Sunday, October 25, 2009

Greased Griddles & Poodle Dogs: The Raunchy Rock 'n' Roll of Johnny Buckett, Roy "The Hound" Hall, and Others

“I’m a Griddle Greasing Daddy”... “Let Me Play With Your Poodle,”... “I call her my Eager Beaver Baby,”... Yessir, sometimes singers said a lot more back when they couldn’t come right out and say it all. Sandwiched between the pre-war era of explicitly nasty blues & hillbilly lyrics and the suggestive 70s country music of Tanya Tucker, et al, lies a body of raunchy RnR double entendre. A comprehensive survey of these dirty ditties could, of course, fill an entire book, and to dwell the subject for very long is to expand it beyond what fits neatly into a blog post. So today the GS brings you a quick sampling.

Now, Poodle-owners out there, ask yourselves, would you let Johnny Buckett and his Cumberland River Boys “Play With Your Poodle” “...I mean your little poodle dog”? While considering Buckett's offer, you might recall that it's a sort of two-for-one deal, because when you flip the record, he also promotes further services in “Griddle Greasing Daddy.” Originally released as a single for the Renown label, both cuts reappeared on Fortune EP 1330. Note how Buckett cops song-writing credit for himself, despite the fact that Hank Penny had already cut "Poodle Dog" for the King label back in 1947.

The moniker “Roy the Hound” was but a mask for the boogie pianist Roy Hall, who wrote “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”, and whose Coahutta Mountain boys had been doin’ the “Dirty Boogie” since the late 40s. Out there ahead of me somewhere is a more fully fleshed-out post on my main-man Roy Hall--like he says himself in “Bedspring Motel” ...“Boy I sure dig that Roy Hall on the piana”. In 1960 he cut one of the dirtiest numbers you’re likely to find anywhere in the Rockabilly ouvre “Flood of Love”. Personally, I like to think the listener’s shock is anticipated and embodied by the Big-Bopper sounding back-up singer’s shouts of “Now what you say?! A Flood of LOVE?!” Hall’s occasional employer Webb Pierce owned the short-lived label that released this slab o’ salaciousness.

While Johnny Burnette employs the double entendre in “Eager Beaver Baby,” ostensibly a tale of unrequited love interest with obvious connotations, Jerry Lee Lewis dispenses with this device nearly altogether in “Big Legged Woman”. Aside from its clever biscuit dough metaphor, the latter is a raw, unabashed poon-hound anthem. George “Thumper” Jones, on the other hand, sounds like an unwitting accomplice to kink in “Slave Lover,” putting away his paper and pipe with a sigh to go “uptown and downtown” at his master’s bidding.

In RnR, just as in blues, male performers didn’t hold a monopoly on the raunch. Wanda Jackson’s “Cool Love” comes on panting in red lipstick, so don’t’cha be no square. The Miller Sisters offer their ode to variety, in dance partners and lovers, in “Ten Cats Down,” while Barbara Pittman growls for it outright in “I Need a Man,” and Charline Arthur--really more of a western swinger than a rocker--expresses a certain self-sufficiency in “I’m Having a Party All By Myself.”

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