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Monday, 2 April 2012

Me, Myself and I Talk Rock and Roll Heroes Pt02

Me: So, we are going to talk about rock and roll today. How does that sound?

Myself: Fine by me.

I: No Complaints here.

Me: Who in your mind is the ultimate Rock and Roll Hero?

Myself: Somehow I know this will annoy people because it's not who you would expect it to be.

I: True, everyone probably thinks, "Oh they are going to say Elvis, aren't they?" But actually that's not true at all. I respect Elvis. I love the 'Sun Sessions' and a song here and there, but to me he doesn't represent Rock and Roll at all. I would say there are three people I would put the mantle on. Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.

Buddy Holly

Eddie and Gene

Myself: Absolutely, those guys were the best and of course Eddie and Buddy had rather short careers whilst Gene coninued on into the 1970's (though his best work was much earlier).

I: Buddy Holly and The Crickets were like the original Rock and Roll band. Listen to the 1957 album 'The Chirping Crickets', it's got it all. I mean, these guys were even writing their own songs (four of which appear on the album)! Back then such a thing was unheard of. There's even a couple of tunes on there written by Roy Orbison - 'You've Got Love' and 'An Empty Cup (and a Broken Date)'. Seeing Elvis live in concert convinced him that this was what he wanted to do. But man, he doesn't even look like a Rock and Roll star does he?

Myself: He almost looks like the geeky science kid! Not what you expect but once you heard the opening bars of 'That'll Be The Day', 'Not Fade Away', or 'Maybe Baby' it didn't matter what he looked like! The kid from Lubbock, Texas, knew how to rock! Paul McCartney said that without Buddy Holly and the Crickets there would have been no Beatles.

Oh Boy - Buddy Holly and The Crickets

Peggy Sue - Buddy Holly and The Crickets

Me: I love the introduction on the 'Peggy Sue' clip, 'Rock and Roll Specialists!' One of the things I really loved about the band was the 1958 release 'Buddy Holly'. Not a song longer than two minutes and thirty seconds and the shortest one is only a minute and thirty two seconds. Laid the groundwork for bands like The Beatles and the Stones and even later for bands like The Ramones I think.

Myself: I'd say that was true. The perfect pop songs are a maximum of three minutes (of course there are a few that are over that). That album by the way clocks in at 24 minutes and 35 seconds! The Ramones debut has four more songs than Buddy's album and is only 29 mins and 4 seconds long!

Me: What about the music of Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent? What are the standout songs from those guys?

I: Those two are of course linked together in music and in death. Whilst touring the UK in April 1960 there was a bad road traffic accident involving a taxi that Cochran, his girlfriend and Vincent were travelling in and Eddie lost his life from a serious brain injury a day later.

Cochran actually didn't leave behind a whole legacy of music. He'd released a number of singles and an album 'Singin' to my Baby' in 1957.

His biggest single of course were the 1958 classic 'Summertime Blues'  which reached number 8 in the charts and 'C'Mon Everybody' and the brilliant 'Somethin' Else' are the other standouts. Though my favourite is 'Hallelujah, I Love Her So'. It's a Ray Charles song and Eddie does a great version I think and the only other cover version of it that is remotely brilliant of it is by The Animals on their second album ('Animal Tracks' 1965).
Hallelujah, I Love Her So - Eddie Cochran (Live Audio)

Myself: Vincent's early output is clearly his finest material ('Race with the Devil', 'Blue Jean Bop', 'Five Feet of Lovin' and 'Red Bluejeans and a Ponytail' but on that ill-fated tour in 1960 he was to enjoy British chart success with 'Pistol Packin' Mama' and thanks to a TV show (Boy Meets Girl) he gained that leather-clad rocker image that he became well known for. Pretty good for him that the director had objected to his jeans and jumper look!

Dance to the Bop (1958)

1964 Performance of Be-Bop-A-Lula

Red Bluejeans and a Ponytail (Audio)

I: The big shame about Gene though was he got kind of lost in the mid sixties and tried to reinvent himself as a folk rocker and it just didn't suit him at all. Actually in 1969 he did release an album on John Peel's Dandelion label ('I'm Back and I'm Proud') and the year that he passed away he also recorded his one and only Peel Session (broadcast 6th Feb 1971), eight months later he would be no more.

Myself: All three of these Rock and Roll heroes influenced so many artists down through the years. The Who, The Beatles, Jeff Beck, Elvis Costello and even Ian Dury can trace a line back to these three. I never tire of listening to their music, especially Buddy's music and I was more than a little pleased with the album 'Rave On Buddy Holly' that was released last year.

When I saw the tracklist for the album I was a little fearful when I saw particular songs that the artists were doing and really wondered if it would work at all. But it does work, not everyone is going to like every track, but for me I think it's a brilliant album.

Patti Smith - Words of Love

Kid Rock - Well All Right

Lou Reed - Peggy Sue

I: The Kid Rock track is immense. And what about My Morning Jacket doing 'True Love Ways'? Colossal!

Me: Brilliant stuff. Next time we are going to talk about our favourite frontmen/women.
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