been excellent. It’s a groovy number in a similar vein than Hit the Road Jack with saxes but once again the guitar could be a little bit more subtle. Globally, one can say that the weak point of this album lies in the rockin’ numbers on which the guitarist can’t help but over playing, and to make things worse, with a bad sound. Strangely, for a singer that delivered some outstanding rockabilly numbers this album works better on the country or blues-inspired numbers. But as they say, every rule has its exception and “I Get the Blues When It Rains” is the perfect demonstration of that. They try to give it a western swing touch but end sounding more than Asleep At The Wheel rather than Bob Wills. Spook House is an excellent instrumental to close the album.

Louie Setzer – Jukebox Bluegrass

Ripsaw Records 224 [2015]
Rollin’ On Rubber Wheels / It Keeps Right On a-Hurtin’ / Send Me Poppa’s Fiddle / Long and Lonesome Old Freight Train / All for the Love of a Girl / King of Fools / Wrong’s What I Do Best / Burning Bridges / Christmas in Tennessee / Judge and Jury / Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain / Truck Driver’s Queen / Everyone Has To Answer in the End / Me and the Jukebox

Louie Setzer is a sweet anachronism. Time doesn’t seem to affect him. Nearly forty years after his single for Ripsaw, he returned to the label to release a full album made of the same brand of timeless bluegrass and old-time country music. There’s not much to say except that this is a great album. The vocal is soulful and perfect (his nickname is “the man with the titanium tonsils”), and the band (fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and doghouse bass) is top-notch. The song selection is perfect too, ranging from the Stanley Brothers to Roy Acuff, with some Buzz Busby, Charlie Moore, Warren Smith in between.
To reinforce the Ripsaw connection, it features Luke Gordon’s Christmas in Tennessee previously covered by Billy Hancock and a bluegrass version of Hancock’s King of Fools, which features none other than Hancock himself on guitar.
An excellent and traditional album.

Starting in 2010, Part Records, released five volumes titled the Best-of Ripsaw Records. These compilations cover almost every record released by the label and complete each selection with many unissued or rare stuff.

The Best of Ripsaw Records Vol. 1

PART Records 650.005
The Boogie Disease – Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets / Bad Boy – Tex Rubinowitz / Feelin’ Right Tonight – Martha Hull / When I See You – Billy Hancock / Get A Little Goner – Marti Brom / Wheels On Fire – Kid Tater & The Cheaters / This Time – Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets / Oooh-Wow! – The Uptown Rhythm Kings / Both Wheels Left the Ground – Bobby Smith / Rootie Tootie – Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets / Mascara Tears – Marti Brom / Sweet Alla Lee – Louie Setzer & The Appalachian Mountain Boys / House Rocker – The Uptown Rhythm Kings / Lonely Blue Boy” – Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets / Hot Rod Man – Tex Rubinowitz / Alley Cat” – Billy Hancock / What Do I Hafta Do – Bobby Smith / No Use Knockin’ – The Uptown Rhythm Kings / Oh, Caroline – Billy Hancock / Finders Keepers – Marti Brom

Best of ripsaw records
Best of Ripsaw records – Vol. 1

Most of the songs of this volume have been released on different Ripsaw singles or albums, except for three Billy Hancock tracks.
When I See You was initially recorded by Fats Domino. It’s a good Rhythm’n’Blues tune with hot piano and juicy sax and Martha Hull on vocals to duet with Hancock.
This Time is a superb ballad. Recorded in 1979, it remained in the Ripsaw vault for years and was only released in 2008.
Alley Cat is a neo-rockabilly pastiche recorded when the Stray Cats, the Rockats, and the Polecats were at the peak of their popularity. Not Hancock’s finest song but it features a blistering guitar solo.

The Best of Ripsaw Records Vol. 2

PART Records 650.007
Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets – Do It If You Wanna / Tex Rubinowitz – Red Cadillac and A Black Moustache / Martha Hull – Fujiyama Mama / Billy Hancock – I Need You Now / Marti Brom – A Fool Such As I / Kid Tater & The Cheaters – You Oughta Know Better / Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets – Rockabilly Fever / Uptown Rhythm Kings – Open Up The Back Door / Bobby Smith – I Wanna Be With You Billy Hancock – Christmas In Tennessee / Marti Brom & Bill Kirchen – Sweet Thang / Louie Setzer – Bluegrass Hall Of Fame / Uptown Rhythm Kings – Let Me Give You Lovin’ / Roy Kyle – I Like Your Style Baby / Tex Rubinowitz – Ain’t It Wrong / Billy Hancock – Sarah Lee / Bobby Smith – Tough Girls / Uptown Rhythm Kings – Sad As A Man Can Be / Artie & Curt – I Wanna Bop With You / Marti Brom – Feelin’ Right Tonight.

