This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that 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.
This is album retro-review number 128 in the series of retro-reviews of both vinyl and Cd albums in my collection.
The series is called “Cream of The Crate” and each review represents an album that I believe is of significant musical value, either because of it’s rarity, because it represents the best of a style or styles of music or because there is something unique about the group or the music.
The first fifty reviews were vinyl only, and the second fifty reviews were CD’s only. Links to these reviews can be found at the bottom of this page. From review 101 onward I have mixed vinyl and CD albums and, try and present an Australian album every fifth review!
It has been a while since I delved into my boxed set collections, and this set is mostly notable for the choice of “classic” hits and misses.
It is a boxed set of three vinyl albums containing a total of sixty tracks. The set was bought out by EMI in 1982 and manufactured in Australia and has the code Rock 3.
Its title is The Rock and Roll Collection: The Very Best Of The Rock and Roll Years.
The title is a slight misnomer for while it certainly does have a great selection of Rock and Roll tracks, in fact as you might expect many are the “classic” tracks – consisting of hits and great near misses.
It also has a good range of artists covering the well known such as Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, The Platters and Fats Domino, through to the more obscure such as Smiley Lewis, The Olympics, B.Bumble and the Stingers, The Kalin Twins, Four Preps, Paris Sisters and Mark Dinning – who are probably largely unknown except to R & R enthusiasts.
But it also is missing some of the biggest stars such as Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis just to name two.
There is even an argument that can be mounted that some tracks are more “pop” tracks than Rock and Roll, but the term is so broadly used we can accept it for the purposes of this retro-review.
Now let’s have a closer look at what artists and tracks are on this set of albums.
A1 – Bill Haley And The Comets – Rock Around The Clock
A2 – Diamonds, The – Little Darlin’
A3 – Big Bopper – Chantilly Lace
A4 – Paul & Paula – Hey Paula
A5 – Ventures, The – Walk Don’t Run
A6 – Smiley Lewis – I Hear You Knocking
A7 – Johnny Rivers – Memphis
A8 – Inez And Charlie Foxx – Mockingbird
A9 – Gene Vincent – Be Bop A Lula
A10 – Shangri-Las – Leader Of The Pack
B1 – Connie Francis – Stupid Cupid
B2 – Tommy Edwards – Its All In The Game
B3 – Buddy Holly And The Crickets – That’ll Be The Day
B4 – Platters, The – The Great Pretender
B5 – Eddie Cochran – Three Steps To Heaven
B6 – Lesley Gore – You Don’t Own Me
B7 – Gene McDaniels – Tower Of Strength
B8 – Johnny Burnette – You’re Sixteen
B9 – David Seville – Witchdoctor
B10 – Buddy Holly – Peggy Sue
C1 – Sam the Sham and Yhe Pharoahs – Wooly Bully
C2 – Crystals, The – Then He Kissed Me
C3 – Olympics, The – Western Movies
C4 – Bobby Vee – Take Good Care Of My Baby
C5 – Platters, The – My Prayer
C6 – Conway Twitty – Mona Lisa
C7 – Jimmy Jones – Handy Man
C8 – B. Bumble & The Stingers – Nut Rocker
C9 – Mark Dinning – Teen Angel
C10 – Bobby Vee – Rubber Ball
D1 – Wanda Jackson – Let’s Have A Party
D2 – Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill
D3 – Jan & Dean – Little Old Lady From Pasadena
D4 – Brenda Lee – Sweet Nothin’s
D5 – Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues
D6 – Kalin Twins, The – When
D7 – Sheb Wooley – Purple People Eater
D8 – Gene McDaniels – One Hundred Pounds Of Clay
D9 – Clovers, The – Love Potion Number Nine
D10 – Johnny Burnette – Dreamin’
E1 – Danny & The Juniors – At The Hop
E2 – Brock Benton – Fools Rush In
E3 – Platters, The – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
E4 – Connie Francis – Lip Stick On Your Collar
E5 – Eddie Cochran – C’mon Everybody
E6 – Johnny Preston – Running Bear
E7 – Ernie K Doe – Mother In Law
E8 – Four Preps – Big Man
E9 – Hollywood Argyles – Alley Oop
E10 – Pat Boone – Speedy Gonzales
F1 – Fats Domino – Ain’t That A Shame
F2 – Paris Sisters – I Love How You Love Me
F3 – Bobby Vee – Run To Him
F4 – Johnny And The Hurricanes – Red River Rock
F5 – Shirley and Lee – Let The Good Times Roll
F6 – Conway Twitty – It’s Only Make Believe
F7 – Jerry Lee Lewis – Great Balls Of Fire
F8 – Mark Dinning – Top Forty News Weather And Sports
F9 – Crystals, The – Do Do Ron Ron
F10 – Bill Haley And His Comets – See You Later Alligators
There have been almost as many discourses and books written on what Rock and Roll is, almost as many as there have been Rock and Roll hits – almost!
