By 1958 Rock’n’Roll as a “genre” was still new enough that the record companies and Top 40 radio stations weren’t quite sure what “it” was exactly and whether it would sell and what people tuning in wanted to hear. So in between records like “Book of Love” and “Great Balls of Fire” and “Sweet Little Sixteen,” you got stuff like “Tea for Two Cha Cha” and “Topsy II” and “Chanson d’Amour.” And this one, Robin Luke’s all-the-way-from-Honolulu take on rockabilly, “Susie Darlin’.”
It was inevitable that sooner or later our series would touch on the genre known to many as surfing music. What many may not know is that surfing music was originally known as an amalgam of many different kinds of popular music, from “top of the pops”-type tunes to the rural blues of Jimmy Reed. This progression of jazz instrospection was first introduced to audiences on the West Coast by Big Jay McNeely and other artists of that ilk such as Joe Houston and Django Reinhardt as exemplefied by the Modern Jazz Quartet’s 1955 album of the same name.
We have decided to wade deeply into this genre, or musical form, and present you, the listener, with the feeling of catching a wave and turning on to its fullest extent.
With that in mind here are another even dozen tracks of only the best in surfing music, programmed for your musical and beachgoing entertainment and starting with the album cut of Ray Charles’ undeniably great hit of “What’d I Say” from his LP of the same name. Also on board are the great Minnesota surfing group The Trashmen performing two of their greatest hits live near the Isabelle River in western Wisconsin. We also have some jazz and easy listening classics such as “Yellow Bird” and “Manuel’s Mambo” by the great Cal Tjader, all great surfers as well as great jazz musicians.
We hope you enjoy listening to this, before, during, and after your next beachcombing adventure. —Irving Snurd, editor, Hi Fi in Hi Fi
Ray Charles, vocals/electric piano; Marcus Belgrave, John Hunt, trumpets; David Newman, alto sax/tenor sax; Hank Crawford, baritone sax; Edgar Willis, bass; Milt Turner, drums; The Raeletts, vocal group. New York City, 18 February 1959
Coming your way starting tomorrow, more number one jukebox hits from The Five Blind Boys! Albert & Charles! Beausoleil! Robin Luke! The Henrys! Peggy Lee! Billy Lee Riley! El Trio Alegre! and Chet Atkins!
Guitar Slim, vocal/guitar; Frank Mitchell, trumpet; Gus Fontenette, alto sax; Charles Burbank, Joe Tillman, tenor sax; Ray Charles, piano; Lloyd Lambert, bass; Oscar Moore, drums. New Orleans, 27 October 1953
Stay tuned this coming week for more serial madness from our vast archive of records, most of which you’ve probably never heard before or even thought you wanted to hear, featuring artists as diverse as Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones, Los Donneños, The Staple Singers, Jorge Ben, Orchesta Colonial, and Brother Ray Charles!
Fast forward 24 years from today’s earlier post and we get one of the swing era’s last blasts at the pop charts, where Jimmy Dorsey’s 1956 Fraternity recording of “So Rare” made it to the number 2 spot. Jimmy passed away on June 12 just as “So Rare” was making its biggest impact. As swing era music and its musicians continued to fade into pop music obscurity, the new fangled “Rock ’n’ Roll” was ready to take swing’s place on the airwaves. A couple of years after the success of “So Rare,” Fraternity issued Bobby Bare’s “All American Boy” and by the early sixties they had a hit with Lonnie Mack’s “Memphis.”
Back in December we featured a song by Edward Thompson released under the name of Tenderfoot Edwards along with a short bio. Here is another one of his marvelous and very rare sides, issued this time under his own name.
Today is the birthday of the great Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins (March 15, 1912–January 30, 1982) and we’re playing a longtime BAK favorite, Lightnin’s recounting of the story of Hurricane Esther. Esther originated near Cabo Verde, worked its way across the Atlantic and tore its way up the eastern seaboard of the United States in September 1961. Here, Lightnin’ transposes the action to Houston, his home, for a harrowing and cautionary tale, accentuated by his atmospheric electric guitar.
Blues, blues, blues this week to start the new month off: We’ve got Leadbelly, barber William Moore, BAK favorite Elmore James, and a couple of songs, pre- and postwar by the ever great Memphis Minnie, leavened so to speak by a couple of tunes by The Maytals and Dick Dale and his Del-tones. Don’t miss ’em. . . .