The many members of the Hillbilly Bop brigade have a lot to look forward to from Ace in the next few months. Our strong ties with King Records have recently brought us (and, thus, you!) HILLBILLY BOP'N'BOOGIE (CDCHD 854), which seems to be hitting all the right buttons with most RT fans. And to complement it this month we have the first-ever legal CD anthology by a man who didn't feature on HB&B but who, with his long-time friends and regular studio collaborators the Delmore Brothers, nigh on invented the genre. It was essentially the Delmores who got this man on King despite label boss Syd Nathan's initial reservations - reservations that soon went away when he saw just how many records this homely little fella with a club foot was capable of selling for King.
We're talking here about the great Wayne Raney, of course. Widely known throughout hillbilly bop and rockabilly circles for his lively, late 40s harmonica-driven boogies and invigorating boppin' novelties, Raney's terrific body of work for King has inexplicably eluded CD compilers (legit or otherwise) so far. This in spite of the fact that his popularity among collectors was strong enough for another well-known reissue imprint to issue two vinyl albums by him in the early 1990s.
THAT REAL HOT BOOGIE BOY revisits some of the tracks those albums featured, but it also strives to present a slightly broader overview of Raney's huge talent by including several bluesier sides that have never been reissued before in any format. The repertoire featured here spans eight of the 11 years that Raney recorded on-and-off for Syd Nathan, starting with the stunning unaccompanied harmonica solo Fox Chase from his first session and ending with his countrified version of Wynonie Harris' Adam Come And Get Your Rib from his last but one King session in 1954. Now is that an overview, or what?
As Dave Sax' detailed sleeve notes describe, Raney was a witty and accomplished songwriter whose lyrical skills were a highlight of at least two thirds of the masters he cut for King. We've tried here to concentrate on Raney's own repertoire - which includes the million-plus seller Why Don't You Haul Off And Love Me from 1949 - but, again in the name of light and shade, we've included his versions of Lefty Frizzell's If You've Got The Money, I've Got The Time and Johnny Horton's The Child's Side Of Life to show that he could just as comfortably make- over and even take over the repertoire of his contemporaries.
As well as the fine songs, the musicianship here is uniformly wonderful, thanks largely to the presence of Alton and Rabon Delmore on most of the tracks. (Fans of the Delmores should take note that Mr Sax and yours truly are currently planning the belated follow up to Ace's earlier best-selling Delmores' anthology. We hope to have this on the market next year, along with CD anthologies by the York Brothers and Homer & Jethro.) When the brothers were otherwise engaged, Raney would call on another supremely talented team, that of husband and wife Maxine (Mac") and Norman Luna, who can be heard to stunning advantage on several of the earlier numbers here including their own Jack And Jill Boogie. The other great musician who associated with Raney during these years, and who can be heard playing dual harmonicas with our man on some of the earlier tracks, is Lonnie Glosson. Lonnie is almost as important to the Wayne Raney story as Raney himself and he's also well overdue for his own legal CD anthology (although his masters aren't as easy to licence as Raney's, which is why we haven't done it. Yet.)
Although this CD features some of the best material Wayne Raney cut for any label he was associated with during more than 40 years as a professional musician, it by no means features all of it - and there's more than enough scope for a second volume if this one fares as well as we all hope it will. After all, there's only so many years that a record collection can be without a CD-fication of We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus, And A Lot Less Rock'n'Roll, isn't there?
By Tony Rounce"