Part of the difficulty is that it can be argued that the music came from nothing less than a total melting pot of music that includes jazz, blues, western swing, country and western, big band, rockabilly and more.
It has strongly been suggested that there were at least five distinct types of rock ‘n roll.
Charlie Gillette in The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll argues that the music can be subdivided into the following categories:
Northern Band, New Orleans Dance Blues, Memphis Country Rock (Rockabilly), Chicago Rhythm and Blues.
Bill Haley and the Comets are a good example of Northern Band rock ‘n roll. However Northern Band rock ‘n roll really never achieved the popularity of the other styles.
New Orleans Dance Blues records sounded very similar because they so often used the same musicians and were often recorded in Cosimo Matassa’s studio but that doesn’t mean that Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Huey “Piano” Smith sounded alike.
Pat Boone, who sold more records in the 1950s than anyone but Elvis Presley, successfully covered the music of many artists such as Fats Domino and Little Richard and this was most likely because DJs preferred a white Southerner and certainly not “black” artists.
I find it hard to even classify Boons renditions of rock & roll tracks as R & R.
The early Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Gene Vincent were rockabilly artists – no argument. Roy Orbison was a blend of rockabilly and crooning and had a distinctive delivery.
Chuck Berry is without doubt the most famous artist from the Chicago Rhythm and Blues category.
History shows that a plethora of blues musicians moved from Mississippi and played in venues catering to a black clientele. They quickly amplified their guitars because the night clubs and “juke joints” could get very noisy.
Berry and Bo Diddley were two of the Chicago guitar men who became famous because they managed to appeal to a broader audience.
Chuck Berry became the archetypical guitar hero and his ability to tap into the teen psyche resulted in a great many hits because his music appealed to the teenagers, both black and white. Berry sometimes even bordered on being a rockabilly artist even though he was a Midwestern black man.
When it comes to recording and capturing this music it is impossible not to recognise Chess Records as the leading studio for bringing these Rhythm & Blues musicians to fame.
Vocal groups abounded.
The Spaniels, the Penguins, the Diamonds, the Crew Cuts, the Platters, many featured on this box set.
The Everly Brothers (an obvious oversight on this set), a brotherly duo, were a vocal harmony group but they were also in the Rockabilly tradition.
Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers were more typical of this style and as they achieved fame many others simply copied this winning formula and rock and roll music simply exploded!
Some historians assert that rock ‘n roll was just a more polite term for rhythm & blues albeit stripped of its sexual connotations.
The double entendre aspect of “rocking,” “rock you,” and “rock and roll” was obvious if one listened to a number of rhythm & blues songs – but most whites didn’t.
Alan Freed certainly popularized the terms “rock ‘n roll” and “rock and roll” among all kinds of people but he was not trying to be risqué; he was just trying to use a term which didn’t seem “black.”
In fast dances, people often did rock. Freed began calling it rock and roll because “it seemed to suggest the rolling, surging beat of the music.
