Mudcat Café message #1861084 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #95596   Message #1861084
Posted By: 12-stringer
17-Oct-06 - 04:33 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Back Up and Push
Subject: RE: origin/lyrics: Back Up and Push
II don't have Tony Russell's hillbilly discography and am relying on the On-Line 78 RPM Discography for details.

It looks as if this tune comes into the hillbilly repertoire in the late 1920s.

Back Up and Push was recorded twice in mid-1929, a few days apart -- in Richmond, IN, by the Augusta Trio, a group of whom I know absolutely nothing, and then in Atlanta by the Georgia Organ Grinders, a fiddle band despite their name. Whether either featured a vocal I don't know, but the Organ Grinders have singing on every one of the 4 or 5 sides of theirs I've heard. These are the earliest recordings under this title that I can find.

Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers did it in San Antonio for Bluebird in 1934. Gid does some falsetto yaddle-daddle on it, though I don't think he's singing actual lyrics. He's hard to understand when doing falsetto. Monroe did it, also for Bluebird, in 1940, an instrumental version.

The earliest Rubber Dolly Rag I can see is recorded by Uncle Bud Landress for Victor, also in Atlanta, in Nov 1929. This is probably the same tune. It's been reissued on a BACM compilation, from the UK, of Georgia Yellow Hammers and associated groups, and also appears in Juneberry's CD collection of Old Time Music Vol 1, but I don't find any sound samples of either.

Perry Bechtel and His Boys recorded a Little Rubber Dolly in Atlanta, 1931, which was released on Columbia's popular (not the hillbilly) series. Bechtel was a virtuoso guitarist and tenor banjoist, a la Roy Smeck, though he also did some studio work on both race and hillbilly sessions in Atlanta. (The flip side of the 78 was "Liza Jane," also of hillbilly origin.)

Ella Fitzgerald and the King Sisters each released a "Wubba Dolly" in 1939, with vocals. There are 4 or 5 western swing covers of the song as well, though they seem to have been recorded so soon after it's hard to believe they had time to learn it off either of the pop 78s. (Little Rubber Dolly, aka Hot Mama Stomp, by Dick Reinhart and the Universal Cowboys actually predates the pop records, presuming it's the same song.) This suggests to me the song was getting live radio play before it was recorded, and that the western swing versions may be covers of that. The lyrics to the Fitzgerald version are more extensive than any I've heard on the country music side; I only know one verse, plus a variation of it ("Don't you tell her/I kissed a feller" and "Someone told her/I kissed a soldier"), the latter of which I learned from my mom about 50 years ago. I've played backup for a fiddle on this a few times in the 60s and 70s, and we never had any more lyrics than that.

"Creole Belle" is very close to the same tune, except that it doesn't have a B part in the MJH version. As long as I've known the latter, I've always played the B part from "Back Up and Push," as it never seemed "right" to me without a B section. I'd been playing it for a while before I figured out what it reminded me of, and that's when I realized where I'd also lifted the B part. Up till then I thought it was natural improvisation!

An orchestral version of "Creole Belles," from 1919, by the NY Military Band, is available on the UCSB cylinder preservation site. It's mostly very much like a march, with several strains. One of them is MJH's song but it doesn't have anything remotely like the B part of Back Up and Push.