Thursday, 21 February 2013

Hey Boss Man- Frank Frost and The Nighthawks

The American music industry post World War II saw a significant rise in the number of independent record labels, most of the entreprenuers behind these labels saw a demand for certain styles of music that wasn't being met by the major labels so with small budgets and limited technology they recorded local artists in their regions and by doing so helped shape the American musical landscape.

Sam Phillips' Sun Records was a pioneer in this attitude, Sam Phillips saw the capabilities of mixing rhythm & blues with country/hillbilly music and in doing so he created one of the most influential independent record labels, one that became the template for others to follow. A lot of the small record labels in the deep south were constantly on the look for something new, something that sounded different, there seemed to be both an open door policy and an open ear one. Frank Frost was a bluesman from Auvergne Arkansas, he began his career as a guitarist in St Louis before returning to Arkansas to work with the legendary Robert Nighthawk. He also spent some years touring with Sonny Boy Williamson and it was Williamson who taught him to play the harp. By 1960 he was playing around the Mississippi Delta with Big Jack Johnson and drummer Sam Carr, it was during this period that he attracted the interest of Sam Phillips. Phillips brought him into the studio in 1962 to record some material that was released on the subsidiary label Phillips International. From those sessions came the single Hey Boss Man which is a cover of the Jimmy Reed classic Big Boss Man, Frost version has a more downhome feel. Think along the lines of the type of records J.D Miller was recording at his studio in Crowley Louisiana, a very sparse feel not a lot of bottom to the songs. Frost sounds like Miller's protege Slim Harpo, Frost blasts some nice harmonica against a solid bacbeat courtesy of Sam Carr. The fretwork is supplied by Jack Johnson who has a nice melodic flow to his playing, Johnson had also cut his teeth working with Robert Nighthawk.

Frost and The Nighthawks would continue to record, cutting some tracks for the Jewel record label which included the minor R&B hit My Back Scratcher which was produced by legendary guitarist Scotty Moore. In the late 70's the trio would become The Jelly Roll Kings, in 1997 they recorded the album Off Yonder Wall whih was produced by renowned writer Robert Palmer. Frank Frost passed away in Helena Arkansas in 1999.

No comments:

Post a Comment