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Thread: Early rock n roll

  1. #1

    Early rock n roll

    Well, I did a cursory search and found there's no real thread for early rock n roll (well, not in the first page of responses I looked at), so I'm starting one here.

    I just got a boxset of Bill Haley And His Comets, called The Decca Years And More. This basically starts with Rock Around The CLock (which, would you believe, was originally a B-side?!) and follows his career across five CD's, basically detailing his career from 1954-1959 (with, I believe, a couple tracks from 1964). This is my first Bear Family boxset, which I'm surprised to find out actually came out in 1990! I only started hearing about Bear Family about 10 or so years ago, but I recently found out the label dates back to the mid 70's. Basically, if you're into roots music (i.e. rock n roll, country, blues, etc) and you're inclined to want to hear everything, and have the money to splurge, Bear Family is the reissue label.

    Anyhow, so this is a five CD set, featuring just about everything you'd want to hear from Bill Haley, starting with, as I said, Rock Around The Clock and going forwards. Danny Cedrone's guitar work on the first four tracks on disc one is stunning (Danny unfortunately died after an accident soon after the Shake Rattle & Roll session), as is Franny Beecher's playing on the rest of the disc (I Haven't gotten past disc one yet). I've sort of skimmed through the liner notes in the booklet, but there's various tidbits here and there. Some of it sort of chronicles the bad career moves that Haley after the initial boom of Rock Around The Clock and Shake Rattle & Roll, and had badly represented Haley was in the various films he appeared in, etc.

    Lately, I've been feeling I've been overlooking all this great music from this era, that time from when it wasn't quite called rock n roll, up until the British Invasion, for far too long. A lot of this stuff is still stunning.

  2. #2
    Member adap2it's Avatar
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    Since I am of that era, I would be interested to hear what you can dig up. At the time, I had no interest in why what or where...just play the music!!
    Dave Sr.

    I prefer Nature to Human Nature

  3. #3
    Buddy Holly, baby.

    I think I attempted a thread about him asking if he was cool enough to survive the 60s.
    "A conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words."

    - Dr. Winston O'Boogie

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    Not too long ago I bought a 3 CD set from Lonnie Donnigan. He was a skiffle guy, but I kept hearing his name pop up when I read musician autobiographies, and he seems to have influenced just about all the 60's and 70's rockers who came out of England.

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    ^I was listening to some early Donegan again yesterday (I don't like the later Cockney novelty knees-up songs). His version of 'Frankie And Johnny' is one intense performance, especially for the UK of that time- it was a 1956 album track. Some have drawn parallels between what he was doing early on and Elvis in the US at roughly the same time on Sun Records. Though Donegan was more influenced by folk and earlier country-blues (Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly etc.), Elvis' approach came more from country and rhythm-and-blues.

    I'm a big fan of 50s/early 60s pop and rock, it does indeed seldom get discussed here.

    My own feeling about Bill Haley and the Comets was that they were really excellent musicians (basically Western Swing players) with some obvious classics of the era, but they are somewhat one-note. I have a CD of theirs which has all their early Decca masters, and every song is basically the same tempo. I find Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly etc. to have a much more varied body of work.
    Last edited by JJ88; 1 Week Ago at 10:39 AM.

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    There was a blink-and-miss-it 'complete' box of Buddy Holly called Not Fade Away. Long out of print, but these two released around the same time have most of his masters and might still be available.

    https://www.discogs.com/Buddy-Holly-...elease/2704451
    https://www.discogs.com/Buddy-Holly-...elease/2556541

    I only have a couple of Bear Family CDs and none of their boxes. I always liked the look of the Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Everly Brothers ones though, and the Sun Records stuff they released.

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    Member hippypants's Avatar
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    Yeah, the Everly Brothers were my favorite from that era and fairly influential as far as their vocal harmonies and song writing.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    There was a blink-and-miss-it 'complete' box of Buddy Holly called Not Fade Away. Long out of print, but these two released around the same time have most of his masters and might still be available.

    https://www.discogs.com/Buddy-Holly-...elease/2704451
    https://www.discogs.com/Buddy-Holly-...elease/2556541

    I only have a couple of Bear Family CDs and none of their boxes. I always liked the look of the Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Everly Brothers ones though, and the Sun Records stuff they released.
    Bear Family have a number of boxes covering a lot of the more prominent early rockers. Obviously the Chuck Berry one has me salivating, and they've got a couple sets on Duane Eddy that I want, as well as their apparently out of print Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent sets. I'm also interested in their Merle Haggard boxes (they've got like four, at least, covering different parts of Merle's career).

    I should mention, a few years back, I bought a great three CD set of Little Richard's stuff, called Directly From My Heart To You:

    http://https://www.discogs.com/Littl...elease/7743395

    It bills itself as "The Best Of The Specialty and Vee Jay Years", but I think it's pretty close to being everything from those eras.

    Getting back to Bill Haley, I'm starting to realize why he's really only known for the stuff he did in 1954 and 1955. His late 50's records get bogged down in...I don't know what the deal was, but the choice of material is, at best, questionable. The album of standards (rendered "rock n roll" style, of course) wasn't too bad, sort of an inverse of what people like Pat Boone was doing to songs like Ain't That A Shame. But Rockin' Around The World, an attempt to "modernize" songs like London Bridge Is Falling Down, La Cucaracha, Frere Jacques, O Sole Mio, and Alouette is...let's just say it's not pretty.

