Monday, June 22, 2015

1950's Rock, C: The 80's disciples‏

How the original 1950's Rock styles remained strong through each decade!
(#3 of 6 parts)

...with enormous, world-spanning Music Player!

now brings you the actual, all-inclusive holistic history of Rock'n'Soul music each week.

History Checklist

Today, the story of how 50's Rock'n'Roll was revived in 1980's music and film!!
Hear an exhaustive music player, with worldwide artists maintaining the 50's styles from 1980 through 1989!

Spotify playlist title=
50's Rock disciples: '80-89
This is a Spotify player. Join up for free here.

*(The Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)

All songs in order from 1980 through 1989.

Revolution 1950's: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!
1950's Rock, A: The 60's Disciples
1950's Rock, B: The 70's Disciples

The upshot:

The 1950's Rock styles continued in the 80's, evolving radically.

a) Punk
b) Black is back
c) She's Gotta Have It
d) Teds
e) Psychobilly
f) Perennials
g) Offspring
h) Boogie
i) Traditionalists
j) Next Wave
k) Roots
l) Cowpunk
m) Iconoclasts
n) The Originals
o) Screen

1980's: NEW WAVES

The original Rock'n'Roll styles of the 1950's -Rockabilly, electric Blues, Honky Tonk, Mambo, Cajun, and Doo Wop- became perennials that never stopped. Even with all the radical mutations of musics that followed, hardcore tribes still kept the original root sounds alive in the 60's and the 70's.

In the 80's, this roots underground became more rampant, propelling a spectrum of artists, from the traditional to the radical.


The Ramones; Pearl Harbor; The Clash

1950's Rock'n'Roll continued to undercurrent Punk music in the spillover to the 80's. Its reckless rhythms and delinquent sneer rumbles all through The Ramones, Subway Sect, Lydia Lunch, Pearl Harbor & The Explosions, X, The Clash, The Fall, and Dead Kennedys.

Since Ska had originally morphed out of Jamaican love of R&B, naturally the Ska Revival bands like The (English) Beat, The Specials, and Madness took it back to the roots at times.

It spread laterally through acolytes like Social Distortion, Husker Du, Joan Jett, The Smiths, The Delmonas, and Jesus & Mary Chain. The style of 50's Rock and the energy of Punk would lead to Psychobilly.

Black is back/ All In, we're gonna win

Barrence Whitfield; Howard Huntsberry; The Gories

FM radio formatting (and, initially, MTV) continued to resegregate people out of the music they helped create, with the robot mantra 'Rock=white, Dance=black'.
(Short truth: everybody creates everything.)

Despite this closed-loop ignorance, defiant artists still echoed the sonic heritage they had every right to, with 50's styles glimmering in songs by Donna Summer, Joan Armatrading, The Spinners, Gary U.S. Bonds, and The Neville Brothers, as well as Howard Huntsberry's note-perfect portrayal of Jackie Wilson in the film LA BAMBA (1987).

The BusBoys

If 1970 had been about cultural inclusion, a decade of enforced division by FM Radio formats had resifted everyone into separate niches. Thus The BusBoys arrived in 1980 into a music system and marketed audience more segregated than any time since 1954. They turned this challenge into a mission to subvert every stereotype from every angle, from their mock-servant persona to their gleeful tear through music styles. In "Johnny Soul'd Out" they channel Chuck Berry to parody all imposed limitations.

Buzz And The Flyers (photo by Mick Rock);
Colbert Hamilton

At the same time, Gig Wayne and his Rockabilly band, Buzz And The Flyers, sparked New York but lit up the Ted crowds best in the UK. (Gig went on to front the hit new wave/soul band, JoBoxers.>) London's own Colbert Hamilton And The Hell-Razors trysted the cats and kitties with their first single in 1984. By then, Barrence Whitfield And The Savages were rippin' it up and havin' a ball tonight going full-throttle Little Richard on their first album.

Little Richard himself would team with Fishbone and Living Colour; and Mick Collins of The Gories transmitted John Lee Hooker.

She's Gotta Have It

Cyndi Lauper; The Pretenders; The Ace Cats

Contrary to sexist narratives, women were a huge force in the original 1950's Rock'n'Roll. They continued on into all the various styles that evolved through the 60's and 70's in ever-exponential numbers, but were often thinned out from the herd of 50's revivalists.

But if someone is held out because of false limits, they will fight back by ignoring them.

In the 80's, rockin' women began reclaiming this aspect of their herstory. Heart and Girlshool had the boogie; The Cosmopolitans sassed from the garage; Cyndi Lauper first perfected her Buddy Holly hiccup fronting Blue Angel; The Pretenders never forgot to keep it real; and rockafillies finally infiltrated the Teds movement, and bands like The Ace Cats and The Dead Beats, or flew solo like Rosie Flores and Beverly Stauber.

This turf stake would expand in the 90's, and become a continent in the 2000's.


Shakin' Stevens; Jimmy Lee Maslon; Gina And The Rockin' Rebels

The late 70's Teddy Boy Revival train kept a-rollin' with Shakin' Stevens, Crazy Cavan, Bonneville, Jimmie Lee Maslon, and -at last- with women like Ravenna And The Magnetix and Gina And The Rockin' Rebels.


The Cramps

"The Cramps weren't thinking of this weird subgenre when we coined the term 'psychobilly' in 1976 to describe what we were doing. To us all the '50s rockabillies were psycho to begin with."
-Poison Ivy, of The Cramps

The Cramps may've sired Psychobilly sideways, but it quickly metastasized globally with Misfits, The Meteors, Guana Batz, and Batmobile.

Misfits; Demented Are Go

By the mid-80's a Psychobilly scene stomped at London's Klub Foot, with acts like Restless, Frenzy, Styngrites, The Coffin Nails, and Demented Are Go. (Like the initial Teds revival, it started too male, which would gradually change.)

The blistering rush was paralleled by revivalists like Barrence Whitfield, The Milkshakes (with Billy Childish), and The Leroi Brothers; blues blasters The Paladins; and the garage of The Delmonas (with Ludella Black) and The Gories.


David Bowie in 'Absolute Beginners';
Neil Young; The HoneyDrippers

The second wave of rockers still relayed the torch with incendiary numbers by Neil Young, John Fogerty, The Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman's Willie And The Poor Boys, Charlie Watts with Rocket 88. And was run forward by third decade rockers like David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Sylvain Sylvain, Patti Smith, and The Honeydrippers (fronted by Robert Plant, featuring Jimmy Page)..

And of course true-school Rock bopped in the solo endeavors of Messrs. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr.


By now 50's Rock was in the blood, carried on by Billy and Rocky Burnette, Rosanne Cash, Carlene Carter, and Hank Williams, Jr.


The boogie was in 'em, and had to come out of Heart, ZZ Top, Spider, Steve Miller Band, Little Feat, and Badfinger.


Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe;
Marshall Crenshaw; Chris Isaak

Keeping the living traditions viable in new expressions were Rockpile (fronted by Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe), The Blasters, Marshall Crenshaw, Ry Cooder, and Chris Isaak.

Next Wave

The PoleCats; The BopCats; The TeenCats

But some just wanted the original Rockabilly back as pure as they could distill it. In the early 80's a legion of coiffed, tattooed, slapbass combos dizzied up the dancehalls. Following in the suede shoes of the Teds and Robert Gordon, they mirrored the zest and flair of the psychobillies but with a more deliberately classic sound.

