Grady Martin or Paul Burlison or BOTH in Train Kept A-Rollin'? A fresh take on the topic!

kpnash

Electromatic
Jul 31, 2020
74
Germany, Karlsruhe Area

It's 2nd of July today, exactly 66 years ago Train Kept A-Rollin' was recorded. And yeah, I know that old debate, but I can't help it, I hear TWO guitars in both Train Kept A-Rollin' and Honey Hush! What's strange about guitar sound in Train Kept A Rollin's intro? Where does that 'cling-clang' heard in Honey Hush in the background come from? What about endings in both songs? Finally, what's wrong with the chord progression and the mysterious double octave lick in alt take of Please Don't Leave Me? I've tried to cover these topics in the video. Have a look and let me know if you consider me crazy ;) Thanks!
 

Byron

Country Gent
Sep 4, 2009
1,173
uk
I enjoyed that and have been thinking about the idea of two guitarists also. I have a couple of points. Grady Martin never seems to play with his fingers, it's always single notes. Plus he has a wonderful technique of playing around the vocals and dropping out when not needed. Both these ideas support your theory that Grady played intermittent parts. I agree that the two guitar sounds are very different in the song, including one being more ambient, so the distorted double stops could be from a different amp further from the mic.
Plus, there's footage elsewhere of Paul Burlison playing those octaves really well and sounding just like the record.
And how about Blues Stay Away From Me? Obviously two guitars there.
I'd never thought about the muted single note sound in Honey Hush, good point. It sounds like someone contemplating their part, thinking about what to play next, feeling their way around a song.
So yes, I think you're right about this and I love the theory about the tape edit splice. Could be!
 

Byron

Country Gent
Sep 4, 2009
1,173
uk
BUT, here's another part of the puzzle. On this Jerry Reed song, you can clearly hear something so closely similar to Train Kept a Rolling, it's spooky.
 

Byron

Country Gent
Sep 4, 2009
1,173
uk
It's been debated here a while ago and Paul's son used to join in. It got a little heated! I really enjoyed kpnash's post though, I love this kind of detective work
 

Byron

Country Gent
Sep 4, 2009
1,173
uk
And wow, this is scorching, definitely Paul Burlison. On the originals, I reckon studio just listened to the band and said hey, get Grady to listen to the guitarist and develop his parts.
 

kpnash

Electromatic
Jul 31, 2020
74
Germany, Karlsruhe Area
Wow, thanks @Byron, especially for the Jerry Reed's tune! Needs to say I have absolutely no clue who of them actually came up with the idea of double octaves, I mean it might have been not necessarily Paul Burlison. Plus, as we haven't heard Grady playing with his fingers, Paul was not a finger picker either, at least not back then. While the guitar player on the Reed's tune seems to finger pick. May I come with an absolute wild guess? Sounds somewhat like Chet.....??

The muted single note, or in general, using electric guitar as a kind of percussion, seems a common thing those days in Nashville. I have another video on my channel where I explain Grady's solo from Alligator Come Across where he likely was just knocking strings with his fist or palm to produce percussive sounds - and then those notes got doubled by the second tape deck (their 'delay line') to produce even more rhythm. Other examples of something similar are Johnny Carroll's songs like Hot Rock or Wild Wild Women. My judgment comes actually from a couple of years in a pop/smooth jazz/funk band where you have to play a lot of riffs using ghost notes, that's why when I hear something similar, I say, 'A-haaa, I probably know how it is played'......
 

Byron

Country Gent
Sep 4, 2009
1,173
uk
It still interests me kpnash after all these years and although we have so many clues and theories, there's still some mysteries, like the Jerry Reed track. And live footage of Paul making a good job of it later on. In the YouTube comments, his son does join in and confirms your theory....that Grady played the intro and higher parts whilst his dad played the octaves. And he defends his father's contribution with a lot of pride and confidence
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
25,814
Tucson
I don’t think that double octaves were all that rare. Obviously, you have to employ some sort of finger style technique, but it’s within the reach of any player.
 

Henry

I Bleed Orange
Apr 9, 2014
18,688
Petaluma
I don’t think that double octaves were all that rare. Obviously, you have to employ some sort of finger style technique, but it’s within the reach of any player.
It was / is very common in jazz, and can be played with a pick while muting the string between the octave notes.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
25,814
Tucson
It was / is very common in jazz, and can be played with a pick while muting the string between the octave notes.
I guess you could mute it, but for double octaves. I’ll use fingerstyle. IIRC, Cliff Gallup used double octaves, as well.
 

