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The Golden Age Of American Rock ‘N’ Roll

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Over at ACME, we’re running a 12-part competition to win the Golden Age Of American Rock ‘N’ Roll series, courtesy of the nice-as-pie Ace Records. Each CD has 30 blasts of music, and lengthy sleevenotes, one of them with an introduction by Frank Zappa:

To deny rock music its place in society was to deny sexuality. Any parent who tried to keep his child from listening to or participating in this musical rotual was, in the eyes of the child, trying to castrate him.

Along the way, you can learn about the alternately cheering, bizzare and depressing stories behind these lodestones of rock ‘n’ roll.



For example, the story behind “Daddy’s home” is an unhappy one. Shep and the Limelites were a two-part harmony trio who recorded a sextet of songs covering the development of a relationship: “A thousand miles away”, “Daddy’s home”, “Three steps from the altar” “Our anniversary”, “What did Daddy do?” and “Remember, Baby”, à la John Updike’s Maples saga. Roulette, who owned the first of these, are an early example of a successful arm of the industry seeing the chance to make some money, give a kicking to small label and knock around a few hornets’ nests — they charged that “Daddy’s home” infringed their copyright and slapped a lawsuit on Hull Records in the mid-’60s. Hull was until then doing staggeringly well for a tiny outfit, but the label and band were put out of business, and finally Shep and the band regrouped in 1970, just before he was mugged and murdered in his car. Well done, everyone.


There’s also the Eamon and Frankee of the early 1960s: Jimmy Norman and Barbara George.


Barbara had already made it clear in “I know (You don’t love me no more)” that the relationship was over, but Jimmy wasn’t taking orders from any dame, and calls her up:

[phone rings] – Hello?
– Hello, girl!
– Who’s this?
– This is me, and I just wanna let you know:
I don’t love you no more
You and I are through!
I don’t love you no more
I’m gonna find someone new!

The sleevenotes make it abundantly clear that the scratches on this recording come from the sound effects record used on the original recording and not because of sloppy research on the compiler’s part. Got that?


Then there are the naughty Bobbettes.


The Bobbettes had hated a short-sighted schoolmaster:

I hate Mr. Lee and he hates me
He’s the four-eyedest teacher that you ever did see

but Atlantic thought it might be better to rewrite it as a love song: better to have some teenagers lusting after their teacher than resenting him. The real Mr. Lee was a good sport, and bought a box of the 7″s to give out to pupils. His response to the follow-up “I shot Mr. Lee” is not recorded.

One – Two – Three (Hey!)
I shot Mr. Lee .
(Uh oh!)
Three – Four – Five
I got tired of his jive.
(Uh oh!)
Woh oh oh, he should’ve never
(Uh oh!)
Woh oh oh, he should’ve never
Shot him in the head boom boom
(Uh oh!)
Shot him in the head boom boom.


The Bobbettes did amazingly-well for African-Americans, especially since this was a time when a black man (Julius Dixon) and a white woman (Beverly Ross) can get away with writing a song together behind closed doors, but need to pull in a black stooge to play “Ruby” if their Ronald & Ruby act is going to avoid a lynchin’.


Shame to keep the real “Ruby” tucked away. She wrote “Judy’s turn to cry”, “Candy man” and “Stop laughing at me”. Meanwhile, Dixon wrote for James Brown and Kitty Wells and died earlier this year.


My personal favourites are probably Dale and Grace.


The duo who crooned out “I’m leaving it up to you” split in 1964, whereupon Dale did what’s known in the indutry as a “Sam and Dave” (although Grace hadn’t shot anyone in the face, and Dale never sang with Lou Reed), and got himself a new Grace. From their official site:

This Dale and Grace also split in early 1990.

The original singing partner of Grace Sattenfield, Jimmy “Dale” Jordan, teamed again with Grace to become “The New Dale and Grace.”  In 1994, the duo released a new project, “The New Dale and Grace Album.” It is a delightful combination of the old and new, and they are in better voice than ever.

Here’s the tracklist of their new album. See if you can guess the concept.

  • How Great Thou Art
  • I’d Rather Have Jesus
  • Learning To Lean
  • The Old Rugged Cross
  • In God’s Hands
  • In The Garden
  • Prayer Is The Key To Heaven
  • Crying In The Chapel
  • I Know A Man Who Can
  • Through It All
  • Until Then
  • Wind Beneath My Wings

The New Main Street Singers are alive and, well…


The competition takes the form of a daily question, for each of which you can win one of the CDs, and be entered in a draw to win all 12. Today’s question is of the following crimes

  • possession of marijuana
  • armed attempted robbery
  • taking a minor across state lines
  • homemade pornography
  • possession of illicit firearms
  • poisoning
  • videotaping women in his restaurant’s restroom
  • tax evasion

which has Chuck Berry not been convicted? Answers, with postal address, to, please. Closing date July 17th. Rock (and roll) on!

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