Friday, March 22, 2013

"Twenty Flight Rock" - Two Versions

Paul McCartney is just one of the many musicians influenced by the late, great Eddie Cochran. When Paul performed his version of “20 Flight Rock” for John Lennon in 1957, he was only 14 years old and Mr. Cochran only had a few more years to live; leaving his mark on the world of rock music forever.

Eddie Cochran was Elvis and James Dean rolled into one. Touring with Gene Vincent, he passed away on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1960 in a car crash outside of Bath, England where they had been touring, just having done a show in nearby Chippenham the night before.

His recording of “20 Flight Rock” was charged with all of the sexual innuendo of a Chuck Berry record, and infused with the sensuality of the “old”, pre-army Elvis. He looked clean, but beneath the surface; barely; there was still the rebel in him, and it showed; or rather made it-self heard in his music.

The video above is from “Chaos and Creation at Abbey Road”, which was a promotional film for the Paul McCartney album “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.” There is a shorter version with Sir Paul doing only the Eddie Cochran number, but the “big machine” will not allow me to upload that one. You can also watch the entire film on You Tube, and it’s really worth the time. Filmed in the old Abbey Road studios, and employing some of the old analog equipment which the Beatles actually used, Paul regales the audience with experiments and explanations of recording techniques, as well as entertains with some old Beatles songs and a few of his own from the album. The results are really entertaining.

Compare Paul’s version of “20 Flight Rock” with that of Eddie Cochran’s below, and see how close he nails it. Of course, the sound quality will be very different, but the music is there, even on the old film.

One of the things I love to do is compare the old versions of songs with new and different interpretations. Sometimes the beauty is in the difference; but other times the magic is in the way someone can “channel” that original energy, even after so many years. It’s a tribute to Mr. Cochran that he influenced a generation over 50 years ago, and that his music still holds validity today. Here is Mr. Cochran doing his iconic hit “20 Flight Rock” from the film "The Girl Can't Help It."

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