In the late ’50s Margaret Lewis recorded some obscure rockabilly and bluesy swamp pop singles for the small Shreveport, LA, label Ram. Her sides attract interest by simple virtue of the fact that there weren’t many woman rockabilly or swamp pop singers at all, and there weren’t even a whole lot of performers, male or female, concentrating on rockabilly by the beginning of the 1960s. Nonetheless, she had a thin and average voice that seemed willing to, but did not, bring out the gutsiest elements in our earthy material, which sometimes crossed rockabilly with down-home blues, gospel, and country-soul. That wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if the material had not been average as well. Sometimes, indeed, it was below average, as was the production. Still, she did get to work with some big names, doing backup vocals with Dale Hawkins in the late ’50s (on-stage and in the studio). In addition, Johnny Winter played on a couple of numbers she cut in New Orleans, which were not issued until 1995.
After Ram began to fold in the early ’60s, Lewis did some recordings for Capitol in the mid-’60s and worked in Las Vegas clubs. She then joined forces with Ram owner Mira Smith — who had played guitar on some of Lewis’ Ram sides and co-written some of them with Lewis — to push themselves as a songwriting team. They penned hits, mostly in the country style, for Margaret Whiting (“I Almost Called Your Name”), David Houston (“Mountain of Love”), Jeanne C. Riley (“Country Girl,” “The Girl Most Likely,” “The Rib,” “The Singer”), Connie Francis (“Wedding Cake”), and Peggy Scott and Jo Jo Benson (“Soul Shake”). A compilation of her Ram sides and unreleased material, most from the Ram era by the sound of it, was released by Ace as Lonesome Bluebird in 1995.
Edited by kaitsuj on 11 May 2012, 13:42
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