Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the Teen Angels performing Eddie, My Love.
I, seemingly, have endlessly gone back to my early musical roots in reviewing a classic rock series that goes under the general title The Rock ‘n’ Roll Era. And while time and ear have eroded the sparkle of some of the lesser tunes it still seems obvious that those years, say 1955-58, really did form the musical jail break-out for my generation, the generation of ’68, even though I just barely caught the ebb of it in the second rush of the late 1950s when this stuff was “old,” who had just started to tune into music.
And we, we small-time punk in the old-fashioned sense of that word, we hardly wet behind the ears elementary school kids, and that is all we were for those who are now claiming otherwise, claiming, contrary to all the evidence including birth certificate, to have been born in let’s say the 1960s with a Beatles spoon in their mouth, or shame, the 1970s and some Stones’ cocaine-etched Sticky Fingers, listened our ears off. Those were strange times indeed in that be-bop 1950s night when stuff happened, kid’s stuff, but still stuff like a friend of mine, not Lucky Pierre, who I will talk about later, who claimed, with a straight face to the girls, that he was Elvis’ long lost son. Did the girls do the math on that one? Or, maybe, they like us more brazen boys were hoping, hoping and praying that it was true despite the numbers, so they too could be washed by that flamed-out night.
Well, this I know, boy and girl alike tuned in on our transistor radios (small battery- operated radios that we could put in our pockets, and hide from snooping parental ears, at will) to listen to music that from about day one, at least in my household, my strictly French- Canadian Gallic Roman Catholic mother-driven household up in Olde Saco, Maine, was not considered “refined” enough for young, young pious “you’ll never get to heaven listening to that devil music and you had better say about eight zillion Hail Marys to get right” Catholic, ears. Ya, right Ma, like Patti Page or Bob (not Bing, not the Bing of Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? anyway) Crosby and The Bobcats were supposed to satisfy our jail break cravings.
But can you blame me, or us, for our jail-break visions and our clandestine subterranean life-transistor radio dreams of lots of girls (or boys, as the case may be), lots of cars, and lots of money if we could just get out from under that parental noise. Now this rock and roll series I was telling you about before had many year-based compilations but , as if to prove my point beyond discussion, the year 1956 had two, do you hear me, two CDs to deal with that proposition. And neither included Elvis, Jerry Lee, Bo Diddley or some other stuff that I might have included. Here are the stick outs that I want you to know about before I go on (Google them up on YouTube if can’t find them otherwise:
Blue Suede Shoes, Carl Perkins (Elvis covered it and made millions but old Carl had a better old rockabilly back beat on his version); In The Still Of The Night, The Five Satins (a doo wop classic that I am humming right this minute, sha dot do be doo, sha dot do be doo or something like that spelling, okay); Eddie, My Love, The Teen Queens (incredible harmony, doo wop back-up, and, and “oh Eddie, please don’t make me wait too long” as part of the lyrics, Whoa!); Roll Over Beethoven, Chuck Berry ( a deservedly early break-out rock anthem. Hell I thought it was big deal just to trash Patti Page earlier in this space but old Chuck went after the big boys.); Be-Bop-a-Lula, Gene Vincent (the guy was kind of a one hit wonder but Christ what a one hit, "ya, she’s my baby now"); Blueberry Hill, Fats Domino (that old smooth piano riffing away); Rip It Up, Little Richard (he/she wild man Richard rips it up); Young Love, Sonny James ( dreamy stuff that those giggling girls at school loved, and so you "loved" it too); Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (for a minute the king be-bop, doo wop teenage angel boy. Everybody wanted to be the doo wop king or queen); See You Later, Alligator, Bill Haley and The Comets (ya, these “old guys” could rock, especially that sax man. Think about it, people still use the expression “see you later alligator”); and Since I Met You Baby, Ivory Joe Hunter (every dance pray, every last dance pray, oh my god, let them play Ivory Joe at the end so I can dance close with that certain she I have been eyeing all night).
I have mentioned previously the excellent album cover art that accompanied each compilation. Not only does it almost automatically evoke long ago memories of red hot youth, and those dreams, those steamy dance night dreams too, but has supplied this writer with more than one idea for a commentary. This 1956 compilation album cover is in that same vein. The cover shows what looks like a local cover band from the 1950s getting ready to perform at the local high school dance. Although the guys, especially the lead vocalist, look a little skittish they know they have to make a good showing because this is their small time chance at the big time. Besides there are about six thousand other guys hanging around in their fathers’ garages ready and willing to step up if the Danny and the Blue-notes fall flat.
This live band idea is actually something of a treat because, from what I recall from my days at Ste. Brigitte’s, my growing up parish, many times these school dance things survived on loud record-playing dee-jay chatter, thus the term “record hop.” From the look of it the school auditorium is the locale (although ours were inevitably held in the church basement , complete with the obligatory crepe, other temporary school-spirit related ornaments and a mesmerized girl band groupie to give the joint a festive appearance.
More importantly, as I said before, at least for the band, as they are warming up for the night’s work, is that they have to make their mark here (and at other such venues) and start to get a following if they want to avoid another dreaded fate of rock life. Yes, the dreaded fate of most bands that don’t break out of the old neighborhood, the fate of having to some years down the road play at some of the students they are performing for today children’s birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, weddings and the like. That thought should be enough to keep these guys working until late in the night, jamming the night away, disturbing some old fogy Frank Sinatra fans in the neighborhood, perfecting those covers of Roll Over Beethoven, Rip It Up, Rock Around The Clock and Jailhouse Rock. Go to it boys.