Best of ripsaw records

Next to regular Ripsaw release, you’ll find Do It If You Wanna by Billy Hancock and his Tennessee Rockets. This is a pure Rockabilly gem that appeared on his album Shakin’ That Rockabilly Fever on Solid Smoke. Another Hancock song not released by Ripsaw is Rockabilly Fever in which he quotes lyrically and musically some of his Rockabilly heroes. Last Hancock selection that didn’t appear on Ripsaw is Luke Gordon’s Christmas in Tennessee, which becomes an Elvis Christmas song à la Blue Christmas.
Recorded with Billy Hancock and the Tenessee Rockets, Tex Rubinowitz’s Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache is nothing but outstanding, way better than Robert Gordon’s take on the same song.
Roy Kyle & Nite Life, from Kentucky, brings a refreshing touch of country with I Like your Style.
Never released before is Artie & Curt & their Classmates’ I Wanna Bop With You. Artie & Curt are actually Tex Rubinowitz and Billy Hancock playing a beautiful hillbilly duet backed by the Tennessee Rockets.

The Best of Ripsaw Records Vol. 3

PART Records 650.009
Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets – Miss Jessie Lee / Tex Rubinowitz – I Wanna Bop With You / Marti Brom – Write Me In Care Of The Blues / Billy Hancock – Broken Heart / Martha Hull – Fujiyama Mama / Switchblade – She Makes Me Rock Too Much / Billy Hancock – Marie Marie / Uptown Rhythm Kings – ‘Til I Say Well Done / Bobby Smith – It’s Summertime / Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets – Knock-Kneed Nellie Marti Brom – I Get The Blues When It Rains / Louie Setzer – Wood Smoke / Uptown Rhythm Kings – I’m Gonna Have To Send You Back / Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets – Stay A While / Tex Rubinowitz – Feelin’ Right Tonight / Narvel Felts – It’s Not The Presents Under My Tree / Roy Kyle & Nite Life – Flyin’ High / Memphis Rockabilly Band – Lindy Rock / Billy Hancock – Great Shakin’ Fever / Marti Brom – Forbidden Fruit

best of ripsaw records

The third volume of this series contains its good share of material not released by Ripsaw though linked to the label by a way or or another.
Let’s begin with Billy Hancock: The Blasters’ Marie Marie is good but to be honest it’s hard to beat the original. Stay A While is a cover of the Covers and sounds as if Elvis Presley had recorded it for RCA. Broken Heart is more modern sounding Rock’n’roll for this haunting cover of the Moonlighters as is Dorsey Burnette’s Great Shakin’ Fever.
Tex Rubinowitz delivers a rockin’ live cut of I Wanna Bop With You (previously recorded by Artie & Curt as a hillbilly duet, see Vol. 2). It also features an outstanding guitar solo by Bob Swenson.
The Memphis Rockabilly Band was one of the best Rockabilly band of the early 80’s. Lindy Rock has a Warren Smith feel and features two amazing guitar breaks by Bill Coover.
She Makes Me Rock Too Much by Switchblade is a Berry/Bob Seger influenced rocker with piano, two blistering guitar solos and a modern edge on the chorus.
More traditionnal is Roy Kyle & Nite Life. His Flyin’ High is a solid stripped down Rockabilly with a Sun feel.
Martha Hull is present with an alternative version of Fujiyama Mama, different from the one that appears on Ripsaw 217.
Louie Setzer remains true his favorite genre with Wood Smoke a fast bluegrass tune.
The legendary Narvel Felts is also present with a Christmas song.

