High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Perfect Storms: The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! (Part 2)

Welcome back! As you recall I'm conducting a spinoff in my search for The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever!

In Part 2, let's pick up where we left off with more of the most exciting songs of the 50s and pre-Beatles 60s:

10. “Twist and Shout” - Isley Brothers (June 1962)

Look up the word "longevity" in your Funk & Wagnalls and beside it you'll find a picture of the brothers Isley. The Isleys boasted a recording and performing career that spanned six decades. Major contributors to the mid-60s Shady Dell soundtrack, the Isleys capitalized on the Twist craze by releasing the hi-energy dancer "Twist and Shout." Although the Beatles gave the world an exciting cover, I'm going with the Isleys' version of "Twist and Shout" as one of the most exciting records ever made!

9. "Lost Someone" - James Brown & the Famous Flames (Recorded live at the Apollo in October 1962)

"Exciting?"...a ballad? When it's James Brown at the Apollo, you bet! Some-bot-tay scream!

8. "Sixty Minute Man" - Billy Ward & His Dominoes

The underrated Clyde McPhatter was fronting Billy Ward & His Dominoes when "Sixty Minute Man" became their signature song. Although it is Bill Brown's bass that is heard on lead, Clyde McPhatter's tenor pierces through the harmony mix with electrifying results. Listen now to the granddaddy of dirty 50s R&B songs "Sixty Minute Man!"

7. “Baby Workout” – Jackie Wilson (February 1963)

By 1963 Jackie Wilson's career was slipping. Well meaning handlers seemed determined to transform the dynamic and soulful Jackie into a tired Vegas lounge act. Jackie was drifting away from his roots, wasting his talents on syrupy, heavily orchestrated pop. Many of his recordings were over produced - contaminated with horns and strings - their quality further diminished by a superfluous and oft times annoying female chorus. Jackie's own vocals were frequently overwrought. Fans yearning for Jackie's fuel injected R&B had to settle for a night at the opera.

Yo! Word up, mister record executive: If I want easy listening I'll play one of my great grandpappy's Ray Coniff albums or just go hop in an elevator! You're turning the Titan of Soul into a fugitive from Lawrence Welk! What you're doin'...don't do dat!

With the incendiary "Baby Workout," Jackie Wilson temporarily redeemed himself and silenced the critics. Even with the obligatory chorus chiming in, Jackie cuts through the clutter and turns in a shouting R&B vocal performance reminiscent of his glory years with the Dominoes.

6. “Hound Dog” – Elvis Presley (August 1956)

Even at age six it was easy for me to choose the raw, intense earthiness of Elvis over the clean cut, safe, nonthreatening image of Pat Boone. Boone, the young pop singer who garnered the parental seal of approval by publicizing his deep religious beliefs, recorded a string of sanitized covers of black r&b for consumption by middle class whites. Several of Boone's whitewashed ditties became hits, eclipsing the chart performances of the black artists' originals. However, the tables were turning on artists like Pat Boone and companies that promoted them. The times, they were a changing. It wouldn't be long before parental approval was considered the kiss of death in the record biz and was avoided like the plague!

The countdown of the most exciting pre-Beatles records continues in my next post. See ya soon!

Have a Shady day!

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