Tuesday, July 17, 2018

July: Riot in Cell Block #9

purchase [The Robins: Riot ... ]

The Robins and Elvis Presley were hot a little before my time. Now, that doesn't mean I couldn't have developed an affinity for their music. I mean, hey, you can believe that Elvis is still alive. So ... certainly, their songs have a life of their own that periodically shows sparks. The Robins? - they were a 50s band that  Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller poached to put together the Coasters, with whom they had a string of early rock hits.

Leiber/Stoller were pretty successful in the 50s and 60s both as song writers and producers. In addition to writing "Riot" and various other Coasters hits, they penned "Hound Dog" of Presley fame, "Yakety Yak", "Stand By Me", "On Broadway" and a total of about 70 hits that earned them a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the 80s.

One of the Leiber/Stoller hits that keeps coming back in various versions is about a jail riot that starts in cell block 4 and continues for almost 2 days until the authorities use gas to subdue the inmates.
It's the 48 hours from July 2,1953 to July 4, 1953.

Take a minute to consider the appeal of a song like "Riot", paying attention to the reputation that rock music had at the time: a bad influence on our youth.

The riot started down in cell block number 4
Spread like wild fire across the prison floor
Scar-face Jones said, "It's too late to quit"
Pass the dynamite 'cause the fuse is lit

Y'all gotta stop that stuff goin' on over there
If ya don't stop that riot, y'all gonna get the chairSI said, "Hey now boys, get ready to run
Here come the warden with an automatic gun"
Is this anything you want your kids listening to?

The version I first heard is the Johnny Winter one.

However, of course, the Blues Brothers. (But they've got the dates wrong!)

And Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen (with Jerry Garcia, who also covered it with his band... um... the Grateful Dead...)

And then the Beach Boys reworked it as Student Demonstration Time

blog comments powered by Disqus