Monday, 21 November 2011
Joe Turner, Pete Johnson, 1938
[This post is dedicated to Brooklyn Baby, who loves boogie-woogie. So do I.]
In the mid-1950s, rock 'n' roll was the new thing and we'd spend summer evenings hanging out on the stoop listening to Alan Freed on WINS. Some early r&r hits had "camp" appeal, meaning they were so silly (make that stupid) that we enjoyed them. Ling Ting Tong by the Five Keys springs to mind; it begins, "I went to Chinatown / Way back in old Hong Kong / To get some egg foo young / And then I heard a gong..." -- and goes downhill from there.
Some of the records Freed played stirred me: Ray Charles' I Got A Woman, Joe Turner's Chains of Love, Honey Hush, Flip Flop 'n' Fly, Corinne Corinna, Shake Rattle 'n' Roll. (To me the Bill Haley megahit cover record of SR&R was, and is, unlistenable.) I've said in a prior post that in 1954 we teenagers thought Joe Turner was a new singer. How little we knew. In the Shapiro-Hentoff oral history Hear Me Talkin' To Ya, pianist-composer Mary Lou Williams recalls the heyday of Kansas City jazz during the early to mid-'30s: