Monday, August 29, 2011

Freddy Cannon

In looking back over the history of rock & roll, the sad fact remains that very few of its original practitioners stayed true to its original big beat vision. Some made a handful of brilliant sides before broader horizons -- television or the movies -- beckoned. Others were rockers in name only, pop singers who couldn't wait to shimmy into a tuxedo, trading in stomp'n'shout hysteria for the more "respectable" future of dispensing supper club schmaltz. But Freddy Cannon was a true believer, a rocker to the bone. Freddy Cannon made rock & roll records; great noisy rock & roll records and all of them were infused with a gigantic drum beat that was an automatic invitation to shake it on down anyplace there was a spot to dance. Freddy Cannon remained true to the beat and made some really great fun rock & roll records in the bargain. Because of the time frame he enjoyed his biggest successes in -- the late '50s to the mid-'60s -- Cannon is wrongly lumped in with the "Bobbies and Frankies" that proliferated during that era. But a quick listen to any of his finest records quickly dispels any preconceived notions of him being a pretty-boy teen idol no-talent. Read On

Cannon could genuinely rock and on two of his very best records -- "Talahassee Lassie" and "Buzz-Buzz-A-Diddle-It" -- Freddy Cannon supplies his own electric rhythm guitar, with his scrappy work on the latter record being particularly effective. His records were masterminded by producers Bob Crewe and Frank Slay, all well-constructed discs with every thump of the big beat and every vocal "woo" out of Cannon perfectly placed and timed for maximum impact. Hits like "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans," "Action," and "Palisades Park" may be "slicker" records than the two mentioned above, but they still possess an enormous vitality and commitment to rock & roll; few others could bring an old chestnut like "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" into the modern age with a straight face. "Cannon"'s immense energy and contagious style make these noisy, very exciting records well worth investigating.

He was born Frederico Anthony Picariello in 1940 and grew up in the nearby Boston suburb of Lynn, MA. He got hit by the big beat early, but it helped having parents who had more than a passing interest in music; his dad blew trumpet, sang, and fronted local combos as Freddy Karmon while his mother's penchant for amateur songwriting would hand him the genesis of his first hit. Young Freddy soaked up the rhythm & blues of Big Joe Turner and the jump blues of bands like Buddy Johnson on the radio. But it was the guitar music of Chuck Berry that made the most lasting impression. As Cannon once said, "Give me four of five guys who can play hard and in the pocket and to me, you've got a rock & roll show." This stripped, down-to-basics motto became his credo, even when surrounded by big, brassy bands, singing old tunes his father had sung; in a time frame full of phony baloney teen idols, Freddy Cannon always remained a true rock & roller.

Like most American teenagers at the time, Freddy went in search of the new music, which wasn't plentiful back then, despite what revisionist history tells us. He soon threw his lot in -- playing rhythm guitar and singing -- with a group called the Spindrifts and cut his first record, a local almost hit called "Cha-Cha-Do." After the group's 15 minutes of local fame had evaporated, our hero formed his first rock & roll band, Freddy Karmon & the Hurricanes. With himself on rhythm guitar, another guy on sax taking most of the leads, a piano man, and a distant relative keeping the beat, Freddy had his first big beat combo. The record-hop scene in the Boston area was wide open for artists to make a local dent and Cannon and the boys played at every opportunity that came their way. In the meantime, he drove a truck after school, always coming home in time to watch Dick Clark's American Bandstand every afternoon, wishing he was one of the recordings stars, singing his song on the show.

One afternoon, he arrived home and his mother instructed him to grab his guitar; she had written a poem that she wanted Freddy to set to music. The poem was called "Rock and Roll Baby," which our hero put to a stomping, Chuck Berry beat and three-chord rock & roll progression. A quickie solo demo eventually found its way into the hands of indie producer Bob Crewe and his partner Frank Slay. Slay and Crewe rewrote the tune's verses and had Freddy Karmon & the Hurricanes go into a Boston studio and cut the new version as "Tallahassee Lassie." Even with local guitar twanging hotshot Kenny Paulsen brought into the lineup as a ringer, the record was only 75 percent of the way there to being a bona fide hit. After a pre-release acetate hearing at Dick Clark's house, the host of American Bandstand suggests the addition of a bass drum lick and hand claps in the middle, and back to the studio to overdub went Slay, Crewe, and Freddy. To fill up the remaining holes in the record, Crewe got the singer to go "wooo" at every available opportunity, a vocal gimmick that would soon become a signature trademark. A true piece of 1950s DIY studio craftsmanship and a record that simply rocks from beginning to end like few others, "Tallahassee Lassie" was his first solo record, his first hit, and the first record under his new name: "Freddy Cannon," newly named by Bernie Binnick, the president of his new record company, Swan Records in Philadelphia.

It was also the birth of a whole new style, a style that belonged to Freddy and his producers, lock, stock, and excitement galore. Following a formula of cutting tunes that named cities or states in the title, Cannon re-stormed the charts with records like "Okefenokee," "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans," "Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy," and "Muskrat Ramble." It is "Palisades Park," however, that remains his most enduring hit, a one-shot piece of amateur songwriter genius penned by later-Gong Show host Chuck Barris under the original title of "Amusement Park." It's a certified classic of oldies radio with a razor-sharp double tracked vocal by Cannon and roller-coaster sound effects dubbed in by Crewe as its audio hallmarks. Later chart entries like "Humdinger," "Transistor Sister," "If You Were a Rock and Roll Record," and "Teen Queen of the Week," showed that Cannon kept bringing the energy and the big beat at a time when most male singers were insipidly crooning. After leaving Swan with the height of Beatle mania lurking right around the corner, Freddy Cannon kept on rockin', extending his hit streak over to Warner Bros.; with records like "Abigail Beecher," "Beechwood City," "The Dedication Song" and providing the theme for Dick Clark's Where The Action Is!, also appearing in a couple of micro epic rock & roll movies along the way. He continued to knock 'em dead as a live act, something he still does today when the mood strikes him on the revival circuit, still capable of bringing the heat when a young band nails the groove behind him. (by Cub Koda)

