took me more time to
find the rarity pictured below than to find the Artist himself !! I met legendary
piano player & singer Merrill Moore at his house in San Diego, California,
in August 1987 - but I had to wait until 1993 to finally find a copy of his
one and only Capitol EP (EAP 1-608 ; green label) in Cincinnati, Ohio ! Released in 1955,
it combined tracks from 1953 ('The House Of Blue Lights', 'Red Light' &
a harder version of 'Nola', different from the one appearing on single F-2796)
and 1955 ('Cow Cow Boogie').
This killer disc is a must for anybody who digs 'Boogie Woogie, Country Style'.
Merrill was never quite satisfied with his Capitol recordings, but they still sound as terrific as ever and represent the true link between the hillbilly boogie piano playing of the late Moon Mullican and the driving rock'n'roll sound of Jerry Lee Lewis.
Despite tracks such as George Stogner's 'Hard Top Race' (Capitol F 3226), 'Down The Road Apiece' (Capitol F 3311), Johnny Bond's 'Barrell House Bessie' (Capitol F 3721) or his amazing cover of Julia Lee's 'Gotta Gimme What'Cha Got' (Capitol F 3563) - the latter three featuring tremendous backing by Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant -, it would be a mistake to call him a Rocker. He was a Country artist at heart, very much in the Western Swing tradition. But those guys knew how to 'make it shake' !!
His career has
been brilliantly documented by Cary Ginell, who wrote the liner notes to the
double CD put out in 1990 by Bear Family Records (BCD 15505 - the only flaw
being the inversion of the two versions of 'Nola'). Merrill reworked many standards
for Capitol, a lot of them coming from 1958 sessions which remained in the can
until the aforementioned release.
When I met him at his house in '87 (see photos below), he was in high spirits (as he always seemed to be), answered my questions in a very friendly manner and played me some great stuff at the grand piano. Paul Carrack, the keyboard player in the excellent UK group, Squeeze, had visited him a few weeks before me and he couldn't believe that he was still so famous overseas. May he rest assured that his popularity among good music lovers will carry on for years to come !! And even if he did NOT play on Wanda Jackson's marvelous 'Let's Have A Party' (it was Big Al Downing at the 88).
: The death of Merrill Moore on June 14, 2000, after a long battle against cancer,
was sad news indeed. As a tribute to the man and musician we loved so much,
we decided to share with you part of the unissued session he cut for us in '87.
He sure didn't need any sidemen to let it rock : his sense of rhythm was astounding.
Just click the photo below to hear Merrill boogieing in glorious MP3 format.
Text by Paul Vidal Photo by Agnès Vidal