Roots of Rock 'N' Roll: 1946-1954

The Roots of Rock 'N' Roll: 1946-1954

This smart, stimulating three-disc set is one of the better explorations of rock 'n' roll's origins, as it takes a broad view of the process and doesn't settle for the usual cast of characters populating similar historical anthologies. Although the collection is properly weighted in favor of rock 'n' roll's R&B forerunners, it doesn't neglect the rhythm-bound


This smart, stimulating three-disc set is one of the better explorations of rock 'n' roll's origins, as it takes a broad view of the process and doesn't settle for the usual cast of characters populating similar historical anthologies. Although the collection is properly weighted in favor of rock 'n' roll's R&B forerunners, it doesn't neglect the rhythm-bound contributions made by country artists such as Hank Snow (represented here by his propulsive "I'm Movin' On"), Hank Williams ("Move It On Over"), Merle Travis ("Merle's Boogie Woogie"), Tennessee Ernie Ford (the rollicking "Shotgun Boogie"), and the Delmore Brothers ("Freight Train Boogie"). Disc 1 begins with Lionel Hampton's jump blues raver, "Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop," Disc 3 closes with Muddy Waters's hard blues grind, "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man," and in between the sequencing suggests how the former evolved into the latter as the years went on. Ivory Joe Hunter offers an R&B-pop fusion in his bluesy lament "I Almost Lost My Mind," and a few cuts later Johnny Ray & the Four Lads reverse Hunter's formula in the pop-R&B ballad classic, "Cry," while on Disc 3, Sonny Til and the Orioles offer a smoother, equally affecting pop-R&B vocal blend on "Crying in the Chapel." Disc 1 features T-Bone Walker working out on "Bobby Sox Blues," and Disc 3 finds B. B. King updating the T-Bone approach with the melodic, burnished blues of "You Upset Me Baby." On Disc 2, Billy Ward & the Dominoes deal some finger-poppin' R&B group harmony on "Sixty Minute Man," and on Disc 3 Hank Ballard & the Midnighters' pulsating "Work With Me Annie" shows off a more complex group harmony approach to a suggestive lyric. Mix in the appropriate giants judiciously, and this turns out to be an indispensable collection.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
Of the numerous various-artist compilation CDs that have attempted to anthologize the recordings of the late '40s and early '50s most crucial to planting the seeds for rock & roll, this three-CD, 60-song set is probably the most definitive. Most prior collections along these lines have failed to present a truly comprehensive picture of rock & roll's roots, whether due to both licensing restrictions and/or track selection that fails to recognize the entirety of the wide spectrum of rock & roll's roots. While you'd need at least a ten-CD box set to approach inarguable definitiveness, The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll: 1946-1954 hits about as many of the key bases as possible within three CDs, including pivotal songs by Lionel Hampton, the Delmore Brothers, Louis Jordan, Hank Williams, Lloyd Price, Howlin' Wolf, the Drifters, Bill Haley, Big Joe Turner, Hank Ballard, and Muddy Waters, to start with just the most well-known artists included here. There are also famous songs by somewhat lesser-known artists that have been cited as proto-rock & roll, like Wynonie Harris' "Good Rockin' Tonight," Jimmy Preston & His Prestonians' "Rock the Joint," Stick McGhee's "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee," Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88," Big Mama Thornton's original version of "Hound Dog," Junior Parker's "Mystery Train," Hank Ballard & the Midnighters' "Work With Me Annie," Wild Bill Moore's "We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll," Arthur Crudup's original version of "That's All Right," and the Chords' "Sh-Boom." Also, to its credit, while this compilation is R&B-heavy, it doesn't ignore the major contributions of key white performers like Bill Haley (represented by his first major hit, "Crazy Man Crazy"), Merle Travis, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Hank Snow. Too, its focus goes beyond the standard R&B and electric blues -- cited by many historians as rock & roll's primary fountain of inspiration -- to include proto-doo wop vocal groups like the Ravens and the Clovers; pop (Johnnie Ray's huge hit "Cry"); R&B-influenced '40s jazz (Lionel Hampton, Louis Jordan); and even gospel-R&B (Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Up Above My Head, I Hear Music in the Air"). There's also a smattering of tracks that might be unfamiliar even to rock experts, like Little Richard's pre-"Tutti Frutti" 1953 recording "Little Richard's Boogie"; Pee Wee Crayton's "Texas Hop"; the Larks' R&B hit version of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Eyesight to the Blind," the same song the Who adapted on Tommy; and Little Willie Littlefield's "K.C. Loving" (the basis for Wilbert Harrison's 1959 chart-topper "Kansas City"). Certainly scholars might have some very minor quibbles with the songs picked to represent a few giants; Fats Domino's seminal "The Fat Man" is passed over in favor of his lesser-known "Please Don't Leave Me," for instance, and Tiny Bradshaw's cut is "I'm Going to Have Myself a Ball" rather than his far more celebrated original version of "The Train Kept a-Rollin'." Too, a few of the most famous pre-1955 rock & roll-type songs are absent, like Elvis Presley's "That's All Right" and John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen." It's also true that the liner notes could have been more detailed and offered background on the specific tracks and performers (although original release date, label, and chart info is here). That's all small potatoes compared to the riches supplied by this well-chosen overview. It's essential musical history and, at least as importantly, a roaring good listen.

