Over a hundred and forty reviews into rock’s long, winding history and the gender split has thus far been pretty one sided.

Well okay, I’ll admit… that’s an understatement of epic proportions. It’s been downright lopsided to the nth degree. There aren’t even any synonyms in the thesaurus to adequately put the disparity into the proper context. But how’s this for starters: It’s been nearly fifty reviews since we’ve last encountered a woman here on Spontaneous Lunacy and aside from a lone unidentified female voice delivering a spoken intro on a Cecil Gant record back in June of ’48, the only ladies we’ve come across have been three female names adorning the titles of male performed records.

Utterly incomprehensible, not just from bucking the statistical odds, but also in terms of going against the basic desire to be exposed to the softer sex, even if only on a record. To quote Walter Matthau’s Oscar Madison in the film The Odd Couple – “Why don’t we spend one night talking to someone with higher voices than us?”

So far rock ‘n’ roll was having trouble adhering to that philosophy.

Shockingly only five women have graced these pages as featured artists to date and while some – Albennie Jones – have astounded at times, and others – Annie Laurie and Big Maybelle – have shown why they’d have such long, ultimately rewarding careers even if their initial efforts were fairly ordinary, the overall impression one gets is that rock ‘n’ roll from the very start was shaping up to be a men’s club.

Like many men’s clubs there’s been plenty of off-color sex talk, crude (and surely exaggerated) boasts about performance in the sack and the always fashionable objectification of women in many of their songs.

Oh, there’s been lots of crying from men who are distraught when their women finally get fed up with the boorish louts and walk out on them too, don’t get me wrong, but rock ‘n’ roll’s tried and true grab at the male listeners heart and wallet from the very start often took the form of being as sexist and salacious as the laws of the day would allow… and to be honest, when they do it well we kinda like the results.

At the very least it works.

But it’s about time for some female representation to take hold and since the ladies are having so much trouble getting the chance to be heard when approaching rock from their own unique perspective, maybe it was inevitable that eventually we’d get to find out what happens when a woman jumps into the gutter with the men and slugs it out with them on their terms.

Face The Rising Sun
Don’t let the professional name for the former Velma Newsome (they also shortened her surname by taking off the “e” at the end, but don’t ask me why) fool you for an instant. Chubby was not a derisive commentary on her figure by any means. Quite the contrary – she was an absolute knockout!

Prior to recording her looks had provided her with an entry into the nightclub circuit, showing off that hourglass physique with hips that didn’t quit below a thin waistline.

One look at her singing alongside Roy Brown in Lake Charles, Louisiana circa 1949, her midriff exposed in what almost appears like a toga has been partially torn from her body leaving only the barest essentials above the waist, will have most red blooded males hosing themselves down.

Brown made sure to hire her as often as possible as a supporting act once he became a headliner for what might be considered less than altruistic reasons, as he said with all due admiration, “She upped my attendance because she was such a beautiful girl“.

With sultry facial features, a sly smile and come hither stare that would’ve brought men stampeding to the clubs to hear her sing even if her voice sounded like she’d been gargling with broken glass and chasing it down with a fifth of battery acid, any actual vocal talent she possessed would only be an added cherry atop the sundae.

But Chubby could really sing too and on Hip Shakin’ Mama she combines all aspects of her blossoming public persona – the voice, the look and the boasts about her key physical attributes – and wraps it in a sensual, nee sexual, package and serves it up hot.


If the opening doesn’t grab your attention, check your pulse because you might already be dead and just not know it yet. Four seconds of rolling horns, a drum kick and then…. silence!

That pause lasts barely a second but it is so alarming after the upbeat intro that you might look to see if something went wrong with whatever you’re playing the song on, because the pause seems to last forever, building anticipation for what’s to follow.

Fear not, because when Chubby comes in the next second with a Tarzan-like bellow that keeps going you will be fully riveted. As arrangements go, Paul Gayten, who backs her on this, outdid himself with the intro and for a singer making her debut on wax this alone made sure that everybody who heard it would race to the jukebox or record player just to see just who it was if nothing else. It’s that captivating.

Sadly what Gayten follows it up with is a bit of a letdown, though let it also be said that of all of Newsom’s output with DeLuxe Records, this, her big hit no less, is the only one for which an original acetate couldn’t be located when Ace Records of England recently exhumed the vaults and re-mastered and re-issued it all. A pity because the quality of the fifth generation dub or whatever this comes from makes it sound muddy and garbled, obscuring the nuances of Gayten’s arrangement and dulling the inflections Newsom imparts her vocals with. Certainly not enough to make you want to put it back on the shelf by any means but after hearing the clarity of everything else she did there this will have you longing for the same sonic scrubbing for Hip Shakin’ Mama.

But back to Gayten who has shown he knows what he’s doing both at the piano and as the de facto producer on the many records he’s overseen thus far in rock’s early days, this time around, while he’s got a song to work with that has so much potential he misses the mark ever so slightly with how he presents it.