Carl Perkins once wailed, "Go, cat, go!", and now catalyzed a movement: thus prowled The Blue Cats, The Rhythm Cats, The BopCats, The Polecats (UK), The Teencats (Norway), The Ace Cats (Germany), The Go-Katz, Levi And The Rockats, and The Catmen loud and proud.

Stay Cats:
Lee Rocker, Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom

This of course unleashed the massive mainstream success, through MTV exposure, of Stray Cats, featuring Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker, and Slim Jim Phantom; their breakthrough may have arguably done more to revive 50's Rock for the mainstream and cement it as a tradition for the ages than any other act or movement.

Also rockin' the bop till the sock hops sagged dragged and dropped were Les Forbans (France), The Shakin' Pyramids (Scotland), The Sharks, The Rattlers, and The Dead Beats led by Suzy May.


The Fabulous Thunderbirds; Lucinda Williams; Los Lobos

Meanwhile the main force in 80's music was synth-driven, a gestalt expression of futurism.

Rock has always trysted in the cross-current between the earthy and the alien, the organic and the eerie. One movement insures a parry. But for all the sleek sheen and chrome dreams of the sythethic scene, others pined for rust and dirt and soul.

By the mid-80's a Roots rebuttal kicked butts with revisals of Blues, Country, Mariachi, and Zydeco. The pulse of 50's Rock throbbed in the veins of The Fabulous Thunderbirds (with Jimmie Vaughan), Joe Ely, Lucinda Williams, Los Lobos, Marcia Ball, Rosie Flores, Dwight Yoakam, Katie Webster, Omar And The Howlers, Buckwheat Zydeco, and Lou Ann Barton.

Abstractly, Paul Simon connected the historical circuit from Township Jive to Doo Wop when he worked with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, as recognition of organic World musics flourished.


Texacala Jones; Jason And The Scorchers; k.d. lang

Simultaneously, some artists shotgun-wed these roots forms to punk energy, in a trend loosely corralled as Cowpunk.

Bringing some throwdown to the hoedown were Tex(acala Jones) And The Horseheads, The Knitters (X in plain disguise), Lone Justice, The Textones with Carla Olson, Jason And The Scorchers, The Long Ryders, and the early k.d. lang.

Meanwhile, in the wake of Outlaw Country artists like Nelson and Jennings, a new breed of Country upstarts were rejecting the factory pop to re-embrace Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and George Jones. Thus rose Neotraditionalists like Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakum, Roseanne Cash, Townes Van Zandt, Patti Loveless, Lyle Lovett (who brought in Soul and Jazz), and Steve Earle. Bluegrass caught new fire with Allison Krauss. The spirit of Gram Parsons lived in Emmylou Harris and The Desert Rose Band (with Chris Hillman). And k.d. lang worked with Owen Bradley, Patsy Cline's producer, to redefine herself as a Country torch singer.

These movements set the stage for Alt-Country in the early 90's.


Willie "Mink" DeVille; Jim Jarmusch and Tom Waits;
Nick Cave

And you know, some people are just crazy. You can't tell 'em nothin'. They're just gonna go right on.

Somewhere in the mania of Mink Deville, Alan Vega, David Byrne, The Gun Club, Tom Waits, The Birthday Party, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, 45 Grave, and the deranged Hasil Adkins, you can darkly parse the distorted shards of 50's Rock.

The Originals.

Chuck Berry's all-starr concert film;
Little Richard's biography;
Eric Clapton, Carl Perkins, George Harrison,
Ringo Starr, Dave Edmunds

But you can't beat the real Real.

The original pioneers of Rock'n'Roll got a lot of respect due in the 70's and this reached a peak in the late-80's.

The Million Dollar Quartet returned in 1985 for a new 30th anniversary album: Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, with Roy Orbison subbing for Elvis. Jerry of course went and got a gun to hunt down a Rolling Stone scribe (because they had accused him of killing one of his wives).

Chuck Berry was celebrated royally by his peers and scion in the concert documentary HAIL! HAIL! ROCK 'N' ROLL (1987), with all-stars led by Keith Richards, including Julian Lennon, Etta James, Linda Ronstadt, and Robert Cray.

A bestselling biography brought the Fourth Coming of Little Richard, who became ubiquitous on chat shows and record cameos.

Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" haunted David Lynch's BLUE VELVET (1986). (The film's eerie evocation of a late-50's/early 60's-esque variant of the present day, with dream pop music, would be the template for 'Twin Peaks'.) It brought Roy back in a lavish relaunch album and special supported by famous acolytes, including U2, Jeff Lynne, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, and Elvis Costello.

Carl Perkins likewise got the all-star treatment with a concert TV special featuring George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Dave Edmunds, Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom, and Roseanne Cash.

The Traveling Wilburys

This led to the tongue-in-cheek supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys, with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison.


'Back To The Future' (art by Drew Struzan);
Lou Diamond Phillips as Ritchie Valens;
Youki Kudoh and Masatoshi Nagase in 'Mystery Train'

The 70's had remembered the 50's directly in films and shows, whether heartfelt or half-baked.

The 80's reflected the 50's more abstractly.

HEART BEAT (1980) simplified the true love triangle of Kerouac and the Cassadys. STREETS OF FIRE (1984) collaged all the styles from the 50's to the 80's into one parallel world. ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS (UK, 1986), featuring David Bowie, achieved the same through anachronisms about 50's Britain.

Conservative Americans in the 80's lived in a suburban sitcom fantasy of the 50's revived, that ignored the real tumult of either decade and specifically the progress of the 60's and 70's between. Hence Reagan and BACK TO THE FUTURE. (Relax, I'm not knocking your favorite movie, I like it, too. Bear with me.)

This clever time-travel movie connects 1985 to 1955 in an ancestral causal loop. Yes, we all like the movie..., (spoiler critique:) but saying a suburban 80's kid inspired Chuck Berry to invent Rock'n'Roll by way of Van Halen is a crime against culture on too many levels. No. Luckily, this bogus butterfly effect got its wings clipped when HAIL! HAIL! ROCK 'N' ROLL arrived in time soon to restore reality.

Just as Buddy Holly was immortalized for new fans with THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (1978), the same happened for his friend Ritchie Valens with LA BAMBA (1987); the biopic featured Marshall Crenshaw (as Buddy Holly), Brian Setzer (as Eddie Cochran), and Howard Huntsberry (as Jackie Wilson), with a hit soundtrack ghosted by Los Lobos.

If the spectres of 50's gang pulps and films echoed in Francis Ford Coppola's adaptions of THE OUTSIDERS (1982) and RUMBLE FISH (1983), then the era was reflected directly with the magic realist timetrip of PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED (1986).

And if the 50's had haunted the decade askance, then the ghost of Elvis literally haunts the modern Memphis of Jarmusch's MYSTERY TRAIN (1989), featuring Screaming Jay Hawkins, Rufus Thomas, and Joe Strummer.

With the overground success of Stray Cats, and all the underground experimentation beyond the margins, the 80's broadened the scope and depth of the 50's revival. In the 90's, these seeds would flourish in a new landscape of support for proud Revival acts.

1950's Rock, D: The 1990's disciples‏

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Manifesto, A Handy Checklist

Revolution 1950's: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!

1950's PUNK: Sex, Thugs, and Rock'n'Roll!

