Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant – There’s Gonna Be A Party…

There's Gonna Be A Party...

Longtime readers of this column know how much I love Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant. Through the years I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing/profiling Speedy (Feb. ’94) and “SPOTLIGHTlighting” Jimmy (Dec. ’94) and Speedy (June ’95). In the late ’40s and early/mid ’50s, Speedy was a regular (and featured) member of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s band.

There’s Gonna Be A Party… features 29 tracks (and one brief comedy segment) recorded for radio broadcast in the ’50s as part of Ernie Ford’s radio show. Speedy is joined by some great players including Harold Hensley (fiddle), Billy Liebert (piano/accordion), Billy Strange (guitar) and George Bruns (bass). The rapport between Ernie, Speedy, and the rest of the band is genuine and delightful! While some of this material has been reissued on vinyl and CDs, there are several performances I’ve never heard before.

Speedy is best known for astounding uptempo numbers, but he is more than demonstrates his versatility on slower tempo numbers like “Indian Love Call,” “Honolulu” and “I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You).” Some favorite West numbers include “Snow Deer” (cookin’ western swing with outstanding solos from Hensley, Speedy & Liebert), “Speedin’ West” (Speedy’s signature tune), “Texas Playboy Rag” (great touch and tone), “Hop, Skip, And Jump” (too-hip head).

The Speedy numbers alone make this one mandatory for West/Bryant fans, but the fun really shifts into high gear when Jimmy Bryant sits in. Jimmy plays a cool/’out’ version of “Limehouse Blues” and gets in a close harmony twin-fiddle workout with Harold Hensley on “Arkansas Traveler.” Of particular note for West/Bryant fans are different arrangements/performances of better known Speedy/Jimmy cuts including “Whistle Stop” (a completely different intro gives way to the familiar head and “After Hours” bridge), “T-Bone Rag” (steel, guitar, and fiddle in close harmony with Liebert’s piano in the background), “Two Of A Kind” (with Jimmy’s too-cool “Comin’ On” ending) and “Country Capers” (a real toe tappin’ version with a swingin’ country-jazz solo from Jimmy). There’s also a fairly straight version of “Sleep Walker’s Lullaby” (which Jimmy and Speedy released on Capitol single F3150 in 1955). Highly Recommended!

This article originally appeared in VG‘s March ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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