I have professed my love of music before on this blog. I was exposed to many different forms and genres when I was young. Over time that love has deepened and broadened to include music from every age and of every kind.
Today my blog is the first of a series of ‘Top Ten lists’ of different genres, as I would find it impossible to pick a single list of top ten songs. The first set I have chosen is from the great Rock 'n' Roll of the fifties. I first encountered these songs in the shape of Elvis Presley on my Dad’s crackly old vinyl. When I got interested in The Beatles, I traced their influences and it lead me back to that explosive period of music.
Bill Haley & His Comets - Rock Around The Clock The unlikely spark for a revolution, this song caused riots when it was included in the soundtrack of the movie Blackboard Jungle.
Elvis Presley - That’s All Right When Sam Phillips heard Elvis sing he knew that the world would never be the same. Elvis was what the Sun Records' owner was looking for, a white singer with a black voice. He placed his new talent with guitarist Scotty Moore and bass player Bill Black, as a result the blues were given new life and rock 'n' roll was born. I can only imagine what it was like when ‘That’s All Right’ was played on radio for the first time.
Chuck Berry - Johnny B Goode Rock 'n' roll is the blues with even more attitude. No one shows that more than the brilliant Chuck Berry. He wrote songs with stylish lyrics driven by the sound of his own cherry-red Gibson guitar. Johnny B Goode is one of many great Berry tunes that I could have chosen.
Buddy Holly - That’ll Be The Day There were many Elvis clones in the wake of his explosive arrival on the scene but Buddy Holly chose a different tack. Like Chuck Berry, the Texan wrote his own songs and also had a hand in producing them. He was to have a huge influence on The Beatles and who knows what he may have achieved if he hadn’t died on that fateful February night in 1959.
The Everly Brothers - Wake Up Little Susie Although it was rock 'n' roll with a pop sensibility, the music of The Everly Brothers was still significant. Their close harmonies were the model for both The Beatles and The Beach Boys. This song has the kind of bounce that was ideal for jiving in the dance halls.
Fats Domino - Blueberry Hill The music of Fats Domino is rooted in the blues of New Orleans. He was one of the great exponents of the rock 'n' roll piano with a voice that was the epitome of the Big Easy. This song stands as one of the greatest of the period.
Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls Of Fire Another genius of the piano, Jerry Lee ‘The Killer’ Lewis is rock 'n' roll stripped bare. Aggressive, raw vocals and an amazing stage presence helped to earn Lewis his nickname. This song is the Sun Records artist at the top of his game.
Little Richard - Tutti Frutti A-Wop-bop-a-loo-lop a-lop-bam-boo. Nonsense lyrics, screamed in a register that teenage girls would struggle to reach, Little Richard was a one off. His influence carried all the way to Prince, he is undeniably one of the rock 'n' roll greats.
Roy Orbison - Oh Pretty Woman Possibly the finest singer in the rock 'n' roll genre, Roy Orbison was also an excellent songwriter. This song is so distinctive from the first beat of the drums in the introduction and even today still finds its way into movie and TV soundtracks.
Elvis Presley - Heartbreak Hotel According to John Lennon, “Before Elvis there was nothing”. This was the first Elvis song to be released in the UK and the one that catapulted the boy from Tupelo to worldwide fame. A plaintive blues that shows his voice at its best, Heartbreak Hotel is a classic.
That’s it for today, although I could have added many more from the likes of Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Carl Perkins. These were the pioneers who kicked down the doors of the music establishment and paved the way for all that was to follow.
In my next top ten I will look at rock 'n' roll’s Daddy, The Blues and give you my favourite artists and their best songs.
You can listen to these songs here Rock 'n' Roll Top Ten