Posts Tagged ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #54– Chuck Berry: “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” b/w “Too Much Monkey Business” – Chess 45-1635 (G6/H6)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #54– Chuck Berry: “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” b/w “Too Much Monkey Business” – Chess 45-1635 (G6/H6)

The great thing about having a jukebox is that you can make the B-side of a single the A-side with a flip of the record in the slot. Today’s jukebox classic is one such record that I purchased specifically for the B-side and changed them around.

“Brown Eyed Handsome Man” was the flip side of Chuck Berry’s fifth single for Chess Records, “Too Much Monkey Business,” and was also from his 1956 debut album After School Session. The track was recorded in April of 1956 and features Johnnie Johnson on piano, L.C. Davis on tenor sax, Willie Dixon on bass and Fred Below on drums. Even though the song was designated as the B-side of the single, it still managed to place at #5 on the R&B charts. It was also one of the few singles in the juke that was originally released as a 78rpm first.

Berry was one of the first literary rock and roll songwriters whose sophisticated prose and observational skills created songs that described his world with pinpoint accuracy. “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” was a sly comment on race relations that was written after Berry witnessed an arrest of a Hispanic man in California. In it, Berry also brags about the appeal of black men to white women, much to the chagrin of 1950s white America.

The song has been covered by the likes of Buddy Holly, Johnny Rivers, Nina Simone, Waylon Jennings, Robert Cray, Paul McCartney, and it was also performed by Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley when they convened at Sun Studios for the relaxed jam session that is now known as The Million Dollar Quartet.

The real A-side to the single is “Too Much Monkey Business,” that according to Chuck Berry’s autobiography was meant to describe the types of hassles a person encounters in everyday life. The song was recorded at the same session as its flip and also featured Johnnie Johnson on piano, Willie Dixon on bass and Fred Below on drums. The song climbed to #4 on the Billboard Jukebox Play chart.

It has been covered by the likes of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Hollies, The Yardbirds, the Kinks and Eric Clapton to name but a few, and the song was a huge influence on Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: July 21st, 2015

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #54– Chuck Berry: “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” b/w “Too Much Monkey Business” – Chess 45-1635 (G6/H6)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #54– Chuck Berry: “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” b/w “Too Much Monkey Business” – Chess 45-1635 (G6/H6)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

The great thing about having a jukebox is that you can make the B-side of a single the A-side with a flip of the record in the slot. Today’s jukebox classic is one such record that I purchased specifically for the B-side and changed them around.

“Brown Eyed Handsome Man” was the flip side of Chuck Berry’s fifth single for Chess Records, “Too Much Monkey Business,” and was also from his 1956 debut album After School Session. The track was recorded in April of 1956 and featured Johnnie Johnson on piano, L.C. Davis on tenor sax, Willie Dixon on bass and Fred Below on drums. Even though the song was designated as the B-side of the single it was on, it still managed to place at #5 on the R&B charts. It was also one of the few singles in the juke that was originally released as a 78rpm first.

Berry was one of the first literary rock and roll songwriters whose sophisticated prose and observational skills created songs that described his world with pinpoint accuracy. “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” was a sly comment on race relations that was written after Berry witnessed an arrest of a Hispanic man in California. In it, Berry also brags about the appeal of black men to white women, much to the chagrin of 1950s white America.

The song has been covered by the likes of Buddy Holly, Johnny Rivers, Nina Simone, Waylon Jennings, Robert Cray, Paul McCartney, and it was also performed by Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley when they convened at Sun Studios for the relaxed jam session that is now known as The Million Dollar Quartet.

The real A-side to the single was “Too Much Monkey Business,” that according to Chuck Berry’s autobiography was meant to describe the types of hassles a person encounters in everyday life. The song was recorded at the same session as its flip and also featured Johnnie Johnson on piano, Willie Dixon on bass and Fred Below on drums. The song climbed to #4 on the Billboard Jukebox Play chart.

It has been covered by the likes of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Hollies, The Yardbirds, the Kinks and Eric Clapton to name but a few, and the song was a huge influence on  Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

Edited: January 8th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 8/17/13 – “At The Hop” from “Woodstock” by Sha Na Na

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They were the penultimate act at the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair, coming on right before Jimi Hendrix 44 years ago today.

