CaveGirl

Rock and Roll Extravaganzas

62 posts in this topic

The recent post about The Who and their film, "Tommy" made me think of previous rock and roll films, both from the 1950's and on through to things like Led Zeppelin's "The Song Remains the Same". Though some of the early ones are corny and with ridiculous scripts they still are a compendium of great rock and roll performers, many who died young.


Just ordered "Go, Johnny, Go" which even though I've seen it a bunch of times, is still worth owning on dvd. Starring the great Alan Freed, in a typically seminal role of almost playing himself as a seer and promoter of the faith of the music, it also has in the cast Chuck Berry, Jackie Wilson, Richie Valens, the Flamingos, the Cadillacs, Jimmy Clanton and of course, the amazing Eddie Cochran. Noted for not just his innovative guitar picking and imitations of the Kingfish, but for his small feet and ability to pick up women even on planes and in passing in airports [as I was told by one of his closest and dearest friends] he is an asset to the film. The cast also contains Harvey Fuqua, whose claim to fame as a writer at Chess and founding member of the Moonglows is well documented as is his connection to Alan Freed.

In later years, Freed's importance to the growth of rock and roll while he tolled in Cleveland on radio and in organizing giant rock and roll shows, inspired tributes like The Band's album, titled "Moondog Matinee", with songs like "Mystery Train" by Junior Parker, "The Great Pretender" by Buck Ram and others by people like Leiber and Stoller, all of whom were favorites of Freed himself. In spite of the payola scandal, all who love rock and roll owe a debt to Freed who was mostly railroaded into submission. This is why the films he was in spotlighting talents he had loved, are still relevant.

Name a rock and roll movie you dig and tell us why!

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The Girl Can't Help It (1956) Is a fun flick featuring:

The Girl Can't Help It - Performed by Little Richard (uncredited) 
Rock Around The Rock Pile - Performed by Ray Anthony and his band (uncredited) 
Cry Me a River - Performed by Julie London 
Be-Bop-a-Lula - Performed by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps 
You'll Never, Never Know - Performed by The Platters 
She's Got It - Performed by Little Richard and The Upsetters 
You Got It Made - Written by Bobby Troup 
Cool It Baby - Performed by Eddie Fontaine at the Jungle Room 
Rockin' Is Our Business - Performed by The Treniers 
Blue Monday - Performed by Fats Domino 
Big Band Boogie - Performed by Ray Anthony 
I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate Performed by Betty Grable in a clip from Wabash Avenue (1950) 
Spread the Word - Sung by Abbey Lincoln at the Late Place Club 
My Idea of Love - Performed by Johnny Olenn & The Jokers 
I Ain't Gonna Cry No More - Performed by Johnny Olenn & The Jokers 
Ready Teddy - Performed by Little Richard and The Upsetters 
 

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23 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

The Girl Can't Help It (1956) Is a fun flick featuring:

The Girl Can't Help It - Performed by Little Richard (uncredited) 
Rock Around The Rock Pile - Performed by Ray Anthony and his band (uncredited) 
Cry Me a River - Performed by Julie London 
Be-Bop-a-Lula - Performed by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps 
You'll Never, Never Know - Performed by The Platters 
She's Got It - Performed by Little Richard and The Upsetters 
You Got It Made - Written by Bobby Troup 
Cool It Baby - Performed by Eddie Fontaine at the Jungle Room 
Rockin' Is Our Business - Performed by The Treniers 
Blue Monday - Performed by Fats Domino 
Big Band Boogie - Performed by Ray Anthony 
I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate Performed by Betty Grable in a clip from Wabash Avenue (1950) 
Spread the Word - Sung by Abbey Lincoln at the Late Place Club 
My Idea of Love - Performed by Johnny Olenn & The Jokers 
I Ain't Gonna Cry No More - Performed by Johnny Olenn & The Jokers 
Ready Teddy - Performed by Little Richard and The Upsetters 
 

What a wonderful movie, CigarJoe! Of course, initially all I can think of is Jayne walking around carrying those milk bottles. But it has much more than most rock films of the time, being that it was big budget and also had a fabulous and funny script. And it is worth the price of the movie to see Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps. The only sad part I recall is that with all that beautiful color film, Eddie Cochran is seen only in black and white on the television, singing I think "20 Flight Rock" possibly? 

Any movie with Richard Penniman and Antoine Domino is killer!

