Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup

The Father of Rock & Roll

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Just because Elvis Presley was a big fan of your work doesn't make you the father of rock & roll, as this compilation of early recordings by rural blues artist Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup unwittingly proves. It's true that Presley often name-checked Crudup in early interviews as a personal favorite, and he recorded no fewer than three of Crudup's songs: "That's All Right, Mama," "My Baby Left Me," and "So Glad You're Mine," the original versions of which all appear on this album. But a quick listen to The Father of Rock & Roll proves that the rock came in when Presley started messing with Crudup's tunes, since Presley took some rather substantial liberties with Crudup's lyrics, melodies, and musical approach. Which isn't to speak ill of Crudup -- these 16 songs are all solid country blues, and Crudup's strong, rich voice and sly lyrical style are still impressive (though his guitar work is more enthusiastic than skillful). Just don't pick this up expecting to hear the cornerstone of Elvis' style -- you'll find as much of that in a collection of early Dean Martin hits (another fave of the Big E). This out-of-print LP has since been supplanted by the 1992 CD That's All Right Mama, which duplicates 12 of its 16 songs and adds another ten rare tracks for good measure.

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