Monday, 12 March 2018

More rocking gems from David Stephens's "RocknRoll" e-book - including the Everlys, Jerry Lee, Joey Dee and Dale Hawkins

Having devoted my  last two posts to pre-British Invasion singles by black American acts released on the London American label here in the UK,  as an equal opportunities blogger I'm taking affirmative action to give the white folk a fair crack of the whip. Not all of the following records were released on London, but I either heard them for the first time or became reacquainted with them through one or other of David Stephens' two wildly entertaining e-books - RocknRoll and London Rocks. I'll start with Frank DeRosa and the D-Men's tough-as-old-boots, Duane Eddyesque 1958 instrumental, "Big Guitar":
I'd better come clean and admit...

...that I have no idea as to the ethnicity of Mr. DeRosa - or, indeed, that of his D-Men - so this is a bit of a punt. Whatever, I've heard several versions of this number, and Frank's is the best.

The Everly Brothers' "Gone, Gone, Gone" scraped into the US and UK Top 40s in 1964. I'd forgotten all about it - which is surprising, because it's terrific!:
Another rock'n'roll giant who kept putting out great records in the '60s was The Killer - the greatest white voice in all popular music, IMHO. In 1961, he produced this great cover of Ray Charles's immortal "What'd I Say":
I was only aware of the Swedish rocker Hank Burnette's 1976 version of "Your Driver's Licence Please", so it was a pleasure to meet the 1957 original at last - it's by Bobby Please (there's a rumour that the cop's voice was supplied by Eddie Cochran, but it doesn't sound much like him to me):
There's nothing rock'n'roll about this next one. Jane Morgan was an American singer who enjoyed success here and in France before catching on in her native land. This is her 1959 chart-topper, "The Day That the Rains Came Down", a Gilbert Becaud song (there was a French version on the flipside). Always been fond of this:
Another old favourite now - Joey Dee and the Starliters frenetic 1962 version of "Shout":
This next one astonished me - I had always assumed Millie Small's glorious "My Boy Lollipop" (1964) was the original. Consider these facts: the first recording came out in 1956; it was sung by a 14-year old American girl called Barbie Gaye; it was written by Bobby Spencer of the US doowop group, The Cadillacs (as "My Girl Lollipop"); Barbie snuck out of school to record the song at a studio in Manhattan; she sang the song to the three session musicians, who opted for an R&B shuffle beat - which makes it sound like ska, several years before ska was invented:  
'Right Now" was the B-side of Mel Tormé's 1962 smash, "Comin' Home Baby" (a song which the anodyne crooner didn't want to record - the fool). Although I must have played the A-side several hundred times, it seems I never bothered flipping it over. Pity, because it's really rather good:
Next up is "Cross-Ties", a great greasy gutbucket instrumental from rock'n'roller Dale Hawkins (who was signed by Chess in the mistaken belief that he was black), featuring Elvis's drummer D.J. Fontana, and Roy Buchanan on guitar:
If New York doowop group the Del Satins' "Feeling No Pain" reminds you of Dion, that may be because (a) they sang on all his post-Belmonts hits, starting with "Runaround Sue" (b) Mr DiMucci was their producer on this great 1963 offering:
Here' a nice, sprightly, poppy, little 1958 recording from the Kendall Sisters - "Yea, Yea":
David Stephens is an acknowledged swamp pop fanatic. I enjoy it, certainly  - now and then. The problem is that many of the records sound remarkably similar (same chord sequence, same pace, same mood, same instrumentation). But Rod Bernard's "This Should Go On For Ever" is an acknowledged early classic of South Louisiana Rock'n'Roll - and it's lovely:

14 comments:

  1. I remembered the Everly Brothers Gone Gone Gone only when Robert Plant and Alison Krause covered it in 2007, with producer T-Bone Burnett getting a great 50s shuffle beat that fits the song perfectly. I know I am running the risk of excommunication from the blog but I prefer the cover! It's definitely not Eddie Cochran on the Bobby Please song. I imagine the rumour confused the spoken word interjection with the same device in Summertime Blues.

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    1. I've listened to the Krause/Plant version - close, but no cigar!

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  2. Another good post. Great to hear Jane Morgan's joyous rendering again.
    I saw the film Hey Let's Twist! at the Elite on Wimbledon Broadway when it first came out, in the company of a large boy, who also on the strength of what we'd seen purchased "Peppermint Twist-Parts 1&2" shortly afterwards.

    A sax in the right hands can really raise an ordinary sound into a good one as it does in "Yeah Yeah." Witness "Go Go Go" by C. Berry or King Curtis in Holly's "Reminiscing."

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    1. I don't even remember the Elite - are you sure it wasn't the Rialto in Raynes Park? Apparently the film included Joe Pesci's first screen appearance - as a dancer at the Peppermint Lounge. What with the likes of Joey Dee, Dion, Bobby Darin and The Four Seasons, there were a lot of Italian-Americans in the charts back then. (And thanks for using "large" rather than "fat".)

      I'm having to do a"best rock'n'roll saxophone records" now - but there are so many to choose from!

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  3. It hardly needs to be said but I'm not in the habit of taking large boys to the cinema - my pal and I were about the same age.

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  4. It is sad for me that in posts such as this I am completely out of it since instead of musical examples I simply get blank spaces.
    I wondered if it was because my laptop is a bit ancient - maybe 8 years, but when I suggested to my local computer guru that perhaps I should buy a new laptop he laughed at me.
    So I am asking if there are a couple of magic buttons that I could press which would enable me to see and hear these interesting posts which everyone else is enjoying. Can anyone give me some advice?

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    1. Your local computer guru shouldn't really be allowed to laugh unless he can come up with another solution. Assuming you can play videos when you're actually on the YouTube site, Helen, I've now put direct links to each record in the introduction to the songs on this post, and will try to remember to do so in future (and I've put in the video to "Cross Ties", which seemed to have gone awol). Otherwise, putting the name of the group and the title of the song into the YouTube search box would do the trick.

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    2. Thanks, Scott. I hate to put you to the trouble....

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  5. Not a 'Rock around the Clock' style act of vandalism that plagued British cinemas. The large youths simply leaned back in their seats in unison breaking their fragile moorings.
    The Rialto closed its doors forever not long afterwards.

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    1. Memory plays tricks, but I have a very strong recollection of the breaking seat incident and think it was at The Globe in Putney on the Upper Richmond Road but the Rialto seems more likely. Was there not an elderly usher with a syrup that looked like a well-used, coarse doormat ?

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    2. The only mass act of seat-destruction I witnessed was on a Sunday afternoon at a cinema in Tooting - the Granda? The Classic? I was with a school chum, Roger Carroll, who seemed unfazed by the hooliganism - perhaps because he lived close by and was used to this sort of behaviour. I'm pretty sure it didn't occur when Frank Miles took our O-level English class to the Classic to see Orson Welles's Macbeth.

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  6. My smart phone does the job Helen but woe betide you, if like me, you are a wee bit clumsy.
    For instance I wrote a comment which would have made sense of final one above only to see the tiny box perimeter turn red.
    It was just to say, yes it was the Elite, and the film in question would have a far bigger catchment area than the parochial Rialto. Meaning there were plenty of Ted's around in sarf Wimbledon in those days.
    Also the seats were better.

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    1. Thanks, Southern Man. I fear my phone is a lot smarter than I am, but I have made a start at tackling your suggestion. If I fail I will at least have the fallback position of Youtube, suggested by Scott.

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