He's A Devil (In His Own Home Town)
Records with Sonobeat in 1968
One commercial 45 RPM release on Sonobeat Records (1968)
Ray Campi's Civil Disobedience backed with He's A Devil (In His Own Home Town) gives Sonobeat its first and only novelty 45 RPM single. Recorded and released in 1968 and credited to "Ray Campi Establishment", Civil Disobedience is Ray's own take on the same general subject addressed by Country Joe and the Fish in their 1965 single, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die: hippie sit-ins, protests, and riots in reaction to the unpopular Vietnam conflict. The "B" side, He's a Devil, is an Irving Berlin tune performed in a 1930s style reminiscent of The New Vaudeville Band's 1966 hit, Winchester Cathedral. But Ray's rockabilly sensibilities distinguish his performances, so that neither Civil Disobedience nor He's A Devil sounds derivative.
Ray Campi's performing and recording career spans more than half a century and is still going strong. Known today as the King of Rockabilly and still based in Austin, Ray begins his musical career in the '50s, and, therefore, comes to Sonobeat in '68 well prepared for the recording studio along with professional sidemen Henry Hill and J. Clark. Ray's tracks are among the first recorded at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio in northwest Austin, and, in fact, Ray overdubs his vocal tracks in producer Bill Josey Sr.'s living room.
Civil Disobedience and He's A Devil are among Sonobeat's better produced tracks during its early history. Unfortunately, however, the single – perceived as neither fish nor fowl – gets little radio airplay, leading to few sales, and, therefore, is a commercial failure. Nonetheless, both the Ray Campi Establishment and its single for Sonobeat are unique and wholly entertaining.
Ray moves to Hollywood shortly after the Sonobeat recording sessions and takes a teaching job at a junior high school. But he can't jettison music from his core, eventually returning to Austin to reignite his singing career. Ray's big break, however, comes in the '70s, when he's rediscovered and begins recording for the Las Vegas-based rockabilly-centric Rollin' Rock label and resumes touring. Inducted into the Austin Music Awards Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in the late 1990s, today, as America's reigning King of Rockabilly, he's performing still at age 84.
Ray Campi: bass and vocals
J. Clark: sax and clarinet
Henry Hill: banjo and harmonica
Unidentified musician: drums
"A" side: Civil Disobedience (Ray Campi) • 3:58
"B" side: He's a Devil (In His Own Home Town) (Irving Berlin) • 3:26
Produced by Bill Josey & Earl Podolnick
Engineered by Rim Kelley
Recorded at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio, Austin, Texas, on August 15, 1968
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice 665 microphones, ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, Ampex AG350 and 354 quarter-inch 2-track tape decks, custom 10-channel portable stereo mixer, Ampex 202 tape stock
Approximately 1,000 copies pressed; approximately 50 copies marked "PROMO" and "NOT FOR SALE"
Lacquers mastered and vinyl copies pressed by Sidney J. Wakefield & Company, Phoenix, Arizona
Label blanks printed by Powell Offset Services, Austin, Texas
In the dead wax:
Civil Disobedience: SJW-10930
He's A Devil (In His Own Home Town): SJW-10930
"SJW" in the matrix number identifies Sidney J. Wakefield & Company as the lacquer mastering and pressing plant
There are no unreleased songs by Ray Campi Establishment in the Sonobeat archives
We'll just urge you here to check out Michael Corcoran's great interview with Ray, who reminisces on the Austin music scene in the 1950s. It's a hoot, just like the great rockabilly Ray himself.