Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Everybody Up! 6 - He Drove The Fastest Painty-Can Cart In The West


1. MOTT THE HOOPLE "All The Young Dudes"

# He can kick like a mule, its a real mean team, but we can love; oh yes, we can love...

Yay!  A friend of mine once introduced me to the concept of cheering when a character in a film says the name of the film, which has stuck ever since, and of course occurred to me in this situation.  Note that the less appropriate the timing of the cheer, the more satisfying this little game becomes (see: "Secrets and Lies").

I don't really think you need me to run this one down for you; Bowie wrote this for Mott, who were somewhat in the doldrums at the time.  It provided a shot in the arm for them - and later a new guitarist in the form of Mick Ronson - but so Bowie is the song that it's odd hearing another artist do it, even if they did do it first, and Bowie's never really managed to get a good version on record.

Thus begins a skull-crushing parade of glam's greatest hits, best enjoyed at bowel-rattling volume with a - hang on a minute...  That sounds like... 


2. LOU REED "Walk on The Wild Side"

Sigh.  Here comes ol' painty-can Lou Reed, again, to ruin everything, again.

Yes, here's every apologist's nightmare - arguably your artist's biggest song, which sounded "exotic" at the time, turns out when viewed through modern society's unforgiving prism to be full of outmoded and borderline insulting language, unfortunately targeted at a minority whose causes are just starting to come into sharp focus. 

It's also boring as fuck, though the clever production on the backing vocals through what must be, by a process of elimination, the "chorus" is actually pretty good.  This still falls foul of one of the fundamental rules of the universe: when PJ And Duncan's version of a song improves upon it in every conceivable way, you have a problem.

Finally, to quote a very underrated writer, "the best that can be said for an artefact of this level of throwaway frivolity and outmoded prejudice is that human morality's inexorable progress has rendered this almost impossible to judge by modern standards" - which either makes Lou Reed the American Noel Coward, or Noel Coward the English Lou Reed (delete as applicable).  Either way, one thing is undeniable: Lou Reed's garage contained many half-finished cans of paint.

3. ROXY MUSIC "Virginia Plain"

Not that I'm necessarily saying that Eno doesn't have a stash of Crown's finest, probably all in slightly differently named shades of white, but at least his painty-can-ness tends to manifest in ground-breaking or entertaining fashion - note that's not an and/or, as he doesn't quite seemed to have mastered doing both at once.

This track is great, and features probably the best use of oboe in rock.  In fact, are there any other high profile uses of the oboe in rock?  Answers on a postcard.  We'll be hearing from Byron Ferrari again later on, but unfortunately it will be a bit less exciting than this offering; it's easy to underestimate how exciting and progressive Roxy Music must have sounded at the time, particularly in the context of mainstream pop.

Thus (truly) begins a skull-crushing parade of glam's greatest hits, best enjoyed at bowel-rattling volume with a Midlands-brewed beer in hand and one of them hats like Noddy Holder had perched atop yer head.  Come on, let's feel the noise!

4. T-REX "Metal Guru"

BOSH!  Top of the shop.

It's all in the walk.  The walk I do when this song comes on tells me everything I need to know about the song.  It's not a strut, it's not a swagger, but it's supremely confident.  There's even some swish in the hips, a less masculine quality that bubbles to the surface, sensing a lack of fear, the absolute steely focus that the beat and screeching that hails the arrival of this song instils in me.

It is solid, it is unstoppable, it probably looks really bloody stupid on a Tuesday afternoon in a machine-washable Primark suit, whilst trying to rush back to work with a Tesco meal deal in one hand and a permanently buzzing mobile phone in the other, but damn it if it isn't a great, great deal of fun - even if nobody seems to know exactly what a Metal Guru is.

5. THE OSMONDS "Crazy Horses"

First off: not glam rock.  Not anywhere near.  However, what a track.  Seriously; for all my espousing of Digital Hardcore acts, mid-nineties Touch & Go Records alumni and ear-scorching Japanese punks, this may be one of the most extreme tracks in my collection.

