1990 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15340 mono
ROLAND JANES - GUITARVILLE
Produced by Roland Janes
Re-Issue Produced by Colin Escott
Digital Transfer by Colin Escott
Mastered by Bob Jones and Jorg Siemer
Photos: Roland Janes and Henk van Raay
Color Tinting by Luxa-Color
Licensed from Roland Janes
Roland Janes has been a shadowy figure, not least because his gifts as a producer, engineer and supremely
adaptable studio musician outrank his gift for self promotion. Virtually anyone who knows anything about 1950s rock music knows the solo that Roland conceived, executed and forgot in less than a minute on ''Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On''. Almost as many know
the delightful little solo he took in the middle of ''Raunchy'' and the interplay with Jerry Lee Lewis on ''High School Confidential''. And then there was his pre-psychedelic intro to Billy Riley's ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll'' which a multitude of garage
bands have sought to emulate.
Roland also played on Harold Dorman's 1960 smash ''Mountain Of Love'', recorded for a label that he co-owned. As a producer, Roland was
responsible for Travis Wammack's ''Scratchy'', Matt Lucas's ''I'm Moving On'' and Jerry Jaye's ''Hello Josephine'', which were among the best records to emerge from Memphis in the transitional period of the early 1960s.
Roland was born on August 20, 1933, the second youngest in a family of seven. His family lived in north east Arkansas where his father was a lumberman whose work kept the family on the move during the Depression.
When Roland was ten, his parents divorced and his mother moved to St. Louis, eventually bringing her children with her. Roland's father was an amateur picker and his cousins, Lloyd and Lonnie Snider, worked in a semi-pro band in Corning, Arkansas. Roland's
rust instrument was the mandolin although he had taken up the guitar by the time he enlisted in the Marines in 1953. He had also moved to Memphis shortly before he entered the service and he returned there after his discharge in 1956. He went to school under
the GI Bill and worked briefly as a laundryman and even more briefly in a paint factory before finding his niche in music.
Shortly after returning to Memphis, Roland
saw a want ad placed in the local paper by Doc McQueen, a pianist who ran a small demo studio from his home. He was looking for a picker. Through McQueen, Roland met steel guitarist, Kenneth Herman who in turn introduced him to Jack Clement. At that time,
Clement and a local truck-driver, Slim Wallace, were on the point of launching the Fernwood studio and label from Wallace's garage. Their first artist was to be Billy Riley, also from north east Arkansas, who was working up ''Trouble Bound'' and ''Think Before
You Go'' for the debut Fernwood single. Clement took the two cuts to Sam Phillips at Sun for mastering. Phillips liked what he heard and Riley's first efforts were parlayed into an engineering job at Sun for Clement, a contract for Riley and steady work for
his backing group as session-men.
Riley's group soon became one of the hottest working bands in the mid-South. In late 1956 they were looking for material for their second
Sun single and Roland remembered some demos he had heard by a local musician, Ray Scott. One of them was a novelty number called ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll''. Phillips thought it might click and the group worked up an arrangement featuring Roland's piercing
intro, Riley's rasping vocal and a thunderous rhythm track led by Jerry Lee Lewis. It stands as a working definition of rockabilly music; much emulated - rarely bettered. The song also gave Phillips the impetus to name Riley's group the Little Green Men.
Roland and the Green Men's underage drummer, Jimmy M. Van Eaton, played on Jerry Lee Lewis's first sessions. In 1957 Roland quit Riley to work on the road with Lewis. A subsequent dispute
with Lewis led to a short spell with Bill Justis, riding the crest of the wave that began and ended with ''Raunchy''. Roland then returned to work with Lewis shortly before the singer embarked on his ill-fated tour of England in May 1958. They continued to
work together until 1959 when Roland returned to Riley's group. By that point he had begun to question whether he wanted to spend thereat of his days playing on the road and in the studio. He and Riley came up with an idea that would enable them to move into
"When Sam (Phillips) put in the new studio on Madison Avenue'', recalled Roland, "Bill and I went to Sam and asked him to let us retain the old studio and
record there with the product going to Sun. However, we never actually resolved the question and just drifted into doing our own thing''.
By that point Roland and Riley
had already made one or two gestures in that direction. They leased an instrumental version of ''Fireball Mail'' to Jarofrop Rank via Bill Justis. it had been recorded under the pseudonym of the Spitfires to sidestep Riley's contractual obligation to Sun.
Before that, Roland had cut an instrumental single that coupled ''Patriotic Guitar'' with the menacing ''Guitarville''. The single was originally conceived at Sun during the time that Roland was working for Jerry Lee Lewis. By this point, Jud Phillips had
resurfaced to take over Lewis's management after the fiasco in England and he went on to form his own Judd label after a falling-out with Sam. There was some ill feeling between Sam and Roland over the single because it had originally been cut at Sun and Sam
had refused to free up the tape. However, the record was not successful enough to cause lasting friction. It showed up on some local charts and bubbled under the Hot 100 but failed to break through. The remainder or the tapes from 1959 catch the group in a
forceful groove. ''Rolando'' was laid down in three takes. The faster first version and the bluesier second version have included here. ''Patriotic Guitar'' was edited and overdubbed for release. We have included the version that was edited down for single
release but we have omitted the flutes that were later overdubbed. We have also
included an earlier version in which the first theme (From The Halls Of Montezuma) is restated at the outro. ''Guitarville''
is also featured in two versions; the unissued take features Marty Willis's sax more prominently in the arrangement.
