Thursday, February 5, 2015
As the previous posting of "The Country Music Hall Of Fame" was so well received, I thought it might be wise to post another vintage Starday compilation, and one of my favourite LPs of this sort is the 1964 collection of truck driver songs titled "Let's Hit The Road!".
Starday was a very active player in the trucker trend in 1960s country music, most famously with label stalwart Red Sovine. There are no tunes by Red on this LP, but there are twelve great tracks nonetheless, not only from the Starday vaults but also Hank Locklin's "Pinball Millionaire" and Jimmy Dean's "Bummin' Around" from the 4-Star catalog, as well as Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan's Liberty label remake of "Bubbles In My Beer". A few of my favourite tracks on the album are "Trucker's Vitus" by Lonnie Irving of "Pinball Machine" fame, "Truck Driving Buddy" by the great Frankie Miller, and "Riding Down Old 99" by Joe Maphis and an uncredited Rose Lee, sounding like she's inhaled some second hand smoke as the waitress in the song's narrative.
The jacket of this LP exemplifies everything I love about old Starday albums, and the cover photo really tells a story without saying a word. The cover photos of Starday's truck driving albums were supposedly taken at actual truck stops in and around Nashville, and I really love pouring over the details in this picture. Advertised along with Quaker State Motor Oil and "Truckers Bunk House and Showers" are some pretty sharp looking wide-curve Ray Ban knockoffs, your choice of "Sage Green" or "Smoke Gray", 59¢ with fill-up! As usual, Starday chief Don Pierce has contributed some appropriate liner notes:
The code of the truck driver has been given expression in many County Music songs by many of Country Music’s top stars. The lure of the open road, the dangers that lurk on America’s highways, the lonely hours at the wheel, the coffee stops, the juke boxes, and pretty waitresses are all a very real part of the truck driver’s world.
It takes a lot of skill and know how to keep the Big Rigs Rolling and bring in the load on schedule. It also takes an ability to keep alert, a willingness to leave home, and last, but by no means least, it takes a person who will maintain the professional truck driver reputation as the most capable and most considerate drivers on our highways.
Some of the songs in this album are not exclusively about truck drivers. However, such songs as BUMMIN’ AROUND by Jimmy Dean, BUBBLES IN MY BEER by Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan, PINBALL MILLIONAIRE by Hank Locklin, and LEAVIN’ BUT I WON’T BE LONG by The Homesteaders are all big favorites at places where truck drivers hang out.
It is significant that America’s juke boxes enjoy the heaviest play in locations where truck drivers congregate. It is significant that Country Music disc jockeys get a great percentage of mail and requests from truck drivers and their wives and sweethearts. It is significant that many of Country Music’s best selling records are those that concern truck drivers. In view of the foregoing we think that greater recognition should be given to the truck driver’s songs by way of the special collection in this album which includes many of America’s favorite truck drivers songs.
Perhaps it is the long lonely hours on the road that are spent listening to radio, perhaps it is the romance from chance acquaintances as truck drivers go from town to town, from truck stop to truck stop, and from cafe to cafe. Whatever it is, the life of the truck driver, just like the lore of the railroad, the lore of the cowboy, and the lore of the outlaws, have captured the fancy of a large segment of our population. We dedicate this album, with performances by some of Country Music’s most prominent artists, to truck drivers and their wives and sweethearts everywhere.
DON PIERCE, Starday Records
The jacket also lists the LP this collection was a sort of follow-up to, "DIESEL SMOKE, DANGEROUS CURVES, and Other Truck Driver Favorites", Starday SLP 250. That collection has been featured over at Uncle Gil's and can be downloaded here.
Also, record nerds like myself may notice that the present copy of "Let's Hit The Road" is a Canadian pressing by Sparton. These usually feature a front slick supplied by Starday with a gold or silver Sparton overstamp (on this LP printed on the back instead, probably a mistake) and a back slick printed by Sparton with the London, Ontario address at the bottom in place of Starday's Nashville location. The label used for regular Sparton issues was used for the Starday issues as well, originally silver text on deep burgundy, later changing to a yellow label with "Sparton" in red text. By the late 60's, Columbia was pressing Starday product in Canada, and as a bonus I have included an example here to download, since you can't have too much great Starday trucker material! The Columbia Starday pressings used the yellow label with the eagle-on-oval logo, and the Nashville subsidiary pressings (of which "Pure Truck & Country" is one) used the orange label with the "hamburger" Nashville logo. Whew!
"Let's Hit The Road!"
Starday SLP 306
1. The Willis Brothers-Give Me 40 Acres (To Turn This Rig Around)
2. Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan-Bubbles In My Beer
3. Lonnie Irving-Trucker's Vitus
4. Frankie Miller-Truck Driving Buddy
5. Hank Locklin-Pinball Millionaire
6. The Willis Brothers-Truck Drivers Blues
7. Joe Maphis-Riding Down Old 99
8. The Homesteaders-Leavin' But I Won't Be Long
9. Betty Amos-18 Wheels
10. The Willis Brothers-Truck Stop Cutie
11. Jimmy Dean-Bummin' Around
12. Joe Maphis-Big Rig Guitar (Inst.)
"Pure Truck & Country"
Nashville NLPS 2066
1. Pat & Darrell-Our Sleeper Cab Home
2. Ray King-Curves And In-Betweens
3. Glen Campbell-Phoenix After Hours (Inst.)
4. Lonnie Irving-Gooseball Brown
5. The Stanley Brothers-Clyde's Getaway (Inst.)
6. The Willis Brothers-Diesel Smoke On Danger Road
7. Red Sovine-Hitch Hiking Girl
8. Jim & Jesse-Border Ride
9. Ray King-Big Wheel
10. Merle Kilgore-Pinball Machine
>>> THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL GREAT STARDAY ALBUMS POSTED ON SCRATCHY ATTIC OVER THE YEARS. BELOW ARE LINKS TO THESE POSTS, ALL OF WHICH ARE CURRENTLY LIVE. IF YOU MISSED THESE THE FIRST TIME AROUND, ENJOY!<<<