A: Hey Hermann, how are you?
H: Very well, thanks Anders. I'm going to a dance tonight!
A: Nice! So you are to have with you a date then I presume?
H: Yes I do! She's called Bettie! Bettie Page!!
A: Yeah right! Perhaps with the help of chloroform and duck tape.
H: Well.... <coughs> Anyway I have my best uniform pressed and my finest shoes polished.
A: You're quite a fashion slave ain't you?
H: Well, my former boss was quite dedicated in terms of fashion, so I guess it grew on me.
A: Grew on you.. you can say that twice.
H: Hold on..
<Hermann takes a zip of a huge glass having an umbrella close to full size in it>
H: You wanna hear what songs we'll be twisting and shaking to at the Palomba Ballroom?
A: I'd love to!!
H: Well here goes..
Some of the wildest dancers came from the so called dead years of rock'n roll(1959-1962) up to around 1965 in USA. In the period of 1959-1962 rock music hardly made the charts in the US, at least compared to the years before and after. Elvis who had shaked his hips from the mid 50's came back from the army as a tamed lion, Chuck Berry was in jail and Jerry Lee Lewis lost popularity due to other than musical reasons. They were replaced in the charts by Johnny Horton, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vinton and so on.. Times were different in the UK too where Buddy Holly had enjoyed some good chart-time, but he would sadly die in a plane crash in early 1959. In 1963 the tides would change back again in USA as The Beach Boys would have a smash hit with Surfin' U.S.A. and The Ronettes with "Be My Baby", while the Beatles would follow up the next year.
Compare the top 100 of 1961 to today and you would find 1961 to be flooded with rockers in comparison. Although to say that rock are dead today would be a bold statement. Especially within the 60's revival genre there are a lot of promise, but the best rockers are somewhat hidden underground.. Good rockers you have to search for, as they are not served in your lap as they used to be in the 60's, unless of course you have access to some cool "retro" student radio-stations or garage-influenced fanzines. I believe there are many similarities between the now and 1959-1962 as there are some very cool rockers that exists, but they're all well under the commercial radar.
Looking behind the hits for 1959-1962 however, some fine music would be released. To mention a few: Jack Hammer("The Wiggle", "Wiggling Fool"), The Wailers("Tall Cool One", "The Fabulous Wailers" lp), The Moontrekkers("Night Of The Vampire"), Jody Reynholds & The Storms("Thunder", "Black Tarantula").. I could go on, but the finest years for rockers that could compete in out-twisting Little Richards(Not to forget his killer backing band, The Upsetters) did mainly come a few years later(Except perhaps The Wailers).
The rockabilly mania had not been laid to dead completely in the 60's even if the charts could suggest so. The style was hardly commercial anymore, but a few artists wouldn't care about such and would swear to the basics of rockabilly, although adding an extra fierce approach. Some of the best(and wildest) would have to be Hasil Adkins, Morty Shann & The Morticans and The Phantom("Love Me").
As a side note(but a very important one) Bill Rose's "The Stripper" would have good success in 1962 creating a minor boom for strip-related(basically music that you could picture Bettie Page dancing to) songs. And thus would help to influence some very interesting music like The Genteels' "Take It Off" that same year. Later around 1964 some very fun songs would apply to the sleazy gimmick like The Hollywood Hurricanes("Beaver Shot") and James "Red" Holloway("Ala Carte"). I would also recommend you to check out The Jesters who did an excellent cover of the "Peter Gunn Theme" called "Peter Gunn Twist" having some of the fiercest organ pounding I've ever heard. And of course anything with Bob Vidone(who I will try to come back to later) with or without The Rhythm Rockers.
If you want the wildest rockers you have to mainly look to the years 1964-1965, as the combination of rhythm & blues, punk and the outlawness of rockabilly would become an explosive one. No matter influences from styles, one thing was for sure.. You could never underestimate the influence of The Thrashmen's Surfin' Bird.. the wackiest hit ever produced.
Mad Mike & The Maniacs - The Hunch(1961)Mad Mike & The Maniacs couldn't have chosen a better name. Only one single - a very obscure one, until it's revival on 80's garage compilation records - would ever be released. To be honest I don't know much more about this band other than that they were located in New York City, probably on Long Island.
The single was released on the unlikely year of 1961, seemingly out of nowhere. It's really hard to compare this song to anything, except to perhaps some of the craziest garage-songs appearing half a decade later. If anything it's a mental take on "The Twist" with a noise-level on par with the craziest material from Velvet Underground, but totally stripped of any progressive approach. The song's tight sound punches you right in your gut and never let's go, while the melody feels like it's leaning on 1 entire chord.
Have a listen!
The b-side "Quarter To Four" is an excellent surf instrumental with occasional shouting and noises, followed by a brilliant, screaming, dirty sax. A very cool song worth checking out if you can find it.
"Quarter To Four - HUNCH 345 - Rocking instrumental side with standout sax solo work and an infectious hard-driving tempo that builds. It's patterned much on the idea of the current "Quarter To Three" but without a vocal".
Mad Mike & The Maniacs discography:The Hunch / Quarter To Four (1961), Hunch 345
Reissues("The Hunch") :
Scum Of The Earth #1 (1984)
Limited Edition Oldies, Leo 504
The Big Itch #3
Sin Alley Volume 3, Crypt Records CB-1958
(There's a bus-load of re-issues of this song both as a repro single or as part of a compilation, so this list is by no means complete)
The Novas - The Crusher(1964)
Next up is a band which were located in Edina, Minnesota(Often listed as being from Minneapolis, but I believe Edina(just outside of Minnesota) is correct) called The Novas. Lead singer Bob Nolan is in this song describing a dance named The Crusher, which is basically the wrestling moves to wrestler Reggie "Crusher" Lisowski, commonly known as "The Crusher". His trademark yell can be heard throughout the song.
