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"The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 1958

Fri Aug 22, 2014 10:57 pm

I recently found this article, published October 1958, on rock and roll disc-jockey Alan Freed. It's based around an interview with the man himself, where he talks about several aspects of the music, especially the connection between rock and roll and juvenile delinquency. It's a very interesting piece.

Of course, he also gives his views on Elvis. Don't miss them !

PS - Anybody knows the name of the vocal group pictured in page 23 of the article ?


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Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Sat Aug 23, 2014 1:39 am

Nice post -- can't help you with your query, I'm afraid.

Freed was just a year away from his demise.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Sat Aug 23, 2014 2:28 am

Thanks Mr. Moon, for digging up yet another interesting article. It must be time consuming, so i appreciate the all the more. (i hope you understand what i am trying to say, my english isn't perfect.)

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Sat Aug 23, 2014 2:45 am

George Smith wrote:Nice post -- can't help you with your query, I'm afraid.

Freed was just a year away from his demise.


My pleasure, George. For all his contributions to the music, Freed sure lived a very sad ending.

As for the photo in page 23, it's hard to distinguish who is pictured, but I thought maybe somebody could know the image from a different, captioned, source. It looks like a quartet, and the member at left is black, while maybe some of the other members are white. If that's true, they could be The Del-Vikings, one of the few integrated vocal groups of the era. But maybe they all are black, and it's just a visual effect only. Then it's much more difficult to know who they are, as Freed was associated with so many vocal groups. If only we could know the date of the photo, then it would be much easier. Thanks for your valuable help.

epf wrote:Thanks Mr. Moon, for digging up yet another interesting article. It must be time consuming, so i appreciate the all the more. (i hope you understand what i am trying to say, my english isn't perfect.)


Glad you liked it, epf.

My time is not so important right now - I'm on vacation !

I understand your posts perfectly. My English is not perfect, either. But we all speak the same language, isn't it ?

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Sat Aug 23, 2014 3:45 am

I found out who the group in the photo is.

They are The Pastels, who recorded four singles between 1957 and 1958, the last three of them for one of Chess Records' subsidiaries, Argo Records.

Thanks to Marv Goldberg's priceless website, where the above photo appears credited and dated :

http://www.uncamarvy.com/Pastels/pastels.html#Argo


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Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:26 am

Mister Moon wrote:I found out who the group in the photo is.

They are The Pastels, who recorded four singles between 1957 and 1958, the last three of them for one of Chess Records' subsidiaries, Argo Records.

Thanks to Marv Goldberg's priceless website, where the above photo appears credited and dated :

http://www.uncamarvy.com/Pastels/pastels.html#Argo


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There's a decent indie band from Glasgow who call themselves the Pastels, they've been around for 33 years.

The Pastels
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pastels


Here's perhaps the best known single from the 1950s New York doo-wop group:


580106_Argo 5287.JPG



phpBB [video]


Pastels "Been So Long" (Argo 5287, January 6, 1958)
Billboard Pop Best Selling Pop Singles In Stores" #25, March 10, 1958, "Most Played R&B By Jockeys" #4, April 21, 1958

Argo was a subsidiary of Chess Records.
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Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:09 pm

Thanks Doc. Now that you mention this, I seem to remember having read about this Scottish band.

It's funny, because in English language the word "pastel" refers to a type of color. In Spanish language, it has the same meaning, but it's also an equivalent of "cake" : "birthday cake" = "pastel de cumpleaños". So, it sounds a bit weird as the name of a band. :)

I have "Been So Long" by the 50s Pastels in a compilation of Chess doo wop, but I didn't know it had been a hit. Nice to learn about this.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:22 am

Thanks, Mister Moon for the article, nice read.

Nice to read he thought highly of Elvis. I've not heard him say too much about him.

The last scan of your post, the one of page 26, the photo of the guy being crushed against the rope by teenage girls shows up in some Elvis books. I wonder where the photo was actually taken? Was it taken at a Presley show? Or was it taken at a Freed Show? Or was it a photo that the magazine found just to show what the R'n'R scene was about?

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Thu Oct 23, 2014 4:45 pm

Thanks for posting. Elvis in the 50's was often revered to as the first and greatest white blues singer, pity he lost the title in the 60's. Even if some of his best blues were recorded during that decade, they were overshadowed by so much mediocre junk.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:41 pm

Mister Moon wrote:Thanks Doc. Now that you mention this, I seem to remember having read about this Scottish band.

It's funny, because in English language the word "pastel" refers to a type of color. In Spanish language, it has the same meaning, but it's also an equivalent of "cake" : "birthday cake" = "pastel de cumpleaños". So, it sounds a bit weird as the name of a band. :)

I have "Been So Long" by the 50s Pastels in a compilation of Chess doo wop, but I didn't know it had been a hit. Nice to learn about this.

I guess they got the name cause "pastel" colors were in vogue during the 1950's. Those colors made a comeback during the 80's. Think "Miami Vice". Thanks for the topic.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:25 pm

Alan Freed did turn out to be right Elvis' future did lie with the movies.

