Monday, February 22, 2010
Blues for Hawaiians - Surfing Steel
He's half right, half wrong.
First, there's nothing superior to "Deep Feeling." "Deep Feeling" is up there with anything Chuck Berry ever did. I remember a friend who heard "Deep Feeling " on a blues radio show in the early 1970s. This friend didn't really know Chuck Berry and was a bit contemptuous of my interest. Then he heard "Deep Feeling." Then he heard who played it. And he changed his mind. "Deep Feeling" really is deep. For Chuck Berry blues it's matched only by "Wee Wee Hours" and "Have Mercy Judge," and the three cuts would have made Chuck Berry a somebody in the blues world all by themselves.
But I finally really listened to these two "Hawaiian" "Surfin'" songs, playing them one after the other instead of miles apart on different disks and I can report that "Surfin' Steel" is:
A superior version of "Blues for Hawaiians." "Blues for Hawaiians" is almost like a demo-- with the piano doing simple chords throughout, and a screech of reverb in the middle. "Surfing Steel" is more refined, and structured a little differently. But they are pretty much the same tune.
But when it comes to the blues, both cuts pale compared to the shatteringly deadly version Chuck Berry plays at the end of "Hail! Hail!" ("Blues for Missourians?") as the cameral flies in over the dirty swimming pool into the empty clubhouse.
My view: while "Deep Feeling" and "Mad Lad" stand apart, the other three (including that stark live one that ends "Hail! Hail!") are versions of the same tune. (And those strawberries-- pre-genetic engineering!)