Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant
February 18, 2013 1:06 PM   Subscribe

Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant recorded together during the first half of the 1950s. Listen to Speedy on the pedal steel and Jimmy on the Fender telecaster on the Hometown Jamboree playing Flying High.

They recorded together during the first half of the 1950s, having a great deal of fun at high speed and making some damn enjoyable music. A compilation of their work entitled Stratosphere Boogie was released in the mid 90s and includes great tracks including:
Old Joe Clark

Stratosphere Boogie

Arkansas Traveler

Bryant's Bounce

and Blue Bonnet Rag among others.

A compilation (courtesy of a youtube user), Swinging on the Strings.

Jimmy Bryant was also known as one of the early adopters of the electric guitar after Leo Fender showed up at a nightclub in 1950 and handed him a Broadcaster.
posted by sciencegeek (6 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
For those interested in manufacturers, the steel Speedy played was a Bigsby (who mainly made custom electrics and who's name remains famous on the tremolo found on many Gretsch guitars)

Speedy later worked for Fender in OK promoting their Fender 1000 line.

(culled some of this from my cousin's newsletter as he runs steel guitar nashville, but I'm not a player)
posted by nutate at 1:58 PM on February 18, 2013

Ya got me to pull up my mp3 rips of "Travellin' from Georgia to West of Samoa". The guitar bird-noises on "West of Samoa have both my wife and my dog looking at me sideways.
posted by notsnot at 3:57 PM on February 18, 2013

speedy on steel guitar rag

rem wall and the green valley boys had this song - but not speedy - as their theme on wkzo's green valley jamboree in kalamazoo - right before ted mack's amateur hour in the 60s

this was way before country got all plastic and phony ...

my dad used to have this 78 - ocean of tears - tennessee ernie ford and kay starr - with speedy west and jimmy bryant
posted by pyramid termite at 7:05 PM on February 18, 2013

Damn, I love these guys. Kudos, sciencegeek, for the post.

Not mentioned, but what I believe to be the epitome of ensemble playing: T-Bone Rag. The drummer is a very clever individual, and I'd love to have had a beer with him, and Bryant shines in a way that shows he is an ardent student of Django Reinhardt.
posted by jet_silver at 8:37 PM on February 18, 2013

nutate: "the steel Speedy played was a Bigsby..."

Which is another way of demonstrating what a complete badass Speedy was. While a 50s Tele is pretty much the same as a modern guitar in terms of playability and ergonomics, pedal steels are *incredibly* mechanically complex.

The Fender steel that you mention is a notorious pain in the ass for the system of cables used to shift the tuning of the strings on the fly. Saner steels use metal rods for that particular trick.

Bigsby steels just never really worked that well on account of the mechanics of the instrument being in their infancy and not really well sorted out.

For reference, here's the undercarriage of a modern pedal steel. Each one of those linkages is very much part of how to play the instrument and if they don't work the player is missing part of their repertoire. Compared to a modern pedal steel, Speedy was playing a crippled instrument. Not entirely unlike Django Reinhardt losing the use of two fingers on his left hand and still managing to shred the everloving bejesus out of his guitar.

On preview: Django djinx!
posted by stet at 8:52 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was introduced to Jimmy Bryant through their great appearance in the the MST3k classic, The Skydivers, where they get a few live performances (back to back performances in both Regular and MST3k versions). Been digging them ever since. Good times.
posted by chambers at 10:38 PM on February 18, 2013

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