- Album name: Straighten Up and Fly Right: RHYTHM & BLUES from the close of the Swing Era to the dawn of Rock ‘n’ Roll
- Artist name: Various, including Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra, Joe Turner, Pete Johnson, The Golden Gate Quartet, Nat “King” Cole, Oscar Moore, Johnny Miller, Louis Jordan, T-Bone Walker, Wynonie “Blues” Harris, The Ravens, Tiny Bradshaw and His Orchestra, Lightin’ Hopkins, The Clovers, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, Ruth Brown, Sonny Til, The Orioles, Muddy Waters
- Year: 1977
- Number of discs: one
- Label: New World Records
- Collection: Friedman
- Buy it on Ebay: $21.07
Level of familiarity before listening
I am familiar with a few of the artists and with a few of the songs on this compilation, but I’ve never listened to it as a whole.
What I expected
I’m not sure what to predict!
What it was actually like
This was interesting and, while I would say that it was only a rhythm and blues record in the broadest sense of the term, I guess I could summarize its position as follows: rock and roll music grew out of swing music, at least in part, and here are some examples of proto-rock sounds in swing, as well as some other examples of the swing legacy in early rock.
I wasn’t sure that the case ever really got made, but I did enjoy listening to a bunch of swing songs and asking myself if I could hear any rock in them.
In a song like Flying Home, I couldn’t, but by the time Choo Choo Ch’Boogie came around, I was able to hear it, as it definitely had a lot of swing elements, but it was clear that it anticipated a lot of rock, too. It was one of the best songs on the record.
Similarly, and maybe just over the divide, Good Rockin’ Tonight still had a lot of swing elements, but as soon as the horns stopped, it immediately sounded like a rockabilly song, very 1950s, and I thought it was also excellent. Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean and Well, Oh Well were both pretty similar to it.
There was also a lot of doo wop happening on this record, such as the a cappella song The Sun Didn’t Shine and Crying in the Chapel, both of which were fine, but not especially memorable and nowhere near as great as some of the doo wop classics of the 1950s and 60s.
And let’s not forget the blues. Hello, Central was a solid blues song, and Hoochie Coochie Man – the final song on the compilation, which may have been meant as representative of the final transition to 1950s rock and roll, was an outstanding electric blues song that I just wrote about last week when reviewing I Am the Blues by Willie Dixon (1970).
One of my favorites was Roll ‘Em, Pete, a blues and boogie boogie proto-rock song that sounded like a piano-acoustic version of Chuck Berry’s Back in the USA. I also loved the original version of Hound Dog, a rockabilly song that was slower than Presley’s later version, and it had such strong guitar for 1952!
The only song that I really did not like at all was Call it Stormy Monday, which was too slow to be effective as a swing song.
4/5: would listen again