Warren Smith

TrackSingle / Album
Rock 'N' Roll RubySun 239
Ubangi StompSun 250
Black Jack DavidSun 250
So Long I'm GoneSun 268
I've Got Love If You Want ItSun 286
I Fell In LoveSun 286
Sweet Sweet GirlSun 314
Tonight Will Be The Last NightThe Legendary Sun Performers
Red Cadillac And A Black MoustacheThe Legendary Sun Performers
I Like Your Kinda LoveThe Legendary Sun Performers

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Warren Smith photo

 

Contributor: Dave Stephens

 

Who you been loving since I’ve been gone?

 

Warren Smith

“He was probably the best pure singer for country music I’ve ever heard. He had a pure country voice and an innate feel for the country ballad. With that music he was as good as anyone I’ve heard before or since. So Long I’m Gone was just a wonderful country record. He was a difficult personality, but just interesting enough that I liked him a whole lot.” Sam Phillips (source: 706 Union Avenue)

Warren was one of the also-rans at Sun, much like Sonny Burgess and Billy Lee Riley, yet his records were some of the best created in those studios, outside of the real big boys. But, like Sonny and Billy Lee, he suffered from Sam’s inability (or lack of cash) to promote every one of those great records that came out of Union Avenue and its successor studio; there were just too many fabulous productions. Little things like Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On happening to come out shortly before Warren’s bestselling single didn’t help. In such circumstances it was inevitable that Sam’s attention would be focused on Jerry rather than Warren.

As usual I’ve jumped in part way though so a little backtracking is called for.

Warren Smith was born in Humphreys County, Mississippi on 7th February 1932. His love of country music started at an early age. He did his national service in the US Air Force (based in San Antonio like Johnny Cash) during which time he started playing guitar. He moved to West Memphis, Arkansas and found work at local clubs.

There seem to be two different versions of how Warren got started with Sun. One has Stan Kesler, steel player with Clyde Leppard’s band, the Snearly Ranch Boys, introducing Warren to Sam Phillips after Warren had shown up and sung at the Cotton Club in West Memphis, where the Ranch Boys were playing.

The other is slightly more colourful. In Warren’s own words:

“Johnny Cash and Sam Phillips came in one night when I was playing with Clyde Leppard. They invited me to come back to their table and sit down. To begin with, I thought it was some kind of fluke, then Sam Phillips asked me to come over to Sun the next day, and Johnny Cash said he might have a song for me.”

I’ll go with the more interesting second version but both variants turn up in the information packed 706 Union Avenue site, so you can choose either, and I guess there’s still the possibility that both could be true. The song that “Johnny Cash said he might have” was Rock ‘N’ Roll Ruby. Once again there are different versions as to the source of the song. One could put it in the grouping of songs that Cash put together rapidly after Phillips told him to “go away and sin and come back with a song I can sell”, after Cash played gospel songs at his audition (source: Wiki and a little bit of extrapolation from self). The other has it that Cash bought the song for $40 from George Jones.

Whatever, the song became Warren’s first single backed by the Snearly Ranch Boys albeit with a change of drummer. Phillips hedged his bets on the flip, going for out and out country in I’d Rather Be Safe Than Sorry, complete with weeping steel from the song’s writer, Stan Kesler. The record became a big seller in the Memphis area beating the initial sales figures of a certain Mr Presley’s debut disc.

Subsequent singles combined rockabilly, R&B, country, folk, and sometimes elements of pop music; a greater variety than most of his peers at Sun. But they didn’t sell, or didn’t sell enough to satisfy the ego of Warren Smith, who left the label in early ’59. He also claimed that he preferred to sing country and had never really felt at ease doing rock ‘n’ roll (source: BlackCat Rockabilly Europe). I have to add that his releases, plus those left in the can, don’t fully support that statement. They show a man exuding confidence across a range of genres.

