Saturday, March 21, 2009


"Rip it Up!" by Little Richard:
"When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake." - Plato

Hell with easy listening, in the sleepy days of yore something strange and dangerous and downright insane crawled out of the dark swampy south, a devil brew of blues, country, and rhythm and blues, a crawling King snake moving through the night on radiowaves nationwide. Call it rock and roll. Where did it come from?

"Hell Hound on my Trail" by Robert Johnson:

They say Robert Johnson met the devil at the crossroads, shook his hand and an eerie light came across the sky. Nobody knows what transpired, but afterward he could play like nobody's business. Slide guitar. This wasn't church music, but something that made your skin crawl. Robert would have played forever but whiskey can be poisoned. They sang Danny Boy at his funeral and the Lord's Prayer, and the preacher talked about Christ betrayed. They say he loved a women named Dee or Miss Delilah who did wondrous works with his fate, fed him coconut bread and spice buns in bed, but a panderer named Red wasn't crazy about the arrangement and brought the curtain down with a fixed drink.

Murder and whiskey. Rock and roll came to town in a black Caddie with no plates. Birds fell silent when it passed. They carried the casket to the cemetery and were surprised when it turned up empty. Get a mojo hand. Light a candle. Turn the radio up.

"Come On" by Chuck Berry:

What was the first rock 'n' roll record? A leading contender is "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (in fact, Ike Turner and his band The Kings of Rhythm), recorded by Sam Phillips for Sun Records in 1951. That was four years before Bill Haley recorded "Rock Around the Clock." Listen to Rocket 88:

Grand and vulgar, powerful and absurdly simple, before pills pills and cream pies and Hollywood and untold power slogged him down, this Tupelo truckdriver named Elvis became the King of Rock and Roll--or at least a King, along with Chuck and Richard and Buddy and Jerry Lee and those early rockers who slammed pianos and guitars and tore a hole in the fabric of the universe.

"Mystery Train" by Elvis Presley:

Okay, this is part one and three of rock and roll renegades. I know, I know, but part two has sound problems and until it's fixed I suggest you get non-linear and enjoy these two spots. Now let's get real gone.

Part 4 of the documentary is here.
Part 5 is here.
Part 6 is here.


Anonymous said...

You mean rock and roll didn't start with Green Day? Ha! Great post.

Bob Rini said...

Thanks. Nope, rock music goes back beyond Billie Armstrong and his little crew. I love contemporary stuff--some of it, anyway--but still listen to the old music once in a while. I really enjoyed going through the Little Richard clips. And the blues, with Robert Johnson. I used to have to LP "King of the Delta Blue" with the brown cover and an illustration of Johnson sitting in a chair hunched over a guitar. I first heard Johnson through people like the Stones ("Love in Vain" and "Stop Breaking Down") and Cream ("Crossroads") and sought out the originals. Backtracking!