One of the more jovial characters to come out of the Depression-era cowboy scene, Johnny Bond by the 1960s Bond was cranking out by-the-numbers novelty-oriented albums on the Starday label that emphasized a good-natured drunkard role, similar to Moe Bandy's persona in the late '70s... Bond's never totally blown me away, but I'm still working on it. Here's a quick look at his work...
Johnny Bond "...And His Red River Boys" (ASV, 2001)
This is probably the best general-purpose introduction to Bond's work, with songs from early in his career, recorded between 1945-50. There's a lot of overlap with other West Coast "western" and western swing stars of the time, songs like "Divorce Me C.O.D.," "So round, So Firm, So Fully Packed," "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette" and others that Merle Travis, Tex Williams and many of their contemporaries recorded over and over. Bond's versions are nice, as are the recordings of his own original material, such as "Cimmaron," "Set 'Em Up, Joe" and hits like "Oklahoma Waltz" and "Love Song In 32 Bars." Several songs on here feature harmony vocals from Dick Reinhardt, who sang with Bond in the Jimmy Wakely Trio -- session players include steel guitarists Noel Boggs and Joaquin Murphy, as well as harmonicat Jerry Adler... It's a shame that Bond's later work on the Starday label seems to be stuck in limbo somewhere... It'd be nice to see ASV or Bear Family put out a companion disc that included that material as well...
Johnny Bond "The Heart And Soul Of The West" (Jasmine, 2000)
Johnny Bond "I Like My Chicken Fryin' Size" (Jasmine, 2003)
Johnny Bond "The Golden Age Of Johnny Bond" (Binge Disc/Cattle Records)
Johnny Bond "The Fabulous Johnny Bond" (Binge Disc/Cattle Records)
Johnny Bond "Alabama Boogie Boy" (Binge Disc/Cattle Records)
Johnny Bond "Country & Western: Johnny Bond Standard Transcriptions" (Bloodshot/Soundies, 2000)
Outstanding! Bond may have spent the last few years of his chartmaking days kind of going through the motions, but back when these 1940s tracks were recorded, he was still giving it his all. These hot sessions included plenty of swell jazzy-bluesy licks, along with all the chugga-chugga country accordion stuff. These 1944-45 radio transcriptions highlighted his "western" image -- with peppy versions of chestnuts like "Goodbye Old Paint," "Red River Valley" and "Birmingham Jail," along with plenty of tailormaid Hollywood cowboy tunes, of the Sons Of The Pioneers variety. It's great stuff. One of the strongest discs in Bloodshot's fab "Soundies" series, this disc is a doozie.
Johnny Bond "Put Me To Bed" (Bear Family, 2007)
A cowboy singer, honkytonk stalwart and veteran novelty artist, Johnny Bond is one of those old-time country guys who was just around forever... He did some pretty rootsy, bluesy stuff in the 1940s, but by the '60s he was coasting on a few hits and recorded numerous indifferently produced tunes for Starday and other indie labels. There are a lot of Johnny Bond records out there, and a lot of best-of sets, but this is surely one of the strongest, with choice, vintage material and the great sound quality and scholarship that is the Bear Family trademark. (Part of Bear Family's rollicking "Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight" series, which opts for slam-bang single-disc sets in favor of their old, mega-box set approach.)
Johnny Bond "The Clouds Will Soon Roll By" (BACM, 2005)
(Available through the British Archive of Country Music website.)
Johnny Bond "Truckstop Comedy" (King, 1996)
A chintzy, 8-song sampler of Bond's work on Starday Records. You get "Ten Little Bottles" and "Sick, Sober & Sorry," but not much else. Kind of a shame, really.
Johnny Bond "That Wild, Wicked, But Wonderful West" (Starday, 1961)
A straight reissue of one of Bond's old LPs, made when "historical" songs and western-themed tunes, ala Marty Robbins and Johnny Horton, were all the rage. It's okay, but not as much fun as his dopey drinkin' tunes or old western swing-flavored cowboy songs.
Johnny Bond "The Home Recordings" (Varese Sarabande, 2001)
Informal, noncommercial recordings, made in the mid-1970s, when Bond's hitmaking years were a thing of the past. Not Bond's best work, but charmingly sincere and nonchalant, and nice for fans who'd like to hear him kicking back in his twilight years.
Johnny Bond "At Town Hall Party" (DVD) (Bear Family, 2005)
Johnny Bond "Put Me To Bed (Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight)" (Bear Family, 2007)
Hick Music Index