In my recent post on The Exotics’ ‘Come With Me’, I briefly mentioned The Scotty McKay Quintet’s gem of a cover of ‘The Train Kept a-Rollin’’ and it only seems fitting to feature this as a Classic Single in its own right.
From Dallas, Texas, Scotty McKay had already had a long musical career when this 45 was released on the Falcon label in July 1968, having joined Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps as a backing vocalist in 1957. At that time he was still using his real name Max Lipscomb but by 1959 and the release of his first solo single ‘Rollin’ Dynamite’, this had changed to Scotty McKay.
By 1967 McKay was part of the band backing singer Bryan Hyland on one of Dick Clark’s Greyhound Bus package tours around the Southern states of America, a tour that also included The Yardbirds on the bill. He befriended the band and presumably heard them play ‘The Train Kept a-Rollin’’ as part of their live set. His version certainly sounds influenced by them (indeed the song is credited on the single as being written by The Yardbirds rather than its true composer Tiny Bradshaw).
The lead guitar work is blistering, which perhaps explains the story that McKay sent Jimmy Page the master tape of the song so that he could lay down the lead guitar track. In fact, the musicians backing Scotty on this number were three of The Exotics – Tommy Spalding on rhythm guitar, Geoff West on bass and drums, and Blair Smith on lead guitar, and it is the latter we have to thank for the sparkling fretwork.
‘The Train Kept a-Rollin’’
During the tour Yardbird Jim McCarty had encouraged McKay to record ‘I Can’t Make Your Way’ from their Roger The Engineer album with McCarty producing – this was released in the UK on Columbia in 1967 but needless to say sank without trace (track it down though, it is actually pretty good!).
The flip ‘The Theme From The Black Cat’ is credited to Scotty McKay’s Bolero Band and is a version of the spooky theme tune from the 1966 low-budget horror film of the same name, based on a short story by Edgar Allen Poe. This had been filmed in Dallas and Scotty and his then backing band had made a cameo appearance performing two songs. McKay also made a cameo in another horror film the following year called Creature of Destruction.
‘The Theme From The Black Cat’
You can check out a trailer for the film below – there is a brief shot of Scotty and the band midway through:
Reissues: the a-side is on Acid Visions – The Complete Collection Volume 1 or Rhino’s Texas Music Volume 3; the flip hasn’t been compiled I don’t think.