CHUCK BERRY: The Guitar God and His Disciples

BO DIDDLEY: The Rhythm King and His Disciples

BUDDY HOLLY: Rock's Everyman and His Disciples

LITTLE RICHARD: The Voice of Rock and His Disciples

JIMMY REED: The Groover of Rock, From Motown To Sesame Street

1950's Rock, A: The 60's Disciples

1950's Rock, B: The 70's Disciples

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

1950's Rock, B: The 70's Disciples

How the original 1950's Rock styles remained strong through each decade!
(#2 of 6 parts)

...with enormous, world-spanning Music Player!

now brings you the actual, all-inclusive holistic history of Rock'n'Soul music each week.

History Checklist

Today, the story of how 50's Rock'n'Roll was revived in 1970's music and film!!
Hear an exhaustive music player, with worldwide artists maintaining the 50's styles from 1970 through 1979!

Spotify playlist title=
50's Rock disciples: '70-79
This is a Spotify player. Join up for free here.

*(The Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)

All songs in order from 1970 through 1979.

1950's Rock, A: The 60's Disciples

The upshot:

The 1950's Rock styles returned in the early 70's in a full-on Revival.

a) I Rocked the Crowd (But FM Won)
b) Celluloid Graffiti
c) Revivals: Roots, Glam, Pubs, Punks, and Teds

a) I Rocked the Crowd (But FM Won)

Sha Na Na at Woodstock, 1969

Woodstock was the peak of the counterculture tsunami. The largest generation ever now had full presence and progress in its hands.

The festival personified a crux-point for the past and future of both music and society. Rock had started in the 50's by pushing back the margins and pushing forward the marginalized, and after 15 years it had become the universal language connecting an eclectic alternate society. Where would it all go next?

As dynamic as Rock had matured in the wake of The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, it all was still an extension of the styles that had inspired it. The setlists at Woodstock were a catalog of all the roots musics that underlay it: folk, blues, country, jazz, gospel, bluegrass, salsa, soul, international musics. Rock was now like wild branches spreading rapidly from deep roots, all loose but twined tight to the communal trunk. This reflected the diverse creativity and backgrounds of the cosmopolitain audience.

So it was time for Money to get in there and mess that up. FM radio would reduce all of that promise and possibility to rigid style formats that would divide the listeners and conquer that progressive unity. Rock was the common tongue of the freespirits. But that's why the real Big Brother and its holding companies wanted to control what was expressed.

Chuck Berry at Toronto Pop Festival, 1969

The dominant AM radio in the 60's had played everyone together as long as they had hits. By 1967, the underused FM became a haven for the counterculture to play underground rock with extended lengths and no censorship. Ever quick to milk the movement, corporations started buying up all the indie labels to form mega-labels and co-opted FM as the new wavelenth. At exactly the moment Woodstock was freeing everyone to be inclusive and expansive, the labels and radio became excluding and constrictive in what people could hear. They sifted communal creativity and interaction into niche markets they could control and fleece for money. This divided and conquered the cultural future, and continues to.

(There's no better or sadder analogy of the conservative backlash slowly strangling the counterculture in the 70's than in watching the corporate label machine streamline, sterilize, and segregate music year by declining year. Easy proof: compare any act from the funky early 70's to their slick shadow in the late 70's.)

Fanny; NQB; The Persuasions

But how do you rock the party when you can't get in the door?

The most insidious and damaging fallout of FM is how it intensified the codifying of music by the same old false racial and gender divisions. The unspoken formula had distilled to Rock=Guitar=White(male), Soul=Dance=Black, and Female=Soft=Sex. People got so used to it that to this day they take this controlling propaganda for given truth. FM, like repressive society, operated on erase-ism: anyone who didn't fit the profiles got eliminated.

Women were (and are) stringently catalogued as pop singers or dance divas, so tough Rock acts like Fanny, Birtha, Cradle, Isis, Mother Trucker, Yoko Ono, NQB (Sweden), and The Runaways that negated the stereotype in the 70's weren't supported properly with marketing or airplay. If they weren't seen or heard, they didn't exist in history. But, like climate change, they existed anyway.

This segregation mentality from programmers had always been there since the 50's. The same music was called two different names -Rock'n'Roll or Rhythm'n'Blues- depending on the skin of the players. But it was the same music. FM worsened this. Even though modern Rock music (post-1967) was bestowed by Jimi Hendrix, hardcore rocker acts like Funkadelic, Black Merda, Death, and Mother's Finest never got played on Rock radio. But it was the same music.

The original Rock allowed for sounds from the post-Gospel Doo Wop groups; though these traditions still informed the harmonies of every current vocal combo like The Temptations, The Dramatics, The Pointer Sisters, Bloodstone, and The Chi-Lites, they were steadily consigned to another planet called Soul separate from Rock as tough guitar was cleansed from their mixes. (The Persuasions were so proud of the Doo Wop heritage that they always sang a capella, on records like "Street Corner Symphonies".)

So, although women and diverse faces were a huge portion of the original 50's Rock explosion, they were enforcedly absent from its 70's Revival, to everyone's great loss. (They contributed anyway, and this music player returns them properly.)

"There's so many people'll be there to love and cheer
some of the greatest guitar playing in the Western hemisphere
Got The Who, The Band from across the north border,
Canned Heat, The Fifth Dimension, Creedence Clearwater,
And oh, Brother Hendrix, Sister Joplin, we wish you were here."

-Chuck Berry, "Festival" (1971)

Rock only knew where to go from remembering where it came from.

As crazed and divergent as it was now becoming (Psychedelic, Funk, Fusion, Soul, Prog, Bubblegum, etc.), its young artists always hearkened back to the original styles -Rockabilly, Rhythm'n'Blues, Blues, Honky Tonk, Doo Wop, Cajun, Mambo- to keep their bearings. By 1970 this began to hit critical mass in cover versions, homage tunes, and tour mentors.

Many of the 50's elders -like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Big Mama Thornton, Muddy Waters, The Everly Brothers, and Jerry Lee Lewis- enjoyed recurrent crests in the 60's because of each new wave that built on their work. Now in the dawning 70's they were touring the counterculture festivals as peers with their scion.

But FM heard them knocking and didn't let them in: radio only programmed them as oldies hits while ignoring their new albums. This slowly segregated them from youth festivals into Oldies tours and pegged them as nostalgia acts instead of being respected as thriving legacy artists.

Little Richard, early 70's

Young acts in Festivals were expected to metamorphisize, but elder stars found that Oldies package tours were sealing them in amber. Audiences expected them to be a strutting simulacrum of their past, while buyers went for albums of younger acts doing their styles. There was a major Rock Revival show at Madison Square Garden in 1971; when Ricky Nelson played a Stones song looking modern, reflexive booing drove him from the stage.

"But if memories were all I sang, I'd rather drive a truck.
But it's alright now, I've learned my lesson well
You see, you can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself."

-Ricky Nelson, "Garden Party" (1972)

Negative undertow like ageism and pop disposability continued dividing Rock. The Rolling Stones, the solo Beatles, The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Led Zeppelin, T. Rex, David Bowie, Suzi Quatro, BTO, and Bruce Springsteen could burn rubber on Gold hubcaps while their heroes were just spinning wheels. The 50's pioneers were making money but without progress, while the times traded on everything they had invented.

It was hard to be a rock and not to roll.

b) Celluloid Graffiti

Wolfman Jack in 'American Graffiti'

The phenomenal success of 'HAIR' on Broadway (1968) ducktailed into the debut of the 'GREASE' musical in 1971. Owing to the times and the audience, the original production was much grittier, daring, and socially relevant. But, much like Rock'n'Roll hits in the 50's, it was tamed down from edgy rebellion to sock hop silliness for mainstream appeal. (And further for film and high school productions.)

George Lucas flipped a 180 from the glacial Kubrick futurism of his debut feature THX-1138 into the intimate warmth of his breakthrough follow-up AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973). The counterculture was beginning to reflect on the social upheaval that had formed their lives, as mirrored in New Hollywood films like THE LAST PICTURE SHOW and SUMMER OF '42. Lucas' coming-of-age homage about the summer of '62 hit a resonant chord with a generation looking back, as well as new youth coming up.

The original GREASE musical; Paul LeMat, Cindy Williams, and Ron Howard, 'American Graffiti'

A crucial factor in this was the double-album soundtrack of hits from the 50's and early 60's. This watershed event alone invented industries: the parallel rise of archival compilations like "Nuggets" and labels like Rhino Records and Bomp; the waves of Top 40 Oldies radio stations essentially templated by the album; and the amped merchandising of film soundtracks as pop hit machines instead of scores.

More importantly, GRAFFITI made the original Rock'n'Roll era cool again in the mainstream, as a chaser to the turbulent 60's, as an antidote to current Rock bloat and listlessness, and as fresh inspiration to new artists.

Through the decade similar films and shows rollicked and rolled, from edge to affect to kitsch.

The ascent of Glam nostalgia underwrote THAT'LL BE THE DAY (1973) featuring Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, and David Essex in a tale of an aspiring early rocker. The sequel STARDUST (1974), adding Dave Edmunds and Adam Faith, detailed the career of his band 'The Stray Cats'. (Hmmm.)

(L) 'Happy Days' in 1974; (R) 'Happy Days' in 1978

This hit critical mass through one show.

The TV-series 'Happy Days' traced over GRAFFITI, even down to tagging its star, Ron Howard. The first two seasons were like the film in style and period accuracy. But the third season became a live-audience flourescent sitcom with lazy catchphrases and hazy detail. Naturally, this feel-good cartoon/painful sell-out led to explosive success, and to spin-offs like 'Laverne and Shirley' (and perversely 'Mork and Mindy', along with three more best ignored). It was still an enjoyable show with occasional nods to civil rights issues and social conflicts. But 'Happy Days', with its massive audience, also unintentionally did the most to crystallize the generic stereotype of the era as diners, poodle skirts, and suburban oblivion (sappy daze), once again defanging the original Rock'n'Roll of all its edge and social power.

Thus by the time GREASE (1978) was finally filmed, it had inverted into corny cringe, goony stupidity, and disco anachronisms. And it was a massive hit, worsening the trite overwrite with waterfalls of dumb money.

'The Buddy Holly Story'; Chuck Berry in 'American Hot Wax'; Ken Wahl in 'The Wanderers'

Some films tried to offset this disturbing trend.

The solid drama THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (1978), though factually blurry, restored Buddy firmly into the pantheon while inspiring new cover versions and much New Wave and Power Pop style. There was also the underrated AMERICAN HOT WAX (1978), a biography of seminal DJ Alan Freed, in which Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Screaming Jay Hawkins played themselves. To its credit, this film correctly posited 50's Rock as the catalyst for the age of social rebellion. And tough gang films like THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH (1974) and THE WANDERERS (1979) shook brass knuckles at an indifferent box office.

If the screen dreams were struggling between hawkeyed, cockeyed, and myopic, music was still revising new visions.

c) Revivals: Roots, Glam, Pubs, Punks, and Teds

It's sometimes said broadly that if Chuck Berry is the father of Rock'n'Roll (rollicking boogie), then Jimi Hendrix is the father of ROCK (godzilla marches). As Rawk in the wayward 1970's then became solos or symphonies or soft, many hungered again for brisk music to dance and roll and grind and shout to.

They wanted to feel like they did in the beginning, so they kept dropping the coin into the slot.

Roots = restart

The revivalists and the traditionalists opened the decade, followed by the memorialists.

Almost like an unapologetic manifesto, the Berry/Elvis echoplex of Dave Edmunds' cover "I Hear You Knocking" (1970) kicked the door down and the dominoes in motion. ("Keep A-Knockin'" and its answer song "I Hear You Knocking" are Blues standards that Little Richard and Huey 'Piano' Smith first adapted into Rock hits.)

Dave Edmunds; Nick Lowe; Barrabas

Revivalist acts like Sha Na Na and Frank Zappa's resuscitated Ruben and The Jets redressed the 50's like fun pantomimes of a bygone time. Showaddywaddy really went for it, pushing the range with some contemporary flair, and coiffing and draping in finest Teddy Boy fashion.

But traditionalists like Dave Edmunds, The Flamin' Groovies, Commander Cody And The Lost Planet Airmen, Nick Lowe, and Chris Spedding treated the 50's styles as living traditions to extend the spirit and range of. In this they were like contemporary Blues artists, picking up the relay and running further afield with it.

The pulse also choogled in Boogie Rock acts like Canned Heat, Savoy Brown, J.J. Gunne, Brownsville Station, Foghat, Barrabas (Spain), and Los Puntos (Mexico). And grandiose acts like The Move and their spinoffs, Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard.

The common undercurrent was nostalgia and reflection.

The entire Rock era was memorialized in Don McLean's "American Pie" (1971), a symbolist exam on the promise and pitfalls of the paths taken. Other hits took the sentimental look back with doo wop daydreams like B. J. Thomas' "Rock and Roll Lullaby" and The Carpenters' "Yesterday Once More". Loggins and Messina's "Your Mama Don't Dance" was a 70's anthem based on 50's themes.

And fond remembrance drove hit covers like Ringo Starr's "Sixteen", Johnny Rivers' "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu", and Linda Ronstadt's glosses on Chuck Berry, The Everly Brothers, and Buddy Holly.

Glam = theater

John Lennon is oft-quoted for cheekily calling Glam "Rock'n'Roll with lipstick on". It was really a malatov mix of the androgynous theater of Little Richard, the riffs of Chuck Berry, the sleaze of Times Square, the ironic camp of cabaret, and the bracing jolt of shock.

"Meanwhile I was still thinkin'
If it's a slow song, we'll omit it
If it's a rocker, that'll get it."

-Chuck Berry, "Little Queenie" (1959)

Glam Rock was the sassy stepchild of 50's Rock'n'Roll. It reduced Prog pomp to curt burlesque, and marathon jams back to tight riffs. T. Rex's breakout monster "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" builds on Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie" and quotes its 'meanwhile' asides. And Chuck's plucks duckwalk amok in the New York Dolls, Suzi Quatro, Bonnie St. Claire, and Mud.

Slyly transgressive, the proudly low-culture cuisinart THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) was rampant with 50's odes, as wildly embodied by Meat Loaf.

Marc Bolan; Suzi Quatro; Meat Loaf in 'Rocky Horror'

All flash aside, Glam was vital to refocusing Rock'n'Roll back to core basics like three-minute-Pop, catchy verve, sexy sway, and fun dancing. It brought platforms stomping to the floor yelling more more more.

Pub = stripped down

But some acts just wanted to skin all the varnish off Rock'n'Roll down to the raw wood.

U.K. Pub Rock bands in 1975 dropped all the extended solos, strings, irony, camp, or platforms in favor of the unapologetic rawbone boogie. Where riffs were knuckles and guitars were bats, where gritty was good and greasy was better.

