Rock and Roll picture sleeve
Today’s featured single is a rare instance in which the B-side is as good (or even slightly better) than the A-side because it’s the same song. Well, it’s not quite the same song…but it’s pretty close. The B-side of today’s single is the A-side plus a vocal track (with lyrics). We all have heard about the tragic downfall of Gary Glitter (a.k.a. Paul Francis Gadd): the conviction in the U.K. in the late 1990’s for possession of child pornography, and his subsequent conviction in Vietnam for child sexual abuse. Although his fall from grace has not really been an issue in the U.S., where “Rock And Roll Part II” was his only real hit (and where that song continues to be played at sporting events), in the U.K. he has been virtually purged from radio, even though he had a string of hits over a five-year period over there. But I have not come here to bury Gary Glitter; rather, I am here to praise him; after all, he did record today’s featured single: “Rock and Roll Part 1” b/w “Rock and Roll Part 2”.
Gadd was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire, England in 1944 and had been performing at London clubs since the age of sixteen. By the time he was eighteen, he had adopted the stage name Paul Raven and had released his first album on Decca Records. A recording contract with Parlophone resulted in two Paul Raven singles being released, but neither of them made an impact commercially and Raven’s career reached an impasse. By 1965, he had joined the Mike Leander Show Band, the brainchild of Michael George Farr (a.k.a. Mike Leander); this would be the beginning of an on again/off again professional relationship between Gadd and Leander that would continue until the latter’s death in 1996. Gadd then formed Boston International, which would tour the U.K. and Germany for the next five years. With the rise of glam rock in the early 1970s, Gadd decided to change his name to Gary Glitter. Signed to Bell Records, both the album “Glitter” and the single “Rock and Roll (Part One)” were released in March 1972, his first releases under the Glitter pseudonym.
“Rock and Roll Part 2” is yet another one of those songs that has reached such an iconic status that one barely knows where to begin a review of the song. Is it even possible to attend a sporting event in the United States without hearing at least a sound byte from the song? The pounding rhythm section is the real strength of the song, but let’s not forget the memorable lead guitar riff. Yet for all of this, what gives the song an edge is the chorus of “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!”. Apparently, the song had its origins in a failed composition by Mike Leander (Glitter’s co-writer and producer) called “Shag Rag, That’s My Bag”. Glitter, Leander and others began jamming to that track, ad-libbing lyrics along the way. Glitter and Leander played the tapes back and found they had essentially created, in the words of Leander, the sort of song they had loved to listen to when they were teenagers. They edited down the lengthy jam to 15 minutes, and then further edited it down into “Rock And Roll” parts one and two. One has to wonder if the success of “Rock And Roll Part 2” (as opposed to part 1) is because the vocals have been stripped from the song; it’s essentially an instrumental with “hey” being the only intelligible word in the entire song. The song eventually was used at a Colorado Rockies hockey game; it took off from there, eventually being used at sporting events throughout the country.
The A-side of this single, “Rock And Roll Part 1” is very similar to part two, but a vocal track has been added with lyrics and parts of the lead guitar track have been stripped out. A horn section has been added (it can first be heard about 1 minute and 40 seconds into the song and it can be heard until the end) to give the track a slightly fatter sound. The chorus of “rock and roll/rock and roll” is the epitome of simplicity – who needs Bob Dylan when you can just listen to “rock and roll” over and over again? The lyrics essentially celebrate the history of rock and roll (Can you still recall in the jukebox hall when the music played/And the world span round to a brand new sound in those far off days”), with an optimistic view of the future of the genre: “Times are changing fast, but we won’t forget/Though the age has past, we’ll be rocking yet”. “Rock And Roll Part I” is a very simple but effective rocker, and it was the even simpler “Rock And Roll Part 2” that would carry the day, but part one is worth a listen.
The single was issued on Bell Records (catalog #: Bell 1216) with the silver-gray Bell label of the early 1970’s (with the Bell logo – a picture of a bell – on the left side, and a monochrome rainbow on the top). As far as I know, no picture sleeve was issued with the single, at least in the U.S. (although it did come with a nice dark-red Bell paper sleeve). However, some foreign counties did get a picture sleeve, as the accompanying image demonstrates.
Gary Glitter performing Rock And Roll Part II (1972)
Gary Glitter performing Rock And Roll Part I