Thursday, 28 October 2010

Gnome Thoughts ... 23 (1955 charts)

As this compilation series heads for the mid-fifties there are one or two portents of what is to come: the Sinatras and the Mario Lanzas may still be present and correct, but the last two tracks are Pat Boone doing Ain't That a Shame and - even more worrying - Bill Haley's recording of Rock Around the Clock, the number which caused cinema seats in the UK to be ripped up when it featured on the soundtrack of The Blackboard Jungle (Glenn Ford as a do-gooding teacher, although he actually listens to jazz in the film; the song was stuck on as an afterthought).

Rock'n'Roll split listeners: no longer would kids listen to the same stuff as their parents. Yes folks, the "pop filth" rot starts here, this year, even if the majority of the tracks on this compilation are still geared towards wholesome family listening.

Haley was soon to have his own comeuppance: when he toured Britain and people saw a podgy middle-aged man with a kiss-curl, his appeal waned and Elvis Presley quickly took his place, inconwise, and in later years he went slightly bonkers and paranoid, according to Ian Whitcomb, but this moment was his. Pat Boone covered Fats Domino and Little Richard, trying to sanitise their raunchy records but such was the power of the originals that gambit couldn't last too long. Little Richard said the kids might have had Boone records in open view but his, Richard's, recordings would be under the bed.
Spotify link to whole album here if you can access spotify, or click selected tracks below for youtube clips.

1. Love Is The Tender Trap No.2 (Frank Sinatra)
2. Let Me Go Lover No.3 (Dean Martin with Dick Stabile and His Orchestra)
3. Love Me Or Leave Me No.8 (Sammy Davis Jnr. with Sy Oliver and His Orchestra)
4. Hey There No.1 (Rosemary Clooney)
5. A Blossom Fell No.2 (Nat King Cole with Orchestra conducted and arranged by
Nelson Riddle)
6. Stranger In Paradise No.1 (Tony Bennett with Percy Faith and His Orchestra and
The Ray Charles Singers) -
7. Cool Water No.2 (Frankie Laine and The Mellowmen)
8. I m Always Hearing Wedding Bells No.5 (Eddie Fisher with The R.K.O. Studio
Orchestra conducted by Hugo Winterhalter)
9. Drink, Drink, Drink No.13 (Mario Lanza with The Victor Orchestra)
10. The Yellow Rose Of Texas No.1 (Mitch Miller with Orchestra and Chorus
11. Tina Marie No.5 (Perry Como)
12. If You Believe No.7 (Johnnie Ray)
13. Rose Marie No.1 (Slim Whitman )
14. Ready, Willing & Able No.7 (Doris Day with Buddy Cole and Orchestra)
15. Dreamboat No.1 (Alma Cogan with Frank Cordell and His Orchestra)
16. Hernando's Hideaway No.1 (Johnston Brothers)
17. Unchained Melody No.1 (Jimmy Young)
18. Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White No.1 (Eddie Calvert)
19. Softly Softly No.1 (Ruby Murray)
20. Ev rywhere No.3 (David Whitfield)
21. Give Me Your Word No.1 (Tennessee Ernie Ford)
22. I Wonder No.4 (Dickie Valentine)
23. Ain t That A Shame No.1 (Pat Boone)
24. Rock Around The Clock No.1 (Bill Haley & His Comets)

Further thoughts:

A few days ago I came across a song by Ian Dury called Bill Haley's Last Words. I don't know whether it's based on a transcript but its rambling tone would suggest so. There isn't a youtube clip available at present, although you can find it on spotify here if you can access that (not in US at present, as far as I know). It's chilling to read without the music, so I will link to the lyrics here rather than reproduce them so you can make up your own mind about whether you want those last couple of golden minutes to be tarnished.

With the music added to Dury's words, it does make more sense: still disturbing but you are buoyed along by the infernal - which seems precisely the right term - catchiness of the scraps of chorus from Haley records.

Far darker than his tribute to Gene Vincent (above, with friends). Though that song was still a lot darker  than Guy Mitchell's earlier paean to the man born Craddock:

He Wears Ted Leathers and a Hooray Henry Shirt.

(Beat. Clears throat.)

Other Rock'n'Roll Pioneers Are Available, of course, and looking for images to adorn this post, I came across a piece by Derek Jensen about the origins of rock'n'roll, with lots of illustrative youtube clips, in the online magazine Tysto, here. Jensen's caption for the photograph below reads:
The "father of rock and roll" and the "king of rock and roll." (Not pictured: about a hundred black artists.)
I have only skimmed the text so far, but the clips certainly look good, especially if you're needing a breath of air after the suffocating sweetness of the British charts.

Alternatively, hold on: 1956 is just over that ever-retreating horizon ...

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