He moved to California following the example of Sun peer and friend, Johnny Cash, who had signed with Columbia. Cash actually offered him a slot on his touring show, but Warren turned it down, not wanting to settle for anything less than top billing (source: 706 Union Avenue). The biogs then say that he signed briefly with Warner Bros and issued three singles. I could only find trace of one, containing a couple of Christmas numbers. Liberty Records, however, caught sight of his live show and signed him up to their new Country Division in early 1960. A stream of records followed and they started hitting the national Country Chart from the very first release, the Harlan Howard penned, I Don’t Believe I’ll Fall In Love Today, which featured fiddles and the great Ralph Mooney on steel guitar. Real country and just what Warren was looking for. It very much set the pattern: medium tempo country shuffles à la Ray Price with fiddles and steel. Unfortunately, Warren didn’t really get to display his full range of strengths, particularly his empathy with slow ballads, while at Liberty, and it’s probable that the relatively samey diet caused buyers to eventually turn elsewhere.

In ’65 Warren was involved in a life threatening car accident which took him off the road for nearly a year, giving potential audiences a good reason to forget him. Singles followed on for Skill and Mercury but in ’68 he spent eighteen months in jail in Huntsville, Alabama for “substance abuse” i.e. usage of amphetamines which he was mixing with drink, not all that unusual an intake for touring country stars. In the seventies he signed with Jubal Records which resulted in a number of singles including a remake of his first Liberty disc. Sales had dried up though.

But there was something of a happy ending to the Smith career. In 1977, as part of the rockabilly revival which was happening in the UK and parts of mainline Europe, he was invited to appear at London’s Rainbow Theatre, along with Jack Scott, Charlie Feathers and Buddy Knox; quite a billing in fact. The show was a great success and resulted in an album – now rereleased as Four Legends Of Rock ‘n’ Roll – and a tour of Europe in 1978, along with a colleague from the Sun days, Ray Scott.

In January 1980, while preparing for a second European Tour, Warren died of a heart attack one week before his 48th birthday.

For about 4 months I have looked forward to coming over here. You know I used to read about England when I was a little boy, and everything I heard about it’s right. This is a wonderful place, wonderful.

 

When Ruby starts a-rockin’, boy, it satisfies my soul

It’s not many minor league rockabilly guys who can boast at least two classics of the genre if not a whacking great handful of them, depending on what heading you file some of Warren’s records under. Record numero uno, Rock ‘N’ Roll Ruby was, of course, the first of a series of rockers. While its country origins were never in doubt – the 706 Union Avenue writer comments pointedly on the irony of one pure country singer recommending a rockabilly number to another – both the Snearly’s and Warren himself do a mighty good job with it. The performance featured something that was to become a regular in our man’s records: a break in the backing for the last line of the verse, “everybody started watchin’, all the rhythm in her feet”, putting the spotlight on Warren for a couple of bars. And my, did he enjoy it, those vocal flourishes became more extreme as the record progressed. The feature was present in the Cash demo but was less emphatic.

Listen out too for a fine guitar break from Buddy Holobaugh with more than touches of polished Western Swing. Unfortunately, this was to be the last we’d hear from him behind Warren as the latter kicked out the Snearly Ranch Boys and formed a new band for both touring and recording. This left not inconsiderable ill feeling since there’d been an agreement whereby Clyde Leppard paid for six months board and lodging for Warren in return for royalties, and billing, with the Snearly’s.

Record #2. Ubangi Stomp could also almost have been Rock ‘N’ Roll Ruby part 2, in terms of melody line, but from that spiky guitar intro onwards (the first sighting of axeman Al Hopson), there was little doubt that this was rock and roll, Memphis style. The mini a cappella break was still in place – “And seen them natives doing an odd looking skip” – as Warren no doubt looked forward to even bigger sales on this one. Like many a grizzled rocker, I came across this little ditty on Jerry Lee’s first album, and it has to be said that the then very young Killer made the song his own, as he did with so many songs he covered from others, but I wouldn’t be without Warren’s original. It was only after several plays of the Lewis version that the rather dubious nature of the lyrics, penned by Charles Underwood (then still a student at Memphis State University), started to seep into my brain. Even in the fifties these lyrics would have been viewed as racist. The only defence I’ve heard is that Underwood was getting his own back for “grown-ups” at the time condemning all rock and roll as having come “out of Africa”. I find the Wiki write-up of the song very entertaining in that it manages to totally avoid using the word ‘racist’ and its only criticism of the number was that it was “of no great literary depth”.

Rockabilly record number three from Warren, entitled Miss Froggie, appeared on the flip of his third single. Maybe Sam was pushing the more country oriented A-side, So Long I’m Gone, since Ubangi Stomp hadn’t garnered quite the number of sales expected. While this one didn’t have the individuality of “Ruby” or “Stomp” it did have Warren at his most frantic, Al Hopson contributing non-stop blistering guitar and some fine drumming. One that very nearly made the list.

