Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

PlayTheSong

Senior Member
I'm going to tap into some of the group expertise here if I may.

A few years ago I backed an "Andrews Sisters" cover group for one event. (Sadly, the singers sucked.) Before the first rehearsal I listened to the original recording from 1941 and was intrigued by the rhythm, which is not quite straight and not quite swung. It took a few tries (practicing by myself) to stop alternating between the two and consistently ride that edge. I read somewhere that this "in between" beat was what inspired the term "rock and roll", which is a bit ironic if true, since it has come to mean heavy backbeats with no swing in most cases.

Was this beat just a temporary bridging that occurred between the swing and rock era's or are there whole musical traditions/styles that ride this edge? I certainly don't hear it often, but then I haven't seriously pursued it either.

Please educate me if you're so inclined! Maybe others will benefit also.

I should add that I do realize that Jerry Lee Lewis revolutionized things by doing a swinging walking bass line with his left hand while playing straight with his right, but I think the drumming was relatively "straight" on his tunes.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Steve, nice topic. In my mind you just put your finger on the very place where the rock beat sprung from. Maybe not necessarily that particular song, but the beat behind it. Chuck Berry had it on "Maybelline", Elvis had it on "Jailhouse Rock". There were other songs that slip my mind now. I wasn't aware that BWBB of Company B had that going on too. That was in the 40's! I thought that beat arrived in the 50's. It would be good to compile a list of songs that demonstrate that particular hybrid feel between straight and swung. Ike Turner's "Rocket 88" might have been one as well.

It's the intersection of the straight and swung time that was the impetus. I'm pretty sure it didn't last too long, but I might be off there. It seems they went to straight time fairly quickly with RnR. It's the swung part that puts the rock in rock and roll. Now we just play roll lol.
Isn't it something that a beat can change the culture? Our instrument has super powers.

If anyone can think of other straight/swung song titles... we should list them here.

On a completely unrelated note, and only because I mentioned the name...Maybelline...the make up company... got it's start when Maybelline's brother... (Maybelline was a real woman) observed her getting ready for a dance. He watched her mix coal dust with Vaseline, and then he saw that she decorated her eyes with the mixture. He took the idea and made a fortune.

Drummerworld. Passing along information that you wouldn't expect.
 
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Muckster

Platinum Member
Little Richard was tapping out straight eighth's on the piano from the start and the jazz drummers that worked with him learned to comp that feel, particularly Earl Palmer.

To me, "Tutti Frutti" started it all. Loud, outrageous, straight driving beat. That's Rock and Roll.
 
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Morrisman

Platinum Member
There was a thread about this a year ago. Lots of song suggestions there, including Jailhouse Rock, Whole Lotta Shakin and some of the 1940's boogie woogie songs. Sometimes the guitar is swung but the drums are straight, sometimes other combinations.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
There was a thread about this a year ago. Lots of song suggestions there, including Jailhouse Rock, Whole Lotta Shakin and some of the 1940's boogie woogie songs. Sometimes the guitar is swung but the drums are straight, sometimes other combinations.
Yes. That makes it hard to pick out, when the guitar is doing the swing thing. It's hard for me as a drummer to leave an important rhythmic part like that to a guitarist, but it works great when done well. I'd like to see a revival of this particular rhythm in modern music.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
With much of the early rock and roll, the rhythm section would swing, and the singers and/or lead instruments would play straight.

I'm mostly a jazz guy, but I've been playing with a rockabilly/early rock and roll group for a while, and it's almost all swing for the drums and bass.

Earl Palmer and Bobby Morris were probably both the first drummers to really pioneer the new rock style. At the time it was mostly a shuffle, since Rock and Roll was originally a really dirty rhythm and blues offshoot. After a while, the shuffle simplified to the straight beat that we have today. Bobby Morris played with Louis Prima, who wasn't exactly rock and roll, but if you listen to the songs, they are loud aggressive shuffles... nothing like the big band drummers at the time. he became Capitol's shiny example of rock and roll, and they had him work in drum clinics to teach other drummers how to play this fast shuffle.. drum clinics were brand new at the time.

As far as the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, that's a Boogie Woogie beat which is a hard shuffle. it definitely has a pronounced swing to it, but it's that hard jump swing that ended becoming rock and roll. Most of the early Rock and Roll is all swing though:

- Bill Haley
- Buddy Holly
- Little Richard
- Chuck Berry
- (early) Elvis

very few of the early rock hits would have had a straight beat to it. it wasn't until the late 50s and early 60s that you saw the beats straightening out, along with the dances.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
With much of the early rock and roll, the rhythm section would swing, and the singers and/or lead instruments would play straight.

I'm mostly a jazz guy, but I've been playing with a rockabilly/early rock and roll group for a while, and it's almost all swing for the drums and bass.

