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Author Topic: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town  (Read 1110 times)

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Offline Suzy T

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SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« on: November 21, 2015, 10:45:44 PM »
I picked ?Bully of the Town? which had its start as a tin pan alley hit circa 1896.  It went on to be recorded in many different ways during the subsequent decades, by many artists including the Skillet Lickers, the Tweedy Brothers, the Memphis Jug Band, and Leadbelly.  My introduction to this song was via the Skillet Lickers recording which has maybe the slimiest double fiddling ever!!  And I just love Riley Puckett?s singing here.

More to come?apologies for being a bit late with this.

Offline Suzy T

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2015, 10:50:17 PM »
I think that Leadbelly must have heard Riley Puckett's recording with the Skillet Lickers!!  I also love the way he sings "looking for that bully baby", it sounds kind of Caribbean.  This is from his last sessions

Offline Suzy T

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2015, 11:03:42 PM »
And here is another hillbilly version with 2 fiddles -- the Tweedy Brothers's cover of the Skillet Lickers, but as an instrumental with tinkling piano. I think this is the jolliest version of all. And has some very, er, interesting harmonizations. The Tweedy Brothers were Henry and George on fiddles, backed up by Charles W. Tweedy on piano. Recorded in March, 1928 in Richmond IN - issued  as Ge 6447 and Ch15486, so presumably it was fairly popular. 

Offline Suzy T

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2015, 11:27:39 PM »
I forgot to put discographical info for the Skillet Lickers version -- recorded as "Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers with Riley Puckett" and what a band!  Clayton McMichen and Gid on fiddles, and I think Bert Layne may also be playing fiddle; Fate Norris on banjo (as usual, pretty much inaudible); Riley Puckett on vocal and guitar. Recorded April 17, 1926 in Atlanta, GA, Co15074-D.  Many other hillbilly artists who recorded this song beginning with  Fiddling John Carson (not my favorite version....), followed by (in roughly this order) Clayton McMichen's Home Town Band, Gid & the Skillet Lickers, Lester McFarland & Robert A. Gardner (never have heard that one, I think it is probably super rare), Ernest Stoneman, Earl Johnson, Frankie Marvin, Sid Harikreader, the Tweedys, Byrd Moore, North Carolina Hawaiians (very curious to hear this one), Happy Dixon's Clodhoppers, Cherokee Ramblers, Prairie Ramblers. The Kessinger Brothers (not really brothers, just like the Baxters) recorded it too, but it was unissued, sure would have liked to hear that!

Offline Suzy T

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2015, 11:36:32 PM »
Here is the Memphis Jug Band's version. I think maybe the A&R man at the session might have said, "Say, can you play that Bully of the Town" and they said, "sure boss" even though they didn't really know the song, and this is what resulted.  They just took that  phrase "bully of the Town" and pasted it onto that good old circle of 5ths, warts and all. What wonderful chutzpah!! Here we are listening to it nearly 90 years later.
They recorded this in their 2nd session, June 1927 in Chicago.  Will Shade and Will Weldon, guitars and vocals, Ben Ramey, kazoo and vocal, Charlie Polk, jug.  Vi 20781.
 I always feel so happy when I listen to the MJB!

Offline frankie

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2015, 06:31:40 AM »
Might as well post the Skillet Lickers - so good!



And then Henry Thomas's Bob McKinney is a composite of three four songs: Bob McKinney (clearly), Take Me Back, Make Me A Pallet On The Floor and Bully Of The Town:



Which means the HT is a SOTM two-for-one, and could very well be a THREE-for-one if someone does "Take Me Back" for the 18th of December. Nice.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2015, 08:40:15 AM by frankie »

Offline Lignite

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2015, 06:50:53 AM »
Here is the Brunswick recording of Lester McFarland and Robert A Gardner playing Bully Of The Town from 1927. It is unique because Mac is playing the fiddle instead of his usual mandolin. I also own the notorious original 12" Mae Irwin Victor release of The Bully from 1909 but the lyrics are very racist. You can read about this song and It's origins in the notes accompanying Minstrels And Tunesmiths - The Commercial Roots of Early Country Music 1902-1923 JEMF LP-109. http://picosong.com/b2v6

Offline Lignite

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2015, 07:07:22 AM »
Let's not forget old Stringbean; http://picosong.com/bVnM

Online Johnm

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2015, 08:31:20 AM »
Hi all,
I also remember Etta Baker doing an instrumental version on the old "Traditional Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians" album.  This is a later version, but here it is:

https://youtu.be/ZEQJxgd-fp8?list=PL4383D3B5F76351A7

All best,
Johnm

Offline jphauser

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2015, 09:38:39 AM »
The book Nobody Knows Where the Blues Come From (a collection of writings by various authors discussing lyrics to early black songs) includes an interesting piece by Paul Oliver about "Lookin' for the Bully."  It includes a discussion of Henry Thomas's "Bob McKinney."
Here's a link to info from the publisher:

http://www.upress.state.ms.us/books/530


Also, Cecil Brown discusses the song at some length in his book Stagolee Shot Billy.




Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2015, 11:13:30 AM »
Thanks all for highlighting this great song in all its versions. There's not a bad one amongst them all. Here's another from the Prairie Ramblers in 1936:https://youtu.be/wb8ufVkYLeM

Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2015, 11:16:00 AM »
John W Work's 1941 field recording of Sidney Stripling:

http://www.loc.gov/item/ftvbib000043/

Another Hillbilly version by Earl Johnson and his Clodhoppers in the Skillet Lickers vein:




and Stampfel and Weber's take:


Offline Lastfirstface

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2015, 11:28:10 AM »
Another field recording of Joe Harris and Kid West:



Thanks for your post Suzy.

Online Johnm

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2015, 11:41:05 AM »
Yes, thank you for your post and the SotM choice, Suzy.  It's a great one.  Thinks to everyone else who posted versions as well.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Suzy T

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Re: SOTM - Nov. 21, 2015 - Looking for the Bully of the Town
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2015, 05:48:53 PM »
Wow!  Big thanks to all who posted all this additional information. 

 


anything