Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Early twittering from Bobby Day.

Early rockers are a mixed bag when it comes to getting respect. Some are loaded with kudos (like Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Fats Domino), and rightly so; but others just as worthy get overlooked. Bobby Day is one of the latter, unfortunately.

If you're an oldies radio listener, you're probably familiar with Day's one huge hit, "Rockin' Robin," which was covered by Michael Jackson in the early 70s, and maybe "Buzz Buzz Buzz" by the Hollywood Flames, for which Day was the lead singer. These songs dated from 1958 and 1957, respectively. But there's more to the story than those two songs, and this excellent Rhino Lp from 1984 collects 14 fairly rare sides from the late 1950s, most of which were on small R&B labels and long out of print.

What the album showcases is a real, true pioneer in the fusion of rock 'n roll and R&B, a crossover artist who just couldn't catch a break, as his songs were covered by others for huge hits (Phil Spector-produced Thurston Harris covered his "Little Bitty Pretty One," for instance, and the Dave Clark Five hit with his "Over And Over" in 1965), but his own recordings went unnoticed.

Day had one last hit, as half of Bob and Earl, who recorded "Harlem Shuffle" in the mid-Sixties for Bell; the other half of Bob and Earl was none other than Barry White. 

These are incredibly catchy songs; if you can find this Lp, it's worth picking up. There's an excellent CD put out by Varese Sarabande as well, which collects singles from a bit broader time period; it's also out of priint.

You gotta salute the pioneers when you find 'em, especially the ones that don't get the respect they deserve.

  • See Bobby lip-sync to "Rockin' Robin" in 1958 in this clip from AFRTS (Armed Services Radio Television Service

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