Earl Palmer and Bobby Morris were probably both the first drummers to really pioneer the new rock style. At the time it was mostly a shuffle, since Rock and Roll was originally a really dirty rhythm and blues offshoot. After a while, the shuffle simplified to the straight beat that we have today. Bobby Morris played with Louis Prima, who wasn't exactly rock and roll, but if you listen to the songs, they are loud aggressive shuffles... nothing like the big band drummers at the time. he became Capitol's shiny example of rock and roll, and they had him work in drum clinics to teach other drummers how to play this fast shuffle.. drum clinics were brand new at the time.

As far as the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, that's a Boogie Woogie beat which is a hard shuffle. it definitely has a pronounced swing to it, but it's that hard jump swing that ended becoming rock and roll. Most of the early Rock and Roll is all swing though:

- Bill Haley
- Buddy Holly
- Little Richard
- Chuck Berry
- (early) Elvis

very few of the early rock hits would have had a straight beat to it. it wasn't until the late 50s and early 60s that you saw the beats straightening out, along with the dances.
Great perspective, thanks.
 

moxman

Silver Member
Jailhouse Rock is the perfect example of this.. swung to straight migration.

as far as Bugle Boy goes.. I play the 70's Bette Midler version which is more contemporary sounding than the original and has a great swing fell. Fortunately I back a couple of great female singers that knock it out of the park.. and it is a blast to play... you can really lay into the groove with lots of brass (or keyboard) shots. The original Andrews version bores me by comparison..
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
A few of the 50's R&R songs were definitely straight though, like Lucille and Johnny B Goode. Many are swung/shuffled, and a few are either combinations or just slightly shuffled like the boogie woogie stlye from the 40's.

By the way, how do you guys play 'She Loves You' by the Beatles? There's a kind of shuffle feeling, especially the vocal, but the tom tom fills are straight. Always causes confusion in bands when we've tried it. We just don't play it anymore.
 

brady

Platinum Member
A few of the 50's R&R songs were definitely straight though, like Lucille and Johnny B Goode. Many are swung/shuffled, and a few are either combinations or just slightly shuffled like the boogie woogie stlye from the 40's.

By the way, how do you guys play 'She Loves You' by the Beatles? There's a kind of shuffle feeling, especially the vocal, but the tom tom fills are straight. Always causes confusion in bands when we've tried it. We just don't play it anymore.
Johnny B Goode is typically covered incorrectly straight. But if you listen to the original, you can hear Fred Below playing a swing pattern on the ride.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Interesting - the lead vocal and guitar are straight. The piano is shuffled. Couldn't quite hear the ride cymbal, but it may well be shuffled. I've always played this straight.
 

moxman

Silver Member
Interesting - the lead vocal and guitar are straight. The piano is shuffled. Couldn't quite hear the ride cymbal, but it may well be shuffled. I've always played this straight.
Check out the 'back to the future' soundtrack.. you can hear it clearly. Those old recordings are painful to hear sometimes..
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I'm going to tap into some of the group expertise here if I may.

A few years ago I backed an "Andrews Sisters" cover group for one event. (Sadly, the singers sucked.) Before the first rehearsal I listened to the original recording from 1941 and was intrigued by the rhythm, which is not quite straight and not quite swung. It took a few tries (practicing by myself) to stop alternating between the two and consistently ride that edge. I read somewhere that this "in between" beat was what inspired the term "rock and roll", which is a bit ironic if true, since it has come to mean heavy backbeats with no swing in most cases.

Was this beat just a temporary bridging that occurred between the swing and rock era's or are there whole musical traditions/styles that ride this edge? I certainly don't hear it often, but then I haven't seriously pursued it either.

Please educate me if you're so inclined! Maybe others will benefit also.

I should add that I do realize that Jerry Lee Lewis revolutionized things by doing a swinging walking bass line with his left hand while playing straight with his right, but I think the drumming was relatively "straight" on his tunes.
I think it was somewhat standard for umptempo swing songs. A-train by Ellington, almost feels like a straight rock beat on the ride because the swung notes drop away. Then their is Duke's intro.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOzn8lvrWi8
 

tcspears

Gold Member
Johnny B Goode is typically covered incorrectly straight. But if you listen to the original, you can hear Fred Below playing a swing pattern on the ride.
YES!

So many people think the song is straight and it just sounds wrong. It is definitely a swing. I'm not sure that Chuck Berry had many tunes that weren't swing.
 

moxman

Silver Member
There is of course the Elvis version which is more of a 'straight shuffle' rock kind of thing.. it's funny because I have to play a R&R dance party Friday including old chestnuts (like Johhny B etc.) up to modern stuff.. so we had to learn (or dust off) about 8 of these ancient relics.. so last night I asked the band 'for Johhny B do you want play the original swing feel or the rockier Elvis feel.
I got a resounding chorus of 'Elvis!'

I used to play in an Elvis band.. and know practically all the Ronnie parts.. so I was like Yesss!
 
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