How to Write Rock and Roll Music

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If you are familiar with early rock and roll, with that old 1950s’ exuberance, then you may be surprised to hear that same vintage sound is available in new tunes today.  There’s quite a solid rockabilly presence today and one of the best is the Kat Men, a trio made up of Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats drummer), Darrell Higham (Imelda May guitarist), and  Al Gare (Imelda May bassist) as the current lineup. The Kat Men Cometh is their 2013 release.

We Need Elvis Back

There’s quite a difference between Elvis impersonators attempting to recreate some wax-figure version of a tune from sixty years ago and a creative soul honouring that sound in a new song.  When we listen to The Clash’s version of “Brand New Cadillac” today, most of us do not hear punk—just good old rock and roll. It sounded raunchy then because AM music had gone through a sea change, from the affronting challenge of early Elvis to disco and other wholly commercial tunes. 

No wonder a Clash version of a 1959 12-bar blues song—for example—sounded affronting at that time when 1979’s Top 100 was such watery vanilla pudding. So when The Kat Men exclaim “We Need Elvis Back” it may sound foreign to many listeners and quite the opposite to those who appreciate the early Sun recordings, early Beatles and Stones. 

Kat Men Do

Rock and Roll is a living music and it is done very well by bands like The Kat Men.  Check out “This Time It’s Real,” “Kill the Switch,” and “When the Drink’s Dried Up” and other affronting songs, sounding like long ago but done well now, and play the game “Would this song have been a hit in another time?” If you like rock and roll you will have to answer “yes” now and again, especially if you like to hear instruments and voices the way they are.


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