Saturday, June 16, 2012
A playlist to rock your world!
Yes, a playlist to rock your world--and I do not exaggerate. Well, maybe a little. But, at bare minimum, it will entertain, tickle, and, in spots, even mystify. For instance, as you listen to How Do We Look to the Monkeys (Cha Cha Cha), you'll probably find yourself wondering what words Barry Gordon is singing. Which is unfortunate, because the lyrics are quite funny, but also a tad too complicated for his young voice--a backing chorus would have helped. A shame, because it could have been a classic. The flip, 10 Years to Go, however, makes for a sharp parody of Muddy Waters, Elvis, and blues-belting numbers in general. I've always wanted to type "blues-belting numbers in general."
Zag Pennell's Vegetable Love (1954) is full of horrible puns, which is to say, full of excellent puns (same difference). Paul Gayten's 1953 Cow Cow Blues and Ooh-Boo are yet two more examples of rock and roll B.E. (Befroe Elvis), while Frankie Carle's stride-style rendition of Twelfth Street Rag is an instance of ragtime B.T.S. (Before The Sting). The "fake" hits for this playlist consist of an anonymous, rocking cover of Hound Dog; a really, really bad version of I Want to Hold Your Hand from the Hit Parader label; and a decent copy of Surfin' Bird from that same EP (though the singer clearly doesn't realize he should be singing,"The bird's the word"). From 1952, we have the amazing Oh Happy Day and You Went Away--amazing, because the disc features raw (as in, unembellished) rock and roll, and because it went high on the charts, and because it nevertheless gets virtually zilch in the way of historical credit. Bound to stun anyone who thought doo-woppy, I/vi/ii/V-style ballads were a product of the mid to late Fifties. In fact, such ballads even predate Howard, but, anyway....
Oh Happy Day, by the way, is neither of the (at least) two gospel songs known by that title.
Bip Bam (Art Mooney, again) was penned by Jesse Stone of Shake, Rattle and Roll/Money Honey/Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash fame, and the wonderful Four Voices ballad Darling, Thanks to You (1956) was written by Fred (Big 10 Inch Record) Weismantel, who conducts the orchestra. Rounding out our playlist are two later, excellent Hal Singer sides (one of which blatantly copies Tequila), and the New Christy Minstrels with a 1969 rendition of Alice's Restaurant. Aieeee, you say? Well, their version works for me.
To the world-rocking playlist, all ripped from discs in my collection: PTRYW
Vegetable Love--Zag Pennell (Columbia 21255; 1954)
Ooh-Boo (Gayten)--Paul Gayten and His Orch. (Okeh 6982; 1953)
Cow Cow Blues--Same.
Alice's Restaurant (A. Guthrie)--The New Christy Minstrels, 1969.
Darling, Thanks to You (Weismantel)--The Four Voices, 1956.
How Do We Look to the Monkeys--Barry Gordon w. Art Mooney Orch. (MGM K12276; 1956)
10 Years to Go--Same.
Surfin' Bird--Hit Parader 27 (45 rpm EP)
I Want to Hold Your Hand--Same.
Twelfth Street Rag--Frankie Carle, 1940.
Oh Happy Day--Don Howard (Essex 311; 1952)
You Went Away--Same.
Take Half--Hal Singer (Time 1001; c. 1958)
Hula Hoop Rock--Same.
Bip Bam (J. Stone)--Art Mooney and His Orch. (MGM K11871; 1954)