Dustbin Prophesies – the Roots of the Beatles - CD 1 (Mareno Records)
The rise of The Beatles from village skiffle group to world-conquering musical and cultural phenomenon is echoed, in its early stages, by virtually every 60s British band. The Quarrymen were very much part of their generation: playing songs whose basic chord structures were guessed and fumbled after a movie matinee musical; recalling melodies sung around the piano in the front parlour; slapping bottle tops nailed to a stick in time to a tune recounted by a musical relative. The need to play was undeniable and the thirst for more and new music, unquenchable.
In late 50s Britain there was no top 40 radio and next to no rock & roll on the two channels of television. All anyone could do was to gingerly tune in Radio Luxembourg, the mysterious sounds and static ebbing and flowing across the channel. Maybe your old Dad had a stack of 78s from the old days. Perhaps someone’s sister’s boyfriend was a sailor with a duffel bag full of American 45s. If you could piece together enough money, maybe you could buy one of these sacred artifacts – then you and your band could learn it, and other bands would copy you, and other bands would copy them, Chinese whispers, until the next new exciting platter appeared, out of nowhere.
No exact number is known, but it has been estimated that there were, at one time, around 50,000 British skiffle groups. Most faded away as the summer holidays ended or the strings on a cheap guitar snapped. Serious members of some groups stuck with it, regrouping and coalescing into new formations with other enthusiasts; some even managed to go “professional”, playing at hops and fetes and in the corners of the coffee shops springing up in response to the burgeoning youth culture. And of course they played the songs that they knew would be popular, the songs that everybody knew and could dance to.
There was a large body of work that EVERY band performed – a shared repertoire that could represent The Hollies, The Moody Blues, what eventually became The Move, any Liverpool group. It was culled from rock and roll of course, and jazz, southern blues, folk, country and western, British vaudeville, the Hollywood crooners, Westerns. And tons of bands played the Hamburg blues – in Hamburg herself, or in Munich, in Bremen, at US Air Force Bases – it was a rite of passage. Hours and hours on stage every night, trying to remember every song they had ever heard, to keep the dancing going, to keep doing the thing they loved. The Beatles had played a thousand gigs before they played the Ed Sullivan show. That's a long hard road.
These are the songs. These are the songs that they sought and found and stumbled upon along the way. These are the roots of the Beatles.
001 - The Little White Cloud That Cried - Johnnie Ray
002 - Walkin' My Baby Back Home - Johnnie Ray
003 - (We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley & His Comets
004 - Cool Water - Frankie Laine
005 - Ain't That A Shame - Fats Domino
006 - Heartbreak Hotel - Elvis Presley
007 - I'll Be Home - The Flamingos
008 - Hound Dog - Elvis Presley
009 - Love Me Tender - Elvis Presley
010 - Guitar Boogie - Arthur Smith & His Crackerjacks
011 - Home (When Shadows Fall)* - Nat King Cole
012 - You Were Meant For Me* - Gene Kelly
013 - Mailman Blues (Korea Boogie) - Lloyd Price
014 - Honky Tonk Blues - Hank Williams
015 - That's All Right - Elvis Presley
016 - Baby Let's Play House - Elvis Presley
017 - The Midnight Special* - Lonnie Donegan
018 - Mystery Train - Elvis Presley
019 - Blue Suede Shoes - Carl Perkins
020 - Rock Island Line - Lonnie Donegan
021 - Sure To Fall - Carl Perkins
022 - Tennessee - Carl Perkins
023 - Theme From Picnic* - The McGuire Sisters
024 - Moonglow* - The McGuire Sisters
025 - Roll Over Beethoven - Chuck Berry
026 - Don't Be Cruel - Elvis Presley
027 - Railroad Bill - Lonnie Donegan
028 - Ain't She Sweet - Gene Vincent
029 - Wabash Cannonball - Lonnie Donegan
(* indicates sourced from mp3)