Archive for August, 2010

Is this the first rock & roll song?



“Dance First. Think later. It’s the natural order.” – Samuel Beckett

Jackie Breston & His Delta Cats featuring Ike Turner on guitar doing  “Rocket 88” recorded in 1951 is reputed to be the first rock & roll song. Not the first song to feature the words but the first example of what would become the dominant musical style of the coming decade. The honking sax, the rollicking piano but especially the scuzzy sound of that guitar, all became hallmarks of the best of early rock & roll and the song still kicks it today. The story goes that the band drove all night from Kansas City to Chess Records in Chicago for their studio recording début. Once there, it was discovered that a hole had been punched in the guitar amp from either the travel or getting it in or out of the trunk of the car the band rode in, hence the lo-fi rumble & fuzz sound of the guitar on this record.

Jackie Breston & His Delta Cats (ft. Ike Turner on guitar) – Rocket 88 (1951)

Is this the patient zero song?


“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you can see all sorts of things you can’t see from the center.” – Kurt Vonnegut

In 1966, a teenage garage band from NYC called the Groupies released a song on a 45  called “Primitive” that may be the epitome of the garage rock sound. Modeled after the Yardbirds version of “Smokestack Lightening” but listen closely and you can hear the future of all of rock & roll. The sneer of the vocals is pure punk, the words themselves are pure hippie idealism, the drums harken to the future of industrial music to come, the guitar and harmonica interplay with the echo effects portend the progressive & psychedelic genres of the next year or two and the overall lo-fi vibe reeks of the first hard rock that will rear its head soon after the psych & prog scene wear out their time in 4 years or so (hard rock giving way to heavy metal soon after).

Groupies – Primitive