Friday, July 3, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles Rock & Roll pt. 1

Dirt City Chronicles is an Albuquerque/New Mexico centric music blog and podcast. BUT (and that's a big but) man cannot live on local music alone. So on occasion I do venture out (musically speaking) beyond the borders of our fair state. Dirt City Chronicles Podcast, Rock & Roll Series is an account of pre-British Invasion American rock and roll, presented in a loose chronological order. An epic tale that begins in 1954, just as Rhythm & Blues finally merged with Hillbilly Boogie (a combination of country vocals and instrumentation with a boogie woogie beat) creating one of America's most influential musical genres: rock and roll
We can argue until the cows come home about when rock & roll actually came to be. R & B artists such as Louis Jordan, Big Joe Turner, Roy Brown, Johnny Otis, Smiley Lewis, Billy Wright, Willie Mae Thornton, Arthur Crudup, Jackie Brenston etc. were all precursors to rock 'n' roll. You could say the same for the purveyors of Hillbilly Boogie... Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith, The Delmore Brothers, The Maddox Bros. and Rose (Fred Maddox is credited with inventing the slap bass technique, a definitive feature of rockabilly music) Merle Travis, Bob Wills and Moon Mullican, a piano thumping Texan who boldly declared “We gotta play music that'll make them goddamn beer bottles bounce on the table” Without Mullican there would be no Jerry Lee Lewis, no Bill Haley and in all likelihood.... no rock and roll music.
As 1952 drew to a close, two distinct styles of music were on a collision course, though nobody at the time had any idea that such a thing was even feasible. All them cats were bopping the blues, but it was Bill Haley, a rather non nondescript musician from Michigan who got there first. Bill Haley was a bit long in the tooth for a rocker (an accomplished yodeler, he had been around since the late 1940s) Haley favored a western style, but nonetheless, he had recorded two tracks recognized as seminal rock and roll songs, Rocket 88 in 1951 and Rock the Joint in 1952. In 1953, his recording of Crazy Man, Crazy became the first rock and roll song to hit the American charts .
The following year Haley recorded a song called Rock Around The Clock, that was meant as a B-side for the single, Thirteen Women. Rock Around the Clock had been written for Haley in 1953, but he didn't get around to recording it until April of 1954 (in the interim, Sonny Dae and His Knights, a group from Philly recorded it first) Haley's recording of Rock Around the Clock was a slapdash affair, with studio time running out and Sammy Davis Jr. waiting impatiently outside the studio door for his session. At Haley's insistence, Guitarist Danny Cedrone recycled the lead from Rock the Joint, inadvertently making it the most recognizable guitar solo of the budding genre.
The single flopped and the b-side went ignored until Director Richard Brooks dug up the song to use in his 1955 movie Blackboard Jungle. The version of Rock Around the Clock that plays over the opening credits features an extended drum solo by session drummer Billy Gussak and is distinguished by the fact that tenor saxophonist Joey Ambrose takes the first solo, while guitarist Danny Cedrone takes the second (the solos are reversed on the single version) *Cedrone died in 1954 when he fell down a flight of stairs at the 819 Bar in Philadelphia, while holding a bag of roast beef sandwiches. However , it would be his solo that was immortalized in the movie and on the single.
Both the song and the movie were overnight hits, leading to much consternation and hand wringing from those alarmed by the raucous music and the movie's portrayal of aggressive juvenile delinquents sabotaging an ailing educational system. British writer Nik Cohn describes Haley's impact on the world's musical landscape “By 1955 it was a hit in America and then it was a hit in Britain and then it was a hit all over the world. And it just kept on selling, it wouldn't quit, It stayed in the charts for one year solid. By the time is was finished, it had sold fifteen million copies. It had also started rock and rock.

That's Alright Mama- Elvis Presley
Rock Around the Clock- Bill Haley & The Comets
Tutti Frutti- Little Richard
Down the Line- Buddy Holly & Bob Montgomery
Maybelline- Chuck Berry
Rock the Joint- Bill Haley & The Comets
Mystery Train- Elvis Presley
I Hear You Knocking- Smiley Lewis
WPLJ- The Four Deuces
Honey Hush- Big Joe Turner
Bo Diddley- Bo Diddley
The Wee Wee Hours- Chuck Berry
Hound Dog- Elvis Presley
Love Me- Buddy Holly
Real Wild Child- Jerry Lee Lewis
Directly From My Heart – Little Richard
Bopping the Blues- Carl Perkins
I Gotta Know- Wanda Jackson
Who Slapped John- Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps
Train Kept On Rolling- The Johnny Burnette Trio
Ubangi Stomp- Warren Smith
Jungle Rock- Hank Mizell
Ducktail- Joe Clay
Honey Don't- Carl Perkins
Honey Hush- The Johnny Burnette Trio
Be Bop A Lula- Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps
Cherokee Boogie- Johnny Horton
White Lightning- George “Thumper” Jones
Rock With Me Baby- Billy Lee Riley
Guitar Rock- Bill Flagg
Race With The Devil- Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps
Go Go Go Down the Line- Roy Orbison