Tuesday, 9 September 2008

"Rock, Rock, Rock - From The Motion Picture" by VARIOUS ARTISTS [Original Soundtrack, Chuck Berry, Moonglows, Flamingos] (2004 Universal/Chess "ROCK 'N' ROLL 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION" CD Series Reissue) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...It's A Jumpin' Little Record I Want My Jockey To Play..."

When the movie "Rock, Rock, Rock" was released in December 1956 - the big draw for the youth of America was that over half the film’s viewing time was taken up with live performances - a lethal combination of vocal group Rhythm 'n' Blues and the brand new rage of the year - Rock 'n' Roll. 

So taking 3 of their biggest recording acts - THE MOONGLOWS, CHUCK BERRY and THE FLAMINGOS - Chess Records put together their first ever 12-track album on Chess LP-1425. Like most of these early Fifties LPs - "Rock, Rock, Rock" comprised of twelve tried-and-tested US singles/45s. In this case each act was given four songs (some recorded specifically for the film) and thus a vinyl and film legend was born. 

Now in a world of 80-minute-plus compilations - even the expanded "Rock, Rock, Rock" is admittedly short for a reissue (39 minutes on the nose) - but there’s just something so utterly charming about this LP and ditto for its snazzy and well thought out CD reissue. Here are the details for all those duck-walking Maybellines and Beethovens rolling over in their Cadillac Coupe De Villes…

USA released March 2004 - "Rock, Rock, Rock - From The Motion Picture" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Universal/Chess B0001751-02 (Barcode 602498614303) is a CD Reissue and Remaster of the famous 1955 LP bolstered up with Three Extras. 

Part of Universal's Rock ’n' Roll 50th Anniversary Edition CD Reissue Series (see list below) - it’s an Expanded Edition that adds on three relevant Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (39:00 minutes): 

1. I Knew From The Start - THE MOONGLOWS (December 1956, Chess 1646, B-side of "Over And Over Again")
2. Would I Be Crying - THE FLAMINGOS (December 1956, Checker 853, A-side)
3. Maybellene - CHUCK BERRY and His Combo (July 1955, Chess 1604, A-side)
4. Sincerely - THE MOONGLOWS (November 1954, Chess 1581, A-side)
5. Thirty Days (To Come Back Home) - CHUCK BERRY and His Combo (October 1955, Chess 1610, A-side)
6. The Vow - THE FLAMINGOS (October 1956, Checker 846, A-side)
7. You Can’t Catch Me - CHUCK BERRY (November 1956, Chess 1645, A-side)
8. Over And Over Again - THE MOONGLOWS (December 1956, Chess 1646, A-side)
9. Roll Over Beethoven - CHUCK BERRY and His Combo (May 1956, Chess 1626, A-side)
10. I’ll Be Home - THE FLAMINGOS (January 1956, Checker 830, A-side)
11. See Saw - THE MOONGLOWS (July 1956, Chess 1629, A-side)
12. A Kiss From Your Lips - THE FLAMINGOS (May 1956, Checker 837, A-side)
Tracks 1 to 12 are the LP "Rock, Rock, Rock - From The Motion Picture“ - released December 1956 in the uSA in Mono only on Chess LP-1425.

13. I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent - FRANKIE LYMON and THE TEENAGERS (November 1956, Gee GG-1026, A-side)
14. Rock & Roll Boogie - ALAN FREED and his ROCK ’N’ ROLL ORCHESTRA (from the 1956 compilation LP “Rock ’n’ Roll Dance Party Vol.1” on Coral CRL 57063)
15. Lonesome Train (On A Lonesome Track) - THE JOHNNY BURNETTE TRIO (December 1956, Coral 9-61758, A-side)

ERICK LABSON - one of Universal's top engineers - has remastered all 15 tracks from the 1st generation mono master tapes and the sound quality is better than its ever been - warm, romantic, fun - most of the songs dripping with echo and atmosphere - and all of them extraordinarily evocative of the time. The CD's 3 bonus tracks are also from the movie - the lust-buster "I'm Not A Juvenile Delinquent" by FRANKIE LYMON and THE TEENAGERS (he has only 13 at the time), the dancer instrumental "Rock & Roll Boogie" by ALAN FREED and his ROCK 'N' ROLL ORCHESTRA and the railroad Rockabilly vibe of "Lonesome Train (On A Lonesome Track)" by JOHNNY BURNETTE'S ROCK 'N' ROLL TRIO. 