Product Details

Release Date:
Hip-O Records


Disc 1

  1. Hey! Ba-Ba-Ra-Bop
  2. R.M. Blues
  3. Freight Train Boogie
  4. Choo Choo Ch'boogie
  5. That's All Right
  6. Move It on Over
  7. Merle's Boogie Woogie
  8. We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll
  9. Bobby Sox Blues
  10. Good Rockin' Tonight
  11. Cornbread
  12. Ol' Man River
  13. Up Above My Head, I Hear Music in the Air
  14. Texas Hop
  15. Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee
  16. The Hucklebuck
  17. Saturday Night Fish Fry, Pts. 1 & 2
  18. Boogie at Midnight
  19. Rock the Joint

Disc 2

  1. Cupid's Boogie
  2. Bald Head
  3. Please Send Me Someone to Love
  4. I'm Movin' On
  5. I Almost Lost My Mind
  6. Shotgun Boogie
  7. Teardrops from My Eyes
  8. I'm Going to Have Myself a Ball
  9. Rocket 88
  10. How Many More Years
  11. I Got Loaded
  12. Sixty Minute Man
  13. Glory of Love
  14. Pink Champagne
  15. Eyesight to the Blind
  16. Night Train
  17. Cry
  18. Booted
  19. Lawdy Miss Clawdy
  20. One Mint Julep
  21. I Don't Know
  22. Hound Dog

Disc 3

  1. Money Honey
  2. Little Richard's Boogie
  3. Let Me Go Home, Whiskey
  4. Mystery Train
  5. Shake a Hand
  6. Crying in the Chapel
  7. Please Don't Leave Me
  8. Crazy Man Crazy
  9. K.C. Lovin'
  10. The Clock
  11. Baby Don't Do It
  12. Honey Hush
  13. I Feel So Bad
  14. Things I Used to Do
  15. You Upset Me Baby
  16. Riot in Cell Block #9
  17. Sh-Boom
  18. Work With Me Annie
  19. (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man

Album Credits

Technical Credits

Tiny Bradshaw   Composer
Roy Brown   Composer
Harry "Fats" Crafton   Composer
Pee Wee Crayton   Composer
Willie Dixon   Composer
Champion Jack Dupree   Composer
Guitar Slim   Composer
Ivory Joe Hunter   Composer
Willie Mabon   Composer
Percy Mayfield   Composer
Roy Milton   Composer
Johnny Otis   Composer
Big Joe Turner   Composer
Tennessee Ernie Ford   Composer
Hank Snow   Composer
Merle Travis   Composer
Hank Ballard   Composer
Bill Haley   Composer
Joe Liggins   Composer
Lloyd Price   Composer
Chuck Willis   Composer
Jimmy Forrest   Composer
Lionel Hampton   Composer
Louis Jordan   Composer
Lee Morgan   Composer
Andy Gibson   Composer
Hal Singer   Composer
Jerry Leiber   Composer
Denver Darling   Composer
Jerome Kern   Composer
Henry Bernard   Composer
Jackie Brenston   Composer
Roy Byrd   Composer
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup   Composer
Fats Domino   Composer
Milt Gabler   Composer
Henry Glover   Composer
Oscar Hammerstein   Composer
Curley Hamner   Composer
B.B. King   Composer
Riley King   Composer
Sticks McGhee   Composer
Andy McKaie   Producer
William Moore   Composer
Junior Parker   Composer
Teddy Reig   Composer
Jim Scott   Composer
Mike Stoller   Composer
Jesse Stone   Composer
Sister Rosetta Tharpe   Arranger
Rudy Toombs   Composer
Billy Ward   Composer
Hank Williams   Composer
J. Mayo Williams   Composer
Sonny Boy Williamson [II]   Composer
Herman Lubinsky   Composer
Peter Grendysa   Liner Notes
Artie Glenn   Composer
Lowman Pauling   Composer
Vartan   Art Direction
James Edwards   Composer
Carl Feaster   Composer
Claude Feaster   Composer
Vaughn Horton   Composer
Eddie Jones   Composer
James Keyes   Composer
Floyd McRae   Composer
Joe Morris   Composer
Richard Penniman   Composer
Lewis Simpkins   Composer
Clarence E. Snow   Composer
Dootsie Williams   Composer
Richard Henry   Composer
Jules Taub   Composer
Rose Marks   Composer
Lou Willie Turner   Composer
Roy Alfred   Composer
Jules Bihari   Composer
Ellis Walsh   Composer
Pat Lawrence   Executive Producer
Ryan Rogers   Art Direction
Traditional   Composer
Sally Nix   Composer
Robin Schwartz   Licensing
Michele Horie   Artwork
Churchill Kohlman   Composer
Carters   Composer
S. Henri   Composer
Chester Burnett   Composer

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