Sunday, July 8, 2012

1000 SONGS - DAY 225 SONG # 256

Day 225: Songs by the Lady who (allegedly) invented Rock'n Roll

Who has invented Rock'n Roll? Elvis? - nope; Bill Haley? - o please, stop kidding; Chuck Berry - maybe; Bo Diddley - not an unlikely answer; Howlin Wolf? - why not? Ever heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a gospel singer who had a big hit in 1939 with a version of "This Train" - a song covered by a multitude of singers and bands. Johnny Cash pretended that she was his favourite singer when he was a child, Little Richard, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis named her as influential and Chuck Berry is said to have copied some of her guitar playing style. From the accoustic guitar we hear on her early  recordings she switched to the electric guitar later on. Some people think, that her 1944 version of "Strange Things Happening Every Day" is the first Rock'n'Roll tune ever recorded. On the English Wikipedia one can read, that this record features an electric guitar played by Rosetta Tharpe. I can hear no electric guitar on the record, and I am rather unsure, whether this can be called Rock'nRoll. Surely, this is Rhythm and Blues in an uptempo style, and so it is music at least representing the roots level of Rock and Roll; whether this is an accoustic or an electric guitar, without any doubts, she could play the guitar just like ringing a bell:

On this here rendering of "Didn't It Rain" from her European tour in 1964 (backed by Otis Spann on piano. Willie Big Eyes Smith on drums and Ranson - some call him Ransom - Knowling on the bass), she plays the electric guitar. This is clearly Rock'n'Roll. And a gospel bonus track is also featured

Finally, her version of "This Train" from that same tour; two remarkable things: first, the way she stops the audience from clapping to the tune and ruining it; second: the way she argues with Otis Spann about his conduct of life:

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