The vocals are the standout as they're crude and aggressive to sound like the original wrestler. But the backing is doing a great job in creating a full and heavy blues-beat that work great for dancing or to nod your head aimless.
This song made it as far as #88 on the national Billboard chart, and went to for example #6 in Chicago. This was helped much by radio-time from Minnesota stations like KDWB and WDGY.
Here.. have a listen.
A: So any chance you can teach me how the dance is like?
H: It's easy! Listen closely, here's the moves:
Do the hammerlock
Do the eye-gouge
Do the Crusher
Take your fist and put it on your waist
Do the Crusher
The b-side "Take 7" is a straightforward instrumental surf tune. A very good one, though I would imagine it was intended as a typical b-side filler.
The Novas discography:The Crusher / Take 7 (1964)
Parrot PAR 45005V, USA
London Records HLU 9940, UK
London Records DL 20 773, Germany
Nova's Coaster / On The Road Again (1965), Twin Town 713
Reissues ("The Crusher"):
Back From The Grave #2 (1983), Crypt RR 660(on some pressings: CR 002)
and on CD..
Back From The Grave #1 , Crypt CD-0123
Worth checking out..
Newer bands have come to embrace this song. And that is no wonder as it's an aggressive but at the same time very fun song. Some very fun covers are done by new bands like The Bucky Rage and Los Explosivos.
The Dinks - Nina-Kocka-NinaThe Dinks were located in Beloit, Kansas, and had their first single "Nina-Kocka-Nina released in 1965 on the Sully label.
First impression of this song is that it's quite similar to "Surfin' Bird" in many ways. The lyrics don't mean anything, except the words "english history, biology and chemistry", that's suddenly appearing in between some non-existing phrases. I'm guessing the words is meant as a nod to Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World"("Don't know much about history, don't know much about biology, don't much about science book").
Listen to it!
The b-side "Penny A Teardrop" is a quiet song, similar in build to "Louie Louie", having fine vocals complemented by a organ that's dancing through the entire song.
The year after, the single "Kocka-Mow-Mow" was released applying the same formula. A crazy surf-rocker, certainly good for a swing or two.
The Dinks discography:Nina-Kocka-Nina / Penny A Tear Drop (1965)
Kocka-Mow-Mow / Ugly Girl (1966)
Boulders #6 (1983), MLP 09
The Madness Invasion (1987), GMG 75026
The Big Itch, Mr. Manicotti Records MM 328
..and on cd:
Midwest Garage Band Series - Kansas (1994), RDK/K-001
Madness Invasion Volume 1 (1992), Eva 842624/EVA B2
The Gamma Goochee Himself - The Gamma Goochee(1965)
A dominating keyboard set's the pace for this addictive song. The lyrics style as you've might have already been accustomed to by now - means nothing at all. The Gamma Gootchee Himself himself sings this with a great growling blues-voice. This is an obvious floor-filler for any occasion.
You know what? I'll stop jabbing about this song right now, and you can instead have a listen to the song, and find out for yourself. After all rock music was never meant to be analysed to death.
The "Gamma Goochee Himself"'s real name is John Mangiagli. Originally from New York City, but would relocated to LA to start a career recording rockabilly music, before starting with an entirely different style of music. He would have a wealth of aliases from which he would credit a bunch of singles of impressive quality.
John's first single Rock & Roll Guitar / Shake Shake(credited to "Johnny Knight") are a brilliant two sided rockabilly record.
But his second single(credited to "Johnny Donn & Jazz Rockers") would have a quite unique approach, and is well worth to check out. The a-side called "Smog"(Featured on the highly recommended Wowswille compilation record) are a slow, brilliant and especially fun tune of the typical Las Vegas strip style of the early 60's. The b-side "What Happened Last Night" is where r&b meets rockabilly. A fast rocker enjoyable for both dancing and listening.
As "Johnny Knight":Rock & Roll Guitar / Shake Shake (1958), Morocco M-1005
As "Johnny Donn & Jazz Rockers":
Smog / What Happened Last Night (1959), Crest 1058
As Johnny Marlo:Everynight / Everlasting Love (195?), Reel 101
Two Ton Annie / Barcia Mi (1959), Reel 102
As Johnny Manjelli:Five Foot Two(Eyes Of Blue) / What I Feel (1962), Highland 1024
As "Johnny Mangelli":I Ain't Got / I Got It Made (1962), Ava 110
As "The Gamma Goochee Himself":(You Got) The Gamma Goochee / I'm Gonna Buy Me A Hot Dog (1965)
USA: Colpix CP 786
Netherlands: Colpix CX 42.916
France(as EP): Colpix 8007 M
Australia: Colpix CP 786
I'm So Glad She's My Little Girl / Sweet Violets (1966), Colpix 804
As "Gamma Goochee":
Booga-Loa / Everybody's Somebody's Fool (1967), MGM 13874
Re-releases("The Gamma Goochee"):
The Colpix-Dimension Story (1995)
Great Googa Mooga (2003), Ace Records, CDCHD 880
Also worth checking out...
You might also want to hear The Kingsmen's(of "Louie Louie" fame) cover of "The Gamma Goochee". A great rocker, although quite similar to the original.
Achh.. That's the Mercedes. I will have to go now if I'm going to make the dance in time. I'll tell you about the rest of the songs when I'm back.. I promise!
A: No problem Hermann. Have fun!