Bear in mind that this is The Osmonds - the Mormon, perennial goody-two-shoeses of the seventies music industry - producing an extremely loud rock song.  By modern day standards, with the jaded, seen-it-all attitude of these bloody millenials, it's the equivalent of One Direction torching an orphanage and releasing the screams as a single.

Featuring a riff that can only be described as "metal", a spacey synthesiser and a dangerously berserk, shout-until-you're-hoarse (pun intended, always) vocal about killer horses taking over the world, or something.  The saxophone towards the end derails it a bit but it's too late by then - your mind may well have been blown.

In short, avoid judging this book by its cover; unlike certain other snooze-worthy offerings by certain Dulux-collecting "legends" we've recently encountered, this snaps, crackles and pops with an undercurrent of genuine danger.

Join us next time when we'll be looking for a kiss and trying to work out how one cans a can.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Everybody Up! 5 - Two for Sorrow, Three for Joy

1-17. FANNY "Charity Ball"

Cor!  I'd love me some no sorry I'm not doing this bit.  Next.


A song this writer is more than familiar with, thanks to Radcliffe favourites and nostalgia specialists before it was cool The Adventures of Parsley, who dropped a version in the mid-nineties, when the arrival of Supergrass briefly convinced everyone that the seventies were coming back in a big way - which was halted two seconds later after Oasis' dominance meant it was time to dig out your parka and stick some Weller on.  Again.

(Anyone who says I'm old enough to remember the show itself is a communist.)

Magpie the show was ITV's attempt to do something along the lines of the BBC favourite Blue Peter, but with a remit to be a bit more groovy, man.  The main impact it has had on myself is as an afterthought in the sets of stand-up comedians of a certain age, about how they either weren't allowed to watch Magpie because it was on ITV, or made a point of watching it because it was on ITV.  In some cases this would take up hours of said material, only stopping for Jack Dee to say "Mojo" in a voice he presumably believed to be funny.

Whilst ostensibly being recorded by The Murgatroyd Band, named for the show's magpie mascot, the group largely consists of members of The Spencer Davis Group, such as Spencer Davis.  So I've learned something today.  Anyway, the song itself is pretty good; strangely hypnotic, but with an odd feeling of it only being very barely controlled - like it might set its controls for the heart of the sun at any moment, and plough off into mind-expanding bad trip territory, assumedly taking the watching kiddies with them.

1-19. CHICORY TIP "Son Of My Father"

Oh good lord.  Well I already skipped Fanny, so I'll have to have a go at this one.

Chicory Tip, who were known as Chicory in the USA (still not as bad as The London Suede - really, why would you go with that?), presented this English re-write of a German song and then did basically nothing else of worth.  They had one album, but somehow have had five compilations of their oeuvre released.  The only way to get the album on CD is, bizarrely, on Japanese import.

And by thunder, is it ever boring.  One of the main reasons it took me a while to write up this next post was the sheer fear of having to find something to find about bloody Chicory bloody Tip with their bloody meandering bloody boring song.  And then I realised: that.  That's what I could say.

And everything was alright, forever after.

1-20. T-REX "Hot Love"

For years I did not know what this song was called.  In fact I was about to accuse this of doing the classic Nirvana move of having a title with nothing to do with the lyrics, but luckily thought to Google it beforehand.  I'm still going on record as saying it's well hidden for a song title.

The track itself seems oddly restrained compared to later offerings such as "20th Century Boy", but sounds like a nuclear war when taken against the earlier Tyrannosaurus Rex material - however, the greater historical significance (and I'm sure someone will be more than happy to correct me if I am wrong) is that Bolan's appearances on Top of the Pops to promote this very single are credited with bringing the glam look to the masses.

We'll be dropping in on Bolan again before very long.  Whilst he may have provided the initial opening, others would arguably capitalise on it better, at least in the short term.  Somewhere in Laahdahn town, Bowie, far from saying bye ta-ta as he promised us half a disk ago, was heading into space; any number of UK rockers were raiding their sisters' dressing tables; and in darkest Wolverhampton, some unlikely icons were shaping their sideburns...

