Vintage Rock Presents The Rock’n’Roll Years Volume One is a new bookazine taking a look at the earliest days of the shaking, rattling and rolling sound that pretty much defined popular culture and society for the entire second half of the Twentieth Century, from the jazz, country and blues experiments that fed into it to the influence of cheap studios and new recording technology right through to the very first quiff-toting stars rock rock rocking until broad daylight to the chagrin of concerned parents, concerned clergy and concerned cameramen carefully avoiding inadvertently beaming Elvis’ degenerate hip-swivels straight into the nation’s television sets. There are features on the obvious likes of Sun Records, Bill Haley And The Comets and the Skiffle boom, alongside some less familiar aspects and offshoots of the phenomenon like the fascinating tale of Rocket “88” by Ike Turner And His Kings Of Rhythm, which is now widely credited as the first ever rock’n’roll record. There’s also an opportunity to revisit a time when Teddy Boys were considered the number one threat to law and order and harbingers of the imminent collapse of society, rather than bus drivers scowling at flare-sporting seventies teenagers, purist bores demanding Radio 1 played more Gene Vincent in 1986 and the focus of every third sketch on The Russ Abbot Show.
I’ve contributed a suitably Triumph Thunderbird 6T-sized feature on The Wild One, the legendary 1953 thriller movie starring Marlon Brando as the leader of a motorcycle gang who find themselves framed for causing an accident in small town they’re passing through, looking how it changed – or arguably even invented – youth culture in America overnight, and changed precisely nothing in the UK on account of being considered so potentially damaging to public morals that it was effectively banned from release until 1967, without a single instance of ripped up cinema seats or dancing in the aisles to its name. As well as the movie itself and the surprisingly positive critical reception it drew even at the time of release, there’s also room for a look at the two significantly different versions of the soundtrack and the massive influence that they had on a nation bursting with gleaming new jukeboxes, the musicians responsible for it and their unexpected link with The Monkees, the unlikely venue for the first public UK screening and how the BBC managed to get away with showing a couple of extracts while it was still about as banned as it’s possible to get, and the contentious question of whether – despite what George Harrison might have had to say on the matter – The Beatles actually took their name from The Wild One or not. As you can probably tell from all of this, The Wild One is a movie dogged by persistent myths and a much higher quality example of filmmaking than its insurrectionary reputation suggests; it’s also a rip-roaring edge-of-the-seat crime movie with an almighty revved-up soundtrack that must have sounded nightmarishly degenerate back in 1953, and one I’ve been obsessed with the fittingly wild history of for a very long time, so it was an absolute thrill to be asked to write this – and hopefully nearly as much of one to read it.
You can get Vintage Rock Presents The Rock’n’Roll Years Volume One in all leading newsagents, directly from the Vintage Rock store here, or as a digital edition here. You can also find out more about a previous issue of Vintage Rock Presents where I looked into the story behind The Beach Boys’ legendary unfinished album SMiLE here. And if you want to know what it’s like to watch Jailhouse Rock in a cinema full of ageing Elvis Presley fans who have lost none of their capacity for shouting and jiving, then I’ll just wedge my fingers in my ears and direct you here…
© Tim Worthington.
Please don’t copy this only with more italics and exclamation marks.