Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Classic Recording Sessions - On This Date (6/8)

Carl Smith - 59 years ago
Friday, June 8, 1951 (1:00 pm - 4:00 pm)
Castle Studio, The Tulane Hotel, 206 8th Ave. North, Nashville 3, TN
Carl Smith: vocal, guitar; Grady Martin: guitar; Velma Smith: guitar; Bob Foster: steel guitar; Hal Smith: bass.
Producer: Don Law

Wanda Jackson - 54 years ago
Friday, June 8, 1956 (Session #4414, 11:00 am - 3:30 pm)
Capitol Recording Studio, 1710 North Vine St., Hollywood 28, CA
Wanda Jackson: vocal, guitar; Joe Maphis: guitar; Buck Owens: guitar; Lewis Talley: guitar;
Ralph Mooney: steel guitar; Clarence Dooley: bass; Marion Adams: drums; Jelly Sanders: fiddle.
Producer: Ken Nelson

Today's sessions differ for the sake of comparison from yesterday's in that they're only 5 years apart as opposed to 20. Today's session for Carl Smith finds him as his career is taking off in a big way. His first Billboard hit has just entered the charts this month, and today he's recording what will prove to be his second #1 hit, "(When You Feel Like You're In Love) Don't Just Stand There." Carl's style of country is still very much in vogue and several other '50s post-Hank Williams stars are launching their careers around this time with similar styles as well. The arrangements on these tracks are relatively sparse and straightforward with a small group of Nashville studio players, including the ubiquitous Grady Martin on lead guitar. Again, fairly representative of the style of country being produced in Nashville at the time.

But five years later, the dawn of rock and roll is upon us. And that's where we find Wanda Jackson today. Five years later, and in California. Though Wanda would ultimately have most of her success as a country artist (and today's session is primarily in that vein), she's most lauded for her rockabilly recordings from this era. Even during her prime rockabilly period, Wanda stepped back and forth between country and rockabilly, sometimes even on the same song, a perfect example of which is "I Gotta Know" recorded at today's session, and one of my all-time favorite Wanda Jackson recordings. This session features several of Bakersfield and Hollywood's prime studio players from the era too with Ralph Mooney, the West Coast's premier pedal steel player, and guitartists Joe Maphis and Buck Owens, a full year before his first recordings for Capitol. Also on guitar and from Bakersfield is Lewis Talley who would figure prominently in the career of Merle Haggard, particularly early on.

Not as much has changed between today's two sessions as yesterday's. But the change is worth noting. The impact that Elvis and rock & roll had on country music both in Nashville and on the West Coast was significant. If you listen to previous posts that feature post-rock & roll country recordings like the 1957 Porter Wagoner session from yesterday and the 1960 Lefty Frizzell session from a while back, those help illustrate the point.

Or, just listen and enjoy the music. I hope you do...

Tracks from today's Wanda Jackson session, as well as many of her other prime era recordings, are available on Omnivore Recordings' recent release The Best Of The Classic Capitol Singles.

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