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The usually doir Edmond O'Brian is such a riot as the gangster boyfriend of Jayne Mansfield. Every time, he tries to sabotage Jayne's relationship with Tom Ewell, he falls flat and loses.  At the end , he becomes a Rock and Roll star with a  hilarious hit record. I wish TCM WOULD SHOW IT.  However, it is  20th Century Fox film, so it would be hard to show it to TCM FANS.

I REMEMBER SEEING  the film at the last showing at THE STUDIO DRIVE-IN, IN CULVER CITY CA.  ThE LA CONSERVANCY HAD AN EVENT,THE LAST REMAINING SEATS, THERE to say good-bye to the drive in. Although we had a  great time watching the movie at the drive-in; it was a bittersweet moment.

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1 hour ago, arpirose said:

The usually doir Edmond O'Brian is such a riot as the gangster boyfriend of Jayne Mansfield. Every time, he tries to sabotage Jayne's relationship with Tom Ewell, he falls flat and loses.  At the end , he becomes a Rock and Roll star with a  hilarious hit record. I wish TCM WOULD SHOW IT.  However, it is  20th Century Fox film, so it would be hard to show it to TCM FANS.

I REMEMBER SEEING  the film at the last showing at THE STUDIO DRIVE-IN, IN CULVER CITY CA.  ThE LA CONSERVANCY HAD AN EVENT,THE LAST REMAINING SEATS, THERE to say good-bye to the drive in. Although we had a  great time watching the movie at the drive-in; it was a bittersweet moment.

Excellent points, Arpirose and I can tell you enjoyed the tongue in cheek pastiche of rock and roll films of the time. Jayne's lack of voice and that squeak sound she made, was funny and as usual Tom Ewell is a sweetheart who women find attractive due to his kind nature. Yes, wasn't it "Rock Around the Rockpile" or something like that Eddie was singing? Pardon me, it's been years since I saw it. I'd love to see this film on a big screen and appropriately at a drive-in with a snack bar, snack bar intermission ads, pink restrooms and corn dogs on the menu. I just hope the drive-in clip-on speakers don't have that horrid buzzing sound from being dropped on the ground. Thanks for your fine post!

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I just hope the drive-in clip-on speakers don't have that horrid buzzing sound from being dropped on the ground. Thanks for your fine post!

They use (in the one's still around) a radio frequency nowadays, you just tune to it. 😉

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4 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

The Girl Can't Help It (1956) Is a fun flick featuring:

It's definitely an "establishment"  film by 50's Hollywood/sitcom writers that thought they had to dig up "current hit singers" for the Young Kids, but they seem to have hit on quite a few serendipitous choices.

There's a distinct artistic difference between Girl and The T.A.M.I. Show, but can't deny there's some great archival bits on there.  :)

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12 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

I just hope the drive-in clip-on speakers don't have that horrid buzzing sound from being dropped on the ground. Thanks for your fine post!

They use (in the one's still around) a radio frequency nowadays, you just tune to it. 😉

Honeybunny, I'm old school!

I actually do know one could tune in through their car sound system but I wanted to bring back all the old time situations inherent in going to a drive-in, CigarJoe.

You mean there are still some drive-ins around this country showing films? What a surprise and thanks!

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I remember seeing The Song Remains the Same when it was shown in college,

which showed a movie just about every night. I will give the same criticism

that everyone else seems to give--the concert footage is pretty good, but

the stories that each member of Zep did are pretty bad. They should have

been excised from the film after the first go around. Blah Dog.

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18 minutes ago, CaveGirl said:

You mean there are still some drive-ins around this country showing films? What a surprise and thanks!

They're not on the main roads between the strip malls like in the old days (since you don't use up that much open acreage and not jealously attract another strip mall), but they can be found.

In our area, some are out in the woods, in what would normally be a big state-park picnic spot, shown on billboards--Since it's all radio-frequency nowadays, who needs the big cement ocean of speaker-posts?  And since most parks are closed in the winter anyway, it's not taking business away from the theater half, in the seasonal areas of the country.

(We used to have an old-school one in our neighborhood, growing up, when I was too young to drive and there was nothing playing that parents would take us to.  Never saw the inside except for two shows, but watching Amazon Prime's collections of drive-in trailers still makes me nostalgic.  😥)

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American Graffiti, filmed in my neck of the woods. The drag race scene, toward the end of the film, is something I use to drive regularly. I have the 41 songs in the 2 record set to this day. Rock and Roll will stand man!

I suspect any drive-in still in operation is using FM, and no more speaker on the window.

