1. We know very little about this song and its musicians.
2. Likely personnel include: Richie Mayo (bass), Frank Perry (guitar), Mel Barnet (tenor saxophone), Mike Marrow (drums), and Don Edmonds (piano).
3. The band recorded “Crawlin’ (The Crawl)” on Varsity Music’s Campus label in Philadelphia, 1957.
4. A few years later, in 1961, a band known as the Untouchables re-recorded the song, bundled with “Benny the Beatnik,” on To-Da Music’s Rello label. While the personnel aren’t fully known, the guitar player (Frank Perry) for the Paramours appears to be part of this recording, and is given credit for composing this second version. It ain’t no slouch, as they say.
5. The original version may have been responding to The Stroll, which was both a teenage dance and an early rock ‘n’ roll song. In the dance, a line of boys and a line of girls would face each other at opposite sides of the room, akin to “reels” from other eras. One couple at a time, the dance partners would meet in the middle and stroll down the two lines, dancing while holding hands. The song, “The Stroll,” was first recorded by a Canadian band, The Diamonds, and first released in December, 1957, on the Mercury label. Ultimately, it’s a pop song, but owing to its rowdy saxophone, it reached #5 on the R&B charts. The record, the recording, would enable the song and the dance to occur simultaneously, a great triumph, perhaps, for connoisseurs of coincidence.
6. Dictionaries, as we know them, tend to define “stroll” as to “walk in a leisurely way” whereas “crawl” is typically cast as “dragging the body along on hands and knees.” The former is pleasant whereas the latter is burdened and grimy. (Ahem.) But that’s not all. The song is called “Crawlin’ (The Crawl),” as if to insist upon some slangy distance, the parentheses, between the two worlds. At the very least, “Crawlin’” is much less theoretical than “The Crawl” and to some degree must represent the unscripted form of the experience.
7. As an aside, “paramour” is defined as “a lover, especially a lover of a person who is married to someone else.”
8. Both versions of “Crawlin’ (The Crawl)” were re-released in 2013, as part of an early rock revival on Jazzman Records in the United Kingdom. Some Jazzman records emphasize the concept of burlesque, which their choice of labels—Sleazy, Sin Street, Smutt, et cetera—amply confirms.
9. “Shakers?” you ask. “SHAKERS,” I reply. Look into it.
10. In the end, here we have a suggestive song that’s crawlin’, played by a group of lovers, recorded sixty years ago, with wailing guitar and growling horn, and it’s no wonder that the band members have to shout “yeah!” at intervals. In part, those shouts acknowledge the genesis of an edgy translation, a code that instructs us to move.
Sources of Information:
45cat entry for Untouchables
Wikipedia entry for “The Stroll”