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"Shake Rattle And Roll" and the power of dilution

You wear low dresses, the sun comes shining through. I can’t believe my eyes, all that mess belongs to you.

The two classic versions of the magnificent and seminal rock n’roll number Shake Rattle And Roll written by Jesse Stone! A song that radically changed modern music and affected most of what music came after.

Very different versions in terms of content and style of performance. Very different racial aspects too!

It just proves what watering things down can do for you! We still see the same type of bullshit today!

“Shake, Rattle and Roll” is the prototypical twelve bar blues rock and roll song. It was written in 1954 by Jesse Stone under his assumed songwriting name Charles E. Calhoun and was originally recorded by Big Joe Turner.

Of course, “Shake, Rattle and Roll” was most successfully by Bill Haley & His Comets.

In early 1954, Herb Abramson of Atlantic Records suggested to Stone that he write an up-tempo blues for Big Joe Turner, a blues shouter whose career had begun in Kansas City before World War II. Stone played around with various phrases before coming up with “shake, rattle and roll”!

However, the phrase was not new. It had been used in a number of earlier songs.

In 1919, Al Bernard recorded a song about gambling with dice with the same title, clearly evoking the action of shooting dice from a cup. The phrase is also heard in “Roll The Bones” by the Excelsior Quartette in 1922.

However, while the phrase was undoubtedly passed along, neither of these songs are direct ancestors of the innovative 1954 hit.

Stone admitted that the great “one-eyed cat peepin’ in a seafood store” line was suggested to him by Atlantic session drummer Sam “Baby” Lovett!

Shake Rattle & Roll As Performed by Big Joe Turner


Hey Joe! Big Joe Turner! Come on in!


Master ‘shout blues’ artist Big Joe Turner here marks one of the highest points of his career, and indeed modern music, with “Shake, Rattle & Roll.”

A pivotal figure in popularising blues, jazz, R&B, and rock and roll, Turner’s amazing career stretched from the dark days of the 1920’s which found him busking on the streets of Kansas City, through tothe 1980’s where well merited critical recognition led to him regularly performing at the most lauded jazz/blues festivals in America and Europe.

Turner’s version of “Shake Rattle And Roll” was first recorded in New York on February 15, 1954. The shouting chorus on his version consisted of Jesse Stone, and record-company executives Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegün! The saxophone solo was by Sam “The Man” Taylor.

Turner’s recording was released in April 1954, and reached # 1 on the Billboard R&B chart on June 12. However, its success did not cross over to the pop chart, then mainly a whites-only bastion controlled by “white” radio stations.

The song, in its original incarnation, is wonderfully raunchy and sexual. Perhaps its most salacious lyric, which was absent from the later Bill Haley rendition, is “I‘ve been holdin’ it in, way down underneath / You make me roll my eyes, baby, make me grit my teeth“. However, on the recording, Turner slurred the lyric “holdin’ it in“, since this line may have been considered too risqué for publication.

Also very risqué was the line “Well, I can look at you and tell you ain’t no child no more” !

The chorus uses “shake, rattle and roll” to refer to wonderfully boisterous intercourse, in the same way that the words “rock and roll” was first used by numerous rhythm and blues singers of the 1940s and 50s!

Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands
Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands
Well, you get in that kitchen, make some noise with the pots and pans

Well, you wear low dresses, the sun comes shining through
Well, you wear low dresses, the sun comes shining through
I can’t believe my eyes all that mess belongs to you

I believe to my soul you’re a devil in nylon hose
I believe to my soul you’re a devil in nylon hose
Well, the harder I work, the faster my money goes

I said, shake, rattle and roll, shake, rattle and roll
Shake, rattle and roll, shake, rattle and roll
Well, you won’t do right to save your doggone soul

I’m like a one-eyed cat peeping in a seafood store
I’m like a one-eyed cat peeping in a seafood store
Well, I can look at you and tell you ain’t no child no more

Ah, shake, rattle and roll, shake, rattle and roll
Shake, rattle and roll, shake, rattle and roll
Well, you won’t do right to save your doggone soul

I said, over the hill and way down underneath
I said, over the hill and way down underneath
You make me roll my eyes, Baby, make me grit my teeth

I said, shake, rattle and roll, shake, rattle and roll
Shake, rattle and roll, shake, rattle and roll
Well, you won’t do right to save your doggone soul

From: weirdovideos

Shake Rattle & Roll As Performed by Bill Haley & His Comets

We stay clear of anything suggestive.”


Hot on the heels of Turner’s recording followed the watered down, “white” crossover version from Bill Haley and His Comets which sold in the bucketloads and made millions for the record company!

On April 28, 1954 while performing a version of “Shake, rattle and Roll” with some rewritten lyrics, Haley told a reporter “We stay clear of anything suggestive.”

Haley’s recorded version of the song, laid down on June 7, 1954 (the same week that Turner’s version topped the R&B charts), featured the following members of the Comets: Johnny Grande (piano), Billy Williamson (steel guitar), Marshall Lytle (bass), and Joey Ambrose (sax). It is known that Danny Cedrone, a session musician who frequently worked for Haley, played lead guitar, but there is controversy over who played drums.

