Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Treniers "Rock"

(Bear Family) Perhaps the best compilation yet on my all time favorite proto-rock n roll act. The Treniers took jump blues conventions, amped them up to 11, added some of the all-time wildest stage work in rock history (much of it having to do with visual puns and pranks involving the identical twin lead singers) and drove it home by using the words "rock" and/or "roll" in numerous titles (nine of which are included here. Wisely this compiles 32 tracks of only the material they recorded in the fifties (it was their best work, though they did a number of fun recordings after the 50s, mostly to sell at lounge shows, and brother Milt -- still going strong --- was recording into the 80s, doing Michael Jordan and lottery themed novelty singles). Included here is the bawdy classic "Poon-Tang!" ("poon is a hug...tang is a kiss..."), the manifesto "Rockin' is our Business," and the date rape ditty "Oh! Oh! (Get Out Of the Car)" (covered, feebly by comparison, by the great Sammy Davis, Jr.). Not included is perhaps their most popular song, "Say Hey (Say Willie)", a novelty record recorded with Willie Mays. Also, by default, not included on any Treniers CD or vinyl compilation is the manic magic of their live shows. The group was never able to capture the excitement they generated on stage in the studio, and while tracks like "It Rocks! It Rolls! It Swings!" and "Everything's Wild in Wildwood" sound fantastic, even seeing the group lipsynch in movies like The Girl Can't Help It, or seeing them tear up TV's Colgate Comedy Hour (with Jerry Lewis sitting in on drums for a minute) makes it clear that the reason these cats remained Vegas and Atlantic City gold but never true superstars was that no engineer ever figured out how to make the records as funny, dynamic, energetic and borderline crazy as their stage shows. Regardless of that shortcoming, these recordings are still wonderful, never overtaking Louis Jordan's best, but usually leaving Dusty Fletcher in the (dusty) dust. So you should "Go! Go! Go!" to the Bear Family website and  have some "Good Rockin' Tonight," because "This Is It!"

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