STUDIO SESSION FOR DOCTOR ROSS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR CHESS RECORDS 1951
 
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: THURSDAY NOVEMBER 29, 1951
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
 
Doctor Ross first recording session took place on November 29, 1951 with Ross playing harmonica and singing, Wiley Gatlin on guitar, and Robert Moore on broom. Ross told Norman Darwen, ''Mook used to drag the broom, yeah he could drag that, he could make it sound better than any drums''. Six songs from the session have survived. Sam Phillips was impressed by Ross's little group and their fascinating mix of catchy rhythms and authentic blues. He probably didn't know or care that Ross's original tunes were drawn from his years on the juke joint circuit and from listening to records.
 
"COUNTRY CLOWN" B.M.I. - 2:51
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - 1996 
First appearance: -  Charly Records (CD) 500/200rom CDSUNBOX 7-1-17 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-1-13 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958
Doctor Ross' recording debut shows the profound influence that John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson had on the harmonica players of the next generation. The performance is something of a hybrid, since it combines elements of Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas in its construction. The song is Ross' version of Lil' Son Jackson's "Bad Whiskey, Bad Woman", recorded in Houston, Texas three years previously and issued on Gold Star 642. This first take begins with a long harmonica solo, whereas the issued version has a four-bar introduction before the first verse. Sam Phillips noted Ross's guitarist as 'Wiley Gallatin' but no one of that name appears to have been living around that time, and Ross later confirmed that he was really Wiley (or Wylie) Gatlin. Ross, Gatlin and Rober Moore aka Mook had played together for some years on Arkansas radio stations either side of Ross's stints in the Army and they'd found themselves a slot on WDIA where A.C. Mooha Williams dubbed Ross the Medical Director of the Royal Amalgamated Association of Chitlin' Eaters of America.
 
"COUNTRY CLOWN" B.M.I. 2:54 
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - F 1012 - Take 2
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - March 1952
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1504-A mono
COUNTRY CLOWN / DR. ROSS BOOGIE
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-17 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
"DOCTOR ROSS BOOGIE" B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - F 1013
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - March 1952
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1504-B mono
DR. ROSS BOOGIE / COUNTRY CLOWN
Reissued: - 1996 Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-18 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
''Doctor Ross Boogie'' is the template for many of Doctor Ross' later Sun recordings.  The guitarist's amplifier makes a rather muddy jumble of his boogie phrases, but his presence is almost incidental to Ross' exuberant vocal and his harmonica playing. The song's obvious derivation from Pinetop's "Boogie Woogie" is made plain by Ross' spoken (or half-shouted) instructions to his imaginary audience "When I tell you to that thing/try your best to break your leg". He prefaces a harmonica solo with the comment, "Now play it cool", and proceeds to play with anything but reticence. 
"CAT SQUIRREL" B.M.I. - 2:23
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-20 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310-1-14 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958
 
On ''Cat Squirrel'', this intriguingly named track, Dr. Ross moves away from his usual incessant one-chord boogie. This is shaped after Robert Petway's ''Catfish Blues'', recently revived by Bobo Thomas on the flip side of Elmore James' ''Dust My Broom''. Muddy waters' revival of the song as ''Rollin' Stone'' was still on jukeboxes as well. The Doctor recorded ''Cat Squirrel'' several more times in later years, and the version for Fortune was especially fine, arguably better than this.
 
