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  • feedwordpress 08:01:28 on 2017/05/15 Permalink
    Tags: , collecting, Elvis, , memorabilia, , , , Rock and Roll Music,   

    “Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not”*… 


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    From the moment Elvis Presley landed, we wanted every piece of him. This turned his old records into vinyl and shellac gold. While the value of discs by other popular mid-century artists such as Cliff Richard and Frank Sinatra dropped as time passed, Elvis’s didn’t. As an omnipresent figure, the prices of the King’s records rose to astronomical levels.

    Unearthing an original “That’s All Right” record became a £4,000 lucky strike; a set of five original Sun singles at one time fetched £25,000. This made them a sort of pension for many collectors. They packed items away, hoping one day to exchange them for a caravan in the Dordogne. However, this has all begun to change…

    As the King’s fans die of old age, and their collections hit the second-hand market, vintage Elvis records have never been cheaper: “Can’t help falling in price: why Elvis memorabilia is plummeting in value.”

    * Stephen King

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    As we feel our age, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957 that Chuck Berry recorded “Rock & Roll Music” at the Chess Studios in Chicago.  (Some websites report a recording date of either May 6 or May 21, but Steve Sullivan’s Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings affirms May 15 as the date of record.)

    The tune reached number 6 on Billboard‘s R&B Singles chart and number 8 on its Hot 100.  But its impact continued to grow: it was covered by dozens of artists including Bill Haley & His Comets, the Beatles, the Beach Boys (who had a top ten hit with the song in 1976), Dickie Rock and the Miami Showband, REO Speedwagon, Mental As Anything, Humble Pie, Manic Street Preachers and Bryan Adams.  In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Berry’s version number 128 on its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”; and the song is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:05 on 2016/08/26 Permalink
    Tags: Big Boy, , Crudup, Elvis, , , , , , Sun Studio,   

    “I don’t know how music works, I’m just glad that it does”*… 


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    Long time readers will know of your correspondent’s fascination with Sun Records, it’s presiding spirit, Sam Phillips (c.f., “So you wanna be a rock and roll star…“), and the acts–a pantheon of early rockers– that Sun birthed (c.f., “Collecting is my passion“).  Turns out, there was a very particular method to the madness…

    If rock and roll is a religion, then Sun Studio is one of its holiest temples. The walls of this garage-turned-recording-studio in Memphis reverberate with the echoes of the past. This is where Elvis became king, Cash walked the line, and Perkins put on his blue suede shoes. This is where Roy Orbison, B.B. King, Ike Turner, and Jerry Lee Lewis all got their start. This is where rock and roll was born.

    Behind every guitar riff, drum beat, and lyrical innuendo, there was the man in the control room who engineered it all. Sam Phillips helped turn poor boys, sharecroppers’ sons, and ex-servicemen into legends, icons, and superstars. “He was always trying to invent sound,” says Sam’s son, Jerry Phillips, “He felt the studio was his laboratory.”

    The inside story: “How Sam Phillips Invented the Sound of Rock and Roll.”

    * Lou Brutus

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    As we swivel our hips, we might sing a doleful birthday ditty to Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup; he was born on this date in 1905 (though some sources give the date as August 24).  A Delta blues singer, songwriter and guitarist, Crudup is probably best known today as the writer of “That’s All Right (Mama),” the A side of Elvis Presley’s first single (recorded, of course, by Sam Phillips at Sun), and for “My Baby Left Me” and “So Glad You’re Mine,” also covered by Elvis (and many others).

    Southeastern Louisiana University rock historian Joseph Burns suggests that “That’s All Right (Mama)” is the world’s oldest rock and roll song, and notes that it contains (what is probably) the first ever guitar solo break.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:16 on 2016/07/20 Permalink
    Tags: Alvin Krolik, Beat Brothers, , Elvis, Heartbreak Hotel, , Mae Boren Axton, Mersey Beat, , ,   

    “I get so lonely, I could die”*… 


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    Elvis, with the Gold Record he received for his first Number One single

    The story has been repeated thousands of times, with minor variations, in magazines, books, blogs and documentaries. In some versions, the heartbroken man shoots himself; in others, he leaps to his death from a hotel window. There are occasional references to a failed romance and to the destruction of all traces of identification before the fatal act. There’s always a one-line suicide note: “I walk a lonely street.”

    But there’s never a name. For 60 years, the true identity of the man whose death inspired “Heartbreak Hotel” has remained a mystery. Florida songwriters Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton always claimed the creative spark forElvis Presley‘s first-ever Number One hit was a 1955 newspaper story about an anonymous man’s suicide and his cryptic note about that “lonely street.” (The paper cited is usually The Miami Herald.) And yet, no one has ever turned up the article, or even provided much clarifying detail.

