musicology #218

12AngryMen #13 (alternativesoundtrack #3)

(Donnie Elbert – What Can I Do)

so it’s almost over…not only for the 12angry but also for this chapter in the book of life. institutions are crashing and burning after almost a century of ‘rinsing’ it. no surprise that ‘man on the street’ is being asked to shoulder the’s all in the game.

the dialogue features two of the three remaining ‘guiltys’ (with Lee J Cobb in commanding form in the supporting role). the music, I must confess, is a personal favourite and any chance to throw it down is good enough reason. but in true musicologist style when the right time come, up steps a tune to ‘express the inexpressible’ and this one is no exception. a piece, (no need to tell you from what year !!), that signals a shift away from Rhythm & Blues into a new style. one where the lead singer steps out of the vocal group shadow and into the spotlight. pioneered by cats like Donnie Elbert, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke this sound became known as Soul…

Listen Tune……


16 thoughts on “musicology #218

  1. it must have been a wonderful time for audiences of this the doo wop/ early soul time with so many great vocalists about. this will get a lot of airing down these parts!


  2. countess, speechless…now there’s a turn up for the ‘captains’


    supa8, musically 1957 is a tricky year. doo wop has almost seen it’s day. Rhythm & Blues is in danger of being buried beneath ‘Rock & Roll’ and then along come the early Soul pioneers to take the music in a new direction…


  3. Wooooooh, slow down there Mr. Musicology.

    Methinks a debate could soon be brewing on the differences (or otherwise) of the 20th century popular music forms and their so called descriptions/pigeon-holes…

    Innit… Know what I mean??


  4. Sorry, the word “debate” was pushing the literary boat out a bit too far given my limitations i.e. knowledge, time, distance and source. Even so…

    You wrote. “1957 is a tricky year ….. Rhythm & Blues is in danger of being buried beneath Rock an’ Roll”.

    Now, and correct me if I’m wrong, but if “being buried” suggests victory/life for Rock an’ Roll at the expense (defeat/death) of Rhythm & Blues, then I beg to differ. In my opinion, all “good rocking tonight” 2oth. century popular music had/have the same roots; all drank of the same cup; all gave, took and added to each other, and all – apart from regular short interludes of what I suppose was/is *indifference – are still alive and kicking!!!
    (*indifference.. choose your own word/reason… of which there are plenty)

    Here’s an example of where I’m coming from… “the blues had a baby and they named the baby rock an’ roll.” So sang Muddy Waters, one of the greatest bluesmen.

    P.S. The above example is taken from a newly released book. A must for any serious student of “Roots, Rock, Reggae”.

    Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters who Revolutionized American Music. By Ted Gioia. Norton; 448 pages.


  5. D’ya know what, I beginning to wonder if the two music genres i.e. Soul and Rock ‘an Roll are incompatible…. “unable to exist in harmony”

    What do you think?


  6. I wouldn’t say incompatible..distinctive maybe. allow me to elucidate

    Soul sounds, (to me), like it grew predominantly out of Gospel. That’s not to say there wasn’t a dash of blues in there…the well from which ALL Urban popular music of the 20th Century sprung..but many of the genre’s renowned performers begun in the church.

    Rhythm & Blues on the other hand appears to have sprung from the ‘Juke Joint’ tradition with Boogie Woogie playing a major part. I don’t think that any of it’s major players were from a church background?

    Funk for instance carried on the Rhythm & Blues tradition as does Hip Hop. Neither of those, (in my opinion), are from a Soul background.


  7. as for Rock & Roll…isn’t that esentially just another name for Rhythm & Blues?

    I would say it is. Chuck Berry for example is, for me, a Rhythm & Blues artist.


  8. Thanks. You’ve just untied the Gordian knot. I been struggling with this one for donkeys years and that’s it!

    What’s it? Rock & Roll and Rhythm & Blues is “it” i.e. the perpetual problem of trying to distinguish – or otherwise – between the two while according both their right and proper dues (Soul being without question Soul).