Now While the history of the music can be debated, there is no doubt Freed was the first person to call this new music by that name, and he was the first radio deejay to use the term. The continuing use of the term certainly was used to refer to the form of dancing, although some teenagers would still continue interpret the term in sexual terms.
When it came to sanitization of rock and roll, Bill Haley and the Comets “Rock Around the Clock” certainly sanitized the terms.
Mind you, as the ‘white world” consisting predominantly of the “church”, parents and schools, they ALL worked hard to make certain rock and roll of the 1950’s was emasculated. They also did their very best to disenfranchise teenagers and to make the reigns of their “freedoms” even tighter.
It seemed as though their very world of conformity, the rule of establishment and the continued segregation of both color and sexes depended upon more and more rules – the very thing the teens were rebelling at. here are some examples.
● Boy’s hair touching the ears wasn’t allowed, punishable by expulsion from school.
● Most girls weren’t allowed to wear pants, and boys weren’t allowed to wear blue jeans. Even Stanford University prohibited the wearing of jeans in public during the 1950s.
● The new slang – hipster talk – bothered most adults. It was part African American, part beatnik and part street gang… an offensive combination in the eyes of the status quo.
● There was alarm about teens dating and “heavy petting.” Any talk about sex was taboo and could be punishable.
● Many parents were worried about their daughters adoring black rock musicians, fearing the possibility of racial commingling.
● Hot rods were considered dangerous. All it took was a few fatal accidents and the other 99% of the custom cars and hot rods were considered a menace to public safety.
● Dancing to rock ‘n’ roll music was often banned, with school and teen dances shut down (The Life of the 1950’s teenager by Richard Powers)
John McKeon, who was a teenager during the 1950’s in the USA recalled,
The dance rules were different. Dance with girls and hold this hand, but then… you could do whatever you wanted to do! Dance looked like freedom. The only freedom this kid knew.”
Rock and roll sent shockwaves across America.
A generation of young teenagers collectively rebelled against the music their parents loved. In general, the older generation loathed rock and roll.
Appalled by the new styles of dance the movement evoked, churches proclaimed it Satan’s music. When artists such as Frank Sinatra spoke out, the older generation shook their heads in agreement – the younger generation shook their heads in time with the music!
In the end history has shown that the teens won!
Certainly there was a 3 – 4 year period where the sanitization was almost effective. The payola scandals seem to have mortally wounded rock and roll and with Elvis in the army and the likes of Pat Boone ruling the airwaves, for a while it seemed as though the urgency and raw power of the music may have been boxed up and put at the back of the shelf.
It was but a short hiatus!
There was a growing power of the teen purchasing that had begun in the 1950’s and was rapidly accelerating as we moved into the 1960’s. This along with the development of black and white music through the Brill building, a growing R & B scene largely through companies like Sue records and the growing energetic British beat music, largely based upon the American rock/black music, resulted in rock music hitting the airwaves like a tsunami.
Volume 1, side 1 has ten tracks, all that charted.
I do note the inclusion of the Ventures as a strange addition. A west coast surf band, predominantly instrumental based, whilst their music was cutting edge during the early part of the 1960’s, it is strange to have them classified as a rock and roll outfit.
However despite some of the music being pop, and some rock, the other artists certainly deserve to be on this album.
I cannot go past track number 9: Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent, as the best track, even against the likes of The Diamonds.
Gene Vincent had it all! He had the voice, he had the sneer, he had a “gammy” leg that he would throw around on stage, he had the looks and he had the Blue Caps.
Born in 1935, by the mid 1950’s he was perfectly situated to take advantage of the growth of rock and roll.
Born Vincent Eugene Craddock he simply truncated his middle name and used his first name as his surname and let’s face it – Vincent Craddock simply does not stack up against Gene Vincent.
Along with the four piece Blue Caps he sang on 46 singles, 11 albums prior to his death, and another 11 posthumously released albums.