Some say Rock and Roll started here, not "Rock Around The Clock":

 

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At least one entire book has been devoted to the question of what was the first rock & roll record ever. It's a fun parlor game, though I don't believe there's really a correct answer. Definitely before "Rock Around the Clock," though.

The Girl Can't Help It has a rep as the Citizen Kane of rock & roll movies. Being a Fox film, it's only aired on TCM twice. I definitely need to see it. That lineup for Go, Johnny, Go, is pretty extraordinary too, however.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum is in Cleveland because of Alan Freed, plain and simple. Sadly, his career was pretty much brought to an end by the payola scandal, while the easier-to-like-by-the-establishment Dick Clark skated through the whole thing and remained a media presence for another 50 years.

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SIXTY MINUTE MAN BY BILLY WARD AND THE DOMINOES was recorded three months earlier than ROCKET 88, DECEMBER 1950 TO MARCH 1951 respectively.  SIXTY MINUTE MAN was so sexually explicit that it drove the adults crazy.  However, the kids loved it.  The lead singer was the legendary CLYDE MC PHATTER.

 

 

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Here is another early banned record from THE DRIFTERS FEATURING CLYDE MC PHATTER 1954 HONEY LOVE. This was the good old 1950s full of repression that some people want to go back to?

 

 

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Rock Around The Clock (1956) another one

Rock Around The Clock, Happy Baby, Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie Razzle Dazzle, ABC Boogie, Mambo Rock, See You Later, Alligator, Rudy's Rock - All performed by Bill Haley and the Comets 

The Great Pretender, Only You, - Performed by The Platters 

I'm Gonna Teach You How to Rock,  Giddyup Dingdong, - Performed by Freddie Bell and His Bellboys 

Sad and Lonely (Solo Y Triste), Cueros (Skins) Mambo Capri Codfish and Potatoes- Performed by Tony Martinez and His Band
 
Let's Fall in Love - George Hiller and his band 

 

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16 hours ago, Vautrin said:

I remember seeing The Song Remains the Same when it was shown in college,

which showed a movie just about every night. I will give the same criticism

that everyone else seems to give--the concert footage is pretty good, but

the stories that each member of Zep did are pretty bad. They should have

been excised from the film after the first go around. Blah Dog.

You mean you didn't love seeing each member of Zep receive their summons to play music at their own little abode, like seeing Zoso at Loch Ness in the old home of Aleister Crowley? 

I find the then seen as narcississtic tendencies of the group, now to be camp to the utmost! But you are right, the criticism was well founded but Zep did not allow much concert footage ever to be done so at least we have this example of their excesses to enjoy. Thanks, Vautrin!

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17 hours ago, EricJ said:

It's definitely an "establishment"  film by 50's Hollywood/sitcom writers that thought they had to dig up "current hit singers" for the Young Kids, but they seem to have hit on quite a few serendipitous choices.

There's a distinct artistic difference between Girl and The T.A.M.I. Show, but can't deny there's some great archival bits on there.  :)

Yikes, you mention one of the great moments in rock and roll, Eric in the "T.A.M.I. Show". A monumental bastion of talent shown in one amazing blare of music. Love that chronicle of a time, and thanks for such a fab choice!

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12 hours ago, jimmymac71 said:

American Graffiti, filmed in my neck of the woods. The drag race scene, toward the end of the film, is something I use to drive regularly. I have the 41 songs in the 2 record set to this day. Rock and Roll will stand man!

I suspect any drive-in still in operation is using FM, and no more speaker on the window.

Some say Rock and Roll started here, not "Rock Around The Clock":

 

"American Graffiti" is one of my favorite films of all time, Jimmy! A true tribute to a time period before, as Paul LeMat puts it in the movie, that beach stuff. Now I like beachy music by the Beach Boys, who at one time almost changed their name till music legend, Van Dyke Parks told them "Hey, what's wrong with stuff connected to the beach" which probably helped them not renaming themselves the Apricot Alarm Clock, but I digress. 

Without even checking I was thinking AG was shot maybe in Modesto or Sebastopol as I recall but it's been a long time since I thought about it. I own the book which has the entire script and also the original double album, and it still satisfies as does Wolfman Jack in the film. I bought an original 45 rpm vinyl years ago of the Jackie Brenston hit, known as the first rock and roll record, but as your photo shows it was really Ike Turner who was instrumental in its production, with Jackie just basically doing the vocal. It did start even then though a trend to the mentioning of automobiles in rock songs, which often was just a pretext for situations that seemed sexual, but were hidden behind the hood of the hot rod. Thanks for a wonderful memory, and the marvy "Rocket 88" song to play!

