WILD! RAW! UNINHIBITED!
These savage young rock'n'roll instrumentals live for 'kicks'! And beware the 'square' who stands in their way!
In the 1950s and 1960s, countless records were cranked out by the "budget labels," whose releases were essentially the music industry equivalent of cheapie exploitation films. Like those groovy movies, screened at drive-ins and grindhouses away from respectable cinemas, budget records were usually not found in record stores, but in the racks of places like drugstores. They were impulse buys, sold for a dollar, at a time when proper albums went for $3-4. And like z-movie producers, budget labels used all manner of deceptive, eye-grabbing visuals to lure suckers, er, I mean customers into buying their often inferior products. Case in point: an album called "Bye Bye Birdie" with an album cover (pictured right) presumably depicting a scene from the musical film of the same name. This album features a grand total of ONE (1) song from the film (and a remake at that). Also featured here are albums by popular folk/pop star Trini Lopez, and jazz-man Buddy Tate, both featured only on side one.
So who was performing on the rest of these albums? Who knows? It is safe to say that there never were any actual bands with names like the Exotic Guitars or the Rock and Rollers Orchestra. Budget labels would acquire tapes, sometimes thru rather dubious means, and release them under a variety of phony artist names and song titles. It may seem hard to believe now, but in the '50s/early '60s such now well-regarded styles as blues, r'n'b, and rock'n'roll were, for the most part, not considered mainstream. So these tapes could be had for cheap.
It's unfortunate that we'll probably never know who performed this music, since it's quite good. The Exotic Guitars sound like session cats doing their impression of surf rock, and the Rhythm Rockers might be sessioneers, too. But I would imagine that the Rock and Rollers Orchestra was a black rhythm-and-blues nightclub band - they blow like crazy, dad. Music scientifically designed to rock a party to da break-a-dawn. The band probably never made a penny from these recordings.
Of course, there's lots of uninteresting filler out there, too. And we're lucky with today's selections so far as sound quality is concerned, since budget labels like Crown were notorious for using the worst quality vinyl, and these sides sound pretty good. Both the Bella St Clair and the R'n'R Orch records start off fairly low key before getting increasingly crazed, so perhaps there was some actual thinking going into the sequencing at least. Those albums cover, tho...oy. That Buddy Tate one's a beauty, eh?
(All tracks sourced from 99 cent vinyl)
1. Walkin Around [essentially a rock rip-off of Ray Barretto's "El Watusi," which was a great song, so fine by me.]
2. Time of My Life
3. Goin Home
5. Beach Party
Bella St Clair and the Rhythm Rockers:
A1 Rock A Bye [continuing in the surf-y vein]
A2 Rocking Guitar
A3 Tribute To Birdie [now it's starting to get wild, w/some screamin' sax]
A4 Rolling Theme [superb rockabilly - frantic, man, frantic!]
B1 Rolling With The Punch
B2 Teen Frenzy
B4 Final Farewell
B5 Phone Fancy
The Rock and Rollers Orchestra:
1 - Let's Rock and Roll
2 - Romp And Stomp
3 - Long N Lean
4 - The Screwdriver No 1
5 - Cool Fool [the screwdrivers must be kicking in, cuz this song is nuts]
6 - Soda Bob [a bump-n-grinder for you burlesque dancers]