Sha Na Na was a 1950s revival group that hailed from Columbia University in New York City. By a stroke of luck, they were booked to perform at the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair in Bethel, New York in August of 1969 by festival producer Michael Lang who saw them perform in a small club.

They were on site for the whole weekend waiting for their turn to appear, but it wasn’t until Monday morning after most people already left the grounds that they took the stage.

It was by a stroke of luck that their blazing performance of “At The Hop” was included in the Woodstock film bringing them national attention. While their music was totally out of step with the times, they managed to cause a sensation with their greased back hair, gold lame suits and in-synch dance routines.

Several years ago, a six CD set was released that included two more songs from their morning set. I would still like to see, and yes hear, their entire set from Woodstock. Hopefully, someday the powers that be will release all of the music and footage captured that weekend. Perhaps they’re saving it all for the 50th Anniversary in 2019.

The group went on to record numerous albums for Buddah Records, host their own variety show on TV from 1977 through 1981, and appear in the film version of the musical Grease. Henry Gross, an original member of the group went on to score the huge ‘70s top ten hit “Shannon.”

The group continues to tour today with several original members amongst its ranks.

Edited: August 17th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 5/20/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Woo Hoo” by The Rock-A-Teens

Every so often, when I’m jonesin’ for some ‘50s rockabilly or some good old rock ‘n’ roll, I need not look any further than Rhino’s exceptional Loud Fast & Out Of Control: The Wild Sounds Of The ‘50s box set. The set was compiled by Gary Stewart, James Austin and Bill Inglot and released in 1999. Its 104 tracks are a comprehensive and enjoyable survey of the late ‘50s rockabilly scene including prime cuts by everyone including Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Burnette, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, and dozens of others. While the hits are well represented, it’s the many rarer picks and one hit wonders that steal the show. I listened to the 4-CD Rhino box in its entirety the other day, and today’s Song Of The Day is one of the gems that caught my ear.

Boo Walke & The Rockets were a 1950s Rockabilly group from Virginia who changed their name to The Rock-A-Teens and found fleeting fame with their sole hit record. Their lineup included Vic Mizelle on vocals and guitar, Bobby “Boo” Walke on guitar, Bill Cook on guitar, Eddie Robinson on sax, Paul Dixon on bass and Bill Smith on drums.

They auditioned for a Virginia record shop owner named George Donald McGraw with their song called “Rock-A-Teen Boogie” which when released on McGraw’s Doran record label was renamed “Woo Hoo.” The song, plus its B-Side, “Untrue” were recorded in the back room of McGraw’s record store in one day.

When the record was first released in 1959, the Rock-A-Teens were listed on the record as the song’s writers.  Arthur ‘Guitar Boogie’ Smith recognized elements of his own songwriting and sued the group for plagiarism, and McGraw settled out of court by purchasing the song’s copyright for a few hundred dollars in order to avoid a court case. Meanwhile, McGraw was wheeling and dealing on the group’s behalf and cut a deal with infamous music industry legend and alleged mobster Morris Levy, who released the record on his Roulette label with the writing credits on both sides of the record given to McGraw. Such was the stuff of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll.

The Roulette single spent 12-weeks on the charts and peaked at #16.  Based on the success of the single, Roulette pulled the group into the studio to record their sole album.  The Woo Hoo album (Roulette SR-25109) was said to have been a raw garage rock record that edged on punk rock, probably because Mizelle and Walke had to teach Cook and Dixon how to play their instruments in the studio.

The album was a dismal flop on the charts, but is now an in-demand collectable today. By 1960, it was all over and the group hung up their rock ‘n’ roll shoes never to be heard from again.

The song was covered by The 5.6.7.8’s and used to great effect in the Quentin Tarentino film Kill Bill.

Thanks to the Black Cat Rockabilly Europe website for information for this article.

Edited: May 19th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/28/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “At The Hop” by Danny & The Juniors

Three groups…three decades… three stories…one song!