    He also felt compelled to record a song that responded to the "rock n roll is a bad influence" crap the adults were throwing at the genre, called Teenager's Mothers, which is again quite forgettable. Bill and his Comets are somewhat redeemed by the Bill Haley's Chicks (an album of songs with girl's names in the title) and Strictly Instrumental albums, but it almost seems like was getting even worse career advice than Elvis got. The liner notes in the boxset suggest that Bill had a stake in a publishing company, and thus wasn't too keen on recording songs from outside that stable, which apparently wasn't particularly strong.

    But having said that, there's still that rock n roll energy even on the late 50's records, Fran Beecher and the rest of the band still shine incredibly, so I'm glad I doubled down and got the full boxset (even if I got it 30 years later than I should have).

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    Haley/Comets had been recording singles in the same style before they signed to Decca. I think it was 'Rock This Joint' which basically had the same guitar solo as 'Rock Around The Clock'.

    Gene Vincent's early stuff with the Blue Caps was brilliant. He still had hits thereafter (especially in the UK where he had a lasting cult following- see Ian Dury's 'Sweet Gene Vincent') but the material wasn't really as good IMHO.

    Duane Eddy, well, he re-recorded his hits on the Jamie label in later years so a lot of budget labels will often contain those. There's a Bear Family one disc with his Jamie hits which is well regarded. I don't remember the title.

    I know there's a big Bear Family box of Louis Jordan. I consider him to be a oft-unheralded pioneer.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    There was a blink-and-miss-it 'complete' box of Buddy Holly called Not Fade Away. Long out of print, but these two released around the same time have most of his masters and might still be available.

    https://www.discogs.com/Buddy-Holly-...elease/2704451
    https://www.discogs.com/Buddy-Holly-...elease/2556541

    I only have a couple of Bear Family CDs and none of their boxes. I always liked the look of the Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Everly Brothers ones though, and the Sun Records stuff they released.
    I have a five disc bootleg set that forced some of the later releases. Buddy's wife sat on that treasure trove far, far too long and now his influence is pretty much unrealized by younger listeners. Such a loss.
    "A conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words."

    - Dr. Winston O'Boogie

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    Yes I know a complete set of his work was one of those 'why isn't it on CD' things. And then when Not Fade Away did come out, few seemed to care, really. I also remember that set was very expensive. Here's what was on it:

    https://www.discogs.com/Buddy-Holly-...elease/2213556

    I've definitely noticed the major labels don't bother to do anything with these musicians' catalogues anymore, which is indeed sad.

  12. #12
    [QUOTE=JJ88;1049392]
    Haley/Comets had been recording singles in the same style before they signed to Decca. I think it was 'Rock This Joint' which basically had the same guitar solo as 'Rock Around The Clock'.
    Yeah, that's right. I don't think I've ever heard any of the Bill Haley stuff from the Essex years. Apparently, Bear Family have put out a box for that material, but it's currently out of print.

    Gene Vincent's early stuff with the Blue Caps was brilliant. He still had hits thereafter (especially in the UK where he had a lasting cult following- see Ian Dury's 'Sweet Gene Vincent') but the material wasn't really as good IMHO.
    It's primarily the Blue Caps material I'm interested. Perhaps it's obvious, given my screen name, but I've really been wanting to hear what it was that Cliff Gallup and Johnny Meeks did that messed Jeff Beck up so bad that he eventually had to do a tribute album to them.
    Duane Eddy, well, he re-recorded his hits on the Jamie label in later years so a lot of budget labels will often contain those.
    A lot of people did that. You'd get signed to a new label and the first thing they'd do is make you re-do your hits from the labels you recorded previously. That way they could put out their own greatest hits records without having to license the original recordings. That's why when you see those stupid Time/Life Music infomercials, at least the ones covering music from the 50's and 60's, they always emphasize, "NO RE-RECORDINGS!".
    There's a Bear Family one disc with his Jamie hits which is well regarded. I don't remember the title.
    My impression is just about everything Bear Family does is "well regarded". I believe the set you're thinking of is called Twangin' From Phoenix To LA. It's another one I got my eye on.
    I know there's a big Bear Family box of Louis Jordan. I consider him to be a oft-unheralded pioneer.
    Another name I need to look into, especially given the influence of Jordan's guitarist Carl Hogan on Chuck Berry. (As a side note, a couple years bakc, I finally picked up a T-Bone Walker set, and there's a couple songs where he's playing licks that Chuck absolutely stole! I mean, Chuck admitted the influence, so I guess it's not stealing, but there's one lick in particular, you heard Chuck play a lot this sort of syncopated two note thing, which is directly out of T-Bone's playbook).

  13. #13
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Bo Diddley ?

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    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    Dion and The Belmonts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    Bo Diddley ?
    Another I find somewhat underrated now, given how many covers there have been of his work. Defnitely a key influence on various 'British Invasion' bands...The Rolling Stones did several of his songs, for instance. ('Mona', 'Cops And Robbers', 'Diddley Daddy', 'Crackin' Up', 'Hey Crawdad' etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Vic2012 View Post
    Dion and The Belmonts.
    Their big hits (including Dion sans Belmonts) were on the Laurie label, though Dion continued to have hits on Columbia later. I think most CDs with the Laurie hits have stereo remixes, but they are well done.

    I was listening to a fair bit of Del Shannon earlier in the year. Another one who was bigger here in the UK, probably. Best known for 'Runaway' but he had a run of great singles. He was the first US artist to cover (and chart) with a Lennon/McCartney song. He was on the same bill as them at a BBC show at the Royal Albert Hall, heard 'From Me To You' and immediately recognised its potential. It wasn't much of a hit for him though.
    Last edited by JJ88; 1 Week Ago at 10:46 AM.

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