Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Loved learning about all the versions of “Whole Lot of Shaking Goin' On” that preceded Jerry Lee Lewis' hit.

Will you do some similar research on another rock classic, “Shake, Rattle and Roll”?

Versions by Joe Turner; Bill Haley and the Comets; and Elvis are renowned, and all are played regularly on oldies stations.

But, according to a music forum I read, earlier versions also exist, perhaps by whoever wrote the song.

Is this true?
—Doug Bisbee, Milwaukee

DEAR DOUG: Yes, there is one from about 35 years before Joe Turner's hit topped the R&B charts in the summer 1954.

However, the “Shake, Rattle and Roll” issued in 1919 is an entirely different song than the one written by Charles Calhoun (née Jesse Stone) and waxed by Joe Turner (1954); Bill Haley (1954); and Elvis Presley (1956).

Many others followed: Buddy Holly (1956); Sam Cooke (1963); Swinging Blue Jeans (1964); Arthur Conley (1967); Sha Na Na (1973); Chuck Berry (1975); Billy Swan (1976), and Huey Lewis (1994), to cite a few familiar names.

Calhoun, who could also sing, did record a few songs in the mid-'50s, but not “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”

The 1919 “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” by Al “The Boy from Dixie” Bernard (Okeh 1235), tells the story of Ol' Jim, a gamblin' man.

Make that a compulsive gamblin' man, particularly when there's a game of street craps calling his name. Jim loves to shake, rattle, and then roll the dotted cubes, describing the thrill thusly: “When I shake, rattle and roll, it sounds like a melody.”

Bernard, like Al Jolson, was a hugely popular minstrel and vaudeville star who performed many different styles of music with a flair, at times in blackface.

Among his best-known tunes are “The St. Louis Blues”; “I Want to Hold You in My Arms”; the Jolson-esque “I Want My Mammy”; and my favorite, “Frankie and Johnny.”

He is the first of over 250 American artists to record this standard. Al's “Frankie and Johnny” is first-rate entertainment, even by today's standards. One listen and it is clear why Al Bernard was so well-liked.

DEAR JERRY: One of the best albums in a long time, by a former Beatle, is the Pete Best Band's “Haymans Green.”

Unfortunately, it didn't get much publicity in the U.S.

Does Pete Best have plans yet for another CD?
—Mike Manaige, White Bear Township, Minn.

DEAR MIKE: I agree, with one slight modification: “Haymans Green” is among the best albums EVER by any of the ex-Beatles! “Haymans Green,” one of the 11 songs as well as the CD title, is the name of the Best family property where Pete grew up.

As explained best by Best, in an Orlando Weekly interview: “It was my mother's pipe dream, it was the encapsulation of our dreams. Haymans Green is so important; a great big house with four stories, cellars, massive gardens. Even though our mum [Mona] has moved on to greener pastures, we're keeping her legacy alive.”

In one of those cellars at 8 Haymans Green, West Derby Village, Liverpool, is where Mona Best began the Casbah Coffee Club, the same Casbah Club, where the Beatles — John, Paul, George, Pete, and temporary guitarist, Charles “Chas” Newby — first encountered Beatlemania.

That historic event took place 50 years ago this month, and almost two years before the Beatles would have their name on a record, or a record on the UK charts.

“Haymans Green” is Pete's sixth album since 1965, but his first ever studio album of original compositions. All the new tunes are co-written by Pete, along with members of the band.

One member is Pete's younger brother, Vincent “Roag” Best, who plays drums alongside his dad. It is unusual to see a small combo with two separate drummers.

No new album is being mentioned yet, but after “Haymans Green,” how could they not rock on?

For those who have no idea what makes this critically-acclaimed CD so special, especially you fans of the Beatles mid-'60s sound, give a listen to “Gone.” It's on YouTube as well as all the usual music sites.

IZ ZAT SO? Pete Best comes full circle this month, with a December 17th Casbah Club 50th anniversary concert at his beloved Haymans Green.

One of Pete's humorous memories of that night involves this wording used on the original concert posters: “The Beatles Direct From Hamburg Germany.”

Yes, the lads just returned from Hamburg, but the crowd was expecting a German band.

Some in attendance even wanted a refund, claiming misrepresentation, which it was not.

But once they began to sing, the teenage crowd went wild.

Now they wanted an encore, not a refund.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368 E-mail:  Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2010 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission

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