After failing to strike deal with Sam Phillips, Roland
and Billy Riley went on to form Rita Records in partnership with an accountant, Ira Lyn Vaughn, in 1959. They saw their first and last hit in the new year when ''Mountain Of Love'' crashed into the fifteen records. Of the fifteen records on Rita only two were
by Riley (See Billy Riley & The Little Green Men'' BFX 15272) and one by was Roland (Down Yonder/Beautiful Dreamer Rita 1007). ''Down Yonder'' was cut at the same time that Johnny & The Hurricanes had a hit with the song. Both songs were listed in
Billboard Honor of Rock And Hits but there was little question which was the better seller. However, neither side of the single featured Roland's guitar in anything other than rhythm role so we have omitted them here. However, we have included a version of
''Red Sails In The Sunset'' arranged in Johnny & The Hurricanes style but featuring a beautifully executed solo from Roland that redeems the cut
''I leased the building,
had it partially completed and then ran out of funds. It just sad there a good while before I got together enough money put in the the rest of the equipment. I Looked at some other studios and saw they were supposed look like and how the technical end was
handled. We had a big room, 30 x 60 feet, with a soft metal ceiling and we hung burlap bugs there to trap the bass sound. We got a good clear sound out of that studio some experimentation''. Roland gradually evolved his production philosophy based partly on
what he had learned from Sam Phillips. "Sam taught me not to hold back. Just do it and have a good time doing it. Don't get hung up on little minor mistakes. If it feels good that with come through on the tape''.
Roland insists that owning his studio was a backward step in terms of recording himself. "Every musician wants his own studio and it is the worst thing that can happen to you. You think you can finally please yourself but you
end up trying to release everyone else just to keep the place of-load. We also thought of ourselves as background musicians and never thought a lot about being featured artists. Even so, we always intended to record more but always put it off''. As a result,
very little was heard from Roland during the 1960s. Most of his tapes were unissued and experimental in nature. This album collects together some of the recordings he made with the bands he assembled and tries to show the different facets of his personality.
''It's No Sin'', for example, shows Roland's debt to Les Paul with its multi-layered approach and delicate turn of phrase. Unfortunately, multiple overdubs in the days before multi-track
meant over-powering tape hiss but we felt that this was such a beautiful performance that it warranted inclusion. ''Sincerely Yours''and ''My Kind Of People'' also show Roland's lyrical side and the virtues of simple, clean picking that Roland learned from
Grady Martin and Les Paul. Finally, ''Don't Push Me Around'' and ''The Story Of My Downfall'' show Roland in the unusual role of vocalist, Unfortunately, we could not trace Roland's original demo of ''Put Me Down'' that he wrote for Jerry Lee Lewis.
Little has been heard from the period of Memphis music covered in this album. Roland feels that "We were in a transition period. We were coming out of the rockabilly thing into something
with a heavier beat and in some ways more The music we cut was real transition music. It had a little rockabilly, a little soul and so on''. Roland epitomised the changing musical values in his adopted hometown. He also epitomised the flair for experimentation
that made Memphis music such vital force for so many years. This album gives us a chance to take a closer look at Roland Janes, a man who has always worked behind the scenes. It allows us to see the ways in which he and the musicians he gathered around him
responded to the changing times.
- Colin Escott, Toronto, May 1988
Side 1 Contains
1 - Guitarville (1959) Judd 1012
2 - Patriotic Guitar (1959) Judd 1012
- Rolando (2) (1988) (Previously Unissued)
4 - Roland's Groove (1988) Previously Unissued
5 - Guitarville (1988) (Previously Unissued)
6 - Patriotic Guitar (1988) (Previously Unissued)
7 - Rolando (1) (1987) Sunbox 106
8 - Red Sails
In The Sunset (1988) Previously Unissued
1-7 Recorded February/March 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Roland Janes (guitar), Brad Suggs (guitar), Billy Riley or Pat O'Neil (bass), Jimmy M. Van Eaton or
Billy Weis (drums), Jimmy Wilson or Tommy Bennett (piano), Martin Willis (saxophone)
8 - Recorded Probably 1959/1960 at Hi/Royal Studio, Memphis, Tennessee
Side 2 Contains
1 - Impact (1988) Previously Unissued
2 - Sincerely Yours (1988) Previously Unissued
3 - Roland
Slidin' Hone (1988) Previously Unissued
4 - My Kind Of People (1988) Previously Unissued
5 - The Story Of My Downfall (1988) Previously Unissued
6 - Don't Push Me Around (1988) Previously Unissued
7 - It's No Sin (1988) Previously Unissued
1, 3, 4, 5, 7 - Recorded 1960s at Sonic Studio, Memphis, Tennessee
2 - Recorded 1961 at Fernwood Studio, Memphis, Tennessee
- Recorded 1965/1966 at at Sonic Studio, Memphis, Tennessee
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