1-21. SLADE "Coz I Luv You"

Disk One comes to an end with an appearance by a band who are synonymous with the mainstream vision of glam due to their outrageous outfits, despite not necessarily fitting the bill musically.  For Slade were, at heart, a hard rock band - could they have been anything else, hailing from the West Midlands at that time? - it just took them a little while to get there.

And this song is a very interesting sidetrack before they got there.  A classic pop song, with easily memorable lyrics, simply understood platitudes and an instantly recognisable guitar hook, this wasn't typical of Slade at the time, who were transitioning from their skinhead phase to something less overtly confrontational.  In fact, when taken in tandem with the previous track, we're on a run of songs that kickstarted fluctuating careers and in retrospect don't exactly fit with the modern expectations of those acts.

This was very much a case of cometh the hour, cometh the band, and the production does just enough to keep the boiling rage under wraps, which would actually no longer be necessary after this hit number one and the UK embraced Slade's more raucous anthems.  We can argue all day about whether they'd have done it on merit without adopting the visual tropes established by Bolan, but that
would be pointless, and I've stuff to do.

And that ends disk one for us!  Join us next time for disk two, where we'll be cheering as the title of the album is sung, catching up with Byron Ferrari and trying to work out what a Metal Guru actually is.  It's going to be great!...  Hang on...  Can you hear the rattle of paint cans?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Everybody Up! 4 - It Tastes Just Like *CHERRY* Cola

1-12. THE STOOGES "1969"

Here we fucking go!  The Psychedelic Stooges were part of Motor City's group of fantastic turn of the seventies rock acts, along with the MC5 and later Alice Cooper, who is oddly absent from this collection despite having a) definite glam links and b) some excellent tunes.

This is one of a number of tracks (about seven out of eight) on their debut album that are very tightly controlled up to a point, then go ape crazy at the end; second album "Fun House" dispensed with the tightly controlled bits altogether, and "Raw Power"...  Good lord, "Raw Power".  But that's another matter altogether.

An excellent blast of proto-punk, certainly, and from an act who took stage performances to a more theatrical level via Iggy's antics, its inclusion here essentially seems to hinge on their "Bowie Mates" status; a shame, really, as it doesn't seem massively relevant beyond that, which is a bit of a sad way to think of a brilliant song.

As we're about to find out, perceived relevance to the box's subject is a bit of an issue with the next few tracks - though I am at pains to refer you to the opening entry of this series, which did state that their relevance wouldn't be questioned, this is definitely a series of tracks that could have been lent extra context from tracks that could have been selected but for whatever reason were not, or where the artists may have been better represented by other selections.  Again, it's all opinion - try not to take it too seriously.

1-13. THE KINKS "Lola"

And speaking immediately of which, here's a tune whose subject matter seems to have bought its berth, rather than being part of the featured musical lineage, which other Kinks songs may have fitted more comfortably into - "You Really Got Me", for instance, though its lazy (whilst probably true) assumed status as the genesis of heavy metal tends to rule it out of other considerations.

The problem here, said the lazy journalist, is that because of the two controversies of the lyrics - one being the Coca-Cola vs Cherry Cola storm in a teacup, the other the acknowledgement of transexuality/transvestism on a mainstream pop record, there's been an awful lot of writing about what is a perfectly serviceable but not musically ambitious record, meaning that I'll have to cut this particular entry short.  Please accept the following picture of a weasel with our apologies.

1-14. HOTLEGS "Neanderthal Man"

Hotlegs are the answer to a question nobody asked: "what did 10CC do before they were 10CC?". 

Loping along on a repetitive beat, showing a lack of imagination that would not be out of place from a Neanderthal man...  Hang on, is that what they were trying to do?  Did they invent hipster irony thirty-some odd years early?  The world must know!

