Before hip-hop beefs, there were response records, also known as answer songs, usually replies to well-known songs. There are a few key eras: blues and R&B recorded music in the 1930s through 1950s, including a number of responses to "Work With Me, Annie" (1954), recorded by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, with answers including "Annie had a Baby," and "The Wallflower" by Etta James; and Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog" (1953), with a quick response by Louis Innis and Charlie Gore, made a mere week after the original was released, and Rufus Thomas' "Bear Cat" (1953), Sun Records' first hit. Country, rock & roll, doo-wop and pop music picked up where the blues left off, with most activity in the 1950s to 60s. Two examples from this era are "Are You Lonesome To-night" and "Who Put The Bomp," and responses to both. The most well known from the next decade was Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" (1974), a response to Neil Young's "Southern Man" (1970) and "Alabama" (1972). Until the 2000s, no answer songs had charted as high as the original hits. That changed with Frankee's "F.U.R.B. (Fuck You Right Back)" (2004), a response to Eamon's "Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)" (2003), which was the first answer song to reach number 1 in the UK. Six years later and across the pond, Katy Perry's "California Gurls" was a response to "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z. It was the first answer song to reach No. 1 in the Billboard Hot 100. More Responses inside. [more inside]
Do you know The Treniers? Back in the 40s and 50s, they straddled the lines between jump blues, swing, early rock'n'roll, jazz dance, hep jive and comedy. They were a whole hella fun, and they happened to be the backing band for what must be the best dance performance Jerry Lewis ever gave the world. That particular clip, BTW, from a Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis "Colgate Comedy Hour" in 1954, is purported to be the first rock'n'roll performance on national television, and it may well have been.
"She was a rock star," recalls Ira Tucker Jr., who grew up watching Tharpe with his father's gospel group in the 1940s and '50s. "You know, like Beyonce today and people like that. That's what Rosetta was to us." Sister Rosetta Tharpe wasn't the first one to bring black popular music into the church. (Here's the great Arizona Dranes playing barroom honky-tonk piano on the gospel side I Shall Wear a Crown in 1927.) But her fierce stage presence and her original blend of gospel, boogie-woogie, swing and smoking hot blues guitar was a crucial forgotten influence on what we now recognize as rock and roll. (Many more recordings inside. Enjoy!) [more inside]
John Lee Hooker performs Gloria and It Serves Me Right to Suffer with Van Morrison; I'm in the Mood with Bonnie Raitt; The Healer with Santana; Boogie Chilluns with the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton; and Roadhouse Blues with Jim Morrison & the Doors (audio only). [Also, Muddy Waters, Etta James and more blues legends & rock combos inside]
After the Storm Sometime this weekend, you may be able to hear one of the best expressions of New Orleans’ role in music and culture available in any mass media. It's American Routes, a weekly show carried on many US public radio affiliates. Programmed and hosted by folklorist and UNO professor of folklore and culture Nick Spitzer, the show normally broadcasts from a studio in the heart of the French Quarter, but has found a temporary home on a Creole/Cajun French/English public radio station in Lafayette. Spitzer told the NYT that he began planning the music for this week’s show as he was fleeing the flooding city in his car, playing Fats Domino’s “Walking to New Orleans." This week’s show highlights New Orleans’ recovery from disasters past, emphasizing the city’s role as the greatest single wellspring of American music. The Crescent City, after all, has either birthed or nurtured everything from jazz, R & B, cajun and the related black-influenced zydeco, soul, blues, gospel, and rock and roll.) With an encyclopedic knowledge of American vernacular music, an utterly democratic spirit, and an unmistakeable respect and love for American musical forms and the people who create them, Spitzer has stepped forward several times this week to serve as a compassionate and optimistic spokesman for the irrepressible creative spirit of a suffering city and a culture in diaspora.
He was the patriarch of the British Invasion. In 1962, he released Britain's first blues album. Before they hit it big, the Rolling Stones opened for him. He was on the Beatles first television special. Later, he was in the memorably-named band The Hoochie Coochie Men with Rod Stewart on lead vocals. His next band, Bluesology, featured one Reginald Dwight, who later changed his name to honour his mentor. Moving to Canada in the 1970s he eventually settled in Vancouver, where he died today after suffering from a chest infection. Ladies and gentlemen: "Long John" Baldry has passed.
The King of the Jukebox who disturbed the status quo They called rock music jump blues during the World War II era, and this amazingly talented clown was its master, with over fifty Top 10 R&B hits -- eighteen reached #1 -- between 1942 and 1951. Chuck Berry identified with him "more than any other artist." James Brown said, "He was everything" and considered him one of the earliest rappers. A pioneer of music video, the first black artist to cross over from the "race" market to a white audience and a central link between big bands and rock, he was a primary influence on Bill Haley, Ray Charles and B.B. King, who once said, "I wanted to be like him." Rest in peace, Louis Jordan. [Dozens of one-minute song clips here]