The Best Of Ripsaw Vol. 4

PART Records 650.016
Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets – I Can’t Be Satisfied / Tex Rubinowitz – Cavan Likes To Rock / Martí Brom – Not For Nothin’ / Jim Martin – Aw Honey / Roy Kyle & Nite Life – Washington Fat Cats / Billy Hancock – All The Cats Join In / The Uptown Rhythm Kings – Honey Baby / Laurence Beall & The Sultans – Inside My Heart / Sonny Leyland – Hot Rhythm, Blue Love / Karen Collins & The Backwoods Band – Same Old Passions / Louie Setzer – Christmas In Tennessee / Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets – I’m Satisfied / Martí Brom – Feelin’ Right Tonight / Tex Rubinowitz & The Casaloma Cowboys – That Old Patchwork Quilt / Karen Collins & The Backwoods Band – Guess What? / Louie Setzer – King Of Fools / Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets – Please Don’t Touch / Jim Martin – The Devil Knows My Name / Switchblade – Tight Blue Jeans / Martí Brom – Sweet Baby Of Mine

best of ripsaw 4

Never released before, Cavan Likes to Rock is a tribute to Crazy Cavan from Tex Rubinowitz with Eddie Angel on guitar. They quote lyrics of some of Cavan songs and even emulate Lyndon Needs guitar sound. The second song by Tex Rubinowitz not released on a Ripsaw record is That Old Patchwork Quilt. It’s a superb Honky Tonk with steel guitar, not far from Ernest Tubb. It first appeared on Aladin, when Billy Hancock owned it.
Please Don’t Touch is an excellent reworking with a modern twist of Johnny Kidd’s classic by Billy Hancock. It appeared on his no-less legendary album Shakin That Rockabilly Fever on Solid Smoke.
Both songs by Karen Collins are unreleased gems. Recorded in 2013, you have here two solid traditional country songs with steel and fiddle. If you dig Loretta Lynn, you’ll surely dig those two songs.
Jim Martin’s Aw Honey and The Devil Knows My Name are also unreleased tracks. The former is a real gone rocker while the latter sounds like a muscled version of Six Days on the Road. Both are excellent.
Carl Sonny Leyland signed a publishing deal with Sugar Mama, which is affiliated with Ripsaw. That’s the reason why Hot Rhythm Blue Love, previously issued by Willie Lewis on Rock-A-Billy Records, appears here. Excellent Jerry Lee Lewis-influenced Rockabilly.
The Laurence Beall song sounds like a modern version of a Buddy Holly tune.
Switchblade’s Tight Blue Jeans is the b-side of their single. Cool atmospheric track with finger snaps.
Roy Kyle’s song differs slightly from those that appear on Vol. 2 and 3. He remains faithful to Country music but with a harder edge.

The Best of Ripsaw Records Vol.5

PART Records 650.028
Tex Rubinowitz Flood of Love / Danny & The Fat Boys Ubangi Stomp / Martí Brom Knee Deep in the Blues / Billy Hancock & The Tennessee Rockets Redskin Rock ‘n Roll / Tex Rubinowitz & The Bad Boys Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio-WHFS promo / Tex Rubinowitz & The Bad Boys Linda Lu / Little Sister & The Local Boys I’m On Fire / Danny & The Fat Boys Mystery Train / Louie Setzer WHFS-FM promo spot / Louie Setzer Truck Driver’s Queen / Billy Hancock Take Your Time / Jimmy Cole Jukebox Living / Martí Brom Seven Lonely Days / Louie Setzer Blues Eyes Crying in the Rain / Jimmy Cole I Called In Drunk Today / Tex Rubinowitz No One Left To Turn To / Billy Hancock Tears for New Orleans / The Uptown Rhythm Kings Tell Me Pretty Baby / Danny & The Fat Boys American Music / Tex Rubinowitz Darling Lorraine / Billy Hancock The Trouble With Girls / Martí Brom Black Cadillac

best of ripsaw 5

The songs from Marti Brom are available elsewhere. Still, it’s good to have her cover of Marty Robbins’ Knee Deep The Blues that was only available on the hard to find compilation Renegade Rockabilly Vol. 2.
Both Jimmy Cole’s songs are first-rate honky-tonk tunes.
Danny & the Fat Boys were a band featuring Billy Hancock on bass and vocals and the legendary Danny Gatton on guitar. All three songs, including a live take of Mystery Train, are a festival of guitar prowess, and prove that Gatton really was the Humbler.
Among the songs recorded by Billy Hancock but not released under the Ripsaw label, you’ll find the very modern The Trouble with Girls, with synthesizers. More traditional is Tears for New Orleans. Penned by Ripsaw co-founder Jim Kirkhuff, it’s hot jazz with a blue edge tune led by a screaming clarinet.
I’m On Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis, not Bruce Springsteen) comes from a demo recorded by Little Sister & the Local Boys. The band didn’t go far, but Jeannie Smith (Little Sister), later formed Jeannie The Hurricanes with Eddie Angel.
Tex Rubinowitz is present with four songs and a radio promo spot. The most interesting is the unreleased Linda Lu (a Ray Sharpe cover), a pure shot of Rock’n’roll. Flood of Love is good too, but less original. Darling Lorraine, also unreleased before, is a doo-wop with a rockin’ edge while No One Left to Turn To is more in a swamp pop vein.

