Thursday, May 19, 2016


Cultural Affairs Week 2016
 continues with the nearly forgotten, “Irish Rock”, an infectious shaker by Frank De Rosa and His D Men. Also posted today, check out J.C. Davis’ nearly forgotten honker, “The Splib, Part 1.”

Date of release: 1958 (Dot, Hollywood, Calif.) Previously recorded in 1957 (Ken Records, Rochester, N.Y.) A side: “Big Guitar” / B side: “Irish Rock”

Likely personnel: Frank De Rosa (leader, tenor sax), Bobby Geno (guitar), Sonny Geno (instrument unknown). Others and their instruments, if any, unknown.

Genre: Early rock.

Biographical information on leader: We know very little about Frank De Rosa, who seems to have recorded just these two songs. “Big Guitar” achieved some local notoriety, prompting Dot to pick up the record for national distribution. De Rosa’s version (of “Big Guitar”) failed to achieve widespread success, but a cover by the Owen Bradley Quartet fared much better. While De Rosa may have played with other musicians, including Ella Fitzgerald, scant information exists for this wailing saxophone player, who really hits the bell on “Irish Rock.”

25 word review: Stitches effortlessly between (and integrates) swing, R&B, rock. Undeniably punk. At heart optimistic, a bit naughty, a bit aggressive: it encourages our opposite(s) to capitulate.

Sources of information: 45cat entry for Frank De Rosa, Discogs entry for Frank De Rosa, WNYFM blog post on Big Guitar, Book Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz (Da Capo Press, 1995).

cultural affairs week 2016 editorial schedule
Monday: Blue Jay Z
The Swans Survive
Thursday: Irish Rock and The Splib, Part 1
Friday: Subsidiary Needs within a System


Anonymous said...

so i guess you're counting r&b as one word? how about you try some truth in advertising? it's a 27 word review.


hi casey,

yeah, i counted R&B as one word, since there are no spaces between the letters. i do believe that's one way of defining a word. for instance, bong rip is two words, since there is a space between the g and the r. if you prefer to see 25 words and 27, that's okay with me, but of course that leads to word inflation, which is something we are just coming to grips with, as a society.


mark wallace said...

The opening bars of this made it sound like it was going to be a real dog, genuinely forgotten for a reason. It's competent and fun after that. A good discovery!


Man, would I ever post "a real dog" of a song? It's wrong of you to even say that!


Anonymous said...

In this track, as in the other, I do believe I detect a bitteen o' menace.

I mean, why ain't that a candy bar: Bit-o-Menace?

Righteous honkin' selections, man.




yeah, you could buy bit-o-menace with bit-o-coin, or in ireland, bitteen-o-coin.

of all the songs i've posted -- willene barton, plas, j.c. davis, royaltones, even tom archia's "downfall blues" -- i think we both know that this is just a very minor piece of the whole.

the music is out there, scattered around on youtube for the most part, (and through expensive rare OOP vinyl sales) -- so the question is, how to make it portable, available, etc. "the TT boxed set?"


mark wallace said...

I precisely did NOT say that you posted a dog of a song. I'm saying that the opening blasts of this tune had that "this is going to be a dog" feeling, but then the song pulled together.

Of course the risk of a lot of these little known underground tracks--one of the things that's so fun about them--is that their (relatively) amateur playing is often on the verge of falling apart. Without the risk of falling apart, some of the pieces feel too settled.

Which leaves me almost wanting to challenge you to post, now and then, a song of this kind that you actually think sucks, with a discussion of what it is that doesn't work. When songs of this kind go wrong, what makes them go wrong, to your way of thinking?


My research leads me to believe that Frank De Rosa may have played with Ella Fitzgerald, and so, I don't see him (or this) as amateurish, or on the verge of falling apart, and I guess I just don't worry, at any part of this song, that it's going to be a dog of any kind, except a dawg that runs fast, barks at foes, and charms the ladies!

As you know, I've spent about 12 years delving through tens of thousands of songs -- jumps & shakers of many stripes -- and have a pretty good concept of the under-celebrated American (and some international) musicians who worked in early rock, early R&B, surf, rockabilly, instrumentals, northern soul, etc., and I don't really know that I'm spending too much time with songs that don't work.

"Irish Rock" is not the best song in the compilation -- it's probably high-average -- but it's a fairly bright song, and I've taken to posting some of the brighter pieces. For my money -- a piece like Duane Eddy's version of Peter Gunn is one of the greatest rock 'n' roll songs of any era, but to be sure it's a hard-ass punk-like kick you in the stomach song. I could've posted that one, but it's much better known, and an ethic here is to post the nearly forgotten gems, of which "Irish Rock" is a member.

My guess is -- we could post any number of sucky songs and we'd find them to be some combination of too saccharine, cheesy, edgeless, craftless, obvious money makers, or too obscure in their attempts at cutting edge sound. I rejected a lot of -- but not all -- doo wop. Perhaps in some of the crooning doo wop, we could find some limp noodle kind of stuff, but in any event, the Frank De Rosa is -- hardly -- in that territory, at any point in the song.

Hope this helps.