Friday, February 1, 2008

Rockabilly 101: Hillbilly Soul

It's true that there is nothing new in rock, only creative amalgamations of what has gone before. This may be the case in the 2000's, with the reworking of New Wave and Garage Rock, but it was also true 50 years ago with the birth of rock and roll. Prior to the mid-50's popular music can be (very) roughly split into blues, country and rhythm and blues. Rhythm and blues, in turn, was created by the secularisation of gospel ( ie: Ray Charles career defining sex-song I Got a Woman was originally Jesus is All the World to Me).

In the Southern states of the US black and white musicians began to interact; add frenetic hillbilly to boogie woogie piano, soul shouters and the electrified guitar and rockabilly was the natural result.

Add the white-boy charisma of Elvis, the pop appeal of Rock Around the Clock, the guitar dominance of Chuck Berry and the wild antics of Jerry Lee Lewis (he has to be the first punk) and you have all the ingredients for a national teenage movement.

It's hard to imagine what it would have been like at aged 16 in 1955 hearing this music for the first time in the security of conservative America. Elvis, the new black and white minstrel, brings the negro into your living room and Jerry Lee gives hope to 14 year old girls every where by eventually marrying one.

Here are Rock Revival's Top Ten Rockabilly tracks

1. Hound Dog (try the original Big Mama Thornton Version)

2. Tutti Frutti: Little Richard ( ? precursor to Glam)

3. Matchbox: Carl Perkins

4. Summertime Blues: Eddie Cochrane (by the way, have you heard the Blue Cheer version)

5. Great Balls of Fire: Jerry Lee Lewis (Black Oak Arkansas version)

6. Johnny B Goode: Chuck Berry ( ? the Sex Pistols version)

7. Blue Suede Shoes: Carl Perkins

8. Susie Q: Dale Hawkins

9. Rave On: Buddy Holly

10. Chantilly Lace: Big Bopper

Image Courtesy RCA/Victor

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