Well I got a gal, shaped just like a frog
Yes, I got a gal, she’s shaped just like a frog
I found her drinkin’ muddy water, sleepin’ in a hollow log

The song on the A-side of record #4 originated from an unusual source, Excello Records of Nashville, though the disc was in fact created and cut in Crowley, Louisiana. That Excello record, from deep in swamp country, was Slim Harpo’s I Got Love If You Want It, flipside to his more famous, I’m A King Bee. I say more famous in relation to “King Bee” but both songs found their way into the stage act of many of the young Brit R&B bands in the first half of the sixties. The Kinks recorded I Got Love If You Want It and the Yardbirds recorded a live version. What is quite intriguing is that none of these folk were likely to have heard the Smith cut since none of his material saw release on our side of the pond ˈtil the seventies when rock ‘n’ roll revival became the rage. But, for those who’ve not heard it, herewith the Warren Smith I’ve Got Love If You Want It, with the twin guitars of Al Hopson and Roland Janes replacing the mouth harp of Harpo. And a fine version it is too; if not quite matching the insinuating Mr H, at least coming in a very close second:

This is where those categorisation issues start to emerge. Do you call this one blues, R&B or rockabilly? Perhaps it doesn’t matter, it’s still one of the very best cover versions these ears have heard of any of those great swamp blues records produced by Jay Miller in deepest Louisiana. Towards the end Warren chucks in a verse from “King Bee” as if to demonstrate his awareness of the source.

My last pair of numbers under the rockabilly heading didn’t even see release at the time but were highlights of the LP, The Legendary Sun Performers: Warren Smith from Charly Records, released in 1977 in the UK. The whole album was an absolute eye and ear opener. How had this guy been kept under wraps in the US for over a decade with only the most avid rockabilly nuts picking up on the US singles. Even then, those guys wouldn’t have got all those brilliant outtakes.

Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache opened side one, which might have been slightly daring when compiler Martin Hawkins could have gone for one of the more obvious singles. But he got it spot on. Hawkins recorded the following comment on the sleeve:

“This album kicks off with a track, “Red Cadillac”, that caused a great deal of stomping and merriment in the Sun tape room when it was first unearthed from the tape box where it had stayed, criminally neglected, since 1957 when it was recorded as a cover of Bob Luman’s version on Imperial. It’s not fast like “Got Love If You Want It” and “Miss Froggie” with their insistent, impetuous guitar solos. But it has a total aura of rock ‘n’ roll about it. The backbeat, the snarling vocal tone, the images of jealousy and a flashy life-style. Nowadays we’d call it laid-back rockabilly. Whatever it is, it’s great”.

I think Martin said just about everything except for the fact that Bob Luman’s 1957 original wasn’t bad at all. It’s just that Warren was better.

I’ve Got Love If You Want was evidence, if evidence was needed, that Warren and the boys weren’t operating in a vacuum; there was music being made in places other than Memphis and they knew. And you could say that, by taking in a great big chunk of that Diddley beat, giving it a soak in Tennessee moonshine, mixing in some bang up to date lyrics about modern gold rushes or suchlike, Warren had created something from those outside influences: Uranium Rock. Maybe it was no more than a novelty rocker, but it was a darn good novelty rocker. (And did he write it? See Footnote #11).

 

When I see you cuddle in another’s arms

Or “are you ready for the country” to quote Neil.

From that impressive list of rockers, you might wonder whether Warren’s oft reported love for country music ever got a look in. Have no fear. It did, and there were some standout tracks starting with the reverse side of that first platter. I’d Rather Be Safe Than Sorry was a good old fashioned weepie without a glimmer of that brand new rock and roll stuff. And it demonstrated the ability of Warren to handle such material; absolutely superbly, getting into high and lonesome territory at times. He was almost unrecognisable from the man on the A-side.

You wonder why I don’t say I love you
When we’re all alone out in the pale moonlight
You wonder why I don’t hold you closer
Whenever I’m kissing you goodnight

Single #3, the Roy Orbison penned So Long I’m Gone, was different. A blues theme but country melody with a strong backbeat and Warren in “I’ve said my last goodbye” mode; it had some similarity to a Ray Price shuffle but was rather more stompy. And the presence of that piano playing a boogie line only enhanced the similarity to Jerry Lee’s version of Ray’s Crazy Arms. In fact, dare I say it, it was rockier.