    This is surprising, considering that “Heartbreak Hotel” had a colossal impact – both on Elvis’ career and on rock & roll history. It was Elvis’ first nationwide hit after a string of regional successes, and it changed the lives of countless future stars – John Lennon, George Harrison, Keith Richards and Robert Plant have all proclaimed its transformative effect. Elton John, recalling the day he first heard the song, said, “That weekend, my mum came home with ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and that changed my life. … Elvis Presley changed everyone’s life. I mean, there would be no Beatles, there would be no Hendrix. There would be no Dylan.” Paul McCartney once declared it nothing less than the most important artistic creation of the modern era…

    Finally, the full story at: “Solving the Mystery of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.”

    * From “Heartbreak Hotel,” written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton.

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    As we walk down a lonely street, we might recall that it was on this this date in 1961 that Bill Harry’s pioneering English music paper, Mersey Beat, announced that the Beat Brothers had signed a recording contract. The Beat Brothers?  They had performed with another British musician, Tony Sheridan, in Hamburg for several months earlier that year; but while the partnership worked, Sheridan chose to remain in Germany when the quartet returned to Liverpool. We know the group better by the name they soon after adopted: The Beatles.  Two years later, on this very day, they would go to No. 1 on the U.K. album chart for the first time.

    The Beat Brothers in Hamburg (with Pete Best on drums); Tony Sheridan, seated

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:32 on 2015/07/19 Permalink
    Tags: Chris Chafe, Elvis, , , , , , That's All Right,   

    “There is no noise, only sound”*… 


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    Unlike sex or hunger, music doesn’t seem absolutely necessary to everyday survival – yet our musical self was forged deep in human history, in the crucible of evolution by the adaptive pressure of the natural world. That’s an insight that has inspired Chris Chafe, Director of Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (or CCRMA, stylishly pronounced karma).

    In his intensive, data-driven endeavour, Chafe takes the unnoticed rhythms of the natural world and ‘sonifies’ them, turning them into music – all the better to see how nature resonates with the music inside us. By pulling music out of the strangest places – from tomato plants, economic stats, even dirty air – he enables listeners to perceive phenomena viscerally, adding a new dimension of understanding to otherwise barely noticeable aspects of the world…

    Read more– and hear some of Chafe’s work– at “Sonifying the World.”

    * John Cage

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    As we muse of the music of the spheres, we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that Sam Phillips‘ Sun Records released the first single by Elvis Presley, “That’s All Right (Mama)”/”Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

    The tracks were covers that clued early listeners to the influences that Presley would marry with such power as he rose to royalty: “That’s All Right” is a blues song by Arthur “Big Boy” Cruddup, while “Blue Moon of Kentucky” is a bluegrass ballad by Bill Monroe.

    But that stardom was still in the distance; while Presley’s renditions became instant hits in Memphis, hometown of both Elvis and Sun, the 45 received mixed reviews in the rest of what would become Presley’s kingdom.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:26 on 2014/03/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Elvis, , , G.I. Blues, , national,   

    “We all have hometown appetites”*… 


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    Lebanon: fatoush (tomato salad), pita bread, and parsley

    As part of a promotion for the Sydney International Food Festival, the advertising agency WHYBIN/TBWA designed 18 national flags using foods for which each country is commonly known…

    United States: hot dogs, ketchup, and mustard

    China: dragon fruit and star fruit

    Japan: tuna and rice

     

    See other prandial pennants at Marvelous. [Grateful TotH to reader @krasney]

    Foreigners cannot enjoy our food, I suppose, any more than we can enjoy theirs. It is not strange; for tastes are made, not born. I might glorify my bill of fare until I was tired; but after all, the Scotchman would shake his head and say, ‘Where’s your haggis?’ and the Fijan would sigh and say, ‘Where’s your missionary?’
    -Mark Twain, Roughing It

    * Clementine Paddleford (quoted in Charles Wysocki’s Americana Cookbook)

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    As we ask for extra mayonnaise, we might recall that it was on this date in 1960 that Elvis Presley was honorably discharged after two years in the U.S. Army; he left with the rank of sergeant.  Presley, whose career had been carefully stoked with banked material during his service, went right back to work: within a month he recorded and released a single, “Stuck on You,” that went straight to Number One, the ballads “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”, and the rest of Elvis Is Back!, which went straight to Number Two on the album chart.  And he hit the sound stage as well, making G.I. Blues in time to release it that summer– and watch it climb to Number Two on Variety‘s box office chart.

    Elvis entertaining King Mehendra and Queen Ratna of Nepal on the set of “G.I. Blues”

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