Thursday, January 26, 2006

Rock AND Roll (50's)

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While we may have ‘rock’ today, rarely do we see ‘roll’ anymore. The swingin’ rhythm and blues side of rock ‘n’ roll that helped make it so popular. This week features the early pioneers of such music. These guys inspired the inspiring, they influenced the influential, they instigated the instigators, and well you get the point. One major reason for this influx of great music is that despite being at the height of racial tension in America, black singers were finally being recognised for their talent and listened to mainstream. In fact, out of this five, Elvis is the only white guy. If only they could channel their R&B skills back towards this kind of music instead of the crap they give us these days. It should be mentioned though, that a lot of credit should be given to the poor songwriters behind the scenes, who sometimes wrote the music that made these guys big.

Chuck Berry – Maybellene
Chuck Berry was one who wrote his own songs, most of it great. However it always seemed to be others who made money off his material. Two Beatles favourites of his are ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Music’ which I love and would have included had I not much preferred The Beatle’s version. Also the Beach Boys ‘borrowed’ the music to ‘Surfin USA’ from Chuck Berry’s slightly less successful ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’. He also wrote the very popular ‘Johnny B Good’ which come to think I probably should have used…..Either way he no doubt had an influence on rock music to come, being inducted in to the rock n roll hall of fame by Keith Richards, a long time fan. This song in particular was Chuck Berry’s first big hit and one of the first rock n roll songs ever recorded.

Ray Charles – Let The Good Times Roll
The majority of my Ray Charles knowledge comes from the movie ‘Ray’, which by the way I highly recommend. A blind, heroin addicted, womanising, genius piano player is an odd combination yet that was Ray Charles. He was another to write his own music, producing great songs all the way to his death, just a few years ago. He is not only renowned for his incredible piano skills but also for his screaming singing that made him so exciting to watch. In fact, during his performances the most excited person was probably himself, nearly falling of his chair.

Little Richard – Good Golly Miss Molly
Talking about inspiring the inspirational, Little Richard did his fair share. He had up and coming bands, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones supporting him on tours and at one point had Jimi Hendrix playing in his band. His songs epitomise your early rock n roll sound which I can’t really describe anymore than say this is it.

Elvis – Hound Dog
So often named the ‘King of rock n roll’, Elvis was BIG. He was the one to make rock n roll mainstream and turn it into the craze it became. In an odd twist Elvis was inspired by black singers such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard yet it was his explosion that made room for these singers. The obsession with this guy was incredible, the likes of which wouldn’t be seen again for…..well just a couple of years. What Elvis did do however, was milk his popularity, with seemingly enough Elvis movies to fill a year of Sunday midday movies. Music-wise his many many hits ranged from rock n roll gems to romantic ballads. But it was his performances that made him biggest with his irresistible charm and crazy onstage antics taking audiences by storm

Fats Domino – Ain’t That A Shame
Now if that isn’t the coolest stage name ever, I dunno what is. Fats represents the Jazz side of rock n roll that was still prevalent in the 1950s. The heavy influence of piano and trumpets is rarely found in rock n roll today. Just like all the others he has great voice and is a pleasure to listen to.

And the best thing about all this music is that it’s short and sweet! With every song under 3 minutes this is by far my shortest ever episode. Why does this please me?

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