When I picked up Volume 9 of this series, I was surprised and delighted to see that the intro to the liner notes was something written or said by Frank Zappa
back in 1971. The series covers the years 1954-1963 (pre-British Invasion) during which time Frank was aged 13 to 23.
Here's Frank's commentary on black music:
In my days of flaming youth I was extremely suspect of any rock music played by white people. The sincerity and emotional intensity of their performances, when they sang about boyfriends and girlfriends and breaking up et cetera, was nowhere when I compared it to my high school Negro R&B heroes like Johnny Otis, Howlin' Wolf and Willie Mae Thornton.
But then I remember going to see Blackboard Jungle. When the titles flashed up there on the screen, Bill Haley and his Comets started blurching 'One, Two, Three O'Clock, Four O'Clock Rock…' It was the loudest rock sound kids had ever heard at the time. I remember being inspired with awe. In cruddy little teen-age rooms, across America, kids had been huddling around old radios and cheap record players listening to the 'dirty music' of their lifestyle. ("Go in your room if you wanna listen to that crap…and turn the volume all the way down".) But in the theatre watching Blackboard Jungle, they couldn't tell you to turn it down. I didn't care if Bill Haley was white or sincere…he was playing the Teen-Age National Anthem, and it was so LOUD I was jumping up and down. Blackboard Jungle, not even considering the story line which had the old people winning in the end, represented a strange sort of 'endorsement' of the teen-age cause: "they have made a movie about us, therefore, we exist…"
Responding like dogs, some of the kids began to go for the throat. Open rebellion. The early public dances and shows which featured rock were frowned upon by the respectable parents of the community. They did everything they could to shield their impressionable young ones from the ravages of this vulgar new craze. (My friend, veteran promoter Hal Ziegler: "They did everything they could to make sure their children were not moved erotically by Negroes".)
From the very beginning, the real reason Mr. & Mrs. Clean White America objected to this music was the fact that it was performed by black people. There was always the danger that one night – maybe in the middle of the summer, in a little pink party dress – Janey or Suzy might be overwhelmed by the lewd, pulsating jungle rhythms and do something to make their parents ashamed.
Parents, in trying to protect their offspring from whatever danger they imagined to be lurking within the secret compartments of this new musical vehicle, actually helped to shove them in front of it whereupon they were immediately run over. The attitude of parents helped to create a climate wherein the usage of rock music (as a pacifier or perhaps an aesthetic experience) became very necessary. Parents offered nothing to their children that could match the appeal of rock. It was obvious to the kids that anyone who did not like (or at least attempt to understand) rock music had a warped sense of values. To deny rock music its place in society was to deny sexuality. Any parent who tried to keep his child from listening to or participating in this musical ritual was, in the eyes of the child, trying to castrate him.
There was much resistance on the part of the music industry itself. (Hal Ziegler: "I remember a conversation with M.....
, a very famous songwriter, who has written many of our all-time favorites, wherein he chided me for being involved with this kind of music and entertainment, and I said to him, 'M.....
, you are just upset because it had been discovered and revealed that a song written by some young colored child in a slum area can capture the fancy of the American public more effectively than a song written by you, who lives in a Beverly Hills mansion'.")
Every year you could hear people saying, "I know it's only a phase… it’ll poop out pretty soon. The big bands will come back." Year after year, the death of rock was predicted… a few times, as I recall, it was even officially announced. "Rock 'n' Roll is dead, calypso is all the rage…"
FRANK ZAPPA - 1971
Various Artists: The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll - Volume 9
01. I'm A Fool To Care - Joe Barry
02. Palisades Park - Freddy Cannon
03. I Wonder Why - Dion and The Belmonts
04. A Casual Look - The Six Teens
05. Lonely Weekends - Charlie Rich
06. Fannie Mae - Buster Brown
07. Shortnin' Bread - Paul Chaplain and His Emeralds
08. I Really Love You - The Stereos
09. Doctor Feel-Good - Dr. Feelgood and The Interns
10. Seventeen - Boyd Bennett and His Rockets
11. Daddy's Home - Shep and The Limelites
12. Bop-A-Lena - Ronnie Self
13. A Wonderful Dream - The Majors
14. Bertha Lou - Clint Miller
15. I'm Movin' On - Matt Lucas
16. Coney Island Baby - The Excellents
17. No, No, No - Bud Johnson and The Chanters
18. Just Got To Know - Jimmy McCracklin
19. Rang Tang Ding Dong (I Am The Japanese Sandman) - The Cellos
20. Fever - Little Willie John
21. Crossfire - Johnny and The Hurricanes
22. Baby Oh Baby - The Shells
23. Let's Have A Party - Wanda Jackson
24. Tonight (Could Be The Night) - The Velvets featuring Virgil Johnson
25. Ooh Poo Pah Doo - Part I - Jessie Hill
26. So Tough - The Original Casuals
27. Queen Of My Heart - Rene And Ray
28. You Talk Too Much - Joe Jones And His Orchestra
29. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind - The Five Keys
30. If You Wanna Be Happy - Jimmy Soul