Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Sonny Burgess
Red Headed Woman/We Wanna Boogie

Released 1956 on Sun
Reviewed by Fitter Stoke, 02/11/2002ce

Okay. This is it. You wanna trace the roots of the real extreme rock records like The Beatles' 'Helter Skelter', the MC5's 'Kick Out The Jams' and the Stooges' 'Raw Power'? Well believe it or not it all happened on the Sun label back in 1956, and I ain't talking Elvis here. He's hardly 'unsung' after all. No. Rock 'n' roll changed for the better (or worse, depending on your point of view) when this slice of unrestrained mayhem was unleashed on a still conservative world. Of course, like all the greatest art, it did sod all at the time.

'Red Headed Woman' and 'We Wanna Boogie' are two chunks of mega-rampant rock and roll consisting of no more than three chords apiece. And they rock like a bitch. What sets them apart from their predecessors, including even the mighty Elvis Sun sides, is their out-and-out rawness, the proto-Iggy, wild technique-free vocal that Burgess inflicts (bearing any recognition of the lyrics virtually impossible), and the use of a trombone (yes, I said trombone) as the only solo instrument of its time that cuts through the primitive melee of sound and renders this awesome 45 by far the most intense slice of primevil rock ever released up to its time. And, may I say, right up until a good two decades later.

Put in its basest terms, here are two of the hardest slices of shit ever unleashed upon the open world, irrespective of time. What amazes in this day and age is that they emerged a full decade before 'Pet Sounds' and 'Revolver'. Believe me, these sides have the power to move mountains. Even if you have a bias against anything recorded before 'Please Please Me', do try to hear these two monumental slices of timeless hardcore rock and roll. And, given the chance, check their creator out live. He still delivers these timeless numbers as if he's invented rock and roll on the spot. And given that 'That's Alright' sounds soporific next to this, maybe he did.

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