Crazy Cavan And The Rhythm Rockers; Dr. Feelgood; The Count Bishops

First Shakin' Stevens and then Crazy Cavan And The Rhythm Rockers galvanized the gin joints, followed by Dr. Feelgood, The Count Bishops, Ducks Deluxe, The 101ers (with Joe Strummer), and Kilburn And The High Roads (with Ian Dury). Stadium rockers had left the bar stages empty and these acts cleaned up doing the down and dirty. With their near gangland attitude and turf grabs, they were the petrol that sparked the UK Punk scene.

That spartan, speed-addled approach also resounded in artists like Sonic's Rendezvous Band (post-MC5), The Runaways, Modern Lovers, Eddie And The Hot Rods, Radio Stars, and The Ramones.

Punk = danger

If Rock had originally rebelled against the status quo, it seemed that with Punk in 1977 Rock was rebelling against itself. But in reality, Rock had started by fighting social complacency, and now it was fighting complacency in itself.

Backs to a brick wall in leather jackets and glaring, The Ramones were the poster boys of stark rebellion. They embraced looking like a biker gang because primal instinct drove them to kill frills and scorch through the thrills.

Punk declared 'Year Zero' to burn down the entire past and create their own future. But, like every child, they were just deconstructing the before to reconstruct an after. They selected the best parts that moved them and let passion guide them to next. This is normal, natural, and necessary. Punk was bringing the danger back to Rock'n'Roll.

Creative culture is a family affair. Elders give wisdom to youth, youth gives back vitality to elders. Ageist divides are a two-way deadend, mutual respect is the intersection. Under all the brief yelling still lies the common bond.

Elvis died in 1977 exactly as Punk was learning to walk. "The king is gone but he's not forgotten/ This is the story of Johnny Rotten," sang Neil Young. The flame before is the fire next time. The platitude that each decade was a lump generation turning against a previous is idiotic. Kids may yell at their parents but they still love them. The 60's was informed by the 50's, and the 70's was informed by both. Under all that posturing and smack talk, Punk had put the rebel back into the cause.

Buddy Holly Elvis Costello; Joan Jett; X-Ray Spex

There was 1950's Punk and there was 1960's Punk. This was just the latest reiteration.

The Ramones were The Stones and The Sonics, Elvis Costello was Buddy and Dylan, Suicide was Elvis and Orbison, Joan Jett was Chuck and Wanda, Billy Idol was Elvis and Morrison, The Jam were The Who and Small Faces. X-Ray Spex even rattled punkers by bringing back crazed saxophone solos again. Even the use of "The" for band names, short slicked hair, and tight clothes was a callback to early Rock. And older kin like The Who, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Genya Ravan, Crazy Horse, and The Rolling Stones were revitalized by the threat or thrill of Punk.

Many songs were written about the death of "the King of Rock'n'Roll" by the expected peers. But Generation X proudly punked Punk by rebel yelling "King Rocker". And when The Clash sang "No Elvis, Beatles, or The Rolling Stones/ in 1977", they were actually lamenting the current loss of the vitality they had brought to music, not disparaging them. Stealthily, many punkers were traditionalists bringing new breath.

Teds = rebirth

If Pub rockers brought back the spirit, and Punks brought back the edge, the Teddy Boy Revival in the late 70's UK brought back original Rock'n'Roll style (almost) completely.

Acolytes always aggragate all. The Teds were Elvis echo, Berry bristle, Richard ripple, Burnette barnstorming, and Lewis lairyness.

(However they were too pale and male, unlike the diverse range of the original Rock. In fact, a wretched wave of bigots calling themselves Rockabillies tried to crash the movement's party, waving ludicrous Confederate flags and playing 'white-only' covers, but were thankfully driven out.)

Teddy Boys, 1965; Teddy Boys, late 70's

The fuel of the rocket was the Teddy Boy Revival bands.

New stages, tour circuits, and fanbases across Europe shook, rattled, and rolled to Crazy Cavan, Matchbox, Crepes And Drapes, Riot Rockers, The Jets, Danny Wild and The Wildcats, Rock Island Line, and Shotgun. Barked, battled, and balled to country cousins like Spider Murphy Gang (Germany), Les Alligators (France), and the fireball Hank C. Burnette (Sven-Ake Hogberg from Sweden). Flipped, flopped, and flew to Original School rockabillies like Sleepy LaBeef, Mac Curtis, and Ray Campi returning to show 'em how it's done.

These bands blazed a new batch of rockin' standards that would be covered as readily in decades to come as the original hits, especially Cavan's. They spit in fashionable turnover's face as they proudly made Rock'n'Roll an underground music again. They were the bedrock of a now permanent 1950's revival that has thrived across the world ever since, from Stray Cats and Barrence Whitfield, to The Meteors and El Vez, to TWIN PEAKS and Reverend Horton Heat, to Kay Lenz and King Salaami.

Interviewer: "Are you a mod or a rocker?"
Ringo Starr: "I'm a mocker."

-from A HARD DAYS NIGHT (1964)

The original Teddy Boys of England hadn't got on well with the emerging Mods in the early 60's. Minor scuffles led to hysterical headlines because false conflict sells news. (You may've noticed that.) Ringo was past it, loving both and more.

When the Teddy Boys returned, tabloids played up a new false war with the Punks. But they were both rooted through Pub Rock to original Rock, and admired each other's energy and style.

Sid Vicious; The Damned; The Clash

By 1978, inevitable synthesis brewed. Sid Vicious sang Gene Vincent songs in a leather jacket (and a bullet belt given to him by Joan Jett). The Rezillos growled like yob-abillies in "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite", a cover of an early Fleetwood Mac spoof. The Clash found their calling in a "Brand New Cadillac" looking like Gene Vincent And The Blue Caps. And Nikki And The Corvettes declared that "girls like me/ were born to Rock'n'Roll!"

Thesis > anthithesis > synthesis. In "One Piece At a Time" (1976), Johnny Cash scrapped together a "psychobilly cadillac". The collision of Ted style and Punk energy was of course inevitable. The birth pangs of Psychobilly thus wail through Robert Gordon's rumbles with the returned Link Wray, the kinky carnival of The Cramps, the noize of The Sting-Rays, the buzzsaws of The Rezillos, and particularly in Misfits' "American Nightmare".

"Rock and Roll is here to stay, it will never die
I don't care what people say, Rock and Roll is here to stay!"

-Danny And The Juniors (1958)

The original Rock'n'Roll had reemerged at the start of the 70's, and now it would stay -like a spiritual anchor, a looming threat, a palette-cleanser, a fond friend, a rebel faith, a refresh button- through the decades to come.

1950's Rock, C: The 1980's disciples

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Manifesto, A Handy Checklist

Revolution 1950's: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!

1950's PUNK: Sex, Thugs, and Rock'n'Roll!

CHUCK BERRY: The Guitar God and His Disciples

BO DIDDLEY: The Rhythm King and His Disciples

BUDDY HOLLY: Rock's Everyman and His Disciples

LITTLE RICHARD: The Voice of Rock and His Disciples

JIMMY REED: The Groover of Rock, From Motown To Sesame Street

1950's Rock, A: The 60's Disciples

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1950's Rock, A: The 60's Disciples

How the original 1950's Rock styles remained strong through each decade!
(#1 of 6 parts)

...with enormous, world-spanning Music Player!

The Blue Diamonds

now brings you the actual, all-inclusive history of Rock'n'Soul music each week.

History Checklist

Today, the story of how Rock'n'Roll first conquers the world, mutates into new forms, and comes back refreshed!!
Hear an exhaustive music player, with worldwide artists maintaining the 50's styles from 1960 through 1969!

Spotify playlist title=
50's Rock disciples: '60-69
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All songs in order from 1960 through 1969.

The upshot:

50's Rock continued into the 60's.
Rock became permanent: borderless, fluid, and adaptive.
Styles evolved.
All movements were underscored by the original Rock'n'Roll.
And so it came back again.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The March on Washington, 1963

50's Rock continued into the 60's.

Rock'n'Roll is a shared dream based on rebel instincts: to dance, to make love, to join together, to expand out, to be liberated.

The Beats were rewriting the Word, Civil Rights was rescuing the future, Rock rolled over Beethoven. The new decade was a renewed world, mod ideas, a cosmopolitain outlook, inclusive, progressive. The youth saw themselves in JFK, the Peace Corp, Dr. King, jukeboxes and paperbacks, and a new possible world where there were no borders to constrain anyone. The tidal wave of the rebel Fifties surged into the early 60's and became the undercurrent of all its subsequent waves.

The Beatles were the cumulation of all the styles before them combined and renewed. Everything was starting over, enhanced. If Rock'n'Roll was a Big Bang of culture, then Beatlemania is the second Big Bang of Rock. But the rote narrative that consigns everyone previous as a precursor is myopic. It's a revisionism without vision.

It's all of a piece and everyone is still there. Many of the 50's artists were not much older than the British Invasion, and ofttimes were their peers, like Brenda Lee, the Collins Kids, Ricky Nelson, and Frankie Lymon. Elvis was still a presence through his movies, Buddy Holly still rode the charts from the vaults while The Crickets ticked on, The Everly Brothers were evergreen, and Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, and Del Shannon had their biggest hits in the early 60's.

Chuck Berry; Elvis Presley; Bo Diddley

"Oldies" schmoldies. Record bins and radio hacks segregate Rock (counterculture 60's artists who kept having hits, plus) from Oldies, the elders and also-rans. Another false border to be ignored. A generation gap? No, more fairly, society and culture were like an extended family with growing pains.

To on-air DJ's, songs were disposable; Hits today, "Oldies" tomorrow played as filler and requests. There were no compilations yet, no record chains with catalog albums, no archivists or critics, no belief in Rock as more than a fad. To jaundiced eyes in 1964, The Beatles were just a new fad to replace Elvis.

But to sharper ears, they were proof that Rock was truly worldwide and now permanent. And that repression was losing.

Eros magazine, Summer 1962, photo essay by Richard Hattersley

Rock became permanent: borderless, fluid, and adaptive.

Meanwhile acolytes in every nation sawed through covers into clones into originals to find themselves. This is how the creative cycle always works: walking in previous shoes to find your own tread. Parents, child. Two cool things make a new cool thing. Tradition can become a calcified ritual that excludes, but true creativity thrives in fluid combinations that birth new options.

Rock may have seemed to explode spontaneously from the United States, but it was inherently a world artform. The USA isn't really a singular nation, it is the notion of all nations in one place. At its best it is a dialogue of all voices. American Rock'n'Roll was thus made of many sounds that had come from many places: its source musics can be traced back to Ireland, England, Africa, Arabia, Mexico, the Caribbean, etc.

"Beat Girl" (1960) by John Barry; "Ek Phool Char Kante" (Bollywood 1960); Los Llopis

"People have divergent life histories, different shared experiences with distinctive ways of relating to these differences. We all have a worldview, and we all share our worldview with others with similar experiences. We have culture." -Robert Wald Sussman, author "The Myth of Race" (2014)

It's sometimes said we get our sense of the beat from remembering our mother's heart in the womb. It is the primal link on the subliminal level for all of us. Creativity itself is about communal resonance and response. Pssst! The big secret is... there are no borders between people, there is only common experience and recognition. And true hearts will always hear connection and respond unhindered by any false divisions.

You see, the robo-narrative about Rock'n'Roll is wrong.

It's wrong in its limited scope and false conflicts. Rock'n'Roll isn't just Country and Blues, it sources myriad other musics, as well. Rock'n'Roll isn't two alien races of 'white' versus 'black', but instead is just unique persons feeling the same feeling and sharing it.

(The short: humans are one race > >, there are no races >, it all comes down to your character and actions, adult up and sort it, let's go forward together, next.)

Now that that's solved, here's the core truth: you're an individual, and you respond strongly to something because you are that thing. That sound, that concept, that lover, that outlook, that feeling that moves you... it's not something you just imitate, it's recognition of something you already are, and it's giving you the permission to come forward and join in. While dummies cause real harm over false differences, sharp souls are working together to make a better day.

You start by singing each other's songs.

Nicole Paquin; Los Locos del Ritmo; Roy Orbison

The original Rock'n'Roll is a spiritual alphabet, a sonic Rosetta Stone regardless of the tongue.

So no more borders, no exclusion, no segregation, no gender, no skin, no more constraints. Which is why pompadours and suede shoes quickly swiveled in Sweden (Sven-Ingvars, The Noise Men), Spain (Kurt Savoy, Los Pekenikes), France (Amy Anahid, Les Chats Sauvages, Nicole Paquin), Germany (Rene Kollo), Poland (Niebiesko-Czarni), Canada (Les Nautique, Les Shadols, Les Ingenues), New Zealand (Ivor Fisher), and Japan (Hibari Misora, Kikayo Moriyama, Yasushi Suzuki).

Indorock: The Javalins; The Tielman Brothers; The Twangies

Mexico was one of the quickest to lock onto Rock and roll it over with Los LLopis, Freddy Fender, Los Locos del Ritmo, Rosie and The Originals, and Los Apson. In the Netherlands, Indonesian immigrants embraced Rock and first popularized it with Indorock bands like The Tielman Brothers, The Rockin' Blacks, and The Blue Diamonds. On Bollywood's screens, actor Sunil Dutt pantomimed mock Rock sung by Mohammed Rafi or Iqbal Singh. In Jamaica, Laurel Aitken's attempts at island R'n'B rapidly morphed into the first Ska records.

And in England, John Barry, Johnny Kidd and The Pirates, and Helen Shapiro set the stage for some guys from Liverpool once called 'The Beat Brothers' who were about to beat all. (Ba-dump-bump.)

Little Richard meets The Beatles and the Liverpool doo wop group, The Chants

Sly & The Family Stone

Styles evolved.

Rock'n'Roll was already a broad palette to start with. But new artists mixed primary colors into secondaries, countered with complements, negated with neutrals, collaged it, painted over it, repurposed it.

The Gospel harmonies romping in Doo Wop rebomped in Girl Groups and Motown troupes, in The Beach Boys and The Mamas And The Papas, in The Chants (Liverpool) and Sly & The Family Stone.

Cajun and New Orleans songs led to the funkiness of The Meters and Dr. John, and the swampiness of Bobbie Gentry and Tony Joe White.

The string arrangements of Buddy Holly, The Platters, and torch standards led to the lush productions of Phil Spector, Charles Stepney, and David Axelrod, and to mature albums like "Pet Sounds", "Sgt. Pepper", "Days of Future Past", and "Forever Changes".

Bebop and Folk and world musics led to Psychedelia.

You can make a game (or playlists) out of all the Soul vocalists influenced directly by Little Richard, Mahalia Jackson, Hank Williams, Jackie Wilson, Ray Charles, or Sam Cooke.

And of course, as Dr. King knew, Thesis and Antithesis still always lead to Synthesis anyway. Dylan and others had first countered Rock with Folk for its austere rawness and adult depth. But anyone listening to multiple things will combine them, and so came The Byrds, The Chambers Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Band, and Fairport Convention.

So the Fifties wave naturally churned up new currents, but with all this turnover, the source undercurrent still remained. As the attached music player proves, the original styles -Rockabilly, Rhythm'n'Blues, Blues, Honky Tonk, Doo Wop, Cajun, Mambo, etc.- still echoed directly in set lists, albums, and transistors worldwide. Initially, as the hit style (early 60's), then as standards (mid-60's), then as spoof (latter 60's), and ultimately as a restart revival (1969).

Chuck Berry, Fillmore West, by Greg Irons (1969)

All movements were underscored by the original Rock'n'Roll.

An idea, a movement, a philosophy, a genre are perennials: they seed into a tree with branches. The leaves may shed but the tree always remains, growing. Rock is Yggdrasil.

As soon as Rock'n'Roll found its way, it was a Genre, a perennial like Classical and Jazz that would outlast fleeting seasons or flighty masses or lazy journos. It is an idea that will always trigger new ideas, eternal. Beyond borders, eras, trends, or ignorance.

This is why dismissive (and insecure) buzzwords like retro, outmoded, period, quaint, fossil, or Oldies are so essentially clueless and laughable. Quality is timeless and ever-present, regardless of whether shallow trendchasers, flits, and snarks miss this distinction.

The original 1950's Rock'n'Roll could never really go away. It was everywhere in the 60's from the start, reflected in every local cover set ("Louie Louie"), Surf solo (Chuck Berry), Brit harmony (Everly Brothers), danceclub beat (Bo Diddley), Garage shout (Little Richard), Boogie pound (Jerry Lee Lewis), Soul vamp (Ray Charles), Blues moan (Howlin' Wolf), or mic swagger (Elvis Presley). The first youth of Rock were weaned on it, first walked with it, made out to it, got in trouble over it, crowded together with it, expanded it.

Barbara Lynn; Takeshi Terauchi; Dean Carter

Rock'n'Roll divined musicians to dig its roots. While Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, and Barbara Lynn carried the Blues torch, new upstarts like Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Taj Majal, and Bonnie Raitt picked it up. In England, purists like Alexis Corner, John Mayall, and Judy Roderick presaged The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Animals, and The Bluesbreakers. Dylan responded to this cross-Atlantic ricochet by "Bringing It All Back Home" when he went electric.

Rock'n'Roll stretched music into new branches. The guitar instrumentals of Link Wray and Duane Eddy led to virtuosos like The Shadows, Lonnie Mack, Takeshi Terauchi, and Travis Wammick. The Ventures led to Dick Dale led to Surf and Drag songs. In Seattle, The Kingsmen and The Wailers' frat-party rock -like Little Richard belting with Chuck Berry blazing- led to The Sonics and Garage Rock. [More directly, listen to the ferocious Bunker Hill's "The Girl Can't Dance" (1962), backed by Link Wray.] Ray Charles led to Stax, "Money" led to Motown, Hank Williams led to Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, Howlin' Wolf blues led to Captain Beefheart artnoize.

Like Altman, the dialogue began to overlap. By the latter 60's, Dean Carter had one shoe in Rockabilly and the other in Garage Rock. The Beatles' "Lady Madonna" homaged Fats Domino so well that he sang it back. Del Shannon went psychedelic. Dion and Bobby Darin went singer/songwriter. Chess Records paired Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf with acidheads and blues-rockers, to their initial chagrin but fatter wallets. Charlie Rich sang Soul. Miles Davis brewed Fusion. Elvis came back and got social. "HAIR" did everything all at once, on Broadway, no less.

The Sonics; The Outcast (Japan); The Flamin' Groovies

But no matter how far you get from home you always remember the hearth. The stellar Psychedelia by Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and Steve Miller was underscored by the Blues of all before them. The Blues Rock of The Who, Janis Joplin, Steppenwolf, and Mother Earth reflected kindreds Etta James, Koko Taylor, and Albert King, who they were on touring circuits with. The common experience of Rock between artists and between audiences was all-inclusive, a journey of mentors and heirs exploring tributaries off the same path.

A shared dream based on rebel instincts.

The first Toronto Rock'n'Roll Revival festival, 1969

And so it came back again.

Bill Graham insisted on seasoned pros headlining with new acts in his Fillmore concerts. This familial outlook helped inspire Rock Revival festivals that brought Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, and Big Mama Thornton to counterculture crowds. By 1969, original-style Rock'n'Roll went from winking nostalgia ("Back In the U.S.S.R.", "Oh Darling", "Come Together") or muggy pastiche (Ruben and The Jets, Sha Na Na) to full-throttle revival (MC5, Flamin' Groovies).

Its 'return' would lead to Glam Rock, Pub Rock, Punk, movies, TV shows, Broadway, and more in the 1970's...

1950's Rock, B: The 70's Disciples

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Manifesto, A Handy Checklist

Revolution 1950's: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!

1950's PUNK: Sex, Thugs, and Rock'n'Roll!

CHUCK BERRY: The Guitar God and His Disciples

BO DIDDLEY: The Rhythm King and His Disciples

BUDDY HOLLY: Rock's Everyman and His Disciples

LITTLE RICHARD: The Voice of Rock and His Disciples

JIMMY REED: The Groover of Rock, From Motown To Sesame Street

1950's Rock, B: The 70's Disciples

Monday, March 2, 2015

JIMMY REED: The Groover of Rock, From Motown To Sesame Street

...with 2 strutting Music Players!

now brings you the actual, all-inclusive history of Rock'n'Soul music each week.

History Checklist

Today, the jaunty Jimmy Reed, the groover of Rock!
Hear 2 extensive music players, one of Reed and one of all his disciples from the 1950's to today!

Music Player quick-links:
Jimmy Reed
Jimmy Reed's disciples: 1950's-2010's

The "Sesame Street" theme and many other famous songs we love all exist because of one Blues man.

Sometimes you can tell a history of Rock'n'Soul through the influence of one guitarist, or one voice, or one beat, or one song, or a groove. Jimmy Reed trademarked a groove that defined generations of music afterward.

Part 1: Rockin' With Reed!

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Jimmy Reed was an unassuming gentle soul who raised up a lot of noise and ripples.

A Mississippi blues man, a peer in the new 1950's electric wave of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy regularly galloped hits and standards into the pop charts alongside upstart colts like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Catchy, no frills, all thrills. Jimmy bridged the worlds of Rock and Blues exactly as the first youth of Rock'n'Roll were learning to play.

Jimmy had a sweet disposition, like a cherished uncle talking loose, that felt like casual confessionals of hidden depth. He was a whisper and a smile, a gas and a groove. You could catch the melody, dance to it, and play it. Many many did and do.

He rolled out classics like printing money. "Ain't That Lovin' You, Baby?", "Baby, What You Want Me To Do?", "Bright Lights Big City", "Big Boss Man", "I Ain't Got You", "Shame, Shame, Shame". Each one pinballs the skull, tickles the tongue, taps the feet.

He was a good soul with a fine run and some bad breaks. And in the long run he was great.

Part 2: Ain't That Lovin' You, Baby!
The disciples of Jimmy Reed

Spotify playlist title=
JIMMY REED: Disciples
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*(The Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)

All songs in order from the 1950's to today.

Jimmy Reed is the mover and the groover. His easy-to-learn chords, earworm tunes, and amiable candor cut the baby teeth of Blues, Rock, and Soul folks for the long stroke.

