Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1950s Rock, A: The '60s Disciples

How the original 1950s 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 '50s styles from 1960 through 1969!

Spotify playlist title=
'50s Rock disciples: '60-69
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*(This Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)

All songs in order from 1960 through 1969.

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

1950s Rock, B: The '70s Disciples
1950s Rock, C: The '80s disciples‏
1950s Rock, D: The '90s disciples‏
1950s Rock, E: The 2000s disciples‏
1950s Rock, E: The 2010s disciples‏

The upshot:

'50s Rock continued into the '60s.
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

'50s Rock continued into the '60s.

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 '50s 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 '60s.

Chuck Berry; Elvis Presley; Bo Diddley

"Oldies" schmoldies. Record bins and radio hacks segregate Rock (counterculture '60s 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

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.

Sly And 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 '60s), then as standards (mid-'60s), then as spoof (latter '60s), 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 '60s 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 '60s, 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 1970s...

1950s Rock, B: The '70s Disciples

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

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

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

-1950s 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

1950s Rock, B: The '70s Disciples

1950s Rock, C: The '80s Disciples

1950s Rock, D: The '90s Disciples

1950s Rock, E: The 2000s disciples

1950s Rock, E: The 2010s 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 1950s to today!

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

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 1950s 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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*(This Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)

All songs in order from the 1950s 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 '50s 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 '50s. 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 1950s: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!

-1950s 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