Be-Bop-A-Lula is considered as his finest track, and is certainly considered by myself as one of the jewels in the crown of rock and roll.
Written by Vincent, it was released in June 1956 on Capitol Records’ single F3450, and immediately sold well.
The song was successful on three American singles charts: it peaked at #7 on the US Billboard pop music chart, #8 on the R&B chart, and also made the top ten on the C&W Best Seller chart peaking at #5.
In the UK, it peaked at #16 in August 1956. In April 1957, the record company announced that over 2 million copies had been sold to that date. Frankly, when you listen to the sultry delivery style of Gene Vincent on this track, you realise that he delivery is every bit as good as Elvis.
Side 2 of this album has the amazing Eddie Cochran, The Platters, the very cute but dynamic Connie Francis, Lesley Gore and the Platters to name a few of the top artists being featured on this side.
I was so drawn to Eddie Cochran, but as he features on Volume 2 with one of my all time favourite tracks, I moved onto Buddy Holly.
I cannot believe that anyone, even in recent generations, who has even just a passing interest in what was, for all intents and purposes, the period of the birth of rock and roll would not have listened to Buddy Holly.
Holly actually only has two tracks among the 60 featured tracks – and that can easily be argued to be under representative both because of his large number of hits and because of his importance to rock and rolls development.
So I am torn between track 3 – That’ll Be The Day, and track number 10 – Peggy Sue.
That’ll be The Day won out!
Now Peggy Sue is possibly the most played track of Buddy Holly’s amazing discography of work, but I went for That’ll Be The Day because it doesn’t get the airplay and it is, quite frankly, a superb rock and roll track.
It is delivered in an effortless manner, yet the delivery is rock and roll par excellent!
Unlike many of his contemporaries, such as Elvis, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran – Buddy was the most unlikely looking rock and roll star. His horn rimmed glasses and thin angular body really was not the image that those promoting rock and roll wanted to work with.
Really, as John Mellencamp wrote, “Buddy Holly was a complete and utter hillbilly“.
But what he did have, he had in unbelievable quantities. He had the most amazing voice and he was one of the most amazing songwriters, writing some 40 songs of which many became hits and all became fan favourites.
He broke away from the Tin Pan Alley mould and wrote as he communicated, directly to his audience. He was born in 1936 with the surname Holley, which was misspelt later by a record company – so he kept it.
The origin of the songs title is kind of cute.
In the western movie The Searchers, John Wayne keeps replying “That’ll be the day” every time another character in the film predicts or proclaims something will happen when he felt it was not likely to happen.
The phrase stuck in Cricket’s drummer, Jerry Allison’s mind, and when they were hanging out at Jerry’s house one night, Buddy looked at Jerry and said that it sure would be nice if they could record a hit song. Jerry replied with, “That’ll be the day,” mocking John Wayne in the western.
Now due to some contractual issues the song was released simply under the name of the Crickets, but it was in fact the first hit for Buddy Holly.
It was also the very first song that the young John Lennon learned on guitar and was a cover release by John and the Quarrymen in 1958.
The track would eventually be certified as a gold release andf would enter the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.
That’ll be The Day
Moving onto album number 2, side one we have 10 tracks which really do not fit the conventional image of rock and roll.
This is not to say there aren’t some magnificent tracks such as Then He kissed Me by the Crystals, The Olympics with Western Movie and the tear jerker, Teen Angel by Mark Dinning.
But I couldn’t move past track number 1. Wooly Bully was the track, and Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs was the group.
Fronted by Domingo “Sam” Samudio – better known as Sam the Sham, it would be difficult to take him as a serious rock and roll singer. In fact he wasn’t, a serious rock and roll singer.
There is little doubt this track is far more “rock-pop”, and it is really a comedy track. However, what we need to recognise that during the period of the late 1950’s through to the early 1960’s, and sometimes creeping into the mid 1960’s, comedy “rock” tracks were very popular.