His classic songs have been routinely covered from the late 50's up to this day, including:

Link Wray, Etta James, Barbara Lynn, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Sly & The Family Stone, Elvis Presley, Steve Miller, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, ZZ Top, John Cale, Bryan Ferry, The Blues Brothers, Elvis Costello, The Lyres, Thee Mighty Caesars, Meat Puppets, Oasis, Willie Nelson, Branford Marsalis, Jimmy Vaughan, Rosie Flores, and Black Joe Lewis.

You'll even hear the young Jackson 5 (1967) learning how to play to Jimmy Reed!

Link Wray; Barbara Lynn; The Doors; The Blues Brothers

The Jimmy Reed groove is a boogie shuffle that was becoming standard in Blues and the emerging Rock in the mid '50's. He stamped it with his stark directness, catchy simplicity, and leisurely ease. He took such sonic possession of it, or it him, that it became hard to believe it ever existed without him.

After his first strutting hits, it started to diverge into two tempos, each of which launched many covers and imitations: e.g., the slow stroll of "Bright Lights Big City", and the sunny jaunt of "Big Boss Man".


The Rolling Stones; The Yardbirds; Bob Dylan; ZZ Top

Jimmy Reed turned the standard slow blues shuffle into a stripped, insular, smokey mood. It's the sound of shack backrooms, creaking floors and bones, raspy regrets, and woozy funk. It can be wandering midnight city cement, lost and glazed, on the wrong side of downhill. Or it can be sinuous and sultry, or lazed and content, or drunk and drained. It starts in rough Rockin' form on "I Found My Baby", simmers down on "Baby, What You Want Me To Do" and "Take Out Some Insurance", and reaches pure slow burn with "Bright Lights Big City". The groove and the mood becomes his through the spare atmosphere, languid vocal, and bleak harp.

You can hear this groove and mood play out in other classics like The Yardbirds' "Like Jimmy Reed Again", The Rolling Stones' "The Spider And The Fly", Ray Hoff and The Offbeats' "My Good Friend Mary Jane" (Australia), Chicago's "Anyway You Want", and in mutant spirit in Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" and ZZ Top's "Tush", or Half-Japanese splicing their cover with The Ventures' "Walk Don't Run".

(or, "Can You Tell Me How To Get Some Respect For Jimmy Reed?")

Tommy Tucker; Marvin Gaye; Solomon Burke; The Ad Libs

But it's the jaunty groove that everyone loves, even if they don't realize it's origin.

It's especially odd that songs influenced by 'the Bo Diddley' beat' are named, noted, and archived routinely, but no one seems to do the same for the upbeat Jimmy Reed groove. Yet it's often as ubiquitous.

It is paralleled early by similar groovers like Little Walter's "My Babe", Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" and "Memphis, Tennesse"*, and Little Willie John's "Leave My Kitten Alone". But Jimmy distills the blues jaunt into a classic rhythm with "Big Boss Man" (1960). He refines it with "Baby What's Wrong" (1961) and perfects it on "Shame, Shame, Shame" (1963).

* (One critic contends that all of the songs I will ascribe as the Jimmy Reed jaunt are just variations of Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee". But I would respectfully counter this by expanding it. Rather than the false borders of antithesis, this is the fluid reality of synthesis in action.

Chuck's original was a 1959 b-side that sounds like a proto sketch, more of a straight jog than a jaunt, and was rarely heard. Only after Lonnie Mack (1963) and Johnnie Rivers (1964) had hit covers with it that skewed closer to Jimmy's rhythm did the song become famous, and even Chuck then changed how he played it after their lead. Creativity is endless synthesis. Note that Lonnie covered Jimmy's "Baby, What's Wrong" with the signature jaunt on the same album, and how much of Reed he brought into his very loose cover of "Memphis". So I contend that Jimmy Reed, though perhaps initially influenced by his peer Chuck, crystalized the rhythm that everyone will continue to expand on. But I've included all on the player for your own estimation.)

As Jimmy furrows the major groove, it mirrors in minor sides like The Esquires' "The Sight Of You", Cheryl and Pam John's "That's My Guy", and The Crickets' "All Over You". Even as Jimmy lay tread with "Shame, Shame, Shame", Tommy Tucker was on his heels with "Hi-Heel Sneakers".

It bops into the popstream with Marvin Gaye's "Can I Get A Witness?", laces loose in The Velvelettes' "Needle In A Haystack", and parties up Solomon Burke's "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love".

The Pretty Things; The Standells; Bobbi Gentry; Black Joe Lewis

But it probably reaches critical mass with The Ad Libs' "The Boy From New York City" (1965). By then it's a standard rhythm underscoring acolytes like Jean Wells' "Put The Best On The Outside" and answer songs like The Beach Boys' "The Girl From New York City". By now it's international, like Roy Head's "Apple Of My Eye" (England) and Los Johnny Jets' cover "El Leon" (Mexico), Les Furys' "Aide-Moi" (Canada), The Times' "Glad Not Sad" (Australia), and Datar's "Alveg ær" (Iceland).

This is the juncture in creative interchange when covers become clones become cousins. It goes from covers like The Pretty Things' or Bobbi Gentry's "Big Boss Man"; to clones like The Olympics' "We Go Together (Pretty Baby)" and The Arthur Brown Set's "The Green Ball"; to cousins like Booker T & The MGs' "Outrage", The Standells' "Dirty Water", The Ad Libs' "He's No Angel", The NightRiders' "Love Me Right Now", and Black Joe Lewis' "Black Snake".

Two cool things birth a third cool thing. Just as Jimmy echoed the blues shuffle in his own way, others reverbed his way into their way, and then all of them started to ricochet with each other. The Stones channel the Jimmy jaunt via Marvin Gaye with their response "Now, I've Got A Witness". Sugar Pie DeSanto gets there by answering "Hi-Heel Sneakers" with "Soulful Dress", as do Oasis with "(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady". The young Sly & The Family Stone strut Willie Mabon's "Seventh Son" sidelong into the Jimmy jaunt. Inez and Charlie Foxx burn into "Hurt By Love" by way of Martha And The Vandellas' "Heatwave". Shirley & Company cross Jimmy with Bo Diddley in their "Shame, Shame, Shame". Elvis Costello gets there in "Tokyo Storm Warning" by way of The Stones' "Satisfaction". Thee Mighty Caesars broadcast "Signals Of Love" on waves of Link Wray.

Cross-fertilization is how creativity (and culture, and the human lineage) works.

The original Sesame Street cast

The universality of the groove paved the way for the TV theme, "Can You Tell Me How To Get To SESAME STREET?" (1969), by Joe Raposo. The series began as a counterculture response to MISTER ROGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD, with an urban slant emphasizing diversity in the cast, film mediums, and especially music styles. Raposo was excellent at underscoring all of the segments with folk, jazz, blues, soul, rock, and more, a subtle music education for budding minds. Having the pulse of the times, he would have been aware of the Jimmy Reed jaunt in some form. So there it shines in a sunny tune that beamed itself into the cultural DNA of five decades of children.

Today is brought to you by the letter G, for Groove!

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Manifesto, A Handy Checklist

Revolution 1950's: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!

1950's PUNK: Sex, Thugs, and Rock'n'Roll!

CHUCK BERRY: The Guitar God and His Disciples

BO DIDDLEY: The Rhythm King and His Disciples

BUDDY HOLLY: Rock's Everyman and His Disciples

LITTLE RICHARD: The Voice of Rock and His Disciples