The 12-page booklet contains a new essay on the album and film history by noted writer BILLY ALTMAN which doesn't duplicate much of the very informational original album liner notes by MILTON SUBOTSKY (reproduced on Pages 7, 8 and 9). There's a lobby card reproduced featuring Frankie Lymon and Alan Freed and a page of 7" labels including the fab "See Saw" by The Moonglows. The lovely black and silver original deep groove label of the album is reproduced on the inlay beneath the see-through tray - all nice touches and attention to detail that collector's love. 

Quite apart from the historical significance of being Chess Records first-ever long player LP - only four of the original twelve tracks actually appeared in the movie - “I Knew From the Start” and “Over And Over Again” by The Moonglows, “Would I Be Crying” by The Flamingos and Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me” - his first appearance on LP too. 

In truth - with the 50-year copyright law going through the 00's and 10’s like a dose of salts - huge swathes of tracks by Blues, Doo Wop, R ’n' B and Rock 'n' Roll artists have now entered the Public Domain - so you see Doo Wop and Rock 'n' Roll Box sets containing say 100 songs for absolute peanuts. So why would anyone give say £10 or 10 dollars for only 15 tracks on this obscure compilation? It doesn’t even seem like particularly good value for money…

Well - there's the track run (which so works) - the lovely presentation - and of course the truly great sound. But mostly there's just something incredibly evocative about this album. It seems to capture a transition in our history - a joy almost - a newfound freedom - it was young then and still is now. When I listen to the irresistible naughtiness of "Roll Over Beethoven" by Chuck Berry - followed by the streetlamp serenade of The Flamingos' "I'll Be Home” - which in turn is followed by the finger-clicking "See Saw" by The Moonglows - I'm transported back to a time of jukeboxes topped off with beautiful fluorescent tubes - drive-in movies with monster screens and a thrilling promise in the backseat. This very cool little CD transports me back to that time - when all things seemed possible - innocent even - when the world was literally our generation's oyster…

The Original Soundtrack to “Rock, Rock, Rock” is a lovely album - yet it's one that you feel is all but forgotten now - and it shouldn't be. A fantastic listen and an important and timely reissue. 

For sure it’s become hard to find since 2004 especially for UK and European buyers (you can pick it up Stateside for as little as four bucks). But I’d say take a chance on romance you children of Alan Freed and buy it. You may have to engage in your own version of Payola to get one - but the payoff will be dancing in the aisles - well maybe dancing in the man cave with a Zimmer frame at our age… 

PS: This reissue is part of the "ROCK 'N' ROLL 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION" Series issued in 2004 by Universal in the USA. 'Rock 'N' Roll 50th Anniversary Edition' is a secondary series title and is displayed vertically on the side inlay beneath the see-through tray of each release, but unfortunately, if you try to search databases for ANY titles under this moniker, it doesn't recognise the 'name' at all. For those interested - the whole series includes 9all reviewed):

1. After School Session by CHUCK BERRY (1958 Mono Debut LP on Chess) - CD is Geffen/Chess B0001685-02 (Barcode 602498613504) 
2. St. Louis To Liverpool by CHUCK BERRY (1964 Stereo LP on Chess) - CD is Geffen/Chess B0001687-02 (Barcode 602498613528)
3. The Chirping Crickets by THE CRICKETS [feat Buddy Holly] (1957 Mono Debut LP) - CD is Geffen/Decca B0001686-02 (Barcode 602498613511) 
4. Bo Diddley Is A Gunslinger by BO DIDDLEY (1960 Stereo LP on Checker) - CD is Universal/Geffen B-0001761-02 (Barcode 602498614471) 
5. Rock Around The Clock by BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS (December 1955 Mono LP on Decca) - CD is Geffen/Decca B0001705-02 (Barcode 602498613627)
6. Buddy Holly by BUDDY HOLLY (1958 1st Solo LP, Mono on Coral) - CD is Universal/Geffen B0001592-02 (Barcode 602498129524)
7. Rock, Rock, Rock  - From The Motion Picture by THE MOONGLOWS, CHUCK BERRY and THE FLAMINGOS (1956 Chess Records 'Rock 'n' Roll Movie Soundtrack LP) - CD is Universal/Chess B0001751-02 (Barcode 602498614303)

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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