In fact this track – Wooly Bully was actually released in 1965 when the British Invasion was in full swing, and yet the track ended up selling 3 million copies and reaching No. 2 on the Hot 100 on 5 June 1965 and, was awarded a gold record.
So comedy or otherwise, I’m sure Sam was laughing all the way to the bank.
Sam knew he had a niche in a rock scene that was struggling under the weight of the British beat music, and he knew how to exploit it.
He would wear a camp robe and turban and haul his equipment in a 1952 Packard hearse with maroon velvet curtains.
Wooly Bully wasn’t his only hit, in fact he had a number of lesser hits of which Little Red Riding Hood was the best.
Uno, dos, one, two, tres, quatro
Matty told Hatty about a thing she saw.
Had two big horns and a wooly jaw.
Wooly bully, wooly bully.
Wooly bully, wooly bully, wooly bully.
Hatty told Matty, “Let’s don’t take no chance.
Let’s not be*L-seven*, come and learn to dance.”
Wooly bully, wooly bully
Wooly bully, wooly bully, wooly bully.
Matty told Hatty, “That’s the thing to do.
Get you someone really to pull the wool with you.”
Wooly bully, wooly bully.
Wooly bully, wooly bully, wooly bully.
* An L 7 was a “square – someone who just didn’t get it [ Like if you put a L and a 7 together it kind of makes a square!]
Side two of album 2 is full of riches!
With artists like the dynamo Wanda Jackson, the great Fats Domino, the petite Brenda Lee, the magnificent Eddie Cochran, the fantastic harmonies and energy of the Kalin Twins, the brilliant Clovers and Johnny Burnette – this is the strongest side of all three LP’s.
In fact I’m going to look at two tracks and even then this means missing out on artists who deserve to be discussed.
Let’s kick off with track number one – Wanda Jackson and the powerful Let’s Have A Party.
Firstly, this is rock and roll as I define it and Wanda Jackson was one of the great female rock singers.
Often referred to as the Queen of Rock, it is a label that I believe she fairly wears.
Wanda Lavonne Jackson is an American singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist and show-woman who has had success from the mid-1950s and 1960s and is still “killing” them today. There is little to debate when it is claimed that she was one of the first popular female rockabilly singers and a pioneering rock and roll artist.
Mind you she did commence her career singing Country and Western and right throughout her career, she would keep in touch with those roots and always introduce some C&W music into her live shows.
Born in 1937 she started recording in the mid 1950’s and by the late 1950’s she had released some utter rippers of tracks such as Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad, Mean, Mean Man, Fujiyama Mama (which hit No. 1 in Japan) and Honey Bop.
Now I listen to these today and they blow me out – but at the time these were regional hits only, and, maybe that was some indication that there was an issue with female rock singers getting due recognition, especially as the culture of the day was to keep the woman bare foot, pregnant and in the kitchen.
That was not Wanda!
This track, Let’s Have A Party,had previously been released by Elvis in 1957. Wanda released her version in 1960 and it became an instant hit on the pop charts.
It reached the number 1 spot in 1960 and sat there for eight weeks. I find this ironical, that there are indeed many “pop” tunes on this rock album, yet this track by Wanda is steeped in rock, but was considered as a pop tune.
The track oozes energy and power and Wanda had a voice that was made for belting out rock music. Not bad for a gal who started out as a Country & Western singer.
Let’s Have A Party
I really have to choose track number 5, Eddie Cochran and Summertime Blues.
Eddie was a contemporary of Gene Vincent, and like Gene, Eddie had it all, except whereas Gene had a more “meaner” look, Eddie was cuteness incarnate – and he could sing!
Born Edward Raymond (Eddie) Cochran in October 1938, he was taught to play guitar by his older brother Bill, at quite a young age. Eddie enrolled in Bell Gardens Junior High and he became friends with Connie ‘Guybo’ Smith who plays bass, steel guitar and mandolin.
