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Sunday 13 June 2010

Plas Johnson - Rockin' With The Plas

Side 1
1. Hoppin' Mad
2. Blow your Blues away
3. Popcorn
4. Downstairs
5. The Loop
6. Swanee River Rock
7. The Big Twist

Side 2
1. Little Rockin' Deacon
2. You Send Me
3. Robin's Nest Cha Cha
4. Plas Jazz
5. Come Rain or Come Shine
6. Dinah
7. Everyone Knows

Now listen up you be bop winos! Big Al (The Bloggers’ Pal) has sent in another tenor sax vinyl gem – a 1980s French Pathe Marconi comp of Plas Johnson’s Capitol singles.

Maybe you haven’t heard of him, but you certainly have heard him. How about these: Shuffle In the Gravel by Young Jessie; Stranded In The Jungle by The Cadets; Girl Of My Dreams by Jesse Belvin; Searchin’ by The Coasters; Rockin’ Robin by Bobby Day; Bony Moronie by Larry Williams; Teenage Heaven by Eddie Cochran; Say Mama by Gene Vincent; and a myriad of tracks by Duane Eddy, Ernie Fields, The Piltdown Men, Sandy Nelson, The Ernie Freeman Combo, Johnny Otis, The Marketts, The Routers, The Olympics, and Don & Dewey. And that’s just scraping the surface of the output of Plas Johnson, LA session man extraordinaire.

And if you ain’t no fan of rock and roll or R&B, you’ve STILL heard him on The Pink Panther Theme or The Odd Couple Theme. Plas Johnson’s sax stylings have been ubiquitous on countless pop, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, soul, jazz and film soundtrack recordings emanating from the recording studios of Los Angeles, especially those of Capitol, Imperial and Liberty.

Plas was born in 1931 in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. In the late 1940s, along with his pianist brother Ray, he formed a band called the Johnson Brothers Combo which played around New Orleans and recorded a single for DeLuxe in 1949, “Our Boogie” b / w “Mellow Mama.” Plas went on the road with the Charles Brown Band, and then had a spell in the armed forces.

After completing his service he moved to Los Angeles along with his brother Ray, and around 1955 -56 the brothers were recording with drummer George Jenkins (once of the Buddy Johnson Orchestra back in the day) for the Tampa label. Some of these recordings were issued on an LP credited to Jenkins, “Drum Magic,” while others appeared on an LP credited to Plas, “Bop Me Daddy.”

Big Al also sent in “Bop Me Daddy” but a quick check showed that, unbelievably, this obscure 8 track LP is available as an Amazon mp3 download. One track from the album, “Dungaree Hop” is on the blog post “Original Rhythm ‘N Blues.” If you want to hear the rest of the tracks though, I’m afraid you’ll have to get yourselves over to Amazon. It’s a good LP of gutsy, swingin’ small combo R&B instrumentals. The moody “Last Call,” a Plas composition, is a stand out track. Striptease jazz at its finest. Below you’ll find Big Al’s front and back cover scans of “Bop Me Daddy,” which I’ve included in the download

In 1957 Plas took a break from recording on other people’s discs and laid down a bunch of sides for Capitol, all of which were released as singles and which didn’t make it to LP until Pathe Marconi issued this set. The musicians on these sides were mainly those with whom Plas was recording as a session man – Earl Palmer and Ray Martinez on drums, Irving Ashby, Rene Hall and Bill Pitman on guitar, Ernie Freeman and Ray Johnson on piano and Red Callender on bass. The sound is rather different from the R&B of “Bop Me Daddy.” It’s a mix of what we nowadays call space age pop, lounge, jazz noir, striptease jazz, anything but rock and roll or rhythm and blues. We’re talking mainly background music to that sophisticated cocktail party in your space age bachelor pad.

But do not despair, there’s some great stuff here. Striptease jazz gets covered in the bump ‘n’ grind of “The Big Twist” (swing those tassles, baby!); “Downstairs” is a tremendously tense piece just begging to be played over the opening credits of a late 50s / early 60s TV crime series; its B-Side “The Loop” is a good wailin’ stomper; “Blow Your Blues Away” is another little gem with Plas wailing through a girlie vocal chorus. Now let’s be honest, there is a pop sensibility to a lot of the stuff here, with catchy little hooks and vocal choruses. It’s of its time, but the instrumentalists do get to show off tremendous technique, and all in all it’s an enjoyable listening experience.

