No tags :(

Share it




Time travel doesn’t exist as far as we know, but don’t tell that to record companies because with this release Chess Records is attempting to show us what might have happened had they not tried to dupe us a few months back.

The problem with trying to significantly alter the course of events however is that in the interim real life events have taken place which renders the outcome of these later attempts at course correction to be mostly futile.

So in the future, maybe these companies should leave time travel to wild eyed scientists and stick to releasing records in proper sequence and giving the artist who gave them their best selling single to date a chance to properly follow that up without any undue interference from the suits at the top.


That’s All She Wrote
Here in the tumultuous present it’s understandable if you’ve forgotten the particulars of this messy ordeal from long ago when Chess Records scored their first Number One hit with Jackie Brenston’s Rocket 88 which had been cut in Memphis by Sam Phillips which featured Ike Turner’s band backing their secondary sax player and part-time singer Brenston on a re-working of Jimmy Liggins’s classic Cadillac Boogie.

The fallout from this was considerable for all involved. Turner was mad he didn’t get credit for the hit on the label – not that he truly deserved it since he neither wrote an original composition nor sang it – and he soon broke with Brenston and headed to Modern Records who took issue with the fact that their handshake deal with Phillips, which had him sending the sessions he oversaw which had promised, was violated when Sam sent this to Chicago’s Chess label instead while in search of a more lucrative deal.

Then Phillips became perturbed by the Chess brothers who were demanding better material in the months to follow, which meant that Phillips had paid local singer Billy Love to impersonate Brenston on a song Love had written called Juiced, which Chess liked enough to replace THIS record today – which they’d already printed up, hence the lower label number (1469) – in favor of the Love record (1472), which became “Brenston’s” follow-up to his smash at the beginning of summer.

As if doing Brenston dirty wasn’t bad enough, they now rendered his true follow-up effort, My Real Gone Rocket, an afterthought. Not that they didn’t promote it and hope to get a hit out of it, but rather the momentum had stalled and a record trying so blatantly to remind you of a song that was now six months old had the appearance of a more desperate cash-in.

Unfortunately that tends to be what you can expect out of this industry – utter disregard for the artists and the fans. But if there’s any one who can render those manipulative efforts irrelevant, it’s the musicians and singers who are making these records which is what keeps us always coming back for more no matter how badly the companies behave.


Sure Get A Wonderful Thrill
Thankfully the recording of this came about before Turner and Brenston split and so we get the full power of a tight band working behind Jackie… that’s the good news.

The bad news is that thematically this is about as subtle as a hammer to the hand when it comes to trying to recapture the magic of that immortal record. The melody is largely the same, the subject is the same, parts of the solos are the same and even some of the spoken asides by Brenston are taken from the first record.

Of course one might say since that record – and the Liggins source from which it was taken – are so well constructed that even a second rate imitation, especially played by a first rate band, is worth hearing and in that sense you’re right – My Real Gone Rocket is a powerful performance with some inventive lyrics, but as a record it isn’t providing enough new to really stand out as a singular entity in its own right.

But let’s start with the good. Turner wastes no time before launching this into orbit with a pounding piano that is a lot more chaotic than his work on the first song, something which does in fact help to distance it somewhat from those origins. Unfortunately while it is exciting, it’s also a little sloppy, more interested in creating a sense of mayhem than establishing a tight groove and when the horns come in the similarities to the earlier side becomes more apparent.

Brenston’s credited with writing the song and if that’s the case he at least devised a clever story using leftover parts. Though the difference in how he’s treating the car is clear – in the first it was a source of pride but related to us with a more casual laid-back sense of satisfaction – here it’s a source of aggression borne out of an inflated sense of self and the underlying insecurity of someone who needs such a thing to feel important.

Since we know right away where this vehicle is headed though, the plot itself is less important than the lines and Jackie’s come up with some that will make you smile, including one where he calls himself out by name – “When I cruise through the town like that great North Western, you can tell everybody that was mighty Jackie Brenston” – it may not be poetry but as a musical brag it’s not half bad.

The music accompanying this two minute and twenty-five second boast is frantic bordering on anarchy and there’s plenty here to like, most specifically a freedom in their playing that wasn’t even entirely present on the big hit, since there they’d been sticking more to an established melodic precedent from to finish. With My Real Gone Rocket though, while they do return to those musical cues far too often to make this truly original, they deviate from it enough at times to give this a chaotic feel that is admirable.

From Turner’s out of control piano to the screeching horns down the stretch and the rapid-fire stuttering tenor heading into the break, the excitement is palpable and really only dissipates when they veer too close to the expected call-backs. But the balance between those two approaches never fully resolves itself, making this just a solid attempt to wrestle with a conflicted ideal.

A Long Yellow Streak, A Ball Of Fire And Smoke
This was really a no-win proposition for all involved from the start.

The flaw in the thinking of follow-up records that are so distinctly tied to their predecessor is that you’ll be able to provide the same visceral thrill listeners got upon hearing the first go-round and while musically and even vocally that may be true here, there’s far too much recall of that initial record which by now is embedded into your brain.

Every time they quote a riff or a lick it takes you completely out of the present and hurtles you into the past – a different form of time travel that is no more pleasant in its outcome.

Music is one of those things which remains alive inside you, so much so that people with Alzheimer’s who don’t remember family members will remember lyrics to songs from long ago, and hospital patients in vegetative states who don’t show much brain wave activity to the voices of those close to them will often show an immediate response to a familiar melody.

As a result the conscious attempt to borrow too much from an earlier hit may seem like a good idea, but what happens is when listening to My Real Gone Rocket you get a constant sense of déjà vu.

You still appreciate the effort by all involved to shake things up, and you admire the individual performances along the way, but you can’t ever hear this without your mind switching to the more recognizable song as you listen.

Talking about time travel and déjà vu in the same review is never a good sign for the record in question and consequently you have to expect those things to have an impact on the response to it. But as uninspiring as it is to encounter a record that attempts to live like parasites off its host body, this one manages to do just enough to take on a life of its own… a short life maybe, but a long ways off from being dead on arrival like most shameless sequels tend to be.


(Visit the Artist pages of Jackie Brenston for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)