The re-evaluation of previously published information about the recording dates of ''Great Balls Of Fire'' (see below) brings to the fore other vexing questions concerning the origins of the solitary take of ''Mean Woman Blues'' and the running order of the fourteen examples of ''I'm Feelin' Sorry'' now to hand. Ten of the latter share one of the defining traits of ''Mean Woman Blues'', namely the effect, reminiscent of a clavichord, which resulted from Jack Clement having re-tuned the piano and applied thumb tacks to the hammers such that, upon impacting the strings, a distinctive metallic sound was produced. It's thought that this technique, a strong hint of which remains discernible in the ultimate delivery of ''Great Balls Of Fire'', was first applied during the course of at least one, possibly two, Lewis sessions in early September at which material was prepared for a projected EP release. This innovation, which has been attributed by some source to session pianist Jimmy Wilson, is also manifest on a number of recordings made at Sun by other artists during September and early October 1957. Though soon thereafter the ''clavichord effect'', which Clement himself casually, and misleadingly, related to the dissimilar sound of a harpsichord, appears to have been abandoned. (*)
But first let's look at the development of the song ''I'm Feelin' Sorry'' it self. Clement obviously had high hopes for his composition, later to be realised when Ricky Nelson covered it on his second album, released in July 1958. Ricky's version is probably representative of what Jack Clement had in mind when he wrote the song and it shares the same modest gait we hear on Jerry Lee Lewis' first attempt. But when Jack presented ''I'm Feelin' Sorry'' to Lewis, most likely early in July 1957, they tried it at various speeds; initially, a slow ballad, as originally conceived; next, up-tempo; then at a medium pace, as heard in the complete take presented here, and finally demonstrating the increased momentum of the issued master. It's noticeable that on each successive take, the drumming becomes bolder and incrementally more improvised.(*)
When Sam Phillips mixed ''Honky Tonk Babe, Gal'' for release, he told Carl Perkins that he wanted a good country ballad to go on the flip side of ''Movie Magg''. The result was ''Turn Around''. Sam gave it that title; Carl had been calling it ''I'll Be Following You''. Sam brought in Quentin Claunch (guitar), Bill Cantrell (fiddle) and Stan Kesler (steel) to join the Perkins band on the session. He wanted a real country record.
The song is absolutely gorgeous - simple, heartfelt, and honest with a sing-along melody. Jerry Lee Lewis noticed that and included the song on his 1957 Sun EPA 107. If it had been a bigger hit, it would have been a natural for Ray Charles to resurrect in the early 1960s when he was recording country songs like ''I Can't Stop Loving You'' with a full orchestra and chorus. And Carl wrote it because Sam asked for a good country ballad. Sam should have sent in a request every week.
On the one complete outtake, Carl's vocal is every bit as pure and earnest as it is on the released version. The instruments - mainly the fiddle - are not all tuned up together, providing some truly uncomfortable moments which we guess were recognizable only when the tape was played back. This one belonged in the outtake box. There is also a few fragments and some studio chatter among musicians. At one point in the chatter there's a discussion of Elvis and someone, probably Cantrell, says he doesn't like that sort of music. The old guard passeth.
The coupling of "Turn Around" with "Movie Magg" was issued in February 1955 on Phillips new Flip subsidiary. The sincerity that Sam Phillips responded to was plainly on view in "Turn Around". It owed a measure of debt to Hank Williams in terms of both composition and execution but Phillips' hopes for Carl Perkins in the country market were not without foundation. "Turn Around", is a solid country outing that Jerry Lee Lewis recorded four years later here, and Carl himself continues to feature on his personal appearances some forty years later.
However, it's clear that such stories about only ''one take'' being required to arrive at an impeccable cut, be it of ''Great Balls Of Fire'' itself or others of Jerry Lee's hits, haven't always been inspired by any intention to mislead. Rather, they may be down to a basic misunderstanding between the musicians involved and some of those who have delved into these events in much later years. It's only fair to say that the likes of Jay W. Brown, Jimmy M. Van Eaton and Jerry Lee himself wouldn't necessarily have regarded as ''takes'' any performances which were, in effect, only ''rehearsals'', while their own perceptions of the process may have failed to acknowledge the fact that quite so many run-throughs were being captured on tape, far less being kept for posterity. How valid this argument is in respect of the work undertaken on ''Great Balls Of Fire'' remains open to question, though it's easier to sustain in respect of ''Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On''; as we have seen, the master of the latter was, as both Jerry Lee Lewis and Jack Clement were always keen to emphasise, nailed in ''one take''. What is undeniable is that those who contributed to the making of this history would never have imagined that their work in the Sun studio, however formal or otherwise, would decades later be the subject of such intense interest and analysis.
