Sam Phillips records another country artist for Chess Records, Bob Price. Phillips' mid-1950s venture into country music was largely conducted in partnership with the A&R team of Quinton Claunch and Bill Cantrell, but it seems as if Claunch was there first. He appeared at Phillips' door with Bob Price, and was certainly not joking when he said that Price had an unusual voice. Price and Harmonica Frank marked Chess Records' inauspicious debut into the country market. Both were a long way from mainstream but, unfortunately, this outing has none of the period charm of Frank Floyd, nor the searing hillbilly passion of Phillips' later efforts. In fact it has not weathered the years at all well although Roy Cooper's dancing guitar fills are quite pleasant and Price's vocal has its moments. If Price was aiming for the pop-country mix of Eddy Arnold-George Morgan-Red Foley, he came up with an almost comically inept parody. He had previously recorded for Decca in 1949 together with Eddie Hill, suggesting that he may have been part of the same troup, although Claunch recalled that Price rarely sang except at home. Billboard, though reported in March 1952 that Price was on the point of joining the live on-air staff of KWEM, West Memphis, so perhaps he got around more than Claunch believed.  

STUDIO SESSION FOR BOB PRICE
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR CHESS RECORDS 1951
 
MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
STUDIO SESSION: SUNDAY DECEMBER 2, 1951
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS 
AND/OR QUINTON CLAUNCH
 
Sometime during the fall of 1951, a childhood friend of Quinton Claunch named Price Twitty came to Memphis to play a few country music gigs. In a strange reversal of the Harold Jenkins story, Twitty rejected his surname for the stage name Bop Price. Claunch recalls that Price sang very little and "mainly in the bath", yet Price was no novice and had pursued an intermittent career in country music, recording for Decca in on August 22, 1949. Bop Price had what Claunch characterizes as, "an unusual voice, and his own way of phrasing a song that was his main claim to fame". In November 1951, Claunch called Sam Phillips and took price down to the studio at 706 Union Avenue. This was to the Claunch's first venture as a record producer.
 
Although somewhat lightweight, Bob Price's unusual phrasing impressed Sam Phillips sufficiently to call a recording session. Claunch recalls that before the session be, Price and guitarist Paul Buskirk recorded a demo of "How Can It Be" at WLAY radio studio in Muscle Shoals. Moving back to Memphis for the proper session, Claunch found that the additional session players Sam had brought in were not capable of making the sounds he intended the world to hear and he was somewhat dissatisfied with the outcome.
 
Nevertheless, Sam Phillips was involved at the time with leasing country material to the newly established Chess label country series, and he was able to sell "How Can It Be" and "Sticks And Stones" for release on Chess 1495 in March 1952.
 
01 - "HOW CAN IT BE" – B.M.I. - 3:06
Composer: - Quinton Claunch-Bob Price
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - F-1002
Recorded: - December 2, 1951
Released: - March 1952
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1495-A mono
HOW CAN IT ME / STICKS AND STONES
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-2-9 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-27 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959
''Stick And Stones'', this uptempo side has a folky, almost nursery rhyme, quality enhanced by the instrumental break which sounds like a musical box. Hank Thompson was doing well with songs like this (''Humpty Dumpty Heart'', ''Whoa Sailor'', etc) but Thompson at least had visibility in the western half of the country. Released to little acclaim in January 1952, this single represented the beginning and end of Chess's involvement in hillbilly music until they allied themselves with Stan Lewis in Shreveport. However, shortly after this record was released, Billboard announced that Leonard Chess was heading south to secure more country talent. Perhaps the dismal sales of this outing convinced Chess to stay clear of the country market until Lewis started providing him with saleable product. Note that the master tape from this session was recorded over. Only the very last cut on the tape, a fragment of ''Why So Blue''? remains from the original tape.
 
02 - "STICKS AND STONES" – B.M.I. - 2:24
Composer: - Bob Price
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - F-1003
Recorded: - December 2, 1951
Released: - March 1952
First appearance: - Chess Records (S) 78rpm Chess 1495-B mono
STICKS AND STONES / HOW CAN IT ME
Reissued: - November 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211-2-10 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 - 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311-1-28 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959
03 - "WHY SO BLUE" – B.M.I.
Composer: - Bob Price
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Snatch
Recorded: - December 2, 1951
Released: - Sun Unissued
 
04 - "DONATIN' MY TIME" – B.M.I.
Composer: - Bob Price
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - December 2, 1951
Released: - Sun Unissued
 
Two other songs had been recorded by Sam Phillips. A snatch of "Why So Blues" remains on tape, but "Donatin' My Time" appears to have been recorded over along with the master tape of the two issued items. The inconspicuous sales of Chess 1495 compared unfavourably with the good sales on rhythm and blues recordings from Phillips' studio, and this may have put Sam Phillips off country music for a while. It would be another two years before Claunch came to Sam again with a song to resurrect his recording career.
 
"Bob Price made some things for Chess Records in my studio", recalled Sam Phillips. "His real name was Price Twitty. He was a young man from down in Tishomingo, Mississippi.  But he did not have the blue feel in the music. We didn't do too much with Bob". Price was simply not quirky enough, not even for this ready-made new hillbilly marked, and Sam Phillips doubted that there was a bluesy bone in his body. The results in any case were satisfying to no one, including Leonard Chess, who suspended his brief country music experiment shortly thereafter.
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Bob Price - Vocal
Quinton Claunch - Guitar
Roy Cooper - Guitar
Harold Buskirk - Bass
Dexter Johnson - Mandolin
Bob Smith – Piano
Unknown - Fiddle
 
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