Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jackie Brenston - "Much Later"

"Rocket 88", as recorded in March 1951 by Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm featuring Jackie Brenston, is frequently cited as the first rock n' roll record. Brenston recorded several singles with Turner's band in the early 50s, and later toured with them until 1962. Listening to the song today, it's easy to see where the song differs from its peers in the R&B marketplace of the day: the melody. Rather than simply shouting over a 12-bar stomp, Brenston sings what could today be described as power pop.

Historical significance aside, I've always been partial to Turner and Brenston's "Much Later". The performance has more energy, and Brenston really lets it rip on the mic. And even more so than "Rocket 88", the lead melody and chord progression are at least a decade ahead of their time.

I found the song on a record called Stomp!n' Volume Three, one of a series of arguably the worst-annotated compilations of all time. Not only are there no data on any of the songs save artist name and title, there's no release date or label information either. They used to have a bunch of these downstairs at Generation, the Village punk standby whose downstairs vinyl section is one of the best-kept secrets in New York. I bought at least a half-dozen of them at ten bucks a pop over the course of a year or two, and they're worth every penny.

The paucity of liner notes meant that I had to track down the story behind "Much Later" elsewhere. Alas, I have little to report. I found out that the writing credit goes to Turner, but I never found a recording date. I managed to locate a recently released King Records compilation that includes "Much Later", along with a few other essentials from the label (most notably Hank Ballard and the Midnighters' widely-censored "Work With Me Annie" and the "5" Royales' "Think", later a hit for James Brown). Who knows, perhaps the liner notes in that set are a bit more revealing. But for now, the song must stand on its own.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: Jackie Brenston - "Much Later"

[File removed 23 April 2007]

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