The unissued track, Tonight Will Be The Last Night, went even further, rhythm-wise, than So Long I’m Gone, aiming for, and succeeding in getting, a kind of rhumba effect on what was, essentially, another tears-in-my-beer-song. The extended title line, “Tonight will be the last night that I’m crying over you”, gives you the flavour of the lyrical thrust but the manic arrangement suggested that Warren was gonna wash that lady right out of his hair with a vengeance. An unusual combination of our man’s rockabilly and country styles and they pulled it off very well. Listen out for an excellent guitar break which featured both Al Hopson and Roland Janes (though I can’t be certain, it might have been Hopson producing both effects).

I Fell In Love, the flip of single #4, was different again. Totally stripped back and sentimental, with Warren in breathy mode, somewhere half way in and half way out of a deep echo chamber, soft sounding guitars, and a gentle gents’ chorale providing a warm blanket backing. I would suspect that this was Warren and Sam aiming at an Elvis slowie along the lines of I Love You Because, Love Me Tender and Loving You, all of which had been released in the previous 18 months. Certainly, it was well outside the pattern of Sun singles; I’ve not come across any other like it from the label. It might come as a surprise that the composer of this song was Al Hopson, the man known principally for his hot guitar licks.

These weren’t the only country outings for Warren at Sun. The Darkest Cloud, I Couldn’t Take My Chance, Goodbye My Love and the Cash like, My Hanging Day, all have merit and, for me, are better than the vast majority of the polished Smith releases from Liberty in the following decade. Only one of this grouping saw release in the Sun days which was a shame.

 

Sweet-sweet, sweet, sweet

Or “Warren goes Pop”.

Most of Warren’s songs and performances had strong roots connections but there were a few that were unashamedly targeted at the charts and appeared decked out in plumage that you might expect to see/hear in chart singles. Sweet Sweet Girl was a Don Gibson song and was arguably a throwaway – the master of country/pop hybrids wrote so many great numbers he could afford to chuck the odd one overboard. This is the Gibson original (with Hank Garland on guitar) which never saw single release, and here’s the Smith version with its chunky rhythm guitar chordal intro, another characteristic that appeared on more than one Smith disc:

With a push from Sam that might have hit the charts and Warren might have stayed – this was single #5, his last for the label.

Just as good was one that never saw release until the seventies, I Like Your Kinda Love. 706 Union Avenue is a tad dismissive about this one – “The guitarist has worked up a good opening riff but hasn’t given much thought to his solo”, but I’ve always loved the record. It has that combination of rockabilly, country, boogie and outright pop that you could only get from Sun, and even there such discs were relatively infrequent. The nearest equivalent I can think of is one from Warren’s bête noire Jerry Lee Lewis, Let’s Talk About Us, but there were other minor Sun names who sometimes produced such hybrids.

 

Black Jack David come around through the woods

I’ve more than hinted at issues with categorisation with several of Warren’s singles though these weren’t issues with the records themselves; anything but. Those issues were strictly minor compared with the ones surrounding Black Jack David. The Wiki entry tells us that the song was originally a Scottish border ballad which spread all over the English-speaking world under a number of different names. It told the story of gypsy David (or Davey in some versions) who came riding through the woods and stole the heart of a lady. Early North American versions include one from the venerable Carter Family plus one from Cliff Carlisle which unfortunately isn’t on YT. The writer in 706 Union Avenue has his theory on which version influenced Warren (see Footnotes).

So far so good but it was the arrangement of the song that was unusual: alternating sections of stark, bluesy guitar only with vocal phases performed in a kind of rockabilly shuffle, with Warren on top, charming the lady with his best country voice and manners “Listen dear lass, my name is Jack. I’ve come from afar looking for a fair-haired lass like you. Won’t you come and be my bride”.

 

And a few Footnotes

1. Even at the time Warren Smith and Stan Kesler met, the latter’s place in country and rockabilly history was already effectively secure having co-written, I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone and I Forgot To Remember To Forget for Elvis.

