Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

King’s “Red River Rock” Cash-In

Catchy King instrumental — and what is that instrument, exactly?  Sounds like a blend of organ and harmonica, most likely:

New Annie Laurie” by Gene Redd (1960)

[streaming audio unavailable on YouTube, sadly]

New Annie Laurie” seems an obvious attempt by King to “cash in” on the fresh organ retooling of “Red River Rock” made famous the previous year by Johnny and the Hurricanes, although without directly resorting to plagiarism, cleverly enough, by using an olde Scotch ballad.

Billboard‘s review of the single in its October 10, 1960 edition would have this to say about the A-side “New Sidewalks of New York” — “Gene Redd sells this happy rocker with warmth on this driving instrumental side, it’s the old tune dressed up with a rocking beat” — and then, hilariously, utter two words “same comment” about the B-side “New Annie Laurie”!  Worth noting that Redd covered “Red River Rock” for King the previous year.

Cash Box‘s October 22, 1960 issue included this singles review:

The “new” — teen-styled, that is — treatment of the perennial is handled in a Johnny & the Hurricanes-like manner by the musicians.  Waxing makes good upbeat teen sense.

Brian Powers’ King Records Scrapbook informs me that Redd, originally a session player and King artist who became a talent scout for the label, would go on to do arrangements for Kool & the Gang, for which his son, Gene Redd, Jr., served as manager.

Did You Know?

Blues musician and scholar Ben Levin believes that Philip Paul (profiled in depth here) was the drummer on this August 12, 1960 session at King Studios.

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