Leaving the ''single-take'' fable aside, the accepted wisdom is that each and every cut of ''Great Balls Of Fire'' dated from a three day span, Sunday 6 to Tuesday 8, October 1957. There is, however, no firm testimony in support of this suggestion, which was published in the 1983 LP set and has been repeated unchallenged in most subsequent accounts. And while the discography in the 1989 bear Family set ''Classic'' did at least cast doubt on the belief that all fifteen takes originated in October, and pointed to a less intensive schedule, it fell short of providing any detail.
The premise that everything was recorded over the course of three days in October fails to pay regard to Sam Phillips' own declaration in later years that, having been pressed by Warner Brothers to supply a tape of ''Great Balls Of Fire'' for use in the film ''Jamboree'', he had submitted to the producers the best of what he already had to hand, while remaining determined to achieve still better results for the eventually single release. The idea that Sam would have sent to Warner Brothers an inferior cut for want of a day or two in early October doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. And the fact that the film was premiered on November 12, while not making an October date for the recording of the audio of Jerry Lee Lewis' contribution impossible, adds weight to the argument against the traditional explanation.
Contemporaneous published accounts also discredit the notion of an all-embracing October session and signify a different chain of events; these sources indicate that the recording of the so-called ''movie cut'' and its numerous sound-alike takes predated that of the finished master, as heard on Sun 281, not by just one or two days but quite possibly by an interval of at least two months. In all likelihood, the version heard on the soundtrack was actually taped before Jerry Lee's first live television appearance on ''The Steve Allen Show'', broadcast from New York City on Sunday July 28, 1957. This deduction is supported by a report in Billboard magazine of August 5, 1957 signposting that the lip-synched contribution to ''Jamboree'' was filmed during the same excursion to the north-east, which in turn points to the ''movie-take'' having been recorded before Jerry Lee Lewis left Memphis on July 25, 1957.
What seems most likely is that Jud Phillips, Sam's brother, having been made responsible for promoting Jerry Lee nationally and securing the TV dates, made his way to the New York office of music publishers Hill & Range well in advance of the July 28, commitment. Jud's assertion that he introduced the staff writers to ''Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On'' and invited them to devise a potential follow up is entirely persuasive. In response, a demo and/or the score for ''Great Balls Of Fire'' would have been dispatched to Memphis in time to allow tentative recordings to be made in advance of Jerry Lee's visit to New York both for the TV debut at the end of the month and, during the same venture, to film the movie cameo.
Let's also consider the aural evidence. The fifteen takes of ''Great Balls Of Fire'' readily fall into one or other of two detached groups; those which exhibit a relatively laboured guitar and bass rhythm, as heard in the frenetic ''movie'' take, and those that evince a more accomplished pattern, revealing enhanced tape echo, with the piano and the drums supposedly combining to form a wall of sound in the absence, according to some, of other instrumentation. Might this sea-change have been accomplished overnight? While it can't be ruled out absolutely, it is considered highly implausible; as a result, these recordings have now been split into the two groups and placed apart. The first session, at which the musicians were required to learn the song from scratch, culminated in the taping of the movie version. It's remembered by Jimmy Van Eaton as a chaotic exercise with a studio full of people, though clearly not everyone was impressed when it came to the dominant characters exchanging views on the subject of divine retribution.
On the second date, Jerry Lee Lewis is in an entirely secular frame of mind; exegesis has given way to excess. But, in his singing and playing, we can witness the steady progression from a relatively carefree, illdisciplined couple of run-throughs to the climactic ''master''; the sublime single release. At each stage a refinement of one sort or another is embodied, whether a change in emphasis or tone in part of the lyric, the stretching of a particular word or the intro-mission of an uncommon exclamation, or a new twist to the piano solo. Close analysis of this group also indicates that a bass guitarist is present throughout the session, up to and including the final take. This becomes readily identifiable during the second phase of the instrumental break, in which Jerry Lee's left hand drives the rhythm at eight to the bar and in so doing diverges from the walking bass line.
