74 for ’74: 1955-1956

My 74 for ’74 rock and roll playlist begins with songs from 1955 and 1956.

1. Rock Around the Clock, Bill Haley and His Comets (1955 – although recorded in 1954). This isn’t the first roll and roll record, but in terms of cultural impact it may as well be. It was also the original theme for Happy Days (when Richie still had an older brother) and was the Fredonia High School Pep Band’s favorite song. Notice the stand-up bass in the video.

2. Long Tall Sally, Little Richard (1956). This is just a great 12-bar blues.  Little Richard nails it here, but the song is so good there are lots of terrific covers too, including those by Elvis, The Beatles, The Kinks, Jerry Lee Lewis and Heart.  This song made to #1 on the R&B charts and should have done so on the pop charts too.  Have some fun tonight….

3. Roll Over Beethoven, Chuck Berry (1956). I love that distinctive Chuck Berry guitar sound —  and the dance moves too.  There is also a great Beatles cover with George Harrison on lead vocal. According to Rolling Stone, this song “became the ultimate rock & roll call to arms, declaring a new era.” And so it did.

I got the rockin’ pneumonia,
I need a shot of rhythm and blues.
I caught the rollin’ arthritis
Sittin’ down at a rhythm review.
Roll Over Beethoven they’re rockin’ in two by two.

Other great songs from 1955 and 1956 follow.

1955: Maybellene, Chuck Berry; Earth Angel, The Penguins; Ain’t That a Shame, Fats Domino; The Great Pretender, The Platters.

1956: Be-Bop-A-Lula’, Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps; Folsom Prison Blues, I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash; Heartbreak Hotel, Don’t Be Cruel, Hound Dog, Elvis; Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, Gale Storm and Diamonds; The Great Pretender, The Platters; Why Do Fools Fall In Love, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers; Blueberry Hill, Fats Domino.


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