Posts Tagged ‘Ronnie Hawkins’

‘Let Me Be Your Little Dog . . .’

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

We go on exploring versions of “Matchbox,” the song first written and recorded by Carl Perkins in 1957. (After a while, we’ll also explore the versions of “Match Box Blues,” first written and recorded in 1927 by Blind Lemon Jefferson. As I noted the other day, even if they are two different songs, they are at least cousins.)

As I do this, I’m just bouncing around the versions parked in the RealPlayer here and then checking out the lists at Second Hand Songs. I don’t know that I’ve got much original to say about any of these versions, but we’ll see.

In the first iteration of this blog, fourteen years ago, I shared the 1970 album Ronnie Hawkins, (recorded the year before at Muscle Shoals and released on the Cotillion label), which included Hawkins’ second stab at “Matchbox.” His first came a couple years earlier on an album titled Mojo Man released on Roulette. I’ve not checked out the 1967 version; if and when I do, I doubt I’ll like it as much as I like the 1969 recording.

As the track was included on the second of the two 1970s Duane Allman anthologies, it’s a good bet that Allman handles the lead work on Hawkins’ “Matchbox.” Others credited are Eddie Hinton on guitar, David Hood on bass, Roger Hawkins on drums, Barry Beckett and Scott Cushnie on keyboards and King Biscuit Boy on harp.

‘Oom-poppa-mow-mow!’

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

There it sat, nearly at the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100 that was released April 2, 1966, forty-seven years ago today: “Elvira” by Dallas Frazier, bubbling under at No. 134.* Of course, I love bottom-dwellers, and I like to dig up covers, so I grabbed my reference books and my mouse and dug in. Here’s where I started:

The song was familiar, of course, but not from Frazier’s version. His record got no higher than No. 72, and as I wasn’t listening to Top 40 radio at the time anyway, I’m reasonably sure I’d never heard it until today. (I thought for a moment that I might have heard it unmemorably during a ride in my dad’s 1952 Ford, where the radio was always tuned to WVAL’s country tunes, but the record didn’t show up on the country chart at all. Other records by Frazier did, as did many songs that he wrote. A look at his bio at All Music Guide is instructive.)

The version I knew, of course, was by the Oak Ridge Boys, a record that went to No. 5 on the pop chart and to No. 1 on the country chart and became one of the defining sounds of the summer of 1981. I liked the record well enough (though I got weary of it as it got near the end of its run on the charts), but not writing or thinking much about music at the time, I never wondered where the song came from or where it had been in the interim.

Of course, I wonder about those things now, which is why I was pleased to find Frazier’s original version listed in that long-ago Hot 100. Among the interesting names that showed up when I went digging for covers of the song were Kenny Rogers & The First Edition in 1970, Rodney Crowell in 1977, Ronnie Hawkins in 1979, Sleepy LaBeef in 1996, the Mexican group Yndio (with a Spanish version that I cannot date today), a children’s chorus called Drew’s Famous Kids in 2003 and the undying studio group, the Countdown Singers, in 2004.

There was also a 1967 version by an R&B singer named Baby Ray whose entry in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles is one record deep: A novelty record titled “There’s Something On Your Mind,” which peaked at No. 69 as 1966 turned to 1967. Baby Ray, a New Orleans native whose real name was Raymond Eddlemon, turned in a decent New Orleans-tinged version of “Elvira” but has pretty much been lost to history: Whitburn lists neither a birth date nor death date for him.

There are no doubt other versions out there. I do like Frazier’s original, but the version that I probably like the best is Hawkins’, from his 1979 album The Hawk. I’m not sure who’s doing the guitar work; the credits at All Music Guide, which look like they might be complete, list three guitarists: James Burton, Keith Allison and Waddy Wachtel. I could make a guess but no more than that. Whoever it is, the guitar part has echoes of Duane Allman. And there, without guessing, we’ll call it a day. (The video below also incudes Frazier’s original.)

*Right on the bottom of the chart, bubbling under at No. 135, was another record with a woman’s name in it: “My Darling Hildegarde” by the Statler Brothers. Maybe another time.