In 1958, Plas played flute on an LP for Score, simply titled “Plas Johnson.” In 1959 and 1960, Capitol released two LPs by Plas – “That Must Be The Plas!” and “Mood For The Blues.” In 1963 Charter released two LPs featuring Plas under the pseudonym Johnny Beecher and in 1964 came the Capitol single of The Pink Panther Theme. Through all this and up to the present day Plas continued his session work, including backing Marvin Gaye and Rod Stewart. The website at brings you up to date on this fine and still very much active musician. Of course such modernity is beyond the scope of this blog because on Be Bop Wino the 1960s haven’t happened yet.

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps. Password = greaseyspoon

Download from here:


1. Hoppin' Mad
2. Blow your Blues away
3. Popcorn
4. Downstairs
5. The Loop
6. Swanee River Rock
7. The Big Twist
8. Little Rockin' Deacon
9. You Send Me
10. Robin's Nest Cha Cha
11. Plas Jazz
12. Come Rain or Come Shine
13. Dinah
14. Everyone Knows

Recommended purchases:

On Amazon download the mp3 album “Bop Me Daddy.” Rousing stuff.

I had a look through my CDs and found that I had three which feature loads of Plas and here they are:

Sandy Nelson – Rock’N’Roll Drumbeat, Ace CDCHD 586 – tenor sax duties split with Jackie Kelso, once of Roy Milton’s Solid Senders.

Ernie Freeman Combo – Raunchy, Ace CDCHD 659 – good R&B instros

The Piltdown Men Ride Again, Ace CDCHD 681 – includes tracks by Ernie Fields, Billy May and Earl Palmer (Drum Village).

Thank you, Big Al!

Listen to Plas (Downstairs):


Anonymous said...

Hi Woody!
Thank you very much, incredible this album ...
I mentioned in the publication of Big Jay McNeely at Plas, and you've uploaded today, I'm very happy.

Argentina-Buenos Aires

Kenny said...

Thanks for some Plas. I was lucky enough to hear him playing with a trio in a jazz club many years ago in Sydney Australia. Not sure what he was doing there but it was a great experience.

Jamie Garner said...

scored another gem! plas always hired excellent rockin' guitarists and drummers- you can't go wrong when the label says 'plas'!


hamfat said...

Hi Woody,
I never got this one when it came out (Plas' Capitol singles), but thanks to you I have it now. I bought Bop Me Daddy in a record store back when I was in high school.
Check out the track "Midnight" by Googie Rene. It has Plas and Pete Guitar Lewis alternating solos - fantastic record.
Keep up the great music.

Anonymous said...

Cheers Woody. Two more your readers might like:

Johnny Beecher/Plas Johnson - 5th Ave.

Plas Johnson - Blue Martini

Keep up the good work

Zer0_II said...


I've been doing a massive update to the Digital Meltd0wn Music Blogroll @, and I wanted to let you know that I updated the url for your blog on the list.

In the past you were kind enough to link to the blogroll on your old blog. I was hoping that you would be generous enough to do so again. Thank you for all the great music you share here. Take care.


Gyro1966 said...

Nice vinyl rips, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, as always. Hope you enjoy your holiday!

- d.

onlybizet said...

Just what I've been looking for. I've known about Plas for years, but hadn't seen solo work till now. Thanks, man!

the jazzman said...

Thanks. Plas a big favorite. I see where rapidshare gotcha already.

Shanna said...

Hi all. I have a 13 year old daughter who has been playing sax for 2 years. She LOVES Plas and "Downstairs" is her favorite. Does anyone know if there is some sheet music available for this? I've searched online to no avail. Thank you.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks Jazzman, link removed by rapidshare.

Shanna - I hope someone can help you find that sheet music for your wee girl!


boogiewoody said...

Oops - I forgot to thank Dave for his links! Ta muchly.

rm said...

Great! Thank you.

Public Mentor said...

Great record!


OldHippieRick said...

Sweet indeed and Thanks as always

Vinyl Record LP said...

I am sorry to say non of the links work :o(

boogiewoody said...

Aw heck - I'll see what I can do about that! BW

boogiewoody said...

New download link now on the post.