Friday, 1 September 2017


Hello Brummies,

Well, Mrs Bob and I returned home a couple of days ago
from our hols in the sun of Spain, we are now tanned and healthy looking which, on the one hand is great but the downside is that she now has to buy an outfit to go with her skin tone? 

However, I agreed with her and even volunteered to go to town to help select something suitable for our visit to the boozer at the weekend where she plans to breeze into the bar and await all the "Ooooh aren't you brown" comments.   Now some men might lose their tempers about what could be perceived as reckless spending given that we spent tons of dosh enjoying ourselves eating Paella and other Spanish treats for a couple of weeks but bear this in mind.......when you feel the need to purchase another instrument or set of drums you can do it brazenly, without hiding it in the shed for a few months.

It's quite strange that after all these years that Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley is STILL credited as the first Rock and Roll release and not ROCKET 88
which had been recorded a full five years before by Jackie Brenton and his Delta Cats (Jackie Brenton was in fact Ike Turner).  Much of the dialogue about this record being Rock n Roll is based on the guitar sound which was dirty as a result of the bands guitarist dropping and damaging his amplifier a short time before the session.  Ike Turner said he didn't think it was the first Rock and Roll record but more of an R&B song BUT believed it did influence a lot of other folk into that direction, on listening afresh I can see why he said that, it does have much more of a 'shuffle' feel to it than a straight four-four time bopper.   Rocket 88 had been licensed by Sam Phillips and he was quoted as saying "If I could get a white boy to sing like that I'll be rich", the rest is history.

Fast forward a few years and, after the storm of musical change in the mid sixties, we need to ask the question
Black Sabbath back in the days when hair was plentiful.
 Now most people would say that Heavy Metal was invented in Birmingham and many people say that the first exponents of this music were Brums own Black Sabbath.  Why not? great band right from the start, had all the right ingredients, great name, plenty of drive, almost orchestrated in a simple but effective way, Tony Iommi had learned a good lesson during his short stint with Jethro Tull and put it to good use when he got back to his roots.  Now I probably agree that the term "Heavy Metal" may have come about at this time but for me there was one incredibly powerful recording that predated Sabbaths rise by three years and blew everything else out of the water. The term Metal didn't exist but this recording had all the necessary Oomph, volume and drama to fill the term a thousand fold.   The song was a well known Motown song that, in 1966, had girls dancing around their handbags at the many dance halls littering Birmingham and had been a hit for The Supremes.   

It's re-emergence one year later was staggering and it had been transformed into a punchy, VERY HEAVY recording, it was akin to knowing a likable, giggly child that had grown up into The Hulk with a meaner streak.   The recording itself was a real step up from the normal sterile, poppy efforts of much of the British and American record producers of the day.

Vanilla Fudge
The song was "You Keep me Hangin On" and the band Vanilla Fudge, sadly not from Birmingham but from the other side of the pond.   The recording was now played at half the speed of The Supremes, was rich and dirty like The Moody Blues "Go Now" had been recorded and was right in your face.  Heavy sounding dirge like Hammond organ pervaded the whole of the song intro which in turn was followed by bars and bars of hard hitting staccato drum beats and descending bass lines leading to the first vocal line "Set me free why don't you babe" which seemed to take on a darker, agonised tone, than it's predecessor with the vocal highlight of the shouted line, "And there ain't nothing I can do about it". The arrangement for the ending of the song was formidable too with the band in full flow and the staccato beats raining down but this time with the bass notes rising and rising until it came to an abrupt stop.  I first heard it whilst setting up for a gig at Dudley Zoo, and I seem to recall some guy bringing the '45' along for me to listen to courtesy of the DJ.   "Shit! that was good" I thought and got him to play it a couple of times more, fabulous voices, great heavy crescendo, it was a definite change of style.  The release got to No 6 in the UK chart.

John Lennon had claimed that "Daytripper" was the first
heavy song but then again he would have wouldn't he? It had a riff yes but no way was it in the Heavyweight class.  Some others says that The Beatles "Birthday" or "Helter Skelter" are the first heavy songs too but they were all recorded in 68.  McCartney said he did Helter Skelter because he'd heard that The Who were in the studio recording what would be the loudest song ever "I can See for Miles" and so, as usual The Beatles went into the studio to outdo them by layering lots of guitar tracks till they got to "11". There is little doubt in my mind though that Vanilla Fudges treatment of the original, quite insipid, Supremes recording was a major influence on the musicians of the day including The Beatles whether consciously or not.   

In the final analysis we are all influenced or affected by things that go on around us and quite clearly The Beatles did influence others after them but if the question is "What came First" in the Heavy category well, for me it was Vanilla Fudge.  So I recommend that, if you haven't heard it already give it a play.   One of my faves and frankly knocks Paranoid into a comfy cushion.   Play it loud!!  

Someone had to do it first but this time it wasn't someone from Brum.

OK you folks, I know it's a short blog but with a touch of controversy?

Take Care in this violent world we live in today.  It pisses me off beyond belief.
In the sixties, did we really work hard to re-educate and eradicate racism and hate only for it to be laughingly abandoned by successive generations and races as nothing more than a Hippy ideal? 

Take Care you Freaks!!


Copyright: Bullsheadbob

1 comment:

Sparks said...

Interesting comment about Vanilla Fudge.
The B side of the single was Take me for a Little While which was also originally a song by an American girl singer in 1965.

Carmine Appice from Fudge was one of John Bonham's favourite drummers.