2. Warren’s only Hot 100 entry while at Sun came with So Long I’m Gone which got to #72.

3. The Ray Price Shuffle sometimes known as the Texas Shuffle or the Ray Price Beat is a rhythmic switch from 2/4 to 4/4 time made popular by Texan artist Ray Price. Crazy Arms is the best known example of the sub-genre but others include City Lights, Heartaches By The Number, I’ve Got A New Heartache.

4. Ralph Mooney was one of the most famous steel guitar players in country music. He played behind many of the greats with appearances on several major records from Merle Haggard. From 1970 onwards he joined the touring and recording band of Waylon Jennings. Another claim to fame for Ralph was that he was co-writer of the song Crazy Arms (making three mentions of it in this document).

5. Another Sun artist, Carl Perkins, suffered a serious road accident (in 1956) at a critical stage in his career. He had just recorded Blue Suede Shoes but was prevented from plugging it because he was recuperating. In the meantime an alternative version from Presley, who was by then at RCA, stole the sales.

6. Ray Scott was a minor rockabilly and country performer, famed for writing Flyin’ Saucers Rock ‘n’ Roll which was turned into a classic by Billy Lee Riley helped by Roland Janes – see below – and one Jerry Lee Lewis, who’d recently arrived in Memphis. Reportedly the song was based on a ‘real’ UFO sighting experienced by Ray when he was standing outside his car at a drive-in theatre in 1952. He was also responsible for the more sober Tonight Will Be The Last Night.

7. While Elvis was known for picking up a big portion of his Sun material from a variety of blues sources, later white artists at the label didn’t follow the same path, possibly because they weren’t familiar with such material, or felt that they could do better, or maybe because they were discouraged from using outside sources. It is known that Phillips preferred using in-house songs due to the publishing rights. I Got Love If You Want It was a glorious exception, pointing to an awareness of what was going on in Crowley and probably places like Chicago.

8. Al Hopson featured on lead guitar on many of Warren’s records and accompanied him on tour. He was supplemented on many records by Roland Janes who was both a regular member of the Sun session team and a key component of Jerry Lee’s backing group. The vast majority of the Killer’s Sun records have only Janes and Jimmy Van Eaton (drums) in support.

9. Fellow Sun artist Carl Mann (see Toppermost #651) also cut a version of Ubangi Stomp which has picked up praise over the years, and deservedly so. Quite apart from sterling work from Carl, there’s a stunning break from guitar man Eddy Bush which is almost an exercise in minimalism.

10. Bob Luman was born and raised in Texas but signed for West Coast label Imperial in 1957. His group at the time, the Shadows, contained James Burton on lead guitar. Bob’s debut single coupled All Night Long and the first version of Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache. This wasn’t the only connection between Sun Records and Bob Luman. His second single contained on the flip the song Red Hot. The number was first recorded by black R&B singer Billy “The Kid” Emerson in ’55 (on Sun) but the most famous version of it came from Billy Lee Riley earlier in ’57 and that record was also issued by Sun. For completeness I should also mention the 1959 take from Ronnie Hawkins.

11. I indicated in the main text that there might have been more to the apparently Warren Smith penned Uranium Rock than met the eye. 706 Union Avenue unearthed a rather strange story which I have summarised below:

In March 1962, a record was released on the Imperial label from a Lloyd George, having on its B-side a song entitled Sing Real Loud. Both the melody and lyrics bore considerable resemblance to Uranium Rock though the Diddley beat was more clunky. L. George was listed as writer and that was his own name, if you can believe it! He also recorded under the nom-de-plume of Ken Marvin and as half of the novelty country duo, Lonzo and Oscar. What makes the story interesting, though, is the fact that there’s a tape in the Sun vaults of Lloyd/Ken singing You Spurned Me and Little Red Wagon. The 706 Union Avenue writer goes on to wonder, was there at some time in the distant past a demo tape in existence at Sun of Sing Real Loud or Uranium Rock or whatever title the song was known by back then. We’ll never know. Anyone who could tell us has died.