Ripsaw Records on the web :

Memphis Rockabilly Band (the)

the memphis rockabilly band - Betty Jean

The Memphis Rockabilly Band – Betty Jean

Blind Pig Records BP2186 [1986] 
Cant You See – Betty Jean – I Don’t Care Tonite – I Cried a Tear – Rio Grande Moon – I Gotta Go – Pleated Pants – Mean Like Betty jean – Take It Slow – Stay With Me – Keep Me Waiting

The Memphis Rockabilly Band released this album in 1986. But Betty Jean is not really an album but a collection of démos and various recordings from different origins and line-ups of the band.
Jeff Spencer said about it “Blind Pig didn’t pay for us to record. They mostly just took our demo tapes and some older stuff and made an album. I never cared much about it.” This partly explains why the result is uneven in term of quality and sound. Of course Spencer’s voice shines throughout and Bill Coover is a guitar ace but the final result lacks of homogeneity.

There’s some interesting foray into latin (Rio Grande Moon) and country music (Stay With Me with a pedal steel). One will also find some very good rockabilly like Pleated Pants, Mean Like Betty Jean, I Gotta Go or Keep Me Waitin with piano and sax. But the remaining tracks are either average material like Take It Slow or the title track or wasted by the poor production. And the cover design doesn’t really help either.

More infos about the Memphis Rockabilly Band

The Memphis Rockabilly Band

The memphis Rockabilly Band in 1978 - Bill Coover, Hank ?, Jeff Spencer and Terry Bingham
The memphis Rockabilly Band in 1978 – Bill Coover, Hank ?, Jeff Spencer and Terry Bingham

Bill Coover and Jeff Spencer formed the Memphis Rockabilly Band in 1978. Though the band came from the Boston area, they chose this name to leave no doubt about the music they decided to play: Rockabilly with a Sun influence. In an interview given to us in 2007, Jeff Spencer recalled “I think the first rockabilly record I heard was Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes.” I bought it. If you listen to it today, it still rocks.
Spencer came to singing around the age of 25 when he took up guitar. He named Elvis, Carl Perkins, Hank Williams, Jimmy Reed, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, the Moonglows, the Platters and Ray Charles as primary influences. Later he got into Louis Jordan, Amos Milburn, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and a lot of other blues players with Robert Jr. Lockwood being his biggest influence in term of guitar. “By 29 I was playing guitar in a blues band called “Rocket 88.” I then took over the band as the singer. (Sadly, that was the end of my being a serious guitar student, since I had to sing and manage the band.) We played Chicago blues and 50’s r&b, and a few rockabilly tunes. The band broke up and I decided to do rockabilly.
He pursued “I was living with a great blues band called “Powerhouse,” and the guitar player was my guitar teacher: Tom Principato. One of our roommates knew Bill. Bill liked the old Elvis rockabilly tunes, and the roommate told Bill that I sang some of that stuff, so Bill and I met. I played Bill some Link Wray instrumentals the first time we met, and when I saw him next, he had them all down.
The pair began to look for a rhythm section and after a couple of gigs with a drummer and a bass player (“Mostly we played country & western bars”.) they found Sarah Brown (bass guitar) and Terry Bingham (drums). Both previously played with Johnny Nicholas and the Rhythm Rockers who at that time broke up. “We began playing the blues bars a lot, and things happened fast after that. We became one of the top bands in Boston”.
In 1979, the quartet recorded a few songs (Draggin’, Baby let’s play house, Rumble, Lindy Rock and Don’t mess with my ducktails) and a 7” (Lindy Rock/Ducktails) was released before Big Beat a French Rockabilly label ( “My wife of French grandparents got a contact to Jacky Chalard, and we sent him a tape”) got interested and published a 10”.  By the time “From Boston to Memphis” had been released Lynn Farrar had replaced Brown.

