Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tear It Up: A DeLux Redux

Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio, Tear It Up (1956)


If one were to take the above song and add a drop of the following ingredients...

(His facial expressions are sensitive, serious, playful, anguished, and menacing all at once. The black leather suit, the necklace, the greased hair falling onto his face, and the eyeliner channel a more dangerous, gothic Elvis. He subtly exudes the bravado and borderline insanity of Clarence "God" Hilliard. He strikes poses and stands motionless like a statue, appearing to be someone who was created in a laboratory to embody Rock & Roll. There is no need for him to dance; when we look at him we see only music.)


Released 1957

(His slow motion dance, his facial expressions, and his bubbling, gargling singing noises are the perfect companion to the music. He sings as if he's underwater, sometimes trying to work liquid out of his lungs without missing a line, without coughing. His eyes catch something straight ahead that fills him with terror... He tries to intimidate this evil thing, but he isn't fully convinced it'll work. Or perhaps he wants to convey it to us through his own fear, through the white of his eyes. Other times he's under his own spell, out of his mind, in a daze. He can barely stand up. He is channeling spirits.)


(The band is hidden, and he is alone on stage for this transformation, under the influence of hypnosis. Someone has convinced him that he's a bird! He flails around like a bird, performing a song that he appears to be making up on the spot. Mostly strange sounds and nonsense words repeated over and over. Or an epileptic fit set to music. Surfin' Bird.)

...and boil on high heat for 15+ years, the result would look and sound like this:


Released 1980


Hectocotylus said...

There is also this great performance by the neo-rockabilly band Levi Dexter & The Rockats. They formed around the same time as The Cramps, opening for them in 1977 at Max's Kansas City.

Oktober said...