Byron

Country Gent
Sep 4, 2009
1,173
uk
I guess you could mute it, but for double octaves. I’ll use fingerstyle. IIRC, Cliff Gallup used double octaves, as well.
Well yeah, that'd confirm that it's two guitars as the intro is played with a pick....then maybe double octaves played with fingers with no time to turn from pick to just fingers
 

Rock Lajoint

Synchromatic
Nov 16, 2014
612
Sussex, England
There are several contemporary mid 50s examples of Grady Martin playing octaves. With Johnny Horton, The York Brothers, Jerry Reed at the least.
There are none of Paul Burlison doing it. The only example of Paul Burlison was 40 years later.
There are two guitars on the Train Kept A Rollin', personally I think Grady Martin and another session player.
If you watch the live performance of Hound Dog, Burlison's playing is pitifully weak. He's completely out of his depth.
Listen to the tracks we know he played on and what you get is walking basslines and licks that want to be Scotty Moore but are just picked on the top two strings following the chords.
Another thing about the octaves is that, to me, the licks have a swinging feel of big band horn licks. Grady Martin would have had that influence, Burlison not.
 

kpnash

Electromatic
Jul 31, 2020
74
Germany, Karlsruhe Area
@Rock Lajoint if you kindly watch my video, I make a point there that we can definitely hear Grady playing his signature licks in the background, simultaneously with the double octaves. Then we can only guess who exactly was playing the double octaves... My guess is Paul Burlison :D Because if it was another session pro, he wouldn't have missed a chance to get paid for that session by leaving also his name in the files. But of course there's absolutely no evidence, so it's just a guess. In theory, it could have been even overdubbed (but then, Johnny Burnette was not someone of Hank Williams' caliber, and overdubbing meant a lot of effort back in the days, plus what would be the reason to overdub Please Don't Leave Me?).

Last but not least, as a guy who had to do some job to record demos for the video... I recorded percussion with a straight rhythm. I regretted it afterwards but was too lazy to redo the whole thing, instead, I did my best to hide those straight 8th notes in the mix. Then I added a swinging bass line and those swinging Grady Martin's background licks. The double octaves I played dead straight. I'm not sure how it is possible to play them with swinging feel, that's definitely out of reach at least for me and my playing abilities. Still, the overall magic happened when I combined swinging bass and swinging background licks with straight double octaves, in my DAW. So, for me, it's actually the same trick as we can hear e. g. on Chuck Berry's recordings, when the band is swinging but the guitar plays a straight riff.

In any case, I would be HIGHLY interested to hear songs where Grady Martin played double octaves!
 
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kpnash

Electromatic
Jul 31, 2020
74
Germany, Karlsruhe Area
Also, needs to mention, I hardly can recall a song where Cliff Gallup used double octaves, but I might be missing something? 😊

Double octaves, you can probably play them using hybrid picking as well, i. e. flat pick plus middle and/or ring fingers. I wouldn't actually be surprised if that's exactly the way it was played on the Burnette's songs.

BTW if you try to play them entire songs (not just solos) note for note, you'll notice that on a number of occasions the guy was missing either a treble or a bass note.
 

Byron

Country Gent
Sep 4, 2009
1,173
uk
Tear it Up is a great record, love the riffs on that and the walking bass line is fine by me, it pushes the track forward and I can't imagine a better part. It was probably Paul Burlison at his best though. I'd imagine the studio said ..get Grady to listen to this guys parts and do something similar but better. Oddly, Paul plays Lonesome Train with a few different riffs.... similar but not the same. This is on his VHS instructional taps.
 

Pete66

Gretschie
Nov 18, 2015
367
Wyre and Fylde
Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran etc all 1950's overdubbers.
I still believe it's all Grady, based on playing style and inventiveness, fluidity and timing.
Unless, in 1956, Paul went to a certain crossroads at midnight to 'meet' someone!
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
25,814
Tucson
Also, needs to mention, I hardly can recall a song where Cliff Gallup used double octaves, but I might be missing something? 😊

Double octaves, you can probably play them using hybrid picking as well, i. e. flat pick plus middle and/or ring fingers. I wouldn't actually be surprised if that's exactly the way it was played on the Burnette's songs.

BTW if you try to play them entire songs (not just solos) note for note, you'll notice that on a number of occasions the guy was missing either a treble or a bass note.
I had the impression that it was Cliff, but it might have been Johnny Burnette. Picking double octaves fingerstyle or hybrid is incredibly easy. You don’t have to be an experienced fingerstyle player to pull it off.
 

kpnash

Electromatic
Jul 31, 2020
74
Germany, Karlsruhe Area
Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran etc all 1950's overdubbers.
All these guys were nationwide stars and outstanding influential musicians. No disrespect at all, just let's face the truth, Johnny Burnette's trio... Yes, they had some local success. Correct me if I'm wrong but those songs didn't even make it to the charts. On music side, they fully relied on the A-Team, hardly being able to influence Owen Bradley's decisions. For the studio crew, Johnny Burnette was most likely just yet another gig, among folks like Johnny Carrol, Don Woody, Autry Inman, Arlie Duff...... (again, no disrespect, but I'm trying to wear an A-Team member's hat).

Given this context, how willing would be Owen Bradley to invest time and effort into overdubbing, and how motivated would be his musicians to innovate?

I can see this possible scenario. A-Team gathered to cut yet some more songs, but then the singer's original guitar player said, guys, you know, I have an idea... The studio folks listened and then some of them said, hmmmms, this sounds like some interesting noise, why not trying it out? Otherwise Train Kept A-Rollin' might have sounded like... Bigelow 6-200?
 


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