Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Best Songs of 1955

5. Ain’t That A Shame – Fats Domino

Ain’t That A Shame only made it to number 10 on the pop charts, which is a shame because the weak, watered-down version by Pat Boone hit number one. It was the first of many trips to the Hot 100 for Fats, who never made it to number one. Fats had 66 hits on the Hot 100, the second most by any artist without a number one hit. James Brown had the most. This tune introduced folks across the country to Fats and his rolling, New Orleans-style piano playing.

4. Cry, Cry, Cry – Johnny Cash

Cry, Cry, Cry was one of Johnny’s first recordings on the Sun label. It set the standard for the churning train-like sound of his backing band, the Tennessee Three. This story of an unfaithful love made it to number 6 on the country charts and started Cash on the road to legend.

3. Maybellene – Chuck Berry

Maybellene was Chuck’s first single and his first hit. The story of another unfaithful lover and a smokin’ car race punctuated by Chuck’s revolutionary guitar work introduced teenage America to its new bard.

2. Tutti Frutti – Little Richard

Tutti Frutti was Little Richard’s first hit and still the song he is most well remembered for. Originally a much dirtier song (“Tutti Frutti, Good Booty” was changed to “Tutti Frutti, Aw Rooty”), it was toned down for recording but still blew the minds of thousands of parents across the country when “Womp-Bomp-A-Loom-Bop” came blaring out of their kids radios. Intense piano pounding and a blaring sax solo by Lee Allan made this song iconic, but Richard had a lot more great music to come.

1. Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters

In my opinion, this is the definitive Muddy Waters song. This is the definitive song for declaration of masculinity. This is one of the greatest blues songs ever recorded. The driving and insistent riff still rocks harder than almost anything that has come since. Muddy sings this song as if his life depended on it with more soul than any ten men could muster. There’s no question in my mind that this is the best song of 1955.

1 comment:

Tom Lammers said...

Hey, Leo! Cool site! Love the videos!

You comment that Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" was sanitized from raunbchier words. I have a LR box set with alternate takes of some of his songs. One alt version of "Good Golly, Miss Molly" (which I think is far superior to "Tutti Frutti" for bluesiness) has the following verse that isn't on the common take:

"Good golly, Miss Molly, have mercy on me!
"You know I like to ball, but I ain't as young as I used to be!"

BTW, I was sitting in a pizza joint in Concepcion, Chile, back in 1990 (Toto's, next to the Ritz Hotel on Barros Arana) when I heard on the radio a familiar tune, but sung in Spanish. It wasn't until the singer hit the chorus and started singing, "Good golly, Miss Molly, gusta bailar!" that I recognized it.