1950s: Philadelphia school friends Danny Rapp, Dave White, Frank Maffei and Joe Terranova formed a group called The Juvenairs in 1957.  They were discovered at a Record Hop by John Madara who changed their name to Danny & The Juniors and introduced them to local record label owner Artie Singer. Madara and Singer liked Dave White’s song “Do The Bop,” but suggested that the title be changed to “At The Hop.” They also took a writing credit on the song for their efforts. The song was released in late 1957 on Singer’s Singular Record label.

Singer brought the song to Dick Clark whose American Bandstand was a local Philadelphia TV show. Clark liked the song and added the group as a last minute booking after Little Anthony & The Imperials canceled their appearance on the show. Clark also took 50% of the publishing proceeds of the song in order to get it played on the radio. Such was the way the rock ‘n’ roll game was played back in the days before payola was illegal. The song topped the charts for seven weeks and became the biggest single of 1958.

1960s: Sha Na Na was a 1950s revival group that hailed from Columbia University in New York City. By a stroke of luck, they were booked to perform at the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair in Bethel, New York in August of 1969 by festival producer Michael Lang who saw them perform in a small club. They appeared at the festival on Monday morning after most people already left the grounds and came on right before Jimi Hendrix’s landmark closing set. Their blazing performance of “At The Hop” was included in the Woodstock film bringing them national attention. While their music was totally out of step with the times, they managed to cause a sensation with their greased back hair, gold lame suits and in-synch dance routines. The group went on to record numerous albums for Buddah Records, host their own variety show on TV and appear in the film version of the musical Grease.

1970s: Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids formed at the University Of Colorado in 1969 to play frat parties. After appearing on American Bandstand, they were offered the opportunity to perform today’s Song Of The Day as “Herbie & The Heartbeats” in the 1973 movie American Graffiti. (They also performed “She’s So Fine” and “Louie Louie” in the film.) They went on to score two chart hits in the 1970s and appeared on the TV show Happy Days, and in the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now. While many of the original members of the group have since past away, a version of Flash Cadillac still regularly plays gigs today.

Edited: March 27th, 2013

Song Of The Day – 12/23/11

 

 

 

 

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Sweet Little Sixteen” by Chuck Berry

All that is great about Rock ‘n’ Roll can be found right here! Driving guitar riff…superb lyrics way ahead of their time for 1958…duck walking guitar solo…clarinet solo…an original song by perhaps the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roller we’ve ever had. Here is Chuck Berry in a rare live performance from 1958. What is lacking in the sound quality is more than made up for in the video. Just watched the Stones do this from their 1978 tour on the “Some Girls Live” DVD…couldn’t argue with their performance, now here’s the real deal…

Edited: December 23rd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 11/30/11

 

 

 

 

 

Song Of The Day – “Party Doll” by Buddy Knox

Buddy Holly wasn’t the only rockabilly artist to come out of Texas in the late ’50s. Buddy Knox and his Rhythm Orchids featuring Jimmy Bowen on bass also sprang forth from the Lone Star State with this classic in 1957. Like Holly, Knox also wrote his own material…and like Holly, Knox’s early recordings including this one were produced by Norman Petty. Knox also scored hits with “Hula Love,” “Devil Woman,” “Swingin’ Daddy” and “Rock Your Little Baby To Sleep.”

Edited: November 30th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/27/11

Song Of The Day – “Brand New Cadillac” by Vince Taylor And His Playboys

Even though this song was relegated to the B-Side of the single it was released on in 1959, it has grown in stature due to it being covered by The Clash on their “London Calling” album. It has been said that Taylor provided David Bowie with the model for his Ziggy Stardust character. He was also the brother-in-law to Joe Barbera of Hanna-Barbera fame and it was this connection that led him to visit England and form the Playboys.  His Hanna-Barbera to riches to drugs to religion story is also one of intrigue.

Edited: September 27th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 6/3/11

Song Of The Day – “Forty Cups Of Coffee” by Bill Haley & His Comets

Before Elvis…before Chuck Berry…and even before Buddy Holly…there was Bill Haley. He was mixing country with rhythm and blues topped off with a dollop of sex as early as 1951, long before there was a name for it. While best known for “Rock Around The Clock” try this one out to get your day going.

Edited: June 3rd, 2011