And there is even more substance to the issued master itself than has been generally acknowledge in the past. In combinning this song and Jerry Lee's talent, Sam Phillips knew that he was dealing with something extraordinary and he was painstaking in his search for the perfect rendition of ''Great Balls Of Fire''. This was to be Sun Records' magnum opus, its greatest hit to-date; the sound had to be both innovative and flawless. Jerry Lee had already had upwards of a dozen cracks at it but still something was missing, an extra component to complete the masterwork. Here's what appears to have happened next, based on the composition of separate tapes found in outtake boxes.
Having secured the sixth take at this second session, yet still unsatisfied, Sam decided to experiment and asked a percussionist to add a metronomic ''rim-shot'', hitting the edge of the snare drum, to accentuate the beat. Listen to the most conspicuous discrepancy between the master and all the preceding takes from this session; on the master alone one can hear a sharp, consistent strike on the edge of the drum. It might, of course, be thought that this was accomplished in real time, but a recent discovery in the Sun archives renders this proposition highly questionable; the reality seems to be that it wasn't recorded concurrently.
What we can now listen to, on a previously unreleased tape here presented on BCD 17254-18-1, is the cut that forms the basis of the ''master'' take lacking this ''rim-shot'' sound. This tape does, however, also feature an enhanced drum pattern compared to earlier takes, involving a supplementary layer of conventional ''skin shots'' on the snare drum. But the pronounced metronomic beat that helps define ''Great Balls Of Fire'', as known to the world, is absent. The distinction may appear subtle, but it is contended that this amounts to proof that the recording originally issued in November 1957 embodies an overdub of the defining ''rim-shot'' sound.
There is little reason to doubt that these less emphatic ''skin shots'' heard on this alternate are dubbed, rather then being representative of what was taped live and subsequently masked, either by the ''rim shot'' and/or other mastering techniques applied when the engineer prepared the track for release in 1957. Hence it is believed that what we have are two different overdubs adding extra percussion to the real time performance, one of which, featuring the ''rim shot'', was selected for release as Sun 281. It can be argued that the alternate presented on BCD 17254-18-1 sustains a closer relationship with the other recordings of the song, whereas the more obviously augmented ''rim shot'' version stands apart. Moreover, given the order in which the tapes were found in the outtake boxes, the balance of probability is weighted in favour of the rejected ''skin shot'' experiment being the first of two distinct overdubs, both having been made the fulfill Sam's ambition of lending additional muscle to the record. But being unable to present an underlying, undubbed, tape we have opted to include the master originally released on Sun 281 as part of the main sequence, rather than consign it to the collection of overdubs on BCD 17254-18-1.
Debates about the origin and the precise composition of this recording may well persist for as long as people continue to listen to popular music. One conclusion is undeniable. Promethean it assuredly is, yet evidently there were several pairs of hands at work in the genesis of the master take of ''Great Balls Of Fire'', the supposition that it represents nothing more than the inspired efforts of Jerry Lee Lewis and a drummer, supplemented by ''slapback echo'', is the myth.
by Andrew McRae, October 2015
It soon becomes apparent that the female faction of the audience just can't get enough of Deke either on stage or off. Glenda capitalizes on Deke's sensual appeal by providing him with customized costumes and arranging publicity stunts. Deke is torn between the attraction he feels toward Glenda and the genuine affection he has for the band's lead singer, Susan, played by Dolores Hart in her film debut. When Deke discovers that Glenda has been manipulating him personally and professionally, he becomes confused and runs away. A wiser and more mature Deke returns just in time to perform at a major televised concert, which serves as his introduction to the big time. 'Loving You' was originally titled 'Lonesome Cowboy' and then changed to 'Running Wild'. Ed Sullivan referred to this title when Elvis made his last appearance on his show, January 6, 1957.
Production began on January 21, 1957 and was completed in early March. Finally, 'Loving You', the name of a song Leiber and Stoller wrote for Elvis for the movie, became the title.
'Loving You' premiered in Memphis on July 10, 1957 at the Strand Theater. Elvis didn't go to that showing. Instead, he took his date Anita Wood and his parents to a private midnight screening. The film opened nationally on July 30, 1957 and peaked at number 7 on the Variety National Box Office Survey.
