Tuesday, July 19, 2016

SHG: Bill Doggett: "Honky Tonk"

Bill Doggett: “Honky Tonk (Parts 1 & 2)”
Entered the chart on: 8/25/1956
Peaked on: 10/6/1956
Weeks at #2: 3 weeks
Songs at #1: “Don’t Be Cruel” b/w “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley

Why I prefer 1956 to 1955: diversity. Even that big chunk of female soloists we hit a couple of editions back had variety, from Cathy Carr’s traditional romantic ballad, Doris Day’s sprightly lullaby and Patti Page’s country-flavored mood piece. And now we have a second instrumental in a row, but I don’t expect it to be anything at all like “Canadian Sunset.” The reason? Keyboardist Bill Doggett was a jazz musician, sideman for Ella Fitzgerald and the like. And in two parts? I’m actually looking forward to this one! Don’t disappoint me, Bill!

I like how Bill gives a lot of space to his sidemen. His organ’s there, softly comping in the background, but the guitar plucks out that shuffle rhythm as the saxophones carry the head melody. Then the guitarist wails and we get a sax solo. Frustratingly, it fades out in the middle of it. “Parts 1 & 2” my ass! You’re ripping me off, King Records! I now need to seek out the extended album mix, as I’m sure Bill has an organ solo lurking there.

Crummy single edits aside, this is the closest thing to real rock & roll we’ve had since Carl Perkins’ tune. It’s structured like a jazz piece, though: head/solos/head. Only it fades out in the middle of the “solos” bit and we never get that head repeat. Which composer was it that would be irked if someone played an incomplete scale on the piano, and would need to get up from whatever he was doing, stroll over to the piano and finish it? Mendelssohn? Am I getting off topic now? In any case, the single edit reminds me of that.

All that aside, I enjoyed this immensely and would gladly listen to it again.

Rating: 4

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