1-CD-Album Digipak (4-plated) with 23-page booklet, 33 tracks. Playing time approx. 85 mns.
August 1950: an era when pop music flirted with Latin American mambos and sambas and country music couldn't get enough boogie woogies. Hank Snow was still riding high on his breakthrough American single I'm Moving On, and RCA Victor expected the singer to follow up this chart-topper with another clever original for his upcoming Nashville session. As it turned out, Snow brought two.
"On the road I would ride with Hank and we would swap off driving," his steel player Joe Talbot told Dr. Charles Wolfe. "That summer when he wrote this, he got in, threw his coat up in the back, and began to work it out." Before long Snow completed a saga about the now-immortal Madame Lasonga, "who was teaching la conga in her little cabana in old Havana, while we were doing The Charleston and Balling The Jack, and then that old Black Bottom 'til they started The Jitterbug Rag."
A clever union of two musical trends, The Rhumba Boogie was light years away from the Jimmie Rodgers blues and wistful sentimental ballads that brought Snow fame across Canada. "We discussed whether or not it was any good," Talbot added. Apparently it was, because Snow kicked off his first post-I'm Movin' On session with The Rhumba Boogie. It wasn't released right away. RCA Victor chose its sessionmate, The Golden Rocket, for Snow's next single, probably because resembled the still-popular I'm Moving On. In retrospect, RCA Victor made a wise choice; The Golden Rocket shot up the charts and became yet another enduring Snow standard.
But in January 1951 a Tennessee duo showed RCA that country record buyers were ready for more than a steady diet of boogies and ballads. Johnnie and Jack, who seldom took anything seriously, laid a Latin beat on top of Poison Love, an otherwise unexceptional country song. When that record shot to #4 on 'Billboard's' country chart, it paved the way for Hank Snow and Madame Lasonga. Released in February 1951, The Rhumba Boogie clung to the country chart for six months, two of them at #1.
As a young singer in eastern Canada, Snow created a romanticized vision of life along the south Texas border, even though he never ventured beyond Quebec and the Maritime Provinces. As early as May 1943, he composed Rose Of The Rio, a love song to an idyllic senorita, using a melody with some unexpectedly sophisticated chords.
After joining the Grand Ole Opry in January 1950, Snow began reaching his creative and commercial peak. While the majority of his recordings were straightforward country, he sporadically returned to Latin themes and rhythms. Dan Welch's Spanish Fire Ball was a Top 3 country hit in June 1953, while Sheb Wooley's novelty When Mexican Joe Met Jole Blon reached #6 six months later.
After Panamama failed to click, RCA Victor scaled back on releasing Latin-flavored numbers like My Sweet Conchita in favor of surefire ballads like I Don't Hurt Anymore and Let Me Go, Lover. Snow cut Cy Coben's Cuba Rhumba in 1953, but RCA shelved it for more than a year. Along with Mitchell Torok's Caribbean, Coben's novelty surfaced on Snow's first 12" LP, 'Just Keep A-Movin'.' Snow later revived it for his 1967 'Spanish Fire Ball' LP.Encouraged by Chet Atkins and others, Snow began recording acoustic guitar instrumentals in 1953. "Unlike a lot of popular singers, who seldom if ever really played guitar on their sessions, Hank routinely did, all the way from subtle rhythm counterparts to single-string solos," Charles Wolfe wrote. On the surface, his flatpicking style seemed deceptively simple, but Nashville's top guitarists found it nearly impossible to duplicate. Snow's instrumental repertoire was surprisingly diverse, ranging from 18th century parlor standards to vintage pop like Twelfth Street Rag and Wabash Blues to contemporary country fare. They also included Latin specialties like La Cucaracha and El Rancho Grande, along with more recent fare like Vaya Con Dios and Bob Wills' New Spanish Two Step, both appearing here as solo showcases and duets with Chet Atkins.
|Snow South Of The Border 1|
|1:||Spanish Fire Ball|
|6:||Vaya Con Dios (instrumental)|
|7:||Blue Rose Of The Rio|
|10:||The Rhumba Boogie|
|11:||Rose Of Old Monterey|
|13:||Vaya Con Dios (instrumental)|
|14:||My Adobe Hacienda|
|17:||The Seashores Of Old Mexico|
|18:||The Mysterious Lady From St. Martinique|
|20:||When Mexican Joe Met Jole Blon|
|22:||El Rancho Grande (instrumental)|
|23:||My Sweet Conchita|
|24:||Vaya Con Dios|
|25:||New Spanish Two Step (instrumental)|
|27:||La Cucaracha (instrumental)|
|28:||Rose Of The Rio|
|29:||Sleepy Rio Grande (instrumental)|
|30:||The Rhumba Boogie|
|31:||Spanish Fire Ball|