Saturday, 7 December 2013

Charlie Feathers Nobody's Darlin But Mine b/w Deep Elm Blues

Charlie Feathers is one of those unsung heroes of rockabilly, an artist who never received due commercial recognition but in later life has attained the respect he deserves. Charlie was one of the early rockabilly pioneers, he spent some time at Sun records first as a studio musician and later released a couple of singles on Sun and subsidiary labels like Flip and Holiday Inn. Feathers had a very distinct theatrical voice, there would be snippets of falsetto or a hiccup style vocal delivery present in his songs. He was probably more known for his work on the King record label, with the classic Can't Hardly Stand It appearing on that label.

The last single he recorded for Sam Phillips was in late 1962 for his newly formed Holiday Inn label, Deep Elm Blues was a mid tempo soulful number with a funky twisting organ driving the record. Feathers sounds a little like Ronnie Hawkins on this one, a real vocal workout where he gets down and dirty but will also change the pitch of his voice and add in hiccups that add a different dynamic to the song. Like most 45's that came out of Memphis it's got a solid pumping groove, the bass keeps things anchored but has a nice drifting sound to it. I would love to know who is playing organ on the song, maybe Bobby Emmons possibly someone from the fledgling Hi studio.

The B side Nobody's Darlin But Mine, has a really funky countrified rhythm. I'm assuming it's Charlie on acoustic guitar but he lays down this guitar pattern that just flows and snakes its way through the track. Even though the guitar track is taken at a pulsating tempo the drums seem to be suspended in time pulling the song back in a way that you didn't hear a lot from that period. Charlie in pleading for his girl to be faithful delivers a suitably anxious delivery full of wails and exaltation's as the driving rhythm adds to the feeling of despair. It's another one of those songs that's hard to categorise, it's not a rockabilly tune it has more of a funky country feel to it. When rockabilly faded from view artists like Charlie Feathers looked for a new sound, one that still retained the roots of rock and roll but added a new dimension.

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