An exploration of Mystery Train, progressing through a variety of styles as a result of Elvis's historic recording (not included as it is taken as read), and other references to it, and some train related songs. It includes B-sides of the Junior Parker source, itself influential on the arrangement of Elvis' version, and of the Elvis Presley cover. These are both excellent in their own right, though not train related in themselves. As the Junior Parker original was recorded at the Memphis Recording Services run by Sam Phillips, it is fitting that several of the more recent tracks were also recorded there, and serve as a tribute to the father of rock and roll, who died in July 2003.
I particular like Johnny Waleen's interpretation. He was a Wisconsin deejay who made his sole venture onto vinyl with it in 1963. It is exactly on the cusp of rockabilly and surf music. Rockabilly was on the wane by then and surf/hot-rod groups like Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys were on the up and up, before the craze was squashed flat by the British Invasion. This version has the old rockabilly sound coupled with new Pipeline-style surf guitar.
Another train song, Train Kept A-Rollin', represents a sub-theme, and provides both the earliest and one of the most recent recordings on the compilation. Paul Burlison's guitar on Johnny Burnette's cover is among the earliest known uses of feedback and distortion, pre-Rumble. 
Another sub-theme involves the song I'm A Man (again the original recordings by Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters are a given). The Pomus-Shuman song I'm A Man was actually written for Fabian, the pretender to Elvis' throne when Elvis was in the army, so linking to Mystery Train, and the guitarist "Joe" that Mort Shuman refers to on the record, produced by Jack Good in London, is Joe Brown.

Tiny Bradshaw Orchestra - Train kept a-rollin'
(A-side of single, 1952)
Little Junior Parker and his Blue Flames - Mystery train/
Love my baby
(A/B-sides of single, 1953/5-6 R @ Sam Phillips Studio, Memphis TN)
Elvis Presley - I forgot to remember to forget
(B-side of Mystery Train, 1955/7/11 R @ Sam Phillips Studio, Memphis TN)
Janis Martin - My boy Elvis
(A-side of single, 1956)
Johnny Burnette Trio - Train kept a-rollin'
(cover of Tiny Bradshaw)
(A-side of single, 1956)
Mort Shuman - I'm a man

(A-side of single, 1959)
Johnny Waleen - Mystery train
(cover of Elvis Presley)
(A-side of single, 1963)
Yardbirds - Train kept a-rollin'
(cover of Johnny Burnette Trio)
Yardbirds: Keith Relf (vcl, har), Jeff Beck (gtr), Chris Dreja (rh gtr), Paul Samwell-Smith (bass, vcl), Jim McCarty (dr, perc)
(from Having A Rave Up With The Yardbirds, 1965/9/12-22 R @ Sam Phillips Studio, Memphis TN)
Shangri-Las - Train from Kansas City
(B-side of Right Now And Not Later, 1965)
Mississippi Fred McDowell - The train I ride
(recorded live, University of California, Los Angeles CA, 1966/11/12 R)
Amazing Rhythm Aces - Mystery train
(cover of Elvis Presley)
(B-side of Third Rate Romance, 1975 @ Sam Phillips Studio, Memphis TN)
Yardbirds Stroll on
Yardbirds: Keith Relf (vcl, har), Jeff Beck (gtr), Jimmy Page (gtr), Chris Dreja (bass), Jim McCarty (dr, perc)
(from Blow Up, 1966/10/3-5 R)
Spencer Davis Group - I'm a man
(Saturday Club session, 1967 R)
Nas - Bridging the gap
- with Olu Dara
(A-side of single, 2004)
Jimi Hendrix Experience - I'm a man
(cover of Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley & the Spencer Davis Group)
(played from Blues, 1969/4/22 R)
Paul Butterfield - Mystery train
(cover of Elvis Presley)/
Muddy Waters - I'm a man (Mannish Boy)
- with Paul Butterfield
(cover of Bo Diddley)
(recorded live, The Last Waltz, Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco CA, 1976/11/25 R)
Billy Swan - Mystery train
(cover of Elvis Presley)
(out-take from Like Elvis Used To - Down Union Avenue, 1997 R)
Maria Muldaur - I'm a woman
(cover of Peggy Lee)
(from Waitress In A Donut Shop, 1974)
Sleeper - I'm a man
(from She's A Good Girl CDS, 1997)
Neil Young and the Shocking Pinks - Mystery train
(cover of Elvis Presley)
(from Everybody's Rockin', 1983)
Sonic Youth - Expressway to yr skull
(from EVOL, 1986/3 R)
Yardbirds - Train kept a-rollin'
(cover of Johnny Burnette Trio)
(1st Yardbirds LP since 1968)
Yardbirds: John Eidon (vcl, bass), Alan Glen (from Little Axe)(har), Gypie Mayo (from Dr Feelgood)(gtr), Chris Dreja (rh gtr), Jim McCarty (dr)
(from Birdland, 2003)

T: 78.56
Compiled 23 March 2005 - 10 May 2005

Last updated February 01, 2008 10:36