That possibility aside, this is pretty bad.  Whilst it has merit as a musical curate's egg, given what the core staff would go on to achieve, I am of the unfortunate conclusion that this track marks the end of a good, if briefly Lou Reed-scarred, run of tracks; certainly the best we've had on the boxed set to date.  So, what powerhouse of pre-glam will we get to re-energise us in the run towards the end of disk one?

1-15. BURUNDI STEIPHENSON BLACK "Burundi Black Part Two"



Here we have a 1971 track featuring the drumming of Burundi's Ingoma people, which would later influence seemingly everything Malcolm McLaren did post-Pistols.  It...  Well, it doesn't seem very relevant.  I think some parallels are trying to be drawn here between the hypnotic, beat-perfect rhythms often employed by glam drummers and those used here, but it doesn't exactly ring true.

Whilst I know this is building to something, having listened to the other disks (um, spoilers, probably), I don't know what that is - "Tiger Feet", perhaps.  There were probably tracks that could have been picked that would have made the case for this one a bit better, and I was genuinely surprised that Adam and the Ants don't make an appearance later, but that's not the set we got - so sadly I must consider this largely irrelevant.

1-16. CURVED AIR "Back Street Luv"

OK; much better.  This kicks off with a mysterious space-rock intro and verse that I wish someone would play to Muse, though they're probably too busy making a new piece of iPad software to turn their spindly indie also-ran tunes into lost Queen songs, before shifting seamlessly into a higher tempo chorus - or what passes for a chorus, as the song is at the edge of traditional structure.

It's pretty damn good, which surprised me; I'm not sure if was getting them mixed up with someone else, but I distinctly remember looking at the back of the box and thinking 'Curved Air?  I don't like Curved Air', with all the whininess of the barge driver from "Rosie and Jim" forlornly discovering that his mischievous woollen golems had tricked him into purchasing toffee yoghurt.

Bizarrely, this single got to number 4 in the UK singles chart, and none of their other singles did anything at all, though being in the psyche/prog end of things their albums were probably the main focus.  If they take nothing else away from their career, they can at least say that a beleaguered blogger compared them favourably to Muse, and thanks them for breaking the cycle of odd inclusions; the space-age futurism employed here would definitely have an influence on glam, and it is definitely a good song.  Hooray!  Closing on a high!

Join us next time for Love, Luv and Fanny.  And two others that don't form a part of a tenuous, childish piece of humour.  (More's the pity)

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Everybody Up! 3 - Danny Dyer's World's Hardest Equations

1-8. T-REX "Jeepster"

Finally, we've hit the glam years!  Bolan and his daring ringlets ushered in the era with a number of bombastic, high-profile singles and intriguing long players, with the able support of producer Tony Visconti and a colourful cast of backing musicians, including spectacular ne'er-do-well Steve Pereguine-Took, whose name would not look of place on Kula Shaker's roster.

Released as a single without Bolan's knowledge by a record label he'd just left, "Jeepster" peaked at...  Hang on, we've got here a bit quickly haven't we?  Unless - let me just check - ah, that's it.  This isn't "Jeepster" - it's:

1-8. HOWLIN' WOLF "You'll Be Mine"

Which is basically exactly the same song.  Glad we cleared that up.

...Sorry, what's that?  What does it sound like?  Well, "Jeepster", obviously.  Duh.

1-9. JACQUES BREL "Amsterdam"

Now we go back to the box marked "Miscellaneous Bowie Influences" for a jaunty-sounding track (which is probably about either clattery, back-firing vans, death or an old man having sex with a young woman, as all things expressed in French invariably are) with a vaguely nautical lilt.

As with much Gallic artistry, Mr Brel has passed me by to date, so I was forced to look him up.  I definitely seem to be right on the death prediction, as mortality was often at the forefront of his subject matter; it also seems to have taken him most of a decade to die of incurable cancer, which I'm pretty sure will do that for you.

