I had several months ago been on a tear in reviewing individual CDs in an extensive classic rock ‘n’ roll series (now classic, then just our music). A lot of those reviews had been driven by the artwork which graced the covers of each item, both to stir ancient memories and reflect that precise moment in time, the youth time of the now very, very mature (nice sliding over the age issue, right?) baby-boomer generation who lived and died by the music. And who fit in, or did not fit in as the case may, to the themes expressed in those artwork scenes. Here we have the latter, the not fit in part, for this reviewer anyway. The latter is the case here although the cover art was simplicity itself- the rear view of an aerodynamically-contoured rear fin (yes, fin) of a “boss” (yes, boss) 1950s automobile of unknown provenance (but we can guess, right?)
Yes, and that slight description is all that is needed for those of us who came of age in the “golden age of the automobile”in the speed and thrills-craving aftermath of World War II when restless Americans, young and old, more young as it turned out, went into spasms over the latest “boss” (yes, boss) vehicle coming out of Detroit, the motor capital of the world then. Of course the cars kind of sorted themselves out- you wouldn’t, if you were young, dream of driving something that your father drove. So if you got his hand-me-down after he decided that he needed, just absolutely needed, that much more power in his automobile in order to keep up with the Joneses, you would move might and main in order to transform that old clunky dad car into a respectable tool. A rocket-like tool to fit the age, to ride and to ride with some sweet honey at your side, on those hot sticky, sultry summer nights down by the seaside, or at the drive-in, movie or for food, your choice.
Yes, and this is why even a mainly a not fit in no car boy like me, from a mainly no car family, could (and maybe still could) stare his eyes out over some boss of the bosses ’57 Chevy charging down the be-bop night boulevard, or a lanky turbo-driven long-line Lincoln, or a rebuilt Cadillac or a tear-up Thunderbird. Relics from a high cubic volume engine age when your twenty-nine cents a gallon gas took you about three feet per gallon. But still, come on now, they looked, well, boss.
Oh, yes, and of course you needed to amp up that boss wagon car radio, previously set exclusively to some father business news station (jesus), booming out the latest rock and roll hits about cars, especially West Coast car legends and their chicken runs, girls (east coast or west coast, hell, even the Mid-West), girls and boys in trouble, in love, out of love (ditto on that geography thing), chasing that sunset ocean-flecked dream. But mainly, when the dust settled, you had to worry about how and who was going to front that dough to get that new back chrome fender you just needed, absolutely needed, needed like crazy to keep up with the Jones’ son.
But on that boss car radio you were likely, very likely, to be cruising to (even if only riding shotgun in some buddy’s boss car cruising that boulevard looking for, what else, girls who just that moment might be in need of some seaside company, or wanted to go the drive-in, their choice) many of the tunes reviewed in that series. Stick-outs on this fin tail art beauty included: For Your Love, Ed Townsend; Silhouettes, The Diamonds; Somethin’ Else, Eddie Cochran (totally underrated in the classic rock scheme of things after he died in a car accident, naturally, especially his classic Summertime Blues that was a rite of passage each summer vacation); and, as always when you talk 1950s rock, the serious stuff, the serious riffing guitar stuff from the place where rock met the blues, Chuck Berry on Almost Grown, not his number one, A-list material but good in this company.