Week of Crown Country Classics

Country Gospel

CLP 5344/1964

(The matrix number on the trail out vinyl shows CLP 5339 scratched out & replaced  by 5344.)

This is an LP of authentic old country gospel tracks done in a variety of styles including simple flat picking, honk tonk, vocal harmonizing and solo singers backed by electic guitars & mandolins. Not even sure if all the tracks are from the same group. Most amazing is that there are SEVEN tracks per side, nearly twice as many tracks than on most other Crown records in existence.

These cuts were originally released in 1961 on the obscure Rural Rhythm label based in Arcadia, CA. The first two tunes on the LP were released on a RR 45 listing Jackie McGowan on guitar. Much more info can be found at this website including the following information about the label and its owner:

“Uncle Jim O’Neal sold his Rural Rhythm records by mail order, not in record shops etc. Many came as advance release with a generic white front sleeve with (or without) a stamped serial number in upper right corner and Rural Rhythm Records advertising on reverse side (in some cases on both sides). Albums released with a “normal” front sleeve design also had advertising on reverse side – no liner notes (with a few exceptions in later years). Uncle Jim’s mail order also included records from several budget labels – mainly from Crown Records.”

Even more amazing is that the label is still in existence and is continuing to release bluegrass music.  Here is info from their youtube channel:

“With over 50 years in business, Rural Rhythm Records has built a catalog that connects many dots from past to present. Since its 1955 creation, Rural Rhythm has released hundreds of classic performances by many legendary bluegrass and old-time musicians such as J.E. Mainer, Don Reno, Red Smiley, Mac Wiseman, Vassar Clements, Hylo Brown, Bill Harrell, Jim Eanes, and many others. The label owes its Arcadia, California start to Uncle Jim O’Neal whose vision was to release the music of many top bluegrass and old-time musicians in the 1950-70s, seeking success where Starday had failed by producing records of limited appeal by lesser known, albeit talented, musicians.”


CLP 5330/1963

C&W Jamboree features more cuts leased from the Sage & Sand label based in Hollywood. Cuts include two different Johnny Cash imitators, rockabilly, early rock & cornball country western. Here’s a discography plus more info here. Another decent Crown LP of obscure classic roots music.


CLP 5565/1968

Leave it up to Crown to find the less famous brother of a star.  Here we have the younger brother of Bob Wills who stayed back home in Tulsa when Bob moved to Hollywood. These cuts were recorded in Dallas, TX in 1962.  You can find a list of personal & more info at this discography; most likely this Crown material was leased & not recorded by the Biharis. Johnnie’s band here has a more jazzy, R&B and rock sound than Bob’s triple fiddle approach.  Good LP worth playing loud.


CLP 5186/1960

BSN discography for CLP 5186 shows this LP with a Fazzio cover portrait of Hank Williams. Here’s a good site that explains budget record rip offs of Hank Williams including this Crown LP and two others which were all the work of Curley Williams (real first name was Dock), no relation to Hank.  However, Curley Williams actually wrote the Hank hit Half As Much. Though the song is credited to Curley, most people assumed Hank wrote it.

Curly may have written Half As Much but on this LP he’s just another crappy Hank imitator.  Not worth your time.


CLP 5241/1961

More great leased material from Hollywood based Sage & Sound label. There’s a hodgepodge of styles on this LP, from rockabilly, early rock, weepy C&W and two instros. As with the other Crown volumes in this series, it’s worth having plus a bargain with 6 cuts per side.  See Jamboree listing above for more info about the Sage & Sand label that Crown mined for many of their early budget C&W LPs.


CST 549/1967

The only reference I could find about the Mountainairs is a review of this LP found on another music blog: “What we have here is some tunes based solidly in old-time music. Style wise, the music is sort of an in-between performance style. They are sort of a mix of old-time, folk, skiffle, hootenanny etc. style is about the best way I can describe them. Anyhow… give it a listen as it`s still a pretty good LP. Enjoy!”  Yeah, well, upon listening I’d say these are quickie recordings of thin-sounding folkie groups playing around Los Angeles in the 1960s, not authentic mountain music. Most are common folk tunes including Ol’ Blue and a fake version of John Henry titled John Hardy. My only positive comment is that it’s recorded in true two-track stereo.

riders PurpleSage

CST 306/1963

Noted in BSN discography, this LP was issued with two different covers.  The cover above is the first issue.

Foy Willing was an authentic western musician who founded the group The Riders of the Purple Sage. He and the band recorded many classics and appeared in old singing cowboy movies with & without Roy Rogers, Gene Autry & others.  Some critics accuse The Riders of ripping off The Sons of the Pioneers but others point out that release dates prove the opposite. Whatever the case, this LP is good listening if you enjoy the singing cowboy style of western music (which I don’t).

This LP offers insight into the Jules Bihari* budget record business approach.  Bihari was attacking the budget record business from all sides to create a large and varied catalog of music to sell at 99 cents: reisssuing in countless different ways the original Bihari catalog, recording new mostly copy-cat music with Maxwell Davis & Jerry Cole, licensing music from many different sources including small regional labels from across the country. In this last case, Jules is using his knowledge of the regional indie recording business to find defunct or surviving regional studios and labels from which to license a variety of music. He’s even licensing orchestra & ethnic music from around the world, slapping on the rainbow Crown label to stock Mom & Pop stores across the country. These are budget records that sold for 99 cents back then and continue to sell for 99 cents today in thrift stories and vinyl budget record bins. Crazy but true.

Let’s close out with the opening of one of those Riders of the Purple Sage movies.  If you enjoy there’s plenty where this one came from:

*I’m making the assumption that Jules was the brother behind the Crown Records budget LP business but it’s an assumption based on several important interviews with former employees.  By the time Bihari record business threw all their weight behind the Crown budget label,  Saul was dead, Lester was paid off & ostracized, Joe was losing interest & involved in other businesses, and the sisters had either moved on or were satisfied with their clerk & accounting jobs within the company. From what everyone has told me, Jules ran the business side, leaving much of the new recording at the Normandie studio to Cole, Davis & Lazerus.

3 thoughts on “Week of Crown Country Classics

  1. The tracks on the JOHNNIE LEE WILLS albums was recorded for and released by Sims Records; Sims LP/LPS-101 (1962) “WHERE THERE’S A… WILLS …THERE’S A WAY”
    Sims LP/LPS-108 (1963) “AT THE TULSA STAMPEDE”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s