This month we continue the debate we began last month in this column. What is the greatest ever rock’n’roll song ? As I mentioned last month, it all depends on who you ask. Here is a selection of views below, from some of the biggest names in Russian rock’n’roll. Here are the excellent choices they came up with, along with some great reasons for their selections.
Pavel Stolypin: leader and lead guitarist of the Russian band “Elvis and Borodachi”:
I’ve mulled over this for a long time. I have many favourite rock ‘n’ roll songs and it’s hard for me to choose a specific one. I racked my brains and suffered over this. But this evening it suddenly dawned on me that my favorite song is Twenty Flight Rock ! I’ve been playing it and singing it for over 20 years now in all of my bands. And I love Eddie Cochran in general.
Vladimir Khoruzhiy Bezen, leader and vocalist of the Russian Rockabilly Group “The Sparks Boys”:
I think the most favourite song for me is – “Drinkin’ Wine Spodee O Dee”, but not the original 1947 Stick McGhee version. I prefer more the version by Johnny Burnette. I love this song because it reminds me of my teens. Me and my friends also drank wine, buzzed all night long and sometimes fought with other guys. Also I like this Johnny Burnette version ‘cause my favourite guitar player Grady Martin played on this record.
Dmitriy Bhikov, bassist for the Russian group “The Magnetix”:
My favourite number is the first song from the first LP that I ever bought. In 1987 I ordered it by mail through the “Komsomolskaya Pravda” Russian newspaper. Prior to that time I lived in a god-forsaken village. Up until the age of 14 I played percussion in the local band. I played soviet patriotic songs, but one day I fixed an antenna to my radio and started getting the BBC world service. The host was Seva Novgorodtsev. I realised that this was my kind of music. I could tell you much more about rock music in the USSR and how they banned it – I wasn’t accepted into the Komsomol because of that. And the song in question ? – “Nervous Breakdown” by Eddie Cochran.
Andrey Moiseenkov – Drummer of the Russian group “Route 67:
Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes”. However, I first heard it performed by Elvis. Its simplicity and energy astonished me, my feet were dancing of their own accord. The year was 1990, I was still in high school. My older friends were playing Rockabilly in the “Cherdachnye Negodiai” (“Roof Rascals”) band: They turned us on to it and supplied us with recordings by other performers in the same style. Eventually three friends (myself included) decided to play psychobilly music and created our own band called “The Bamboozie”, comprising myself, Andrey Sheshero (vocals, guitar), and Sergey Martynov (bass). The first song of our first performance was of course Blue Suede Shoes ! Sergey’s Mum worked in a shoe factory and since we weren’t able to buy brand-name shoes, three pairs of shoes were made for us, “shoes on semolina” (brothel creepers) ! Now that was real Class. We wore them day and night. This is one example of what a great mark the simple blue suede shoes song has left in history !
Andy Lougovoy, lead guitarist and vocalist with the Russian group “The Beat Devils.”
Batmobile – “Ice Rock”. I came across the video “Batmobile in Japan” and liked the song at once, though it was only number 4 in the concert video playlist. Later I got Batmobile’s album “Amazons From Outer Space” and “Ice Rock” is the opening song for it. I can say that it gives a strong kick for the whole album, which immediately became my top psychobilly record ever. Everything starts from “Amazons” for me in psychobilly and “Amazons” starts from “Ice Rock”. It has got a strong introduction guitar riff; once you’ve heard it, you won’t get rid of it. As a guitarist myself, I consider that the solo guitar in the middle of the song is perfect – rockin’ and easy to remember ! That’s what everybody should aim for ! Brilliance and at the same time funny lyrics are the real house speciality of these Dutch chefs of world psychobilly cuisine. I’m also a big fan of Mr. Jeroen Haamers’ guitar sound and guitar technique and it is no secret that “Ice Rock” and the whole album helped me a lot in finding my sound for the Beat Devils’ music. If you are a fan of real rock’n’roll music, you should know that this song is what psychobilly must be – crazy and wild with rockabilly roots in it. I’ve listened to it several times while writing these words and my advice to you is spin “Ice Rock” while reading this !
Andrey Rubliov, leader and vocalist of the Russian band “Stressor”:
Nowadays people who’re fascinated by this music or just listening to it, or collecting recordings or even performing this type of music on stage, appear somewhat crazy to the average person. We’re not like everyone else, many of us reject contemporary music and believe that real, sincere music was created in the distant 1950s; which is correct ! I believe my rockabilly fever began when I listened to an Elvis Presley LP which Mum had given me for my birthday in 1987. This was a compilation of songs published by the “Melodia” studio in the USSR. Jailhouse Rock especially stands out in my memory – realising that this real rock was recorded in the distant 1957 felt strange. Everything in it sounded smooth and compact as if it was performed by a single entity; completely unparalleled energy! No matter how much the modern bands and performers shriek and roar, this song emanated much more incredible power ! Naturally later on I started learning about, listening to and analysing other performers and bands as well, but Jailhouse Rock in particular made a lasting impression on me. This song charted the path on which all music develops !
And how about the author of this article, yours truly ? Well, periodically my opinion on this changes. Right now, my all-time favourite song is “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight” by Earl Vince and the Valiants. One of the many reasons I LOVE this number is the story behind it, which is as follows. Those of my generation will remember the pop group Fleetwood Mac, who were very popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were definitely NOT a rock’n’roll group. They released the track on the B side of one of their hit singles in 1969. They did it as a joke, they even made up a vintage rock’n’roll-like name for themselves for this track, “Earl Vince and the Valiants”. The words of the song were meant to be part of the joke.
But it became an anthem for the Teddy Boys and a rock’n’roll classic for many Rockers ! Including me. It’s an amazing number. Somehow a non-rockin’ group like Fleetwood Mac managed to capture the raw energy and on-the-edge quality of the best of rock’n’roll. The over-the-top aggressiveness of the lyrics only add to the magic of the track.
So Thankyou to Fleetwood Mac. For us rock’n’rollers you only did one good thing for Music; and “Somebody’s Gonna get their Head kicked tonight” was It.
And finally Dear Readers, as I did in my article last month, let me hand over the question to You. What is YOUR favourite all-time r’n’r song – and more importantly, Why ?