cream of the crate #7: various artists – live at the station hotel

 

 

cream of the crate #9: moon mullican – seven nights to rock

 

 This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site which was abandoned for its current site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site. 

"We gotta play music that'll make them goddamn beer bottles bounce on the table" – Moon Mullican

From the Cream of The Crate Series – An album in my collection that is irreplaceable, and simply a classic!

This is number nine in the series of albums I’m featuring.  It may not be to everyone’s taste but if you enjoy Rock n’ Roll, especially if you enjoy its roots, then this is the album for you.

This album, Seven Nights To Rock by Moon Mullican was released in 2001 on the Western label. It has since been re-released on CD (Ace records – 2004).

cream of the crate #9: moon mullican – seven nights to rock
CLICK to enlarge

 

Moon Mullican was born Aubrey Wilson Mullican on March 29, 1909 and passed away on January 1, 1967.

It has been said that Bill Haley was an unlikely candidate for a R&R star and if that were the case than Moon Mullican would appear to be an incredibly unlikely candidate.

Yet, in so many ways he was not just a pioneer, he is absolutely essential listening.

The musical melting pot from which Rock & Roll evolved has indeed many elements, of which the style of Western Swing is one of the key ingredients.

This is the style that Moon has generally been placed within, although it is obvious that he also straddles Country & Western and Rockabilly as well.

Born in East Texas it is clear that musicians in that area and in that period, heard Cajun tunes, New Orleans and Chicago jazz, gospel, blues, hillbilly and pop.

By the time Moon was in his 20s, Western Swing was the style sweeping through Texas. Musicians in seminal band the Light Crust Doughboys soon set up their own bands. Anther example of a hot band of the time includes Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.

These bands packed out dances, gigs, and clubs, poured out of the airwaves and blasted out their music on 78s played on jukeboxes or the family radiogram.

As a child Mullican began playing the organ, which his religious father had purchased in order to better sing hymns at church. However, he had befriended one of the black sharecroppers on the farm, a guitarist named Joe Jones, who introduced him to the country blues.

His religious family did not always approve and he was torn between religion and secular music. After making his mark as a local piano player he left home at 16 and headed to Houston, where he began playing piano and singing in local clubs. His career choice was to be a singer or a preacher, and he chose the former.

By the early 1930’s he had gained the nickname “Moon” (the origin of which is still debated), and in 1936 he covered Cab Calloway’s “Georgia Pine”. That was the beginning of an amazing career.

There seems little point in listing all the tracks he recorded; the list would be very lengthy indeed. Here is the list of recordings that charted.

Discography of charting tracks

Year Single Chart Positions
Country/ General
 
1936 “Swing Baby Swing” 5
1938 “I’ll Keep On Loving You”
1939 “Truck Driver’s Blues”
1947 “New Pretty Blonde (Jole Blon)” 2
  b/w “Jole Blon’s Sister” 4
1948 “Sweeter Than the Flowers”
b/w “I’ll Sail My Ship Alone”
3
1

17
1950 “Mona Lisa” 4  
  b/w “Goodnight Irene” 5
1951 “Cherokee Boogie (E-Oh-Aleena)” 7
1961 “Ragged but Right 15
   

The album Seven Nights To Rock has 16 tracks on it covering the recording period 1946 to 1956 and include many of his ‘classic’ pieces of Western Swing/R&R – these being:

* Seven Nights To Rock
* Well, Oh Well
* Cherokee Boogie
* Tokyo Boogie
* Rocket To The Moon
* Rheumatism Boogie.

cream of the crate #9: moon mullican – seven nights to rock
SIDE 1 [CLICK to enlarge]
cream of the crate #9: moon mullican – seven nights to rock
SIDE 2 [CLICK to enlarge]

 

We kick off with a track recorded on January 26, 1956 King Studios, Cincinnati, Ohio. Track 1 on side 1 is Seven Nights To Rock which also gives the album its name.

In terms of musicians it’s quite a striped back track.  Moon is featured on piano and vocals with Boyd Bennett and the Rockets providing the backing.

I got seven nights to rock
I got seven nights to roll
Seven nights, I’m gonna have a whirl
Seven nights with a different girl
Seven nights to rock
I got seven nights to roll

Monday, at sister Suzy’s ball
Tuesday, at the old dance hall
Wednesday, at the road house inn
Thursday, at the lion’s den
Friday, at the chatter box
Saturday and Sunday, everybody rocks

Seven nights to rock
I got seven nights to roll
Seven nights, I’m gonna have a whirl
Seven nights with a different girl
Seven nights to rock
I got seven nights to roll

I got seven nights to rock
I got seven nights to roll
I got seven nights, I’m gonna show my face
With a different chick and in a different place
Seven nights to rock
Seven nights to roll

Monday, I’m gonna rock with Jane
Tuesday, it’s gonna be Lorraine
Wednesday, I’m taking Nancy Lee
Thursday, it’s Betty Lou and me
Friday, I’m gonna jive with Sue
Saturday and Sunday, any chick will do

Seven nights to rock
I got seven nights to roll
Seven nights, I’m gonna show my face
With a different chick and in a different place
Seven nights to rock
I got seven nights to roll

Seven Nights To Rock

 

Well, Oh Well is track 3 on side 1. It has some fabulous pedal steel playing from it was believed was Bobby Koeffer and fiddle from Ralph Lamp and of course Moon on piano and vocals.

Well, Oh Well

 

Finally I chose track 3 on side 2 – Rocket To The Moon, which uses a play on the work “rock it”.

Recorded March 6, 1953 also at King Studio it really plays homage to “Jump style” black blues.

Rocket To The Moon

 

But Moon, despite his rocking music, was never going to be a Rock and Roll star. By the time his music was really being appreciated he fifty years of age, bald and overweight.

The fact that he could really pump it out on his favourite instrument, the piano, was overlooked because image was becoming everything, with the likes of Elvis, Jerry Lee and Carl Perkins vying for the audience attention.

As Ric Kienzie wrote on the liner notes to this fabulous album – “Someone else would have undoubtedly have made similar music to Moon’s, but it was his earthy, uninhibited approach that set the standards to be followed by Jerry Lee….. and the rest. He helped to create the foundations of rockabilly and rock ‘n roll, and if you don’t believe it, just listen to the songs within. They’ll convince you.”

So when you put his music on, and I have included three of my favourite tracks by Moon in this review for you to listen to, well, it’s the old story.

If your feet ain’t tapping it means they are either nailed to the floor, or you are dead!

 


 

VIDEOS:

Amazingly there are three excellent pieces of film of Moon playing live.

 

Cherokee Boogie

 

St Louis Blues

 

You Don’t have To Be A Baby To Cry