It’s easy to see what he was trying for here as he uses an effective stop time pattern to emphasize Newsom’s first few lines to set her persona up, but then repeats this for each ensuing verse with diminishing returns. The horn line is nice, though again it’s rather distant sounding thanks to the fidelity issues. It almost seems though as if Gayten was as enchanted with her as everybody else and either was too busy drooling over her or merely not wanting to distract from her by calling undue attention to the guys in the band, so he sort of lays low. When she launches into the chorus, Gayten, instead of playing it up like most would be inclined to do, shifts into a churning – if pleasantly monotonous – groove that isn’t grinding hard enough on its own to get the listener aroused.

He leaves that job to Chubby.

That she does it so well probably shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Satisfy My Soul
As befitting her real-life attributes, which surely imparted her with a knowledge of, not to mention the ability to sway men and then handle them once they’ve been wrapped around her finger, Newsom has this part down pat.

It’s probably worth stating here that men are essentially simple creatures with very few moving parts and oftentimes those parts don’t always work in unison. When the engine in the lower potion kicks in, the pilot light in the attic often gets blown out and navigation becomes a hit or miss affair. This is rather unfortunate for the gals forced to deal with the idiocy that often follows, but you have to hand it to Mother Nature for taking care of her own by giving females a firm upper hand in this department.

The owner’s manual to the male libido is so basic that it could be printed on the back of a postage stamp with enough room to spare to write a grocery list and the preamble to the Declaration Of Independence. Usually though girls at least pretend to humor us and not let on they know this, at least not until the third or fourth year of a marriage I suppose.

But Chubby has no such illusions, she just comes right out and tells the men in no uncertain terms what she’s after from him, and more importantly what she is going to USE to get that something he has to offer and God help any man reticent enough to give in… or any rival female delusional enough to think they can compete with the stacked Ms. Newsom, who slyly declares:

My man’s got something
But he keeps it hid
I got something
I can find it with

She times those lines perfectly, pausing dramatically for effect between each one, knowing just what to emphasize and how much and when to pull back and let the listener’s anticipation for what’s to follow work in her favor.

Her delivery is certainly suggestive, yet unlike so many earlier records that stopped short due to concerns of decency Newsom delivers the payoff in each stanza, not so much in terms of raunchy lyrics but rather her deviant undertones that shine through, so much so that by the last refrain of the song the men in the band simply can’t hold back any longer, hooting and hollering as if they’d been in jail for the past six years only to look out their cellblock one morning and see a woman in the flesh sauntering by for the very first time since they’ve been locked up.

For her part Chubby not only seems to expect this reaction but she actively encourages it. She’s gonna shake those hips without any shame, without any discretion and without any guilt about it afterwards.

Why let the men have all the fun after all? Sex is sex for BOTH parties, if it wasn’t equally enjoyable for the gals then there’s no way they’d put up with men for longer than the few minutes of amusement they have while watching so many of them make fools of themselves to get their attention.

He Used To Be Yours, But He Won’t Be Yours Anymore!
Equality is a deceptive thing, if ultimately admirable and necessary in life in general.

In rock music one record by one woman, however boldly she lays it down, doesn’t offset the roughly 5 to 1 ratio females have struggled with obtaining up to this point. Yet in terms of demanding, and receiving, her share of the spotlight for the type of bawdy sex-themed songs that men were making their names on, this sultry classic will more than suffice, at least for awhile.


What Hip Shakin’ Mama did so effectively was knock down another door FOR equality. It was the first female rock hit and while it didn’t open any floodgates in that regard by any means it DID and offer a bold declaration of women’s intent not to be left out of the proceedings. Its success also gave women, and the men listening, a certain expectation that they’ll be just as welcome to deliver the goods when it comes to the down and dirty sides that made rock ‘n’ roll so tantalizing.

Newsom doesn’t try slipping one over on the listener, or sneaking in the backdoor or a side window in the hopes they don’t notice she’s there until it’s too late. Nor does she play the ingénue here for even a second. She’s not about to be subservient just because she’s a girl and because that’s what society expects of her.

Most crucially at the end of the night she sure isn’t going to demurely retreat back to her room while the men folk roam the streets until dawn looking for more action.

Nope, Chubby Newsom is going to be right out there with them, probably at least a block or two ahead of them by the sounds of it when it comes to getting what they’re all after, and while that may not SEEM like equality in a big-picture social context at least when it comes to more tangible things such as education, pay and promotions, in rock ‘n’ roll, where what matters most is simply the reception of your last record and the image that accompanies it, not to mention the attitude you project while delivering your message to the masses, this was a major step in that direction.

For the first time in rock a girl was leading the men out in a night on the town, headed for trouble no doubt, but all of them, men and women alike, were in this perverted journey to sin and debauchery together at last.

Hand over the keys, boys, Chubby’s taking the wheel and you better hang on tight because she’s gonna take you all for the ride of your life.


(Visit the Artist page of Chubby Newsom for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)