Sunday, August 26, 2007

Roots of Rock and Roll

The "origin of rock and roll", "the first rock and roll record", The "roots of rock". This subject is a nexus of debate for an argument so boring it makes you wish someone would douse the competing experts in gasoline while yodeling great balls of fire. Who cares who invented rock and roll just be happy they did. The only thing worse is competing experts arguing about which record marks the transition from rocksteady to lovers rock.
Regardless a quick read of Nick Tosches' Unsung Heros of Rock and Roll should get you fired up to check out these ancient pioneers. Tosches main thesis is that rock and roll turned to shit right about the time your grand parents probably got sick of fucking each other(in or around 53/54 to be more exact) So it was over before it started, or it was done by the time a bunch of white teenagers started howling about rock and roll. And this is more or less an argument everyone has-they just move the date that things started sucking after to suit their age or theory.
There are several comps covering this subject, but I picked up another recently. "Rock and Roll before Elvis,Before Little Richard,Before Chuck Berry,Bo Diddley, or Bill Haley" is the non-confrontational title of this double disc 44 track comp on Hoy Hoy LTD.
49-53 is the time frame. Most of the names you would expect to see are here (Joe Turner,Amos Milburn, Louis Prima, Ike Turner, Treniers,Wynonie Harris,etc) along with an army of couldas, wouldas, and shouldas. First time I played it through without paying too much attention and it was a good listening experience. FUN- no lags, no dogs, no skips. Throw it on and jump,jive,rock,roll,wail,stomp,shout, and boogie. While your at it don't forget to drink and dance.
Doc Sausage is probably the star of the of the unknowns. Especially since his track is "Sausage Rock"! Harry the Hipster, H-Bomb Ferguson, and "Fat Man" Humphries are no slouches either. Paul "HuckleBuck" Williams drops the super catchy "Rocking Chair Blues" and you better not confuse him with that creepy sorta albino dude with the same name. I wonder if there is similarly heated debate over the origin of the "hucklebuck"?
There was well known name on here that I didn't expect. Scatman Crothers apparently did more than act. Nice to know.
This comp has excellent liner notes and they dig deep to deliver the goods.
At the end of the day it doesn't matter what pre-50s roots of rock comp you get (or who invented rock and roll), just get one cause it will let you see that people were cutting loose after WW2. Do yourself a favor and get the Tosches book while your at it. It will help you realize how "old school" you really aren't.
If you can't track down this one there is a three cd set called "roots of rock and roll" that might be easier to find

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