Missing: 1971 Bob Wills album, Tiffany Transcriptions

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I've been reading San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills, Charles R. Townsend's definitive biography. At the back of the book is what looks to be a comprehensive discography -- every studio recording Bob Wills ever made, including a couple he cut in 1929 with Herman Arnspiger on guitar (the duo billed as the Wills Fiddle Band), a couple more in 1932 with the Light Crust Doughboys, and his post-Texas Playboys work in the late '60s on Kapp Records.

The final entry is, of course, For the Last Time, the double reunion album recorded in Dallas in December 1973. But right before that was a tantalizing entry about a September 1971 recording session for Capitol Records at Merle Haggard's home in Bakersfield, Calif. Twenty tracks were recorded, but never issued. It was an all-star lineup: Eldon Shamblin, Tiny Moore, Leon McAuliffe, Joe Holley, Johnnie Lee Wills, Luke Wills, Al Stricklin, Johnny Gimble, Alex Brashear, Smokey Dacus, and Glynn Duncan, there in place of his late brother Tommy Duncan. Merle Haggard played fiddle, and he sang "Misery." Bob Wills couldn't play the fiddle -- a stroke had left his bow hand paralyzed -- but he could still lead the band.

So where is this missing album?

It finally has been released, but it's not an easy thing to come by. It's only available as Disc 13 of Faded Love, Bear Family Records' massive 13 CD + 1 DVD box set, a comprehensive collection of Bob Wills recordings from 1947 to 1973. The price of the set is a mere $360. (1932-1947 are covered by San Antonio Rose, an 11 disc + 1 DVD box set that sells for $316.49 on Amazon.)

It would be exciting to hear more tracks from this great ensemble captured with modern recording techniques.

I learned about this on the website of an Australian record store. The same page quotes Bob Pinson, the definitive discographer of Bob Wills, as saying that Bear Family was likely to issue a box set of all the Tiffany Transcriptions, not just the 10 albums' worth of material that were released by Kaleidoscope on LP and by Rhino on CD. (And several of the CDs are now out of production.)

The Tiffany material isn't included in either of the two Bear Family box sets that have been released, as it was recorded for distribution to radio stations, not for commercial sale. I can't get enough of the Tiffany sound -- the freer feel to the music, the unique take on pop standards, Junior Barnard's amazing guitar solos, and the jazzy trios of Tiny Moore on mandolin, Eldon Shamblin on standard guitar, and Herb Remington on steel guitar. I'd love to hear even more. One estimate says the complete Tiffany Transcriptions, including tracks that were never released to radio stations, would fill 18-20 CDs.

(This review of Merle Haggard's A Tribute To The Best Damn Fiddle Player In The World mentions the 1971 Bakersfield session in passing.)

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4 Comments

W. Author Profile Page said:

It's a mighty good book, isn't it?

Another thing I'd live to hear is that limited-edition vinyl record that Wills and the Playboys cut at the Southern Hills Country Club that was auctioned to help raise money for war bonds, I believe.

(I don't have a copy of the book in front of me, so please interject or add if my memory is faulty about this.)

I have no idea whether such an LP still exists, but I'd sure love to hear it. Old Bob Wills material keeps trickling out; maybe this one will surface.

pete said:

I hate to say it, but I emailed Bear Family records several weeks ago to ask about the Tiffany Transcriptions, and the answer I got back was that there are no plans to release them at this time.

richard torrez said:

hi my wifes father was a steal guitarist about 65 name william charles schlotter. he passed away in 2000 but he had a box of tapes of bob wills. sent to him from john moen. the box set is called the bob wills story a comprehensive discography. it has 69 tiffany transcriptions. john moen said that william had the first box set with the most songs. but cant find anything on the box set. can you help. thankyou richard funkytowntexas23@yahoo.om

Hello. I have made a page of the "lost" Bob Wills album on my Merle Haggard Discography page. Please email with any questions. Sound_Man73@Hotmail.com

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 6, 2007 10:04 PM.

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