Thursday, November 17, 2005

Rock and roll my blues away

I found this LP at one of the WLRH record sales. I had never heard of the band but the cover is a great shot of three guys in “V” sweaters standing around a red Triumph. There are yellow and white arrows painted all around them on the brick driveway. I thought it was a mid 60’s mod group until I flipped the record over and saw that it came out all the way back in 1957. The cover is way ahead of it’s time.

If that wasn’t enough, the very first song is “Bikini Baby”. That (plus the .75 price tag) sold me. It’s a good record, mostly rockers and some sappy ballads that I hope were picked by the record company. And some yodeling.

The Versatones are usually called Doo-wop or R&B but they’re not really either one. The liner notes say that they have the “Rock-a-billy tempo” which I guess they do have. Some of these songs would not be out of place on some of Elvis’ albums. There still aren’t many black rockabilly trios around. Esp. ones that yodel.

The group formed in 1956 as part of the DePaur Infantry Chorus. Tenor John Greenwood had appeared in Carousel and Street Scene. Baritone bass Herbert Stubbs attended Juilliard on a scholarship, appeared in House Of Flowers and Carmen Jones. Baritone Ronald Chapman also played guitar and piano for the group.

There are several other Versatones around (including a polka band) so I don’t know if these guys did anything after the 45 in 1958. In the mid-sixties, there was a soul group in Detroit called the Versatones. Is it the same guys? In 1959, there was a band called the Versatones in Washington state, they later changed their name to the Ventures.

Thanks to the great Reverend Frost for posting the Versatones “Bila/Tight Skirt and Sweater” 45 and reminding me that I had this LP. I’d forgotten all about it. The two tracks he posted came out in 1958 and are way better than anything on the LP. If you don't visit Spread The Good Word often, you're missing some good stuff. Happy Anniversary!


Blogger Fire of lovE said...

Hey KS. My Subsonic record finally arrived, great stuff. Thanks for the tip.

18/11/05 6:52 AM  
Blogger KS said...

Glad you picked it up! In my opinion, the Subsonics are the best unknown band of the last ten years.

18/11/05 7:58 AM  
Blogger Reverend Frost said...

Cheers Ks you're the man

18/11/05 10:17 AM  

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