Some music reference books indicate that it was Panama Francis, a noted jazz drummer who worked with Haley’s producer, Milt Gabler, however in a letter written in the early 1980s, Gabler denied this and said the drummer was Billy Gussak. Bill Haley’s own stage drummer, Dick Richards, did not play on this record but may have provided backing vocals since he participated in the recording of the song’s B-side, “A.B.C. Boogie”. This was Cedrone’s final recording session as he died only ten days later.

Haley’s version had partly sanitised lyrics in an attempt to be more palatable to white audiences as well as a less bluesy, more “pop” arrangement.

Whereas Turner’s song had started with the lines “Get out of that bed and wash your face and hands, / Get out in the kitchen; make some noise with the pots and pans“. In Haley’s version, the song began with “Get out in that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans / Roll my breakfast ’cause I’m a hungry man“.

This cleanup of lyrics meant removal of certain references considered too sexual in nature, such as lyrics like “the devil in nylon hose“, “you make me roll my eyes, baby make me grit my teeth” and “you wear those dresses, the sun comes shining through”.

However, one of the most provocative sexual similes in Turner’s version of the song, “I’m like a one-eyed cat, peeping in the sea food store“, was left untouched in the Haley version, but the following line, “I can look at you ‘n’ tell you ain’t no child no more” was changed.

Actually Haley himself was blind in one eye, which may account for his retaining the line! Not sure about that though!


Get out from that kitchen
and rattle those pots and pans,
Get out from that kitchen
and rattle those pots and pans.
Well, roll my breakfast,
’cause I’m a hungry man.

I said Shake rattle and roll,
I said Shake rattle and roll,
I said Shake rattle and roll,
I said Shake rattle and roll;
Well you never do nothin’
to save your doggone soul.

Wearin’ those dresses,
your hair done up so right
Wearin’ those dresses,
your hair done up so right;
You look so warm,
but your heart is cold as ice.

I said Shake rattle and roll,
I said Shake rattle and roll,
I said Shake rattle and roll,
I said Shake rattle and roll,
Well you never do nothin’
to save your doggone soul.

I’m like a one-eyed cat,
peepin’ in a sea-food store,
I’m like a one-eyed cat,
peepin’ in a sea-food store;
I can look at you,
till you don’t love me no more.

I believe you’re doin’ me wrong
and now I know,
I believe you’re doin’ me wrong
and now I know;
The more I work,
the faster my money goes.

I said Shake rattle and roll,
I said Shake rattle and roll,
I said Shake rattle and roll,
I said Shake rattle and roll,

Well you never do nothin’
to save your doggone soul.
Shake rattle and roll

From: 2elvislovers

Although very different, both of these renowned recordings are, of course, classics of twentieth century music.

Haley’s version is poppier and brighter and perhaps fits the conventional definition of rock and roll as a merger of country music and rhythm and blues.

Haley had started his career in country music while Turner was a blues shouter. Turner’s version is much more natural, much raunchier and sexier.

The differences between the versions perfectly illustrate the differences that then prevailed between rhythm and blues intended for adults – and a mainly black audience – and rock and roll intended for teenagers – and a mainly white audience.

Although some musical revisionists and media writers later tried to paint Turner as a victim of the music industry due to Haley’s covering of the song, in fact Haley’s success helped Turner immensely – even though Turner was a well-established performer long before “Shake Rattle and Roll”. Many listeners who heard Haley’s version actually sought out Turner’s original!

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3e/Bill_Haley%2C_1974%2C_Li%C3%A9ge_1.jpg/220px-Bill_Haley%2C_1974%2C_Li%C3%A9ge_1.jpg

Perhaps surprisingly, Turner and Haley became close friends, and even performed on tour together in Australia in 1957. Furthermore, in 1966, at a time when Turner’s career was at a low ebb, Haley arranged for his Comets to back the elder musician for a series of recordings in Mexico.

Sadly Haley and Turner never recorded a duet version of “Shake Rattle and Roll”! Now, that would have been interesting!

Haley acknowledged Turner’s version to a greater extent in later years by incorporating more of the original lyrics into his live performances, including his addition of the verse with the lines “I’ve been over the hill and I’ve been way down underneath” which was omitted from Haley’s original recording, when he recorded the song for Stuart Colman’s BBC Radio programme in October 1979.

When Haley performed the song at the Bitter End Club in New York City in 1969 for his Buddah Records album release Bill Haley’s Scrapbook, he changed Turner’s “I believe to my soul you’re the devil in nylon hose” to “I believe you’re going to the devil and now I know“.

Haley died on 9 November 1981, aged 56, while Turner passed away almost exactly four years later on 24 November 1985, aged 74.

Both men will live on forever through their music.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/75/Big_Joe_Turner.jpg

There were also a number of other well known recordings of this great song.

Elvis Presley recorded a version in 1956 which had only limited success. This combined Haley’s arrangement with Turner’s lyrics, although Elvis used Haley’s lyrics when performing the song on his first national television appearance.

Other cover versions from this era include a rockabilly recording by Buddy Holly, unreleased at the time, primarily using the Turner lyrics.

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October 31, 2008 Posted by | Big Joe Turner, Bill Haley, _BABE, _MUSIC, _VIDEO | 2 Comments