On what was probably the same date Jerry Lee revisited ''It All Depends (Who Will Buy The Wine)'', a more commanding example which was already ''in the can'' pending its overdubbing with a vocal chorus and unveiling on his first LP. This rather inconsistent recording, unreleased until now, suffers from some of the failings that are manifest on the several takes of ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget''; it appears as though those involved couldn't quite get to grips with either song on this occasion.(*)
Around this time Jerry Lee Lewis twice romped through Ray Orbison's ''Ooby Dooby'', on the first run suggesting, some half-a-minute in, that you might ''wiggle all night'' while in the second the warning was ''you'll be jumping all night''; the reference to shaking like a rattlesnake, immediately following the solo in the first cut, didn't make it into the successor.(*)
''Why Should I Cry Over You'' recorded here by Jerry Lee Lewis was written by Zeke Clement and was an American country musician and songwriter often dressed in a Western outfit. He was known as "The Dixie Yodeler."
Clements was born on September 6, 1911 near Empire, Alabama. In 1928, his career began when he joined Otto Gray and his Oklahoma Cowboys touring show and was signed to the National Barn Dance at WLS in Chicago. In 1930, he performed on WSM Grand Ole Opry for the first time. In 1933, he became a member of the Bronco Busters, led by Texas Ruby. Zeke Clements and The Bronco Busters became members of the Opry in the 1930s. In the 1930 and 1940s, Clements appeared as a singing cowboy in several of Charles Starrett's B-Westerns. During this time, he also provided the voice of Bashful, the yodeling dwarf, in Walt Disney's ''Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'', 1937 film.
Clements formed the Western Swing Gang and returned to the Opry in 1939. His first songwriting success was with the World War II saber-rattling "Smoke On The Water" in 1944. The song was recorded by Red Foley in 1944 and became the number 1 country recording of 1945. Clements also wrote the big Eddy Arnold hits "Why Should I Cry'', "Just a Little Lovin' (Will Go a Long, Long Way)" and "Somebody's Been Beatin' My Time''. Also in 1945, he started Liberty Records in Southern California. It was later renamed Blazon Records. After a short stint on the Louisiana Hayride in the later 1940s, he appeared on several radio stations in the South. In the 1960s, he moved to Florida and joined a Dixieland band as banjo player. Zeke Clements died in Nashville, Tennessee in on June 4, 1994.
Despite having already recorded what proved to be the master, there may well have been a determination that a better version of the song might be secured using the ''clavi-chord'' sound set up, for inclusion alongside ''Mean Woman Blues'' on the planned EP (''The Great Ball Of Fire'', Sun EP 107). No fewer than ten further stabs at ''I'm Feelin' Sorry'' ensued but, at the last, Sam seems to have decided that the best of the earlier takes had the most worth after all. The results of the ''clavichord'' session reflect an understanding of the song that isn't so apparent in the first installment. Jerry Lee Lewis exhibits many frills in his playing, with more variety in the instrumental breaks and slight changes to the vocal which suggest that he's keen to find some way of distinguishing one take from the next; hesitating here, stretching a vowel there. The solos become steadily more assertive as the session progress. And yet the drumming reflects no great enthusiasm; whoever has the sticks, and it's not thought to be Jimmy Van Eaton, sleepwalks through their work here when compared to the effort made on the earlier recordings of the song. Jerry Lee himself also seems to be frustrated by tunning issues with the piano and eventually his pounding of the keys sounds almost aggressive. Despite there being no discernible use of the guitar on these ''clavichord'' takes of ''I'm Feelin' Sorry'', there is an understanding that Roland Janes was in the studio at the time. This is supported by the fact that the instrument is to be heard on the less than impressive run-through of ''Why Should I Cry Over You'', the only other title that flaunts the ''clavichord'' effect and which, it is reasonable to assume, dates from the same session.(*)
The next track "Mean Woman Blues" is a 12-bar blues song written by Claude DeMetrius. It was first recorded by Elvis Presley as part of the soundtrack for his 1957 motion picture, Loving You. Presley also released the song on Side 2 of a four-song EP record. The Elvis Presley version of "Mean Woman Blues" went to number 11 on the rhythm and blues charts.
