Tag Archives: thoughts

Thoughts on Rockabilly and Sun Records.. 5 points to ponder upon?


I’ve been getting into Rockabilly for a short while..

And I have some thoughts about what I’m hearing.

Now, I’ve been into music in a big way all my life and I’m getting good at recognizing the next listening and collecting sensation as it approaches. I still love my Reggae, but for a while 40s and 50s Rhythm and Blues and then late 50s Rockabilly has been featuring heavily on my Mp3 player, cd player and more infrequently on the turntable/s here at Murphy Towers.

Just recently having listened to Warren Smith’s Ubangi Stomp and Miss Froggie I purchased Essential Rockabilly – The Sun Story on the cheaper than cheap One Day Music label. It strikes me that you can hear some interesting stuff on it. I have listed five of them below in order of interest to me.

1. Elvis Presley was trying to cover the bases with his first release ‘That’s All Right Mama’  b/w  ‘Blue Moon’ (of Kentucky). Interestingly he seems most comfortable singing the Crudup classic, rather than the country number Blue Moon.
On the country/bluegrass tune he sings in a lower register superimposing a character on the song that isn’t like anything you’ll ever hear again. He’s playing, pretending he’s country, giving it some, hamming it up just a touch. Listen to it, check it out and you’ll see what I mean. In the first few bars you’ll not even be sure it’s him if you listen with open ears.

Of course this isn’t anything that isn’t already know. But you can really hear it on the shellac, it’s there audibly, history in the recording. Elvis on his first attempt and record release was trying to find his feet. Sam Phillips was trying to cover the angles by putting out a two sider, one R&B tune and one Country; in the hope that if the Black crowd or God help 50s ‘ society’ the teenagers didn’t like the Bluesy number their white and parental counterparts might prefer the 4/4 re-working of Monroe’s classic ode to Lunar tint.

2. It’s a good thing that Roy Orbison developed that lonesome high sound of his, because frankly at this stage of his career he was on a wrong ‘un. Orbison sounds like all the rest, there is not a great deal to distinguish him from the crowd of singers. In fact he sounds pretty weak at times. Orbison you sucked big time, but you did Okay in the end, for a speccy four eyes.

3. Charlie Feathers is good and needs more listening to, write that one down in the notebook. He’s quite obviously a full on redneck.

4. Johnny Cash is about the most mature temporally transcendant sounding artiste that Sun had. There is a developed confident, ‘I’ve made it already’ sound to Johnny’s output that impresses heavily. Listening to him, even more so than Elvis you are certain that out of all the artists you are listening to, he was the one who was going to make it big.

5. A lot of Rockabilly is badly played and amateurish at best (but great for it), and many of those lauded as great guitarists of the Rockabilly age wouldn’t have been fit to tune Jimi or Jeff’s Strat.

 

Oh… and 6. just for fun.. Jerry Lee Lewis has the fullest and most hypnotizing energy of all of those I’ve listened to so far, and yet, he’ll worry you on record, let alone up close and personal. Christ I’d be scared to rub him up the wrong way. He sounds like a man who’d shoot first and wouldn’t ask any questions whatsoever.  Dangerous.

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Thoughts on the passing of Amy Winehouse


Dead dead dead, dead as a Dodo…

Lilly livered get out clause…

As I begin to write this I have to say, that I, know bugger all of the ‘truth’ in this matter and my perspective can only ever be that of a listener and as a digester of whatever the media cared to throw at me during Ms. Winehouse’s career. Only her family and those close to her will ever know the truth. Everyone though has their angle.

Mourning

Many will not mourn the passing of Amy Winehouse. Many will see her as an average talent amongst much else that is jaw droppingly mundane in the scene of British popular music circa the 2000s. She was undoubtedly disturbed, self-indulgent, inward looking, tearfully sentimental in that way only the lost soul of a teenager can be, without a backward glance or self-critical say so; but she was one great singer, she was a talent I believe to rival the greats, or could have been, given the chance and the opportunity.

On an off day she could vocally out manoeuvre her nearest rivals and I believe probably leave them wishing she do something as stupid as fuck things up. She did this, most royally of course. Talentless ‘squeekers’ like Duffy could never fill the fissures now that a true star has fallen from the firmament.

Above all though, and depressingly so, once success hit, she was a commodity bought and sold and then personally let down I believe by family, friends and her management, by her record label, her minders and everyone else INVESTED in her.

27 and an adult?

Sure she was 27 and no doubt considered herself an adult and capable of making her own decisions when she passed away. Where were the management that professed love for her.. where was ‘love’ when handlers pushed her onto an Eastern European stage only half a month ago when SHE said ‘I don’t want to go on’ and was in no fit state to do so..? It seems as though those that should have cared weren’t there for her, or perhaps there was no opportunity to help. Whatever the true story behind the tradgedy of her addiction and struggle it seems to me, that she was let down.

So family have said that Amy was always a wild spirit who knew her own mind and couldn’t be controlled, I wonder if she was just looking, as young children do, for boundaries, for someone to love her enough to make up some rules, or someone to say ‘enough is enough’. No one did, and after her success no one wanted to dared, or could probably have got close enough to impose any single will upon her. However desperate the situation.

Of course there is always addiction, an affliction that she and many others have, but every addict I have ever known was in some way physically or sexually abused, or nurtured some deep schism in the dark recesses of their un-shared soul. It wasn’t so much the addiction in my experience as the need to plaster over the cracks that led to those that I have known harming and in one or two cases killing themselves as a result.

Devil at the Crossroads?

Many performers I believe are fractured people who ply their trade for more, much more, than financial reward. The average Joe doesn’t feel the draw or need to please other people and the love (supposed) that returns to them by way of this bargain. And will not understand the contract that Winehouse and others like her sign for themselves. Perhaps this is the contract, the very same one, that Robert Johnson who died at 27 years of age, or Jimi Hendrix who also suffered loss when his mother left the family home (and died at 27), signed with the Devil at the Crossroads.

Fractured

It is no surprise to me that she enrolled in Acting school in the same year as her father left home, one wonders what hole is created by loss and how it might be subsequently filled? The adulation associated with succesful performance seems a candidate fo gap filler. But no doubt, like many before her have found, once success comes your way, there is nothing real to fill the gaping hole of loss and sadness with, there is in the end, only you and if you have it, love for yourself. Is this who Amy Winehouse was? Only her family and friends will know, but I think it’s how I saw her and how I see her now.

But what I heard was someone with all the ability of Billie Holliday, (Tony Bennett likened her to Dinah Washington) but with the recorded output of a crowd pleaser. I think, had she lived to a ripe old age, circled by earlier successes and had re-negotiated the contract between herself and the World she might have had the opportunity to show us more than just a spark of genius.

She was that good. As it is, we’re left wondering and wishing.

Amy Winehouse was someone’s child, don’t forget that.