Danny Zella

Zell Rockin', Vols. 1 & 2

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Danny Zella was the first Detroit rock & roller of the non-Caucasian persuasion to hit the national charts, a 300-pound-plus bruiser who honked an alto sax with more enthusiasm than precision and bellowed out vocals more savage than tuneful. He fronted a combo called the Zell Rocks who chopped down the trees in the late-'50s rock & roll wilderness of the Midwest, making it possible for all who came after (Mitch Ryder, the MC5, etc.) to ride down the newly paved highway of Motor City musical mayhem. These two 45 picture-sleeve EPs from Norton pretty much cover the entire Zella discography, pairing both sides of his first three singles with a previously unissued live version of "Louie, Go Home." Volume one is the perfect introduction to this Detroit racket squad with his hit, "Wicked Ruby" and its demonic instrumental flipside "Black Saxes" (sounding like the MC5 and the Stooges in 1958!) teamed with the follow-up, "Sapphire" and his lone doo wop ballad attempt, "You Made Me Blue," on the B-side. Volume two is an instrumental bonanza, teaming up Zella's sax action with local Detroit buddies Georgie Young's Youngsters for two pieces of instrumental honkin' and twangin' lunacy. The titles alone speak volumes; "Zebra" and "Youngster Meets Monster." If you're a Detroit rock & roll music fan and you want to hear the beginnings of it all, help yourself to these two wonderful slices of black wax and be one with the original Motor City big sound.