Album review: Various Artists, The Backbeat of Rock and Roll (Famous Flames)


In its Fifties infancy, rock'n'roll followed the dance-band fashion of being largely instrumental, with vocalists an occasional luxury until Elvis made them a mandatory focus.

This 3CD compilation draws together more than 90 prime instrumentals from the era, a parade of yakety saxists reflecting the waning R&B mode, and clean-cut, twangy guitarists such as Duane Eddy, The Ventures and The Shadows. Plus a fair tranche of shameless novelties and dance-craze grooves ("It's Madison Time") and a number of idiosyncratic moments of genius, like Link Wray's "Rumble" ), the sonic tectonics of Bo Diddley's "Mumblin' Guitar", and the cool, collegiate cunning of the late Dave Brubeck's "Take Five". Boisterous, bizarre and beautiful, by turns.

Download: Mumblin' Guitar; Rumble; Peter Gunn; Husky Team; Take Five