Today, The Shed has once again squandered hours trying to drag its record collection into the age of I-wotsits but has paused to do a bit of research on one of its great treasures, a vinyl copy of Frankie Frost & the Night Hawks doing Big Boss Man, on the album Hey Boss Man, in 1962.
As always, The Shed has been beaten to it by YouTube, which will play you a copy at
It is a country r’n’b song written to make The Man shiver, whoever and wherever he is, and it does that so convincingly it is possibly a slight disappointment to discover it’s a product of Tin Pan Alley …
“Hey boss man/ Doncha hear me when I call/ Ah, you ain’t so big/ You just tall, that’s all”
If pushed to name its writer, The Shed might have gone for Jimmy Reed, and it was in fact Jimmy Reed who recorded it first, on a 1960 album from which it jumped off to become a classic.
Sample it at
Reed, a great influence on early Stones, had many great songs and wrote most of them himself. And his manager, Al Smith, gets a credit on this one. But most of it is generally credited to Luther Dixon, a former doo-wop man who wrote hits for the Shirelles, Pat Boone Bobby Darin and Elvis among others. The Shed’s team has not been able to come up with much on Al Smith but Dixon is well documented. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame just before he died.
The Frank Frost take was recorded not long after Reed’s and, The Shed submits, is a competitor for definitive version, thanks to Frost’s authentic growl, although loads of people have had a go. Elvis Presley had a minor hit with it in 1967. And a Google will throw up dozens of covers by all sorts of interesting candidates, including The Pretty Things, a Russian pub band and Bobbie Gentry. We’d like to hear those. Meanwhile, our selections from a quick browse include
Dwight Yoakam at
and The Kentucky Headhunters at
Wikipedia says Big Boss Man is an uptempo twelve-bar blues shuffle which has been listed as one of 500 Records That Shaped Rock & Roll.