(2010, download, - , crossfire publications)
(2011, flash-drive, usa, crossfire publications)

the masters

singles & rarities
- feat.contributions by frank zappa

2010 download - crossfire publications

    (2011, flash-drive, usa, crossfire publications) = the complete 35 album series, with bonus liner notes on pdf and 56 extra tracks

paul buff
ronnie williams
johnny fisher
frank zappa

  1. t bone

  2. sunday blues

  3. sixteen tons

  4. breaktime

  5. under the earth

  6. rolling blues

  7. toothpick boogie (mono mix)

  8. drivin'

  9. for sonny

  10. t bone (alternate version 1 - mono mix)

  11. come back my love (double-tracked vocal)

  12. let me love you

  13. t bone (outtake 1)

  14. t bone (outtake 2)

  15. t bone (outtake 3)

  16. t bone (alternate version 2)

  17. sunday blues (outtake 1)

  18. sunday blues (alternate version 1)

  19. t bone (outtake 4)

  20. t bone (outtake 5)

  21. t bone (alternate version 3)

  22. sunday blues (outtake 2)

  23. sunday blues (alternate version 2)

  24. t bone (undubbed single master - mono mix 1)

  25. come back my love (single-tracked vocal)

  26. t bone (alternate version 1 - stereo mix)

  27. toothpick boogie (stereo mix)

  28. t bone (undubbed single master - stereo mix)

  29. come back my love (stereo backing track)

  30. let me love you (mono backing track)

  31. t bone (undubbed single master - mono mix 2)

  32. tropical toothpick (1960/2007 version)

liner notes by Greg Russo:

After nearly 50 years, the entire existing output of The Masters - all 32 tracks - is now released! All Frank Zappa fans know that "Breaktime" was the first released recording that he played on, but The Masters were a lot more than that.

Who were The Masters? They started out as Paul Buff, lead guitarist Ronnie Williams and rhythm guitarist Johnny Fisher. Their first single "T Bone"/ "Sunday Blues" was released as Emmy E-1006 in October 1960 and was reviewed very positively in Billboard. The record showed the artist as The Masters, and underneath that, "Ronnie, Johnnie and Paul." Buff produced the single, and he was billed as "P.C. Buff." "T Bone" was a Chuck Berry-inspired instrumental that clearly showed that Ronnie Williams' guitar playing was a lot hotter than the competition. The B-side "Sunday Blues" was a more sedate number with more complicated blues-based changes than the typical 1-4-5 chord progression. Lots of outtakes from this single session have been included here, including some rare stereo mixes. The backing track was mixed into mono before Ronnie Williams overdubbed the bass riff that completed the single master. Ronnie's distorted guitar tone was intentional and it appeared on every version of the track.

At the same "T Bone"/ "Sunday Blues" session, the previously unreleased "Toothpick Boogie" was recorded. It was a brief piece for Williams and Buff, but Ronnie Williams really made it happen on guitar. Mono and stereo mixes of "Toothpick Boogie" have been included on this release. Paul Buff revisited the track in 2007 and added instrumentation to create "Tropical Toothpick," our last track. Another title listed on the tape box was called "Mo Mo," but there is no existing recording of it.

Johnny Fisher moved on after the single to create the Park Ave. and Crusader labels, but Buff and Williams felt that The Masters had more to say. Working up a unique Duane Eddy-like instrumental arrangement of Merle Travis' "Sixteen Tons," a big hit for "Tennessee" Ernie Ford, Paul Buff and Ronnie Williams recorded it as a single A-side. Ronnie had brought Frank Zappa to Pal in late 1960, and Zappa and Paul Buff hit it off. In May 1961, Buff invited Zappa to co-write something at Pal for the record's B-side. Buff, Williams and Zappa came up with "Breaktime." The record was released as Emmy E-1008 in June 1961.

However, Johnny Fisher's parting shot was more of an insult. In the process of getting his year-old Emmy single "Tell Me Yes" promoted by local radio station KFXM, Fisher made a deal with evening DJ Gary Price to have his name listed as a "supervisor" on the "Sixteen Tons"/ "Breaktime" single even though Price was not at Pal Studios when it was recorded! Regardless, "Breaktime" was an exciting performance by Williams (drums and bass), Zappa (multiple guitar parts) and Buff (piano). The piano, drums and one of Zappa's guitar tracks were laid down first, with Zappa and Williams overdubs following thereafter.

The third and final Masters single was "Under The Earth"/ "Rolling Blues" (Emmy E-1009; released August 1961). Ronnie Williams proved that he had more guitar tricks and styles to offer on "Under The Earth." That track and the flipside covered familiar and new ground at the same time. It's no wonder that all three Masters records cost an absolute fortune if you are lucky to find any of them.

Along the way, The Masters recorded "Drivin'" and "For Sonny" in 1961, and they also recorded with otherwise unknown vocalist Chester Martin on the tracks "Come Back My Love" and "Let Me Love You." "Come Back My Love" was originally done by The Wrens, and "Let Me Love You" was recorded by The Metallics (co-produced by Pal Studios veteran Dino Dupree). All of these tracks have fine Ronnie Williams performances, and alternate mixes and versions appear throughout this collection.

This collection of legendary and extremely rare tracks is absolutely essential for Paul Buff followers, Frank Zappa devotees and instrumental fanatics!