In 1966, Cream featured ''Cat Squirrel'' (retitled ''Cat's Squirrel'' and credited to Trad. Arr. S. Splurge) on the flip side of their first single, ''Wrapping Paper''. True, Clapton's solos were pretty spectacular, but the song's energy, not to mention its signature riff, came straight from the Doc. Soon after, Jethro Tull covered Cream's cover. Cream certainly didn't hear this recording, which went unreleased until Krazy Kat bootlegged it in 1985, but they might have heard Ross play it on the 1965 Folk Blues festival. If so, they should have realized that he needed the money more than they did.
"LITTLE SOLDIER BOY" B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - 1972
First appearance: - Arhoolie Records (LP) 33rpm Arhoolie 1065 mono
HIS FIRST RECORDINGS
Reissued: - January 5, 1992 Arhoolie Records (CD) 500/200rpm Arhoolie 371 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - BOOGIE DISEASE
LITTLE SOLDIER BOY" B.M.I. - 2:55
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-1-19 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - 2013 JSP Records (CD) 500/200rpm JSP4239B-2-4 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE MEMPHIS CUTS 1953-1956
The second of two takes, this version is slightly faster than the previous take and features the prominent foot-tapping also present on "Country Clown". Those with a mania for classification could argue endlessly over which musician is providing pedestrian assistance or whether a third party, like Willie Johnson, might have wandered into the studio to help. The song refers to Ross' two bouts of Army service, from which he'd recently been demobbed. Having served in the Philippines and the Southwest Pacific, he got out in 1948 but was recalled two years later. In his own words: "He kept on playing/he would say/Everything's going to be alright after awhile'/and he would keep a smile on his face/pointing his finger and blowing his harmonica/all of the girls loved Doctor Ross".
 
"SHAKE A MY HAND" B.M.I. - 2:34
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - 1972
First appearance: - Arhoolie Records (LP) 33rpm Arhoolie 1065 mono
HIS FIRST RECORDINGS
Reissued: - January 5, 1992 Arhoolie Records (CD) 500/200rpm Arhoolie 371 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - BOOGIE DISEASE
"SHAKE A MY HAND" B.M.I. - 2:34
Composer: -   Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Take 2 -  Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - 1992
First appearance: - Arhoolie Internet iTunes MP3-10 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - BOOGIE DISEASE
Reissued: - 2013 JSP Records (CD) 500/200rpm JSP4239-1-26 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE MEMPHIS CUTS 1953 - 1956
''THAT'S ALRIGHT (GOIN' BACK SOUTH*'' B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: -  Isaiah Ross
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - November 29, 1951
Released: - January 5, 1992
First appearance: - Arhoolie Records (CD) 500/200rpm Arhoolie 371 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - BOOGIE DISEASE
Reissued: - 2013 JSP Records (CD) 500/200rpm JSP4239-1-12 mono
DOCTOR ROSS - THE MEMPHIS CUTS 1953 - 1956
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Isaiah Ross  – Vocal, Harmonica & Footstomping
Wiley Gatlin - Guitar & Vocal*
Robert Moore (aka Mook) - Broom
 
Wiley Gatlin was recorded as a cotton farmer on the Wilson Plantation north east of Dundee in Tunica Country at the time. According to Doctor Ross, ''the best picker you ever saw''.  Robert Moore, was a man Doctor Ross called ''Mook'', who played a string bass and also used a broom to make a percussion sound.
 
Note: Doctor Ross recorded other versions of these songs at this session.  Note 2: Doctor Ross also played on ''That's Alright (Goin' Back South)'' sung at this session by Wiley Gatlin.
 
In almost total contrast, Doctor Ross's final offering at the session was an engaging if strange attempt to marry some familiar lines about a mistreating woman (from the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson's 1946 recordings of ''Shake The Boogie'') with Moohah Williams local catchphrase: ''come on and shake-a my hand''. WDIA jockey A.C. Williams had the ''Wheelin' On Beale'' show.  He had still been a biology teacher at Manassas High School when he started at WDIA in 1949, but he soon became the first full time black employee of the station, working on promotion and organisation of events as well as hosting shows.
 
He set up the Teen Town Singers group that changed personnel each year to include the best talent from all seven of the local black High Schools.  When singer Faye Adams had a number 1 rhythm and blues hit on Herald in the summer of 1953 with another song called ''Shake A My Hand'', Moohah got together with WDIA's David Mattis to write a comical song about the perils of hand-shaking. Issued that November on Starmaker Records, Moohah's ''All Shook Out'' was an answer song in the vein of Rufus Thomas's ''Bear Cat'', a recent number 1 in Memphis.
 
The song may also have had secondary reference to the gladhanding that went on during the annual WDIA Goodwill Revue. Although Moohah played all kinds of black music in his shows, he took the name ''Mr Blues'' for one show and ran mock elections for the preservation of good country blues; he awarded Doctor Ross the presidency of the Royal Amalgamated Association of Chitterling Eaters of America for his musical efforts.
 
 
 
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