He was also responsible for "Seasons In The Sun", as covered by Nirvana and Black Box Recorder, and "Jacky", which Marc Almond did a cracking version of, and numerous tracks that Scott Walker seems to have taken a swing at, amongst many other things.  It's a shame that all of Bowie's influences couldn't have produced such an enviable body of work...

1-10. THE VELVET UNDERGROUND "I'm Waiting For The Man"

...And right on cue, here's ol' painty-can Lou Reed to ruin everything, with his cohorts in the cooler-than-thou act described liberally by this very writer as the most overrated band ever to stalk the Earth - yes, it's the oft-bought, oft-displayed, rarely-listened-to Velvet Underground, here to tell us chattering classes about the mean streets of the most artistic, left-wing and middle-class bits of New York.

As the more astute amongst you will have guessed from that rather 'handbags' first paragraph, I'm not especially fond of them, this song included.  But rather than a painful excoriation, I instead have two things to raise about the lyrical content:

1. Drug dealers are described, both here and in other media as "always late".  It makes me wonder how much more a punctual drug dealer could make.  They always have the best watches, too; what a waste.

2. Exactly how much heroin does $26 buy one?  More pertinently, with inflation and the relative weakening of street level drugs over the decades, has that deal got better or worse?

Did YOU purchase heroin on the streets of Harlem in the mid to late 1960's?  If so, Atomic Sourpuss would like to hear from YOU!  Contact us by post at Atomic Sourpuss, C/O An Airship, International Airspace.

1-11. DAVID BOWIE "London Bye Ta-Ta"

"Idea for a television series: London by Tata.  Barbara Windsor drinks in the sights of the capital, whilst travelling in a mid-range Tata Zest sedan.  May be picked up by Sky - possible double bill with Danny Dyer's World's Hardest Equations."

Yes, it's Bowie, pre-Bowie, as it were.  This is from the highly Anthony Newley-influenced period that predated...  Well, everything you and I think of as being David Bowie, essentially.  I spoke about this period and the accompanying album during A Godawful Small Affair (so for more of my thoughts on this period of Bowie's career, if for some unknown reason you find that an attractive proposition, see A Godawful Small Affair, entry 24 at, and I whilst I wasn't keen, I did think there was important historical perspective to be taken from it.

For if Bowie had got big doing this lighter, more knockabout - though often quite acidly belyric'd - material, we may never have had Ziggy, the Thin White Duke and Nathan Adler; we may never have had "Starman" on 'Top of the Pops'; and glam, whilst it would doubtlessly still have existed thanks to the efforts of Howlin' Wolf, would have been a very different beast.

Join us next time for the start of punk, an unfortunate misunderstanding, cavemen, all of Malcolm McLaren's idea(s) and some Back Street Luv - fnarr!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Everybody Up! 2 - A Slade, But Not That One (Yet)

1-4. VINCE TAYLOR "Brand New Cadillac"

Hailed by Bowie as a major inspiration for Ziggy Stardust, covered by The Clash, beloved of rockabilly revivalists - why don't I know more about Vince Taylor? 

Well, there's two main reasons for that: number one, like a lot of artists at the time he was most well known for performing the same basic batch of rock 'n' roll songs that everyone else was doing at the time.  Say what you want about The Beatles - and I often do - but they did lead a shift to self writing that helped acts stamp a bit of personality on their acts.  Or these days, a lack of personality.  Am I right?

Number two, drug hell.  Well, it happens to the best of them.

Life factors set aside, as indeed they should be, what we have here is a superior slice of smouldering rock 'n' roll from a hell of a singer, and one that ushered in visual elements of performance and fashion that would have an influence on glam, punk and beyond.  More importantly for me, we have the first song I can recommend without reservation, so we're picking up some speed!

1-5. MAX HARRIS "Gurney Slade"

And now to a more tenuous inclusion: the theme tune from a surreal sitcom that David Bowie apparently liked, starring the gentleman we'll be hearing from on the next track.  It's by Max Harris, who also provided themes for "Porridge" and "Doomwatch" - so I've learned something today!