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I don't think anyone's mentioned The Last Waltz yet. That's perhaps my favorite rock movie, along with the aforementioned Woodstock and Monterey Pop.

Rock, Rock, Rock (1956) was enjoyable, with appearances by Chuck Berry, LaVern Baker, the Flamingos, the Moonglows, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, and more.

Don't Knock the Rock (1956) with Little Richard, Bill Haley and His Comets, and the Applejacks.

Urgh! A Music War (1982) Punk, new wave and other oddball acts from the late 70's and early 80's, including the Police, the Cramps, Gary Numan, Devo, Joan Jett, the Go-Go's, Oingo Boingo, and many more.

Others I like:

  • A Hard Day's Night (1964)
  • Ladies & Gentlemen: the Rolling Stones (1974)
  • The Cramps: Live at Napa State Mental Hospital (1978)
  • Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense (1984)
  • U2: Rattle and Hum (1988)

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5 hours ago, arpirose said:

SIXTY MINUTE MAN BY BILLY WARD AND THE DOMINOES was recorded three months earlier than ROCKET 88, DECEMBER 1950 TO MARCH 1951 respectively.  SIXTY MINUTE MAN was so sexually explicit that it drove the adults crazy.  However, the kids loved it.  The lead singer was the legendary CLYDE MC PHATTER.

 

 

While McPhatter was lead singer on most of the group's material of that time, the lead vocals on this particular record were NOT by him but by the group's bass singer Bill Brown.

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I love Sixty Minute Man! Let that one slip my mind, but remembered Rocket 88. Rock Around The Clock may not have made it without being in Blackboard Jungle. The song was 1954, but the movie was 1955. The roots of Rock and Roll were from black artists. As Matt The Cat, formerly of XM 50s on 5, when it was not SiriusXM, use to call it "The Soul Before Rock and Roll."

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13 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

At least one entire book has been devoted to the question of what was the first rock & roll record ever. It's a fun parlor game, though I don't believe there's really a correct answer. Definitely before "Rock Around the Clock," though.

The Girl Can't Help It has a rep as the Citizen Kane of rock & roll movies. Being a Fox film, it's only aired on TCM twice. I definitely need to see it. That lineup for Go, Johnny, Go, is pretty extraordinary too, however.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum is in Cleveland because of Alan Freed, plain and simple. Sadly, his career was pretty much brought to an end by the payola scandal, while the easier-to-like-by-the-establishment Dick Clark skated through the whole thing and remained a media presence for another 50 years.

Heck, so true and there are those who will go as far back as the 1930's to say that the guitar pickings of people like T-Bone Walker could be the start of rock and roll.

I will have to say those bayou blues, and gospel song and response pairings do have credence as rock origin sounds. Just listen to any of the recordings collected by the musicologists like Alan Lomax and one can see many origins of elements of rock and roll. Even guitar pickers doing a western swing sound like Merle Travis had connections to influencing later pickers in rock and roll. As I said, Alan Freed really loved rock and roll but was crucified for his attempts to give black performers a platform, and had mixed concert events which caused his demise, while Dick Clark who was much more the master manipulator, got off home free, even with similar payola issues. Thankfully most rock and roll fans know Freed was the real force behind the growth of rock and roll. Let's not even talk about Dick Clark and his attempts to replicate "Soul Train" in its heyday, even though he previously did nothing to promote any black teens being on Bandstand.

Thanks, SE!

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There have been some really good fictionalized rock movies over the years too. American Hot Wax (1978) was a somewhat fictionalized movie about Alan Freed and his stage shows, featuring the real Chuck Berry mixed in with some made-up-but-spot-on groups and singers. My favorite is Grace of My Heart (1996) with Illeana Douglas as a Carole King/Ellie Greenwich mash-up who finds success in the Brill Building era by placing her songs with other singers. Eric Stoltz plays her songwriting partner/hubby; John Turturro plays a Phil Spector-like producer; Brigit Fonda plays a Leslie Gore-type singer with a secret, and Matt Dillon plays a Brian Wilson-type surf music legend. There's some great original music, including the monumental "God Give Me Strength". The groups and singers are all amalgams of actual vintage artists and the music has a totally period feel. The movie covers a lot of ground time-wise in terms of the evolution of the music and a lot of genres are covered.

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I love Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle, and Roll." I can only imagine it inspired this song, the flip side of "Only You." Not often did Zola Taylor get the vocal. Here is one smash shellac:

 

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