Continuing on with my fascination with early 60's rockabilly I happened across this 45 when I was reading about another legendary name in rockabilly, Narvel Felts. Matt Lucas was Felt's drummer but he had already built a solid reputation as a musician dating back to the mid 50's. Matt Lucas was born in Memphis but grew up in Popular Bluff, Missouri, as a teen he was deeply influenced by rhythm and blues and jazz music and had spent some time playing the blues clubs in St Louis including the Bamboo Key Club where Ike Turner had the house band and further afield into Chicago. In 1956 he met Narvel Felts whilst playing at a club in Gideon Missouri and was soon playing in Felts' trio The Rockets. The trio played the traditional southern circuit of honky tonks and gut bucket clubs through Arkansas, Missouri, probably parts of Louisiana and further north. These were tough clubs, places like the Silver Moon in Newport, The Delta Supper Club in West Helena and The Starlight in Lepanto, these places were breeding grounds where rockabilly underwent a transformation, and came out the other side with a harder more rocking R&B edge. Matt Lucas had been encouraged to sing a few of the harder edged R&B songs at these gigs. Ronnie Hawkins would often do the same at his gigs during this period, often letting Levon Helm or Richard Manuel sing more R&B influenced tunes.
In 1961 Felts went into the army for six months, Matt Lucas hung around Memphis playing sessions and working with other bands. He cut a one off 45 at the Fernwood studio with local producer Roland Janes who had a prominent role in the local music industry in Memphis in the early 60's. The following year Lucas was back working with Felts and it was at the end of a Felts session that Lucas recorded a cover of the Hank Snow classic I'm Movin On. Lucas grabbed hold of the song and transformed it into a classic R&B song with a hard southern edge. Lucas gives the song a primal feeling, as he leers, shouts and screams "shake it for your daddy" Lucas provides a sharp beat to the song, prominent on the ride cymbal and with little fanfare in the way of solos. I'm assuming that Narvel is playing guitar and he provides a nice chicken scratch interplay with Lucas' wails. The record was released in early 1963 on Janes' own Renay label, it soon became a local hit, it was given airplay by John (JR) Richbourg on his WLAC radio show. The record was soon picked up for national distribution by the Mercury subsidiary Smash records and by May 1963 it reached #56 on the U.S chart, it was also a big hit in Canada and in parts of Europe. That single was released in a significant year, Ronnie Hawkins recorded his classic Who do You Love/Bo Diddley single around the same time and Conway Twitty released his classic R&B 63 album that year. Narvel Felts also cut some interesting records during that same period.
The B side My Heavenly Angel had a pronounced doo wop feel and would have benefited from some vocal backing. Lucas had spent some time in L.A in his teens and had been greatly influenced by the doo wop sounds of groups like The Crows and singers like Clyde McPhatter. Matt Lucas was never able to repeat the success of I'm Movin On but continued to cut some good records which I'll feature in further blogs. He continues to perform and a few years ago recorded a song called I'm Still Movin On!