1960 LP The Explosive Freddy Cannon (US Swan 502)

01. Freddy Cannon - Boston ( My Home Town )
02. Freddy Cannon - Kansas City
03. Freddy Cannon - Sweet Georgia Brown
04. Freddy Cannon - Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
05. Freddy Cannon - St. Louis Blues
06. Freddy Cannon - Indiana
07. Freddy Cannon - Chattanoogie Shoo Shine Boy
08. Freddy Cannon - Deep In The Heart Of Texas
09. Freddy Cannon - California, Here I Come
10. Freddy Cannon - Okefenokee
11. Freddy Cannon - Carolina In The Morning
12. Freddy Cannon - Tallahassee Lassie

1961 LP Freddy Cannon Sings Happy Shades Of Blue (US Swan 504)

01. Freddy Cannon - My Blue Heaven
02. Freddy Cannon - Five Foot Two, Eyes Of Blue
03. Freddy Cannon - Blue Suede Shoes
04. Freddy Cannon - Blue Skies
05. Freddy Cannon - Lavender Blue
06. Freddy Cannon - Blue Plate Special
07. Freddy Cannon - Bye Bye Blues
08. Freddy Cannon - Alice Blue Gown
09. Freddy Cannon - The House Of Blue Lights
10. Freddy Cannon - The Old Piano Roll Blues
11. Freddy Cannon - The Blacksmith Blues
12. Freddy Cannon - Happy Shades Of Blue

1961 LP Freddy Cannon's Solid Gold Hits (US Swan 505)

01. Freddy Cannon - Tallahassee Lassie
02. Freddy Cannon - Jump Over
03. Freddy Cannon - Humpdinger
04. Freddy Cannon - You Know
05. Freddy Cannon - The Urge
06. Freddy Cannon - Muskrat ramble
07. Freddy Cannon - Cuernavaca Choo Choo
08. Freddy Cannon - Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy
09. Freddy Cannon - Two Thousand-88
10. Freddy Cannon - Boston (my home town)
11. Freddy Cannon - Happy shades of blue
12. Freddy Cannon - Opportunity
13. Freddy Cannon - Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
14. Freddy Cannon - Okefenokee
15. Freddy Cannon - Buzz buzz a diddle it

1962 LP Palisades Park (US Swan 507)

01. Freddy Cannon - Palisades Park
02. Freddy Cannon - Transistor Sister
03. Freddy Cannon - Buzz Buzz A Diddle It
04. Freddy Cannon - The Merry Go-Round Broke Down
05. Freddy Cannon - Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
06. Freddy Cannon - Meet Me In St. Louis (Medley)
07. Freddy Cannon - Forever True
08. Freddy Cannon - For Me And My Girl
09. Freddy Cannon - Teen Queen Of The Week
10. Freddy Cannon - Summer's Comin'
11. Freddy Cannon - Splish Splash
12. Freddy Cannon - June, July And August

1963 LP Freddy Cannon Steps Out (US Swan 511)

01. Freddy Cannon - That's The Way Girls Are
02. Freddy Cannon - Patty Baby
03. Freddy Cannon - It's Been Nice
04. Freddy Cannon - Four Letter Man
05. Freddy Cannon - All I Wanna Be Is Your Boom Forever
06. Freddy Cannon - Do What The Hippies Do
07. Freddy Cannon - The Slide
08. Freddy Cannon - Betty Jean
09. Freddy Cannon - What A Party
10. Freddy Cannon - The Ups And Downs Of Love
11. Freddy Cannon - Come On And Love Me
12. Freddy Cannon - Everybody Monkey

1964 LP Freddie Cannon (US Warner Bros. W-1544)

01. Freddy Cannon - Abigail Beecher
02. Freddy Cannon - For You
03. Freddy Cannon - Southtown USA
04. Freddy Cannon - Gonna Send You Back To Georgia
05. Freddy Cannon - Shimmy Shimmy
06. Freddy Cannon - She Loves You
07. Freddy Cannon - California Sun
08. Freddy Cannon - Hey Little Cobra
09. Freddy Cannon - Come On
10. Freddy Cannon - Good News
11. Freddy Cannon - All American Girl
12. Freddy Cannon - I Want To Hold Your Hand

1965 LP Action (US Warner Bros. W-1612)

01. Freddy Cannon - Action
02. Freddy Cannon - Hang On Sloopy
03. Freddy Cannon - It's Happening
04. Freddy Cannon - She's Something Else
05. Freddy Cannon - High Heel Sneekers
06. Freddy Cannon - Papa's Got A Brand New Bag
07. Freddy Cannon - Let Me Show You Where It's At
08. Freddy Cannon - Beachwood City
09. Freddy Cannon - You Gotta Help Yourself
10. Freddy Cannon - How You Gonna Keep A Good Heart Down

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4 berichten:

Anonymous said...

Bedankt voor Freddy Cannon

Chi-Town said...

Thank you for this very nice article and collection of Freddy Cannon material!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great "Freddy Cannon 7 LP's" stuff! Awesome!
Greetings from Finland,

Patsoul said...

I only knew 2 of the 7 LPs. What a good surprise. Many thanks.

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