    First. To answer “Rock & Roll… isn’t that essentially just another name for Rhythm & Blues?
    No it isn’t. However, you’re not far off the mark.
    Second. Yes, Chuck Berry is “essentially” a Rhythm & Blues artist.

    A conundrum what?

    When I’ve more time, I’ll get back to you on “it”, but I put forward “essence” and “essentially” as the operative words.

    And also don’t forget that other forms of music (Country & Western to name but one) played their part in the development of Rock & Roll.


  9. My learned friend. While preparing the difficult case (difficult because it seems to me that the jury has been nobble’ed and the judge is “biased”) for the rights of Rock & Roll, I return to your comment of October 11th. i.e. “Rhythm & Blues is in danger of being buried beneath Rock & Roll”.
    My question is this. The words “danger” and “buried”. Are/were they figures of speech?
    Any/all subsequent questions hang on this sir!!


  10. before I answer those questions I would like to make it clear that all words used on and by themusicologist are purely subjective. As to the above I would like to draw your attention to the whole sentance;

    “musically 1957 is a tricky year. Doo Wop has almost seen it’s day, Rhythm & Blues is in danger of being buried beneath Rock & Roll”

    I stand by it.


  11. While we’re at it (and honest, I’m not slipping a boomerang in here) where does Jazz stand in the contemporary music firmament? What path? What influence? What beget what? And where does it stand today?


  12. “boomerang”. Did I say that? Oh well, we all make mistakes. Of course, it should read “red herring”. Or perhaps not… whoosh… ouch!!


  13. After that slight detour, let me get back on track/thread… R&R and R&B.

    As I wrote on 04.11 “Thanks you’ve just untied the Gordian Knot”. What I meant by that was your comment “Isn’t Rock & Roll essentially just another name for Rhythm & Blues?” forced me to to question one of my principle popular musical beliefs i.e. if the music’s “black” it’s generally good and if it’s “white” it’s usually – how can I say this – well, not so good.

    Calling Chuck Berry a R&B artist is/was to me like calling a spade a spade (excuse the careless metaphor). For me, one of the lucky ones popular music-wise, to have grown up in London in the early sixties, Chuck Berry had an enormous influence on my musical tastes. And of course he was an R&B man… no question. And yet, unbeknown to me and my ilk (peer group being too posh a title for those like me into “real black” music), he was/is one of the all time great Rock & Roll stars. Thus, what I dismissed/ignored back then and failed to realise since is that Rock & Roll and Rhythm & Blues are one and the same; two side of the same coin; ebony and ivory if you like. Both have their roots in “folk music” – music of the Delta, of the country, of the immigrants etc.
    Alternatively, the roots of Soul, as you so rightly point out, are in the religion and churches of Gospel.

    Therefore, I put it to you sir that while Soul is of the musical spirit of mankind, R&B/R&R is of the blood and sweat… All bring tears, joy and pain!!!

    (ignore that that last sentence… I got a bit carried away with myself…. hahahahaha)


  14. O.K. I’ll try again without the flowers!

    The Blues sprang from the cotton fields of the deep south. Country belonged to “the west”. Early 20th. century commerce, technology and two world wars cruelly tossed them both “on the road”. Their paths crossed in Memphis at Sun (or some such melting pot) but, and even though they had some fun jamming together, they went their separate ways… the Blues to Chicago(?) Country to fan out across the great plains to the Pacific. But they didn’t forget the fun (and inspiration) of their shared sessions… Rock & Roll was born there.
    From Chicago the Blues rolled across the industrial cities of the east eventually giving birth to many hybrids, of which one – the best in my opinion – was Rhythm & Blues. Meanwhile, out west “surf” and a collage education spawned the anti-authority movement and its music. The equal rights movement brought the predominantly white kids of the west and black kids of the industrial cities together. They all brought their music and musicians with them. Rock & Roll was given a message.

    This of course is a generalization… a wide brush stroke.


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