Jerry Lee Lewis recorded a version of the song on Sun Records which was released on September 1957 as part of an EP, ''The Great Ball Of Fire'' (Sun EPA 107). Lewis also recorded his version of the song on the 1964 live album ''Live At The Star Club, Hamburg'' with The Nashville Teens. The song was also featured as the B-side to the UK release of his hit "Great Balls of Fire" (London 8529). Jerry Lee Lewis' version differed significantly lyrically from the Claude DeMetrius version as recorded by Elvis Presley. Roy Orbison's 1963 recording used the lyrics from the 1957 Jerry Lee Lewis version.
In 1959, Cliff Richard and The Shadows recorded a studio version on their Cliff Sings album. 1950s rockabilly artist Glen Glen from Los Angeles recorded a version of this song for England's Ace label which was released on the album "Everybody's Movin' Again" (Ace CDCH 403) using the same musicians from his 1950s Era records.
In 1963, the song was recorded with "Blue Bayou" as a 45rpm single by Roy Orbison that went to number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 music charts. The Roy Orbison version was based on the 1957 Jerry Lee Lewis recording. The song was recorded by The Spencer Davis Group on their album ''Autumn '66'' with Stevie Winwood on lead vocals. Jay and the Americans released a cover version of the song on their 1969 album, ''Sands of Time''. Although the song was written in the mid-1950s, many similarly titled though different songs with the same theme had emerged decades previously. These include "Jimmie's Mean Mama Blues," a Jimmie Rodgers composition covered also by Bob Wills, Moon Mullican's "Mean Mama Blues," and Ernest Tubb's "Mean Mama Blues''.
''Mean Woman Blues'' stands apart as a consummate performance, there being no outtakes or enduring evidence of any rehearsals. The other ''thumb tack'' recordings, of ''Why Should I Cry Over You'' and ''I'm Feelin' Sorry'', are looser, and far from perfect; the regrettable lack of any ''tasters'' of Lewis's definitive interpretation of ''Mean Woman Blues'' may well signify that it was recorded on a separate occasion, a few days later, with evidence of any run-throughs perhaps having been dispensed with once the surviving tape had been mastered and copies despatched to the pressing plants. Or maybe Jerry Lee simply cut it in one unsurpassable take.(*)
''Wagon Train'' make his debut , is an American Western series that ran on NBC 1957–62 and then on AMC 1962–65, although the network also aired daytime repeats, as ''Major Adams'', ''Trailmaster'' and ''Trailmaster'' (post-1961 episodes without original series lead Ward Bond), from January 1963 to September 1965. The show debuted at number 15 in the Nielsen rating, rose to number 2 in the next three seasons, and peaked at number 1 in the 1961–62 television season. After moving to ABC in the autumn of 1962, the ratings began to decline, and''Wagon Train'' did not again make the Top 20 listing.
The series initially starred veteran movie supporting actor Ward Bond as the wagon master, later replaced upon his death by John McIntire, and Robert Horton as the scout, subsequently replaced by Scott Miller and Robert Fuller.
The series was inspired by the 1950 film ''Wagon Master'' directed by John Ford and starring Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr. and Ward Bond, and harkens back to the early widescreenwagon train epic ''The Big Trail'' (1930) starring John Wayne and featuring Bond in his first major screen appearance playing a supporting role. Horton's buckskin outfitt as the scout in the first season of thetelevision series resembles Wayne's, who also played the wagon train's scout in the earlier film.
Hollywood's first weekly one-hour series filmed for television, Perry Mason is one of TV's longest-running and most successful legal series. During its first season, it received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination as Best Dramatic Series, and it became one of the five most popular shows on television. Raymond Burr received two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor, and Barbara Hale received anEmmy Award for her portrayal of Mason's secretary Della Street. ''Perry Mason'' and Burr were honored as Favorite Series and Favorite Male Performer in the first two TV Guide Award readers polls. In 1960, the series received the first Silver Gavel Award presented for television drama by the American Bar Association.
''Perry Mason'' has aired in syndication in the United States and internationally ever since its cancellation, and the complete series has been released on Region 1 DVD. A 2014 study found that Netflix users rate Raymond Burr as their favorite actor, with Barbara Hale number seven on the list.
A 1973 revival of the series with a different cast was poorly received. In 1985 the first in a successful series of 30 Perry Mason television films aired on NBC, with Burr reprising the role of Mason in 26 of them prior to his death in 1993.