Connie and Eddie start rehearsing together and have their first performance at their school. Guybo will become Eddie’s bass player and he is heard on most records from Eddie’s professional career.
Eddie started playing and recording as early as 1954 and in 1956 Eddie’s classic performance of Twenty-Flight Rock for ‘The Girl Can’t Help It‘ is filmed at Fox Studios in Hollywood.
In 1957 he signs to Liberty Records and cuts some interesting but unimpressive singles but is included in the 1957 tour of Australia with Gene Vincent, Little Richard and Elis Lesley (the female Elvis Presley) in The Biggest Show Of Stars for 1957.
This is the first American rock and roll show ever to come to Australia. In 1958 Eddie joins a Gene Vincent session and sings back-up with the Blue Caps on seven songs.
Among the songs recorded are Git It, Teenage Partner and Lovely Loretta.
However it is in June of 1958 that he records Summertime Blues. The single peaks at number 8 and is Eddie’s biggest hit ever in the United States and despite it not reaching higher on the charts, interest and fascination in him is growing rapidly.
In 1960 he joins Gene Vincent in what turned out to be an ill fated tour of England. In an ironic twist, two of Cochran’s friends, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, along with the Big Bopper, were killed in a plane crash while on tour.
Eddie’s friends and family later said that he was badly shaken by their deaths, and he developed a morbid premonition that he would also die young.
Anxious to give up life on the road and spend his time in the studio making music, thereby reducing the chance of suffering a similar fatal accident while touring, he was determined not to tour. However, financial responsibilities required that he continue to perform live, and that led to his acceptance of an offer to tour the United Kingdom in 1960.
On Saturday, April 16, 1960, at about 11.50 p.m., while on tour in the United Kingdom, 21-year-old Eddie Cochran died as a result of a traffic accident in a taxi.
Cochran, who was seated in the center of the back seat, threw himself over his fiancée to shield her and was thrown out of the car when the door flew open.
He was only twenty two and really had such a promising career ahead of him.
There are a number of tracks which are associated with Eddie Cochran such as C’mon Everybody (on side one of the 3rd LP in this set), but Summertime Blues remains my real favourite.
It struck a chord in the heart of every teen boy, and let’s face it, even as we grow older there is still an element of teen rebellion in us all.
I’m gonna raise a fuss, I’m gonna raise a holler
About a workin’ all summer just to try to earn a dollar
Every time I call my baby, and try to get a date
My boss says, “No dice son, you gotta work late”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues
Well my mom and pop told me, “Son you gotta make some money,
If you want to use the car to go ridin’ next Sunday”
Well I didn’t go to work, told the boss I was sick
“Well you can’t use the car ’cause you didn’t work a late”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues
I’m gonna take two weeks, gonna have a fine vacation
I’m gonna take my problem to the United Nations
Well I called my congressman and he said quote:
“I’d like to help you son but you’re too young to vote”
Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do
But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues
So to the third and final Lp in this set.
With the exception of a few classic rock tracks, side one of this album may as well have been called the “comedy” side, with tracks such as Running Bear from Johnny Preston, Ernie K Doe with Mother In Law, the Hollywood Argyles and Alley Oop and, Pat Boone with Speedy Gonzales.
Now this side of the LP really has me shaking my head – it does reflect the popularity of the rock/pop comedy tracks but really, it doesn’t deserve to be in the company it finds itself.
In fact this whole side only has two “gems” and they are Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by the Four Platters and track number one – Let’s Go To The Hop by Danny and the Juniors.
Now Danny and The Juniors were not even remotely near “hard-core 1950’s rock and roll. However they were very popular in the rock/pop circuit and were somewhat immortalised at Woodstock when Sha Na Na bounced onto stage doing “Lets Go To The Hop!
Why is that the case?
Well, let’s examine Danny and The Juniors as outlined on their website.
Danny & The Juniors, individually Frank Maffei, Danny Rapp, Joe Terranova and Dave White, began singing together in the early 1950’s at ages 13 and 14, while living in Philadelphia where they were fans of the local rhythm and blues radio stations.