Coover, Lynn Farrar and Jeff Spencer) with Roy Orbison
Coover, Lynn Farrar and Jeff Spencer) with Roy Orbison

The band then toured Europe and France in particular where they were hugely popular with this time Preston Hubbard (formerly of Roomful of Blues) on slap bass.
This line-up was broadcasted on national French television on a show called the Bop’n’Roll Party held by Wolfman Jack with Jack Scott, Crazy Cavan, Freddy Fingers Lee and French band les Alligators. Despite what Spencer said about not being on top form (“The “Bop ‘n Roll Party” was shot in Jan, 1982 in Paris. I had been sick for several weeks, and was just getting over it when we left for Paris. My memory of the event is personally painful, because I lost much of my voice by the end of the soundcheck. So when I hear the audio, I can hear myself struggling more & more. But that’s just my perspective. It was fun other than that.”) this is an amazing show and it’s hard to believe him. The Memphis Rockabilly Band literally steals the show. They perform songs from their records (Lindy Rock, 16 Chicks) a superb rendition of Muleskinner Blues (inspired by The Fendermen version) with powerful voice from Spencer (and crazy stage antics on Nervous Breakdown), amazing guitar licks from Coover who blends Rockabilly, Western Swing and more all together while Bingham and Hubbard provide the beat.

Memphis Rockabilly band with Preston Hubbard
Memphis Rockabilly Band circa 1982 with Preston Hubbard

Their debut lp was recorded around the same period when the band was at its top. It contains 12 covers played in their own way. As their cover of Link Wray’s Rumble previously showed, they didn’t limit strictly to Rockabilly with Ernest Tubb’s Nearly Lose your Mind that features an amazing country swing guitar solo from Bill Coover and the blues touch of The Stroll with sax and piano. It’s a shame this jewel had never been reissued. The singer remembered “”Bertha Lou” on Big Beat was our first attempt to do an album. We produced it ourselves, and I expect we would have done better with a producer who knew what they were doing. We added the older tape of “Lindy Rock,” which was my first original. I had written a few more by that time, but we didn’t record them.
The band toured heavily appearing wth Gene Summers, Jack Scott, Jerry Lee Lewis, Link Wray and Carl Perkins who sang their praise (the best Rockabilly band I have ever seen). In the same interview Spencer evoked Mister Blue Suede Shoes “There have been many special shows, but it was Carl Perkins who stands out. We did 3 or four shows with him and he was very gracious and complimentary. Unlike Jerry Lee, Carl watched our shows. He had us onto his bus and hung out with us. I was told he put my version of “Ducktails/Lindy Rock” on his home jukebox.
By 1984, Hubbard had left to join The Fabulous Thunderbirds and various musicians took over the bass duties including Rory McCloud, Jon Ross and Jeff Lowe. They recorded some demos that were later gathered with older stuff by Blind Pig to release “Betty Jean” in 1986. The quartet kept on playing until 1989 but decided to call it quit. From one day to another, Spencer’s life change drastically “I quit playing altogether in Jan. 1989. I sold my guitars and amplifiers. I did not sing or play a note, nor did I go into a bar for over 11 years. I got a job, had a child. Most people I knew never knew I played music. I never played a note until I got separated from my wife. I bought a Roland digital audio workstation and started fooling around. I wrote “1 Ain’t Dead” in 2000. I started jamming with people and sitting in with bands I knew.

The memphis Rockabilly Band in 2005
The memphis Rockabilly Band in 2005

One thing led to another and by 2005 Bill and Jeff reformed the Memphis Rockabilly band with Paul Justice (bass player of Fat City) and Milt Sutton on drums. They went back to Europe where they were warmly received and recorded a new album for Big Beat titled “Roll, Rock and Rhythm” featuring Spencer’s original and classic covers. Some were recorded by Spencer on his Roland, other were recorded at Duke Robillard’s studio and two songs were lifted from the band performance at Vergeze the same year. The Memphis Rockabilly Band kept touring though there was, according to Spencer a huge difference between the 70’s and the 00’s: “Back then there was a healthy club scene. We would pack people into a club, and have lines down the street. Now most of the clubs are gone. If a club draws 100 people, that’s considered pretty good. There are many reasons for this, but mostly it’s that the younger people, 20’s and 30’s, and even 40 year-olds don’t go out as much, and don’t support live music, especially roots music.
Sadly, on January 11, 2009, Jeff Spencer passed away of a heart attack. One of the best and most original voice of the Rockabilly revival became silent.
Coover decided to carry the torch with a new singer (Roy Sludge) who also doubles on keyboards but no recordings have been released yet.