Thursday, November 22, 2007

Big daddy rock and roll and what follows

Pasha, a salembanite from Ruang 413 is one of few economists who knows music very well and reads music books in between his econometrics. Some of you have complained that my playlists are a bit boring and damn it, "customer is king", you say. So, here it is. Ladies and gents: Pasha.
- Manager

Big daddy rock and roll and what follows

by Pasha

I’ve been a regular visitor of the café. The Manager felt that the tunes being played in the café is rather monotonous (monotonic?? J). She asked me to breathe new life to the musical atmosphere in the café by coming up with a weekly playlist, which I’m happy to oblige. You all know that Rizal and Aco like jazz, while Ape digs heavy metal or rather hair bands (right Pe? :D). I’ll do my best to accommodate different tastes while at the same time adding my own personal favorites, well actually they’re all my favorites. I would also like to do something different, rather than just provide you with weekly playlist, I think it would be interesting to share with you all the story behind the music. Sort of behind the scene to make it more appealing for you to read. It’s a bit digression from the usual posting here at the café but for me, I can’t learn economics without the good company of good music. So, without further ado, I give you this week personal picks.

Let’s start from the very beginning, the big daddy rock and roll. No, I’m not talking about Robert Johnson (I’m saving that for future posts). It’s not Elvis. He may be the king but he’s not the one who started all. But to be fair, he’s the one who brought rock and roll into popular audience. It may surprise you, I’m talking about Ike Turner. Yes, that infamous Ike Turner. In 1951, Ike Turner and his band “The Kings of Rhythms” released this song, Rocket 88. It is considered to be the first rock and roll song ever written. At that time the term “rock and roll” is not yet known. Back then, this type of music is called “Rhythm and Blues” or “R and B” for short and it is usually played in the black communities at that time, and this type of music have not yet cross over to the white communities, such as jazz. What is unique about this song is that it is the first song to use the now standard rock and roll chords. Thus, this is the grand daddy of rock and roll.

It is due to Alan Freed, a radio disc jockey in Cleveland, OH. At first, in his radio show he usually played jazz standards by the likes of Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw, and other big bands. He soon got tired of playing the same music over and over again in his show and needed to play something new and completely different. So, he went to the record store he frequents. In there he saw white teenagers gathering in the black section, which turned out to be the rhythm and blues section. He then asked the store manager why were white kids crowding in the black section (back then segregation was still in effect in certain states in the US). The manager simply replied that kids really enjoy that type of music. He got what he wanted, a fresh new music to bring into his radio show. He went home with numerous rhythm and blue records, among them are the relatively unknown Little Richard and Chuck Berry. But given the racial tension at the time, he needed a different name to call this new music. After considering several alternatives, he settled with the term “rock and roll” which was basically a code that he and his wife used if they want to have sex (funny how they come up with the phrase “sex, drugs, and rock and roll). Since then popular music is never the same and this is also the reason why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is situated in Cleveland. And so I give you this classic piece from Little Richard, Good Golly Miss Molly.

So, from then on new musicians emerged into the scene. So here it goes. First up, “The Killer” with the piano Jerry Lee Lewis with Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On. Let’s turn up a bit with Johny Be Goode from Chuck Berry. Next up, Buddy Holly with Peggy Sue. I think you all know this classic from Ritchie Valens.

Too close off, there was an anomaly. In the midst of the popularity of rock and roll, a jazz composition received a huge airplay in the radio. And so, I leave you with this tune from the Dave Brubeck Quartet. This is Pasha signing off, see you next week and happy thanksgiving!


  1. Pasha, this is cool.
    I've always thought that Maybellene was the first. The links to youtube are really useful.

  2. Robby,

    Maybellene is also a great song. An interesting tidbit, Chuck Berry once worked as a hairdresser before establishing himself in the music business. I think, Alan Freed was the first radio dj to put Maybellene in the airwaves. He was an integral part in the careers of Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Buddy Holly.

    I also think youtube is useful:)

  3. I also like the Judas Priest version of Johnny B. Goode (Ram it Down album, 1988). The intro was adopted by Koes Plus in 'Dam Dam Darararam', which was re-sung by Farid Hardja.

  4. Ap,

    You should check "Bani Adam", that was Farid Hardja's band before he went solo. If I remembered correctly Bani Adama was in one of Warkop's movies, the one which Dono built a robot vending machine. They perform along with Prambors' house band at the time...back when Prambors was still playing great music.

    You should also check out Sex Pistol's rendition of Johnny B. Goode. It's not the best version but it's quite funny..Johny Rotten doesn't remember the lyrics so he just blabbed all the way to the end.

  5. this cafe is getting cozier just now, i enjoy it very much. congrats everyone :)