Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA 'Frantic' Johnny Rogers - Ramrod c/w Sassy
|This 1958 single is pretty cool, and it's important for its artistry. 'Frantic' Johnny Rogers is Al Casey and friends, and it's a raucous recording. It's said that this recording was the backtrack used for Duane Eddy's hit, which Duane didn't play on anyway - it was Al Casey on lead. So, it's historic and also a cool record.|
Track by Track Review
Now here's a track with a story. Recorded in Phoenix in 1957 as part of Lee Hazelwood's speculative demos from which also eventually emerged Duane Eddy, this track was cut by Al Casey playing Duane Eddy's Les Paul under Hazelwood's eye. It was issued on the Ford label under the name Duane Eddy and his Rockabillies (Duane played second guitar to Al Casey's lead) because Casey was under contract to Dot at the time. A mighty small local pressing went nowhere. In '58, when Duane Eddy's "Rebel Rouser" was on the charts, his band played on American Bandstand, playing one of the few live (not lip-synched) performances in that show's history, and were asked to do another tune. They decided to do "Ramrod" because they all knew it so well. The next day, Jamie Records was besieged with orders for the new Duane Eddy record, which did not exist. Hazelwood took this track, changed the pitch slightly, added Plas Johnson's sax overdub as well as yells, and viola! In the mean time, Cindy Records (C-3010) entrepreneur George Goldner, who had a copy of the original from one of many deals with the Sill-Hazelwood production team, issued this version on his label. He couldn't use either Eddy's or Casey's name, so he issued as Frantic Johnny Rogers.
So, that makes this the original raw session demo from which legends are made. It's a classic rockin' riff rockin' monster, often covered, but seldom equaled, and without the overdubs and at the right speed, it's just that much better. very nice to see this make it to CD.
"Sassy" is almost entirely a rhythm coupled with doo wop scat vocals. Not quite a vocal - no lyrics - but darn infectious and not unlike many tracks that were hits. Aurally it's a lot like The Silhouettes' "Get A Job," but a bit more upbeat.