It was there they heard the first stirrings of a new music soon to become known as Rock ‘n Roll.
The Juvenaires, as they were called then, quickly decided to become part of the new movement and began to perform the new songs as well as their own original material at school dances, local clubs and restaurants. Sadly Rapp committed suicide in 1983, and Joe Terranova took over the lead singing.
At that time, record companies were engaged in a frenzied search for young people who could perform the new music. It wasn’t very long before they discovered the youths, re-named them Danny & The Juniors and recorded them singing one of their own original songs called, At The Hop.
This track is number one on LP #3 Side 1.
It quickly became a monumental hit on five continents reaching #1 on the pop, country and rhythm and blues charts.
It stands today as the #23 all-time biggest record according to The Billboard Magazine List Of #1 Hits.
The group immediately followed with another hit, Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay, which became an anthem of the era. These were the first of a string of eleven charted recordings.
Their latest albums are the 1992 MCA’ release Rockin’ With Danny And The Juniors and the 1997 Collectibles release Danny And The Juniors – Classic Golden Greats.
Early in 1958 Dick Clark presented Danny And The Juniors with a gold record for At The Hop on American Bandstand, the first of many awards and accolades they would receive over their career. Those accolades included, Best New Group of 1957 and more recently the prestigious Philadelphia Music Alliance Achievement Award.
Lets Go To The Hop hit a sympathetic vibe in the teens of the 1950’s and kind of carried over as the decades went on.
The Hop is in fact is shorthand for “sock hop”! That leaves the question, what is a “sock hop”?
Well in the 1950’s every high school had a dance whether it was weekly or monthly or special occasions. They were inevitably held in the school gym, as that was the largest area with a floor that could be danced on.
However, the gym floors were generally highly polished and so to protect them the students were required to remove their shoes, and dance in their socks!
Then came the development of runners and the like, and the requirement to take off your shoes was dropped, but the term remained and in the end referred to any teen dance.
Very interestingly, At The Hop was one of the pieces of music that brought down many a music industry/DJ during the scandal that became known as the Payola Scandal.
Written by three writers that included Artie Singer, Singer would make a claim on the 2008 nationally-televised PBS documentary “Wages of Spin: Dick Clark, American Bandstand and the Payola Scandals”, where he claimed that Dick Clark would not play “At the Hop” without receiving half of the publishing proceeds.
Singer agreed to make the payments and called the situation “bittersweet” because although he didn’t like having to give the money, he credited his success in the music industry to Clark and therefore was grateful to him.
Payola was not illegal at the time and Clark sold the song prior to the 1960 payola hearings.
But as a result of this public statement and other complaints, investigations commenced into “Payola” claims and the results were far reaching, with one of the fall-outs being the emasculation of rock music for several years.
At The Hop
Turning over LP 3 and I am drawn yet again to track number 1.
It kicks off with Fats Domino and what a great artist to speak of. A great example of music in the rock category of New Orleans Dance Music, Fats’ rendition of Aint That A Shame remains as a classic Fats track, and a classic rock track.
Fats Domino was born February 26, 1928, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He began performing in clubs in his teens and in 1949 was discovered by Dave Bartholomew, who became Domino’s exclusive arranger.
His first recording, “The Fat Man” (1950), was one of a series of rhythm-and-blues hits that sold between 500,000 to 1,000,000 copies.
Fats Domino was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
The problem for Fats was that his music was almost too pure Blues/ R&B and his fan base remained too small until 1955 when he recorded Aint That A Shame.
Yet even though he reached number 10 in the pop charts. Pat Boone recorded a more ‘white” sounding version, which shot to number 1.
However, it did raise Fats Domino’s profile and his popularity.
Fats originally recorded the track as a single with the title “Aint It A Shame“, but Boone changed it to Aint That A Shame, and for some unknown reason, all subsequent versions put down on vinyl as recorded by Waller, carried the Pat Boone altered title.
