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MODERN 863; APRIL 1952



Whatever generation you’re from, no matter your background, gender identity, racial or regional differences, there’s one thing I think we all can agree on.

Life isn’t fair.

We learn this with the very first thing we have associated with us upon entering this world – the name bestowed upon us by our parents… with absolutely NO IMPUT from those who will forever be using this name as their primary form of self-identification!

We all just hope those who conceived us were taking into account how we’d feel about having a name that would form a first impression on all who heard it for the rest of our lives.

Kind of like the titles to instrumentals come to think of it, where somebody’s bad taste in names could cause nothing but problems down the road for those who had to bear it alone.


Out Of Date
The problem with Joe Houston’s catalog is that as someone who primarily cut instrumental records, he was able to recycle the same riffs – hell, sometimes the same exact songs – repeatedly to give a new label an old tune, slapped with a different title on it to obscure its origins, confident that record company executives had as much knowledge of music as they did the Dead Sea Scrolls and wouldn’t file lawsuits to defend a song already published and released under a different name.

Sometimes in fact it was the SAME company doing the deceiving, as was the case with the flip-side, Sand Storm, a far better title let it be said, which was actually the same song… the same recording in fact… as one they released last winter called Houston’s Hot House. All they did was speed it up.

Ahh, classy guys those Biharis.

Here they have an original tune they manage to wreck by giving it the most inappropriate name they could come up with, Doin’ The Lindy Hop.

Apparently they were unaware that teenage rock fans were not doing the lindy hop, and in many cases didn’t even know what the hell the lindy hop was, as it dated back from before they were born, named after Charles Lindberg after he flew across the ocean in a plane in 1927 which was a big deal then but hardly newsworthy in 1952.

The only thing that Lindy had been doing in the past fifteen years is hopping into bed with Nazis as a fervent Isolationist in the days leading up to World War Two, but even THAT was not lodged in the memories of some kid who was all of three weeks old when those events took place. Today, that same kid was unconcerned with ancient history of aviation, international politics or dancing, and was primarily concerned with finding a record by someone like Joe Houston which might give him the kind of visceral thrill he was seeking from rock ‘n’ roll.

The music contained on this record at least makes an attempt to do that, but since its title actively warned you to avoid it at all costs, you’d likely never find that out.


Out Of Step
There’s a lot here that would’ve fit right in to the lindy hoppers repertoire back in the day, as the opening fanfare by the full ensemble of horns is hardly very invigorating in the rock era but was apparently quite the rage in the midst of The Great Depression.

Luckily Joe Houston wasn’t around back then to take notes and incorporate it into his own playing because when he appears for the first time – after a long forty second wait – he’s more entrenched in the music of today. He may start off a little subdued but quickly picks up the pace and intensity and his gritty and grimy tone was always rock in nature.

Unfortunately he soon runs out of riffs and has to improvise and while what he comes up with isn’t exactly scintillating, it’s also not reverting back to music from the past which at least allows you to keep dancing, or talking to the wallflower with a drink in her hand in attempt to get her on the floor with you, without the energy lagging.

That’s hardly a great consolation for a record you sit and listen to by yourself, but these kinds of records weren’t made for that sort of isolated examination anyway. These were what you played at parties, or in a crowded drugstore where the jukebox provided the atmosphere for a bunch of derelict kids with nothing to do between school letting out and dinnertime.

Maybe the one revelation from this that we get is it wasn’t the loathsome Biharis who named the song after all, as the band members shout out Doin’ The Lindy Hop as the record commences. Of course we don’t know if they were instructed to do it by Jules Bihari as a trade-off for letting them use the pay toilets in his studio without forking over a nickel for the privilege.

In any case, the energy shown here is admirable even if there’s not much song to be found, or for that matter not even all that much musical proficiency to show off. Yeah, we get some honks, a few squeals and a basic understanding of rhythm shown to us, but otherwise this is merely an exercise in blowing to keep your lungs in shape.

This Lindy’s plane may not go down in flames, but it’s hardly breaking the sound barrier like the jets of the better rock instrumentals of the day,


Out Of Time
Is this really something we should concern ourselves enough with to actually get mad at?

If so, where should our anger be directed? The inappropriate title that is going to guarantee that this doesn’t connect with the rock audience Joe Houston had to engage with in order to see his career thrive? Or should we just be annoyed with his unfocused performance and the unfortunate choice of his co-pilots in this flight that sees to it that this record doesn’t get high enough off the ground to travel very far?

Sadly, both of those complaints, while entirely justified, do us little good. While it’s hardly cutting edge, Doin’ The Lindy Hop was at least an original that we hadn’t heard before, which we can’t say for the flip side, and with not many positive commercial returns on the kind of rock sweat-inducing instrumentals he was most suited for it’s understandable that they might try to lure in somebody of an older vintage through a retroactive title.

Whether or not that would convert them to rock ‘n’ roll is a moot point since the record itself only hints at the best rock has to offer, meaning that even when it comes to genre identification, names can be misleading.


(Visit the Artist page of Joe Houston for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)