12. This is the 706 Union Avenue version of the genealogy of Black Jack David.

“Reportedly originating in Scotland circa 1600, ”The Gypsy Laddie” began: ”The gypsies they came to my lord’s castle/And O but they sang so bonnie/They sang sae sweet and sae complete/That down came our fair ladie”. And of course off went the lady. The first to chronicle the song’s tortuous history was Francis James Child in his nineteenth century tome ”English And Scottish Popular Ballads”. After crossing the ocean with the early settlers, it changed in the hollows of Appalachia. Bits of another song called ”Seventeen Come Sunday” were added as the woman lost her nobility along with her virginity. The first recording was by a folklorist, Professor I.G. Greer and his wife in 1929. Another folklorist, John Jacob Niles, recorded ”The Gypsy Laddie” for RCA in 1939. Cliff Carlisle cut it that year, although he said he learned it from T. Texas Tyler and Tyler copyrighted it in August 1939, one month after Carlisle’s recording. The Carter Family recorded it in 1940. Tyler’s adaptation became the first post-War recording and probably led to Warren Smith’s recording. While unaware of the song’s origins, Smith was undoubtedly aware that it was far from original. In fact, his lyrics were considerably less salty than the Carter Family’s.”

13. I’ve just looked back and seen that I’ve made six references to Jerry Lee before this one (and I did hold back on one occasion). To a large extent that’s because he loomed large over Sun from his arrival in late ’56 to his departure in ’63. Sam Phillips devoted more time and money on him because, in spite of all the problems Jerry created – and they were often huge – Sam always felt he had the talent and presence to make a seriously big financial breakthrough for the label. The man was also incredibly prolific and multi-faceted such that there were examples of his work available from bawdy blues to sensitive – well, near sensitive – country. Thus he’s often the first person to come to mind when scratching the head looking for examples across genres. Well, that’s my excuse.

But I do feel that there was more than a hate thing going regarding Jerry underneath Warren’s magnificent, not-a-hair-out-of-place pompadour – and I’d add that, reportedly, our man smashed every copy he could find of Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On after he heard that Sam was devoting his all to its promotion. My theory is that it was more of a hate/envy, competitive even, love thing with Warren. The sheer presence of the other great ego man and his undeniable ability spurred Warren on to greater things. Would that magnificent series of tracks, that I’ve found difficult to cram into ten slots, ever have been made if Jerry hadn’t kept tossing out great track after great track with seemingly minimal effort?

14. Many readers will already be aware that the Blessed Bob has something of a thing for Warren Smith at Sun and has featured several of his records on his “Theme Time Radio Hour” and, that he’s recorded his own version of Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache.

15. Andrew Shields has drawn my attention to a No Depression report/review of Dave Alvin’s 1998 Hightone album Blackjack David which includes Dave’s experience with the title song – he started off using the Smith version as a base.

16. Readers who are after the Smith Sun material could either purchase the Charly album Rockabilly Legend or the Bear Family one, Classic Recordings 1956-1959. They are very similar in content and format, containing all the Sun released and unreleased material plus some alternates. Both also include some false starts and studio banter. In addition, Bear Family offer Call Of The Wild which zeroes in on the post-Sun period taking you up to 1966.

 

He was long and tall, he had plenty of cash
He had a red cadillac and a black moustache

Warren Smith painted WARREN SMITH – THE ROCK AND ROLL RUBY MAN on the back of his car, a seven or eight thousand dollar Cadillac (source: 706 Union Avenue – where did you think?)

 

Warren Smith (1932–1980)

 

Warren Smith – Rockabilly Hall of Fame

Warren Smith at Discogs

Warren Smith biography (iTunes)

Dave Stephens had a long career in IT – programming, consultancy, management etc. – before retiring in 2007. After spending time on the usual retiree type activities he eventually got round to writing on one of his favourite subjects, popular music, particularly, but not only, the sort that was around in his youth. He gained experience at ‘the writing thing’ by placing CD reviews on Amazon. This led to his first book “RocknRoll” which was published for Kindle in 2015. He followed this up with “London Rocks” in July 2016. You can follow him on Twitter @DangerousDaveXX

Read the Toppermosts of some of the other artists mentioned in this post:
Carter Family, Charlie Feathers, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Mann, Elvis Presley

TopperPost #664

1 Comment

  1. Andrew Shields
    Oct 13, 2017

    Dave, thanks for this excellent piece on a fascinating artist – hadn’t quite realised how versatile he was as a singer. On a side-point, this is the Planxty version of ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsies’ (one of the sources for ‘Black Jack David’) which I included in my Toppermost on them. And this is Dave Alvin’s version of ‘Black Jack’.

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