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Rockabilly as a genre is particularly clothes obsessed and I’ve posted a number of rockabilly songs celebrating pink pedal pushers, cat clothes, a black leather jacket and motorcycle boots, be-bop glasses and blue suede shoes. Carl Perkins was responsible for blue suede shoes but it’s best associated with Elvis Presley. The ’68 Comeback is pretty special.

Have a good evening, whatever you’re wearing, wherever you are.

 

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Better late than never. Elvis live in Tupelo in 1956, thirteen minutes, six songs, one pair of hips. And screaming, lots of screaming.

In The Ghetto

This is from a charity album from a couple of years ago (1969- Key To Change, for homeless charities, all the songs being covers of songs from 1969). Bernard Sumner’s short lived Bad Lieutenant project doing Elvis’ In The Ghetto. It’s pretty faithful to the original and a song that maybe doesn’t stand much mucking about with but there’s an element of karaoke about it. Bernard sings it well and I suppose that’s the main draw- In The Ghetto being sung in a soft Mancunian voice rather than a Southern US one, and there’s a good guitar break from about 2.50 onwards.

I saw Bad Lieutenant at The Ritz. They played the first half of the set from the Bad Lieutenant lp, Stephen Morris on drums, a pair of guitarists plus Bernard’s guitar and it was all so-so. The second half was far livelier- a bunch of well chosen New Order songs, a rarely performed early Electronic album track and the Chemical Brothers/Sumner smash Out Of Control, then Love Will Tear Us Apart. Just play the hits Bernard, just play the hits. I had a ciggie outside alongside Mani who was asked by a passing gent when the Freebass album was coming out. ‘Fuck knows’ he replied. Things have shifted a bit since then for our Mani. Freebass (Hooky, Mani and Andy Rourke with an unknown singer and an ‘amusing’ name) was never going to work was it?

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I’m stretching the definition of rockabilly beyond reason here but there is a rationale and I couldn’t let the Kennedy connection pass by.

I have a memory of watching something back in 87-88 (ish), probably The Chart Show’s indie section but it could have been something on Channel 4, and it was of a band called The Jack Rubies (named after the man who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, who may or may not have shot JFK). The song had an 80s rockabilly swing with a video containing black and white footage of  Elvis performing outdoors in the 50s, like in the picture above. My memory tells me the song went ‘the King is dead…’

My not very extensive research has turned up The Jack Rubies on Youtube- not particularly rockabilly to be honest, more mid-to-late 80s indie-pop, in a similar vein to The Mighty Lemon Drops, that sort of thing. From Stoke Newington. Brief music press interest. Underperformed. Had a college radio hit in the US. Obscurity.

This song, Wrecker Of Engines, has some slight rockabilly influences. Possibly.

That’s yer lot. Normal rockabilly service resumes next week.

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October 25th is also my wife’s birthday- I hadn’t forgotten this morning, no no no, I just thought I’d link it to Friday night’s rockabilly post rather than this morning’s John Peel post. So- happy birthday Mrs Swiss, this song is for you.

Elvis, as Chuck D said, was a hero to most but he never meant shit to me… well he never meant shit to me but all the same he never meant a massive amount either (or is that the same thing? Now I’m getting confused by Chuck’s double negative). He was rockabilly in the 50s though even if he very quickly became something else entirely. His songs recorded for Sun are great, full of swing and raw guitar parts. Like this one from 1955, written by Arthur Gunter.

Baby Let’s Play House

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‘Train I ride sixteen coaches long
Well that long black train carries my baby home’

From Sun Records all the way back in 1953 this is Little Junior Parker and the original version of Mystery Train, co-written by Parker and Sam Phillips. Elvis’ version came out two years later and helped invent modern music. I’m not sure Little Junior Parker’s song is rockabilly, just early rock and roll, but it’s Friday night, it’s sheeting down outside and who’s splitting hairs?

>Rockabilly Train

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Elvis. He kissed a girl, and she liked it.

From riding the rasta train earlier this week to a short hop on the rockabilly train. Elvis’ Mystery Train is the grandaddy song, one of the actual starting points for this thing we’re all obsessed with. It’s got many qualities that are impossible to pin down and I’m not even going to try, except to say if you haven’t got this, get it now. We’re going away for a week, not by train sadly. Back online on Saturday April the 16th I should think. Be good while I’m away. Don’t make a mess and remember to feed the cat.