Some of the most sought after honky-tonk and rockabilly recordings of the 1950s were cut in garages around Memphis. Truck driver Slim Wallace started Fernwood Records in this garage before moving to Main Street. Slim Wallace put up most of the 450 dollars they needed to buy an old Magnecord tape deck from disc jockey Sleepy Eyed John, and Jack Clement built himself a studio in the garage.

Billy Riley is known as a multi-talented session musician and vocalist. He is a virtual chameleon in the studio, recording in a variety of voices and styles. In many ways (and against formidable competition), this first record is his best. "Trouble Bound", recorded at Fernwood, so impressed Sam Phillips that he imported it, turning Riley loose in the Sun studio to produce a worthy flipside. That he did.




According to Roland Janes, once Sam Phillips decided to release ''Rock With Me Baby'', he wanted a flipside that came closer to the rock music that was selling around Memphis at the time. Putting the tapes for ''Think Bare You Go'' aside, he turned Jack Clement loose in the studio at 706 Union Avenue to come up with a second recording. The result was this classic side.

Good luck finding a category for this music. Country? Blues? Rockabilly? It's hybrid music at us finest. The beat is incessant. The sound is bluest' The vocal is vaguely country. Just when you think you've got the arrangement figured out, it does something to confound you. The vocal is backed by a driving shuffle beat, courtesy of drummer Johnny Bernero. But don't get too comfortable with it. All of a sudden, it turns into a hard 4/4 backbeat during the instrumental solos.

And the guitar fills around Riley's vocal are also hard to pin down. Everything is bluesy enough so you'd expect some flatted 7s chords (flatted 7s are the heart of the blues.

You may not know them by name, but you'd recognize them in a heartbeat). Instead the fills consist largely of 6s, which don't sound very bluely, and undercut some of the tension in the song. Listen for them, for example, after lines like ''Drinkin'wine together... "or Laughin' and havingfun...''.

01(1) - "TROUBLE BOUND" - B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: - Billy Riley-Roland Wallace-Jack Clement
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 10 - Master
Recorded: - Early 1956
Released: - May 1956
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 245-A mono
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-2-9 mono

This track features Riley on that prominently miked rhythm guitar, with Roland Janes on lead guitar. We've found three alternates and a false start. They're not massively different, but if you listen closely, you'll hear the differences. They show up in the singing and playing. There's always the possibility in situations like these that you'll hear an alt take and think, "Why wasn't that one released? I like it better" There seems little chance of that happening here.

01(2) - "TROUBLE BOUND" - B.M.I. - 2:46
Composer: - Billy Riley-Roland Wallace-Jack Clement
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-1-8 mono

01(3) - "TROUBLE BOUND" - B.M.I. - 2:47
Composer: - Billy Riley-Roland Wallace-Jack Clement
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-1-9 mono

01(5) - "TROUBLE BOUND" - B.M.I. - 3:07
Composer: - Billy Riley-Roland Wallace-Jack Clement
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Early 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17122-1-10/11 mono

02 - "INTERVIEW BILLY RILEY" - B.M.I. - 0:50
Released: - 2002
First appearance: - Sanctuary Records (CD) 500/200rpm FBUBX002-8-3 mono
50 GOLDEN YEARS 1952 - 2002

It was quite an event when Billy Riley performed his inaugural British concerts in June 1979. We conferred about the route he'd taken to Sun Records just prior to his shows, and he quite clearly shared the same air of anticipation as the crowds who turned out en force to see him strut his stuff. Anointed with an abundance of musical talent, a striking profile and an ability to generate an optimum response, Billy kept this foundational piece of moodiness in his live set for several years.

"Trouble Bound" is a brooding, acoustic guitar-led blues, with the trademark Johnny Bernero shuffle beat. In fact, it is Bernero's understated drumming, shifting in and out of the shuffle following the guitar break, that elevates this record to brilliance.
Jack Clement was engineering and, as told Martin Hawkins, "Riley was doing country but he was one of these rockabilly types - he had a beat, Fernwood had a tape recorder but no real studio then so we rented time at WMPS studio and cut the masters there. We were going to make it (the Riley record) the first record on Fernwood but I took it to Sam Phillips on the off chance and he called me one day, said he liked it and we worked out a lease deal".

Composer: - Jack Clement
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Tape Lost
Recorded: - Early 1956

Jack Clement taking the countryish "Think Before You Go" and the bluesy "Trouble Bound" to Sam Phillips the next day, with Phillips rejecting the country side and suggesting that they replace it with a rocker.

"Sam said, 'Cut something rockabilly", remembers Riley, "and I went and wrote that real quick". However, Roland Janes has insisted that "Trouble Bound" was cut at Sun as the replacement for "Think Before You Go" and Clement has stated that both sides were recorded at WMPS with just himself and Riley using overdubs.

The evidence afforded by the tape boxes would seem to suggest that Billy Riley is correct. "Trouble Bound" was recorded on cheap tape (Phillips used pro quality Scotch Audiotape) over the top of Jack Clement's original demo of "I'm Feeling Sorry", suggesting that it was cut at Fernwood. The sessions were assuredly not cut using overdubs as Clement suggested otherwise the tape hiss would be overpowered.
After working on the songs Jack Clement needed somewhere to have his tapes mastered for transfer to disc. On the advice of Bill Fitzgerald at Music Sales Distributors, Jack Clement went to Sun Records. Sam Phillips heard Clement's tape of Billy Riley singing "Trouble Bound" and offered both Jack Clement and Billy Riley a job.

Jack Clement's only remaining interest in Fernwood was to use Sun's facilities to make masters, and to add the echo to the number one hit "Tragedy" by Thomas Wayne. This had been recorded at Hi Records since the garage studio was still incomplete. "Sam Phillips always wondered how they got that echo", says Clement with a grin, "but I figured it didn't take but a few minutes so why should I tell him".
On the old question of whether Sam Phillips really controlled the development of the Sun sound, whether he was "the man" or just lucky. Jack Clement is in no doubt. "All of Sam's early success was entirely Sam's. Elvis, Carl, Cash. My work was with developing Cash's sound, and with Bill Justis and Charlie Rich. I was into making things musical.

Sam was not, but he understood one thing that I didn't at that time. He understood feel in music. I was interest in machines and the way recordings could be made better. Sam liked empty, hollow, tubby sounds, but he knew a thing or two I didn't. He let me do what I liked, but he retained ultimate control of what was issued".

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Billy Riley - Vocal and Acoustic Guitar
Roland Janes - Lead Guitar
Roland "Slim" Wallace - Bass
Johnny Bernero - Drums
Bob Deckelman - Steel Guitar

The master were either sold or leased to Sun Records in April 1956 and released in May. Although he is credited as sole composer, Riley's share was only 50% (Clement and Wallace split the remaining 50%). Riley and Clement had conceived of "Trouble Bound" as the A-side but with the Memphis area starting to rock like crazy, Sam Phillips had other ideas.


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