Fats recorded 92 singles between 1949 and 1980 of which 39 were in either the top 10 pop or R&B charts, and 9 reached the number 1 position. He is still playing today, although his appearances are getting rarer and rarer and, aint it a shame?
Aint That A Shame
The final track and artist(s) for discussion and your aural edification is by two female rock singers.
Earlier I discussed the track by Wanda Jackson and if pure raw energy was a measure of rock quality then Wanda had it all over these girls, but its not the only measure.
Track 5 on this final side of the 3rd Lp is Let the Good Times Roll by Shirley and Lee. Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee, born just ten days apart in 1936.
They scored three massive R&B hits before either one of them were both 20 years old: “Feel So Good,” “Let the Good Times Roll,” and “I Feel Good” and all were all written by the talented young couple.
Early in their careers, Shirley & Lee became known as “the Sweethearts of the Blues”, a nickname given not for their personal relationship, but for their romantic sagas of their songs. These often bordered on telling a fictional soap-opera storyline about two lovers. Their fans would buy the singles simply to keep up with the continuing story of the two sweethearts.
The story continued with the very next single, “Shirley Come Back to Me,” a heartbreaker released in early 1953, followed by “Shirley’s Back,” later that year.
This happy theme continued through the happy ending for the next single, “The Proposal” b/w “Two Happy People.”
The problem was the record buyers and audiences were tiring of the “soapy” songs so the couple tried something new – and it worked!
By the middle of 1957, Shirley & Lee were back on top, this time with the biggest hit in their careers.
Goodman and Lee borrowed one of New Orleans’ most familiar refrains and built a rocking tune around it called “Let the Good Times Roll.” The recording was an instant smash and received substantial airplay, climbing up the charts in the process.
It sold well-over one million copies and for more than 40 years has been a staple of oldies play lists. To date, there are over a hundred cover versions of the song, but most still prefer the original.
On October 15, 1971, Shirley & Lee were reunited for one show only at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. The playbill included musicians of the early rock era, including Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Bobby Rydell.
As a result she was persuaded to record the lead vocal on a dance track, “Shame, Shame, Shame“. Credited to Shirley & Company, the record became an international pop hit, reaching #12 on the Billboard chart and presaging the disco boom.
On May 17, 1974, Shirley & Lee reunited once again to perform “Let the Good Times Roll” on a special “oldies” edition of the NBC musical series The Midnight special.
In 1976 Lee Goodman died of a heart attack at the young age of forty.
Let The Good Times Roll
This is not the greatest collection of rock and roll tracks in a boxed set.
In fact as discussed it has a few tracks which really do stretch the already stretched definition of rock and roll.
However, it’s a good attempt to mix a range of styles and to include some of the best rock tracks, with a few not so often played, and overall the quality of the recordings is good.
What it should have had was a decent booklet on the artists, hell, it didn’t even have a poor booklet!
Because it was an Australian release tracking down copies might be a real task. I found the on-line store Discogs were selling all three LP’s separate!!!
However, as I was finishing this retro-review off, a boxed set popped up on Ebay for only $20.00. Now that is an absurdly low price and someone is going to snap up a bargain
Locating sufficient videos of artists on this album was not difficult despite the age of the tracks, because there were so many artists to choose from. Here are a few clips featuring tracks on the albums that were not reviewed.
The Platters clip is particularly clear with a good soundtrack.
Eddy Cochran – C’mon Everybody
Gene Vincent – Lotta Lovin’
Big Bopper – Chantilly Lace
The Platters – The Great Pretender
The Crystals – Then He Kissed Me
Brenda Lee – Sweet Nothings
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
To view/listen the first 50 vinyl album reviews just click the image below –
To view/listen the first 50 Cd album reviews just click the image below –
Click to open the following Vinyl reviews from 101 onward:
#108: Paul Simon – Graceland