Off the top of my head Elvis and Link Wray were probably the only white artists in the 1950s that could really sing the blues.

Maybe Jerry Lee Lewis could but I'm only familiar with his rock n' roll and country hits.

This was some years before Mick Jagger, Eric Burdon, Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield etc.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:31 pm

Chris Roberts wrote:Thanks for posting. Elvis in the 50's was often revered to as the first and greatest white blues singer, pity he lost the title in the 60's. Even if some of his best blues were recorded during that decade, they were overshadowed by so much mediocre junk.


He should have never lost that title.

When you think about it he still would have been the first great white blues singer because he came before all those other white singers in the 1960's.

Regardless of the soundtrack junk he was still a better blues singer than Mick Jagger of Eric Clapton.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:45 pm

brian wrote:
Chris Roberts wrote:Thanks for posting. Elvis in the 50's was often revered to as the first and greatest white blues singer, pity he lost the title in the 60's. Even if some of his best blues were recorded during that decade, they were overshadowed by so much mediocre junk.


He should have never lost that title.

When you think about it he still would have been the first great white blues singer because he came before all those other white singers in the 1960's.

Regardless of the soundtrack junk he was still a better blues singer than Mick Jagger of Eric Clapton.


100% agreed.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:11 pm

Even the "soundtrack junk" included some nice touches of that "white blues singer". Not only blues, but other elements you may find to enjoy? That is if your REALLY listen? 8) Elvis' Legacy includes the soundtrack years, and I for one do not dismiss them all! How can anyone dismiss those wonderful songs in FOLLOW THAT DREAM? At least wonderful sung!! Oh, not me.... :)

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:06 pm

Elvis did indeed make some great soundtrack songs - look at some of my posts regarding this, I often stick up for his movies. However he lost his 'greatest white blues singer' to people like Mike Jagger, who IMO was nowhere near as good. If only the general public could have heard some of his great 60's blues tracks that were mostly found on albums. Even today when I play to someone Reconsider Baby or Stranger In My Own Home Town, I always get the same reaction, "I didn't know Elvis recorded songs like that". In the 50's he was known, as Alan Freed said, for singing the blues, in the 60's when he recorded some of his best, he wasn't.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:23 pm

Chris Roberts wrote:Elvis did indeed make some great soundtrack songs - look at some of my posts regarding this, I often stick up for his movies..

,
When you look at Elvis' movies his work on Loving You, Jailhouse Rock and King Creole were among his best work.

Then the movie songs got worse after that but you still had a few gems in them from 1960-1962.

With the exception of perhaps the ''Viva Las Vegas'' material none of Elvis' movie material from 1963-1968 should have been recorded by him as they were a waste.

I don't think any of Elvis' movie material from the 1960's came close to being blues songs except ''Hard luck'' and ''All I needed was the rain''.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:59 am

brian wrote:
Chris Roberts wrote:Elvis did indeed make some great soundtrack songs - look at some of my posts regarding this, I often stick up for his movies..

,
When you look at Elvis' movies his work on Loving You, Jailhouse Rock and King Creole were among his best work.

Then the movie songs got worse after that but you still had a few gems in them from 1960-1962.

With the exception of perhaps the ''Viva Las Vegas'' material none of Elvis' movie material from 1963-1968 should have been recorded by him as they were a waste.

I don't think any of Elvis' movie material from the 1960's came close to being blues songs except ''Hard luck'' and ''All I needed was the rain''.



Indeed Brian there weren't many blues songs in the movies, this is why he lost the title to the likes of Mike Jagger. Little Red Rooster was definatly more blues oriented than the likes of Do The Clam.

Apart from the two you mention, How Can You Lose What You've Never Had is kind of bluesy. Pity Elvis didn't release more singles like I Feel So Bad and Little Sister throughout the decade to keep the 60's blues upstarts in their place, and to keep his rightful tittle, as 'The Greatest White Blues Singer', that I think he was.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Fri Oct 24, 2014 12:41 pm

Thanks.

rjm

Sent via mobile

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Fri Oct 24, 2014 4:11 pm

mysterytrainrideson wrote:Thanks, Mister Moon for the article, nice read.

Nice to read he thought highly of Elvis. I've not heard him say too much about him.

The last scan of your post, the one of page 26, the photo of the guy being crushed against the rope by teenage girls shows up in some Elvis books. I wonder where the photo was actually taken? Was it taken at a Presley show? Or was it taken at a Freed Show? Or was it a photo that the magazine found just to show what the R'n'R scene was about?


Glad you liked this.

There's at least another Freed quote on Elvis, regarding his sideburns. I don't have it at hand right now. But I have always taken it as an humorous comment only, not meant to be harmful.

Regarding the photo in page 26, yes, it's a familiar one, but I couldn't tell you from what. I would bet it's from a Freed show, but maybe I'm wrong.