It's not bad; we have enough clicks and flute for me to wonder if Bentley Rhythm Ace got around to sampling this at any stage, some jaunty piano (or perhaps pianny, depending on your persuasion) and a bit where the whole orchestra strikes up for no apparent reason and to little effect, probably to justify their union rate for the session.  In short, it's a theme tune from a sixties sitcom.

Whilst I do agree with this set's mission to bring oft-ignored influences to people's ears, even I was thinking 'this could have been "Rebels Rule" instead'.  I promise I will try not to espouse that kind of opinion here, but given what we've got next it seems a largely irrelevant choice.


Christ, this isn't getting any easier is it?  This starts off very much like the previous track, which acts as further condemnation of its selection, before 'evolving' (if one can call it that) into the most insignificant, unchallenging piece of pop fluff this side of Take That's masterpiece of mediocrity, "Everything Changes".

It has occurred to me since that this may be entirely deliberate; Newley is clearly not a bad songwriter, having contributed to "Goldfinger" and the soundtrack to "Willy Wonka" (non-Depp version), or performer, being as he was in demand for both commercially and critically acclaimed productions throughout his lifetime.

In light of the previous sentence, we are forced to look at the nature of art itself, and whether an aggregate of quality across a career can lift even the worst parts of an act's output to a higher level, simply by being part of a largely high quality oeuvre. 

A thorny question, to be sure, but one simply answered with seven little words - Bowie's great, but "Kooks" is still shit.  Therefore, I shall be swerving "Bee-Bom" on subsequent playthroughs.  I thank you.

1-7. BILLY FURY "Jealousy"

But let's not end this entry on a low - here's a genuine superstar of his time, and a man past whose statue I am often found sauntering, over yonder by Liverpool's Albert Dock, but much like Vince Taylor, not someone who you hear mentioned in the same breath as some of his better-remembered peers.

That's a real shame on this evidence.  Taken from phase two of Billy's career, where he espoused more mainstream balladry after his having risen to the top as an edgier, Elvis-like character - which is, of course, the same basic path that The King himself would take - he is more than capable of carrying a tune, whilst showing a damn sight more personality than many of his contemporaries.

Lifelong heart problems put a very final full stop on things for him, which is a crying shame, as had he lived he would doubtlessly have drifted organically back into fashion to finally receive his dues, but as things stand and without a number one single to his name, time will continue to be cruel to his memory.  Nonetheless, I recommend you seek him out, as he does not disappoint.

Join us next time for Marc Bolan!...  Oh wait, no, plus a clattery, backfiring van, some old cans of paint and a great new reality TV concept. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Everybody Up! 1 - Mad Dogs and Imperialist Bellends

First, a plug:

Now, opinion: "Oh Yes We Can Love: A History of Glam Rock" is a five disk, 91 track boxed set with accompanying book.  I think it's great, and I think it does what it sets out to do with aplomb, that being to put glam in a wider historical context by including tracks from before and after the brief musical movement to show its influences and, subsequently, its influence.

Like most things in life, it isn't perfect - disk five in particular includes a lot of tracks with "Glam" in the title, rather than more glam-sounding tracks by some of the same artists - but it is in general a lovely package, with a fantastic and varied selection of songs that I am proud to have in my CD collection. 

With the encouragement of some friends, I have therefore decided to tackle this track by track, providing my pointless opinions and hopefully provoking a little debate about a musical movement which often finds itself on the historical back burner compared to punk, prog and other 'cooler' trends, possibly due to its close association with certain high-profile sexual predators.

Now, if you read the reviews on Amazon, it appears two things have gone wrong with the launch of the product: firstly, some people haven't quite got the point of the project.  There are plenty of glam compilations out there if you just want to listen to some glam rock, and those people would have been well advised to stick with them.

