Sunday, July 31, 2005

Rocker Roberts: The T-Bird (Roulette R-4506) The Pros and Cons: Whirlybird Parts 1 and 2 (Decca 31767)

I review these two together because they're pretty much the same song. But let's backtrack a bit, okay? You might recall Todd's review of "The Thunderbird Twist" by The Thunderbirds (the very first review on this blog, btw). Well, when I read it, I was struck by the similarities of a record I have by one Rocker Roberts. Turns out, the songwriting credit for "Thunderbird Twist" (Wild Bill Anderson) is virtually the same for "The T-Bird" minus the "Wild" part. Rocker Roberts is actually Rocky Roberts and the Airedales, a group of Americans who became even more popular in France. (They were stationed there as G.I.s when they formed the group.) This is one of Roberts' rare U.S.A. releases, and if you get a copy of the DVD "Hullabaloo, Vol. 3," one of the episodes features Roberts and the band doing "The T-Bird" on it. On this record, the "Thunderbird Twist" gets changed to a "Thunderbird Stomp." But get this: The Pros and Cons version changes that to "Whirlybird Song." And the songwriting credit goes to one Joe Fenegan. Yet it's virtually the same song as Roberts, except for some lyric changes....and the amount of times the singer yells "Good golly, Miss Molly" throughout the song. This record boasts the distinction of being produced by Shel Talmy, who was also working wonders with The Who and The Kinks among others around this time.

So, which one is better? Well, to tell you the truth, I like them both a whole lot. The Roberts version has a bit more soul due to his wailing vocals and a bit more horns in the mix. The Pros and Cons aren't to be counted out either, as they just turn up the Hammond B-3 and go for it. And there's a cool guitar workout towards the end of Part 2. Plus, the singer is more raucous. Either way, these records are both swingers and and are sure to help make your next drunken bash a great success. What'cha waitin' for, another millenium?


Todd Lucas said...

Very interesting. The Thunderbirds record is really obscure these days. It makes me wonder if someone else didn't record this first.

Todd Lucas said...

Finally dug my Hullabaloo DVD's out this morning. They've been put away since I moved two years ago. Watched the Rocker Roberts video and it's definitely the same song as the Thunderbirds' record.

Euphonic said...

Believe it or not, the same song was recorded under a fourth (!) different title here in Finland:

Antti "Andy" Einiƶ was the local Dick Clark, who cut three 45s in 1964-1965 (the first one, a wild Trashmen-style version of "Farmer John," was a huge hit; this was the follow-up, which wasn't). As you can see, the writing credit is the same as on the Rocker Roberts version, and the song is subtitled "- T Bird -". I imagine Andy somehow got hold of a promo copy of the Roberts record (Scandia acted as the local representative of Roulette) and decided to cut it with himself.