Its been a while since we had a big project here at Afterword towers. Before the great outage we had a long-running series of threads travelling the world a country at a time through music (or did I imagine that?). More recently there’s been a great one about all things starting with a letter of the alphabet. I kind of miss those, and as far as I can remember we’ve never had a chronological thread.
So here’s the deal. Dead simple. We start at 1955 and work our way forwards with a new year every week. Why 1955? Because this idea started when I was idly looking at a fantastic book long since out of print – The NME Rock and Roll Years (spoiler, it ends in 1991, but hopefully we’ll be able to do without it by then), which starts then and uses the NME archives to tell ‘the story of rock n roll in the form of the news articles of the period’ . A quick check reveals its on Amazon at a penny. I’ll dig out a few choice facts from the book to kick us off and get those collective musical synapses firing . What goes? Share anything released in that year. Pretty simple. All musical memories of the year especially welcome. Wikipedia has a ‘Year in Music’ for further research…and of course any and all types of music are welcome. Those with a detailed knowledge of the French or German musical scenes, what was rocking the charts in Munich or Paris?
So I hope you’ll help me go Back To The Future. Peak music AKA 1971 should arrive sometime in the spring and we’ll get back to the present day this time next year. Just about anything goes as long as it’s ’55, and these thread series tend to evolve over time in all sorts of ways. Or maybe it’ll all die on its arse, in which case fine.
Let’s get this show on the road then. Ladies and Gentleman welcome to the show that never ends, the 1955 show.
Your headlines from this year’s NME include:
‘Controversy as R and B sweeps America’
Seven of America’s current top 15 pop best sellers have their roots in the rhythm and blues field. Produced primarily for the black market, the songs have hit a responsive chord with white teenagers – but they are rushing to buy not the original versions but duplications by white acts who benefit from AirPlay on us radio stations, most of which are racially segregated.
This means that while the McGuire Sisters reign at number one with ‘Sincerely’, the original recording by the The Moonglows is nowhere to be seen. Similarly the Charms R and B climber ‘Hearts of STone’, stands at No 2 in a version by the Fontane Sisters, while both Perry Como and The Crew Cuts are riding high with ‘Ko Ko Mo’ originally by Gene and Eunice….Atlantic, the top selling R and B label for the past three years, is particularly angry about the profile ration of white copies, or ‘cover versions’ as they are known.
‘Radio stations are falling over themselves to play the Georgia Gibbs version of ‘Tweedle Dee’while listeners aren’t given the chance to hear the original by Lavern Baker. Consequently Georgia Gibbs has the hit’ says Atlantic executive Jerry Wexler, who also saw the Crew Cuts ‘obliterate’ The Chords novel waxing ‘Sh-Boom’
’78rpm discs on the way out’
Hoping to persuade record buyers to invest in 45rpm singles, three major American companies – RCA Victor, Columbia and MGM have announced startling retail price changes. In future, 10 inch 78rpm records will cost ten cents more than their 7 inch 45rpm counterparts – indicating that the old-style breakable discs may soon be phased out of production.
In Britain where a 78 is now cheaper than its American equivalent, there are no plans for a price incentive to develop interest in the slower speed times.’
‘Leonard Plots Chess Moves’
REgarded by many as home of the blues, Chicago could soon become a centre for rock and roll – according to Leaonard Chess, the owner of the locally based Chess and Checker labels.
Chess has already enjoyed regional succeeds with Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Little Walter and the Moonglows – who cut the original version of the McGuire Sisters’ million selling Sincerely, but he is convinced that his two new discoveries will ‘change the face of rock and roll’
Both are vocalists who are equally adept as guitarists and songwriters. Bo Diddly (26) hails from Missippi but has been playing around the clubs of Chicago for several years, while Chuck Berry hails from ST Louis.
Both their debut discs are rising up the US R and B charts: berry is clicking with Maybellene while Diddley’s tune is actually called ‘Bo Diddley’
Blackboard Jungle has opened in London. One critic said the movie was ‘one for those with strong stomachs’
Tributes have poured in for R and B balladeer Johnny Ace, who died on Christmas Day aged 25. Reportedly, Ace was fatally wounded playing Russian roulette.
After a distinguished career of more than 50 years in the UK recording industry, Parlophone manager Oscar Preuss is retiring. Succeeding him is George Martin, his assistant for the past five years.
In the charts that year Mario Lanza, Ruby Murray, the McGuire Sisters and Bill Haley and his Comets. But I know the hive mind will surely dig up many gems from the Year Zero they are already calling 1955. It’s the 1955 show, I’m -10 years old, let’s go.