Secondly, Gary Glitter.  You can't please all of the people all of the time (or any of them, in fact, if said reviews are anything to go by), and any attempt to handle this sensitive situation would be criticised by some.  Striking a pivotal artist out of any scene - imagine mod without The Who, for instance, and I wonder why that example sprung to mind in this particular context, hm?  Hm? - leaves a gap that provides retrospective continuity problems, and we'll see in the coming posts how that was dealt with.

Finally, a disclaimer: I haven't written anything for a long time and I may not be able to complete this project due to pressures in other areas - but know that I am at present really enthusiastic to have a creative focus again, and utterly resolute in my dedication to...

1-1. NOEL COWARD "Mad Dogs And Englishmen"

Oh for f...  Do I have to do this?

For the purposes of this exercise, we're going to assume that the accompanying book has fully explained the justification for the inclusion of each track.  I do recall thinking there was a point to this being there, so no criticism will be levelled at this or any other selection on grounds of those criteria.  Having said that, it isn't going to make some of these any easier to listen to...

I despise this song and always have.  Whilst probably seen as a work of satire, it has always seemed to me to be quite the opposite - a list of vague cultural slurs and things Noel half-remembered and had heard from colonial types whilst gadding about (although according to Wikipedia, in Hong Kong they do actually fire a 'noonday gun', so I've learned something today), designed to convey his charming befuddlement at how any other race of people could possibly be so spiffing as the English upper classes.

The best that can be said for an artefact of this level of throwaway frivolity and outmoded prejudice is that human morality's inexorable progress has rendered this almost impossible to judge by modern standards.  Perhaps if feeling kind I could call this worthwhile as a rare record of British imperial entertainment; I am not a kind man.

1-2. CHUCK BERRY "Around And Around"

Charles Berry and his songs did an awful lot to establish rock 'n' roll music in youth culture, particularly in highlighting the differences between this more amped-up form of music and the blues which begat it, and in cementing the lyrical focus on teen and youth issues, helping to put in place the quintessential "parents don't understand" factor prevalent in most important cultural movements since.

He was also arrested for transporting a minor over state lines and secretly videotaping the women's bathroom at his restaurant, so we should probably move on to the track itself, which I've just found out was covered by David Bowie (I think we may be hearing a bit more about him later) as the B-side to "Drive-In Saturday".

I think the Bowie link is the reason we get this particular track rather than "Roll Over Beethoven" or Johnny B. Goode", the latter of which was the A-side to this offering, and thus we have rock 'n' roll in its rawest form here, which is a polite way of saying it doesn't really do much, but without songs like this we never would have got where we are today, with...  Hang on, music's terrible nowadays!  It must be all Chuck Berry's fault.

1-3. LITTLE RICHARD "Ooh My Soul"

If Chuck Berry was, for all his pioneering, pretty much a bloke in a suit with a guitar, Little Richard seemed to have beamed in from Transsexual Transylvania.  Blessed with an unnaturally loud voice, and having learned stagecraft and make-up from time on the vaudeville and drag circuits, his hooting, hollering and outrageous outfits and antics wowed and shocked audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

This song displays a similar duality, in that it is simultaneously rubbish and great.   The first sixteen or so seconds are a startling rush, genuinely terrifying and electrifying and packing an incredible punch given the recording techniques on offer at the time.

Then it does exactly the same thing, again.

Then it does it again.

Then there's a saxophone solo.

Then it does the first bit again.

Then it does it again.

Then it does it again, and the song ends.

One of my perennial complaints about music - particularly rock, but pop and hip hop are creeping this way as well - is the way the length of an average song seems to be gradually increasing.  It's an argument that gets hard to support when you listen to a song that lasts 2:07 and you're bored of it at 1:32. 

Having said that, can we really argue that the song, though repetitive, is a failure?  As a primal howl from beyond, smashing into suburban living rooms like a meteorite, full of possibility, alien concepts and sounds, it's very much mission accomplished, and after a shaky start we can look forward to some gems to come.

Join us next time for Vince Taylor, Max Harris and Anthony Newley, about whom we can think of absolutely nothing puntastic or similarly punchline-worthy.  It's going to be a long five disks at that rate...