Chris Roberts wrote:Thanks for posting. Elvis in the 50's was often revered to as the first and greatest white blues singer, pity he lost the title in the 60's. Even if some of his best blues were recorded during that decade, they were overshadowed by so much mediocre junk.


You're welcome.

I agree Elvis was a far better blues singer than most of the sixties artists who were plugged as blues exponents.



Juan Luis wrote:
Mister Moon wrote:Thanks Doc. Now that you mention this, I seem to remember having read about this Scottish band.

It's funny, because in English language the word "pastel" refers to a type of color. In Spanish language, it has the same meaning, but it's also an equivalent of "cake" : "birthday cake" = "pastel de cumpleaños". So, it sounds a bit weird as the name of a band. :)

I have "Been So Long" by the 50s Pastels in a compilation of Chess doo wop, but I didn't know it had been a hit. Nice to learn about this.

I guess they got the name cause "pastel" colors were in vogue during the 1950's. Those colors made a comeback during the 80's. Think "Miami Vice". Thanks for the topic.


You're welcome.

Yes, you're probably right about the name of the group being related to the vogue for "pastel" colors.



rjm wrote:Thanks.


Glad you liked it, rjm.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:58 pm

mysterytrainrideson wrote:The last scan of your post, the one of page 26, the photo of the guy being crushed against the rope by teenage girls shows up in some Elvis books. I wonder where the photo was actually taken? Was it taken at a Presley show? Or was it taken at a Freed Show? Or was it a photo that the magazine found just to show what the R'n'R scene was about?


I found out where the photo was taken !

This is from the concert Elvis gave in Omaha, May 20, 1956. It looks like I was wrong in my previous post !

See this page :

http://scottymoore.net/omaha.html

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:19 am

Presleymania - the beginning of all that was to follow!

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:33 pm

Chris Roberts wrote:Presleymania - the beginning of all that was to follow!


Sure ! :)

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Tue Nov 25, 2014 12:20 pm

I feel, that unlike almost any sixties "blues singer," Elvis was distinct. He was a genuine Bluesman. I don't have the time now to give it a proper definition, but there is a difference and it is meaningful.

It's a complex of geography and socioeconomic biography, and something else I can't quite get my finger on right now.

But a Bluesman is different than a blues singer.

It's something deep inside a life. Usually a very southern life experience of poverty and a particular kind of struggle. It's what makes a Bluesman.

And he was that no matter what genre he chose to sing.

rjm

Re:

Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:31 pm

rjm wrote:I feel, that unlike almost any sixties "blues singer," Elvis was distinct. He was a genuine Bluesman. I don't have the time now to give it a proper definition, but there is a difference and it is meaningful.

It's a complex of geography and socioeconomic biography, and something else I can't quite get my finger on right now.

But a Bluesman is different than a blues singer.

It's something deep inside a life. Usually a very southern life experience of poverty and a particular kind of struggle. It's what makes a Bluesman.

And he was that no matter what genre he chose to sing.

rjm


I agree.

Anybody can technically sing blues music, but not everybody can sing THE blues. That's what Elvis, at his very best, did. Greil Marcus wrote in "Mystery Train" that Elvis and Bob Dylan were the best white singers of the genre (I don't recall the exact quote). And it's hard for me to contradict him. And Alan Freed, who also knew a bit about black music, was saying the same as early as in 1958, as the above article shows.

For all the hoopla about the 60s blues revival, I don't think many of those bands were really great playing and singing the blues. Most of them lacked much of the original depth. I know it's impossible to equal the masters of the genre, but most of those groups and singers, for all their good intentions and dedication, were light years away from the real thing. Also, for all their academical dexterity and fireworks, guys like Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page couldn't even begin to imagine playing like, say, Hubert Sumlin or Pat Hare.

So, yes, it was a different world.

Re: "The only white man who can really sing the blues" - 195

Sun Dec 21, 2014 9:11 am

I think that blues, and rhythm and blues music, was very much in Elvis's blood. He sung the blues, felt and understood the lyrical significance and social relevance of the blues, but didn't need to perform the blues. He was a genuine bluesman, whose very nature and musical heritage corresponded intrinsically with that of John Lee Hooker or B.B. King. Unlike Robert Plant, Mick Jagger or even Hugh Laurie, who all sing the blues and no doubt love, respect and have an extensive knowledge of this music and its roots. But they are performers who approximate the style of a blues singer to reflect the singers and songs they have an affection for. And they're great at doing so; it feels genuine and sounds good when the Stones dig deep into classic blues riffs that Jagger devours with scant disregard for his true accent. He's a bluesman when tearing up the stage singing Little Red Rooster. But he's not the genuine article, no matter how good he is or how much he loves the blues. That doesn't make him disingenuous, but merely underscores the fact that Elvis and the blues are culturally linked, whilst Jagger, as an example, is affectionately linked to the blues. And that's not to fault him, the Stones, Led Zeppelin or anyone who is a good performer of any particular style of music. But the blues done more than just inform Elvis's music. He had a natural accordance with the blues because its very existence related to his own.