Johnny Devlin: Matador Baby (1958)

 |   |  <1 min read

Johnny Devlin: Matador Baby (1958)

It's widely known that Johnny Devlin was New Zealand's own Elvis Presley -- but unlike Elvis, Devlin wrote his own material.

Certainly he covered the hits of the day -- Hand Jive, Wild One, Bony Maronie and so on. But he also wrote some creditable originals like Hard to Get, High Heeled Shoes, Nervous Wreck and so on -- which all were firmly within the genre of Fifties rock'n'roll as we have come to understand it.

Matador Baby -- with Bob Paris on guitar and Bernie Allen on sax, probably -- is an interesting one: it adopts the whole language of American rock'n'roll ("the hop" which we didn't have in New Zealand) and at times here Devlin is closer to Jerry Lee Lewis than Elvis -- and of course it makes a reference which most people wouldn't get these days, to matador pants which were popular at the time and somewhat daring for their tight cut.

You can hear also how the band were actually jazz players moonlighting in rock'n'roll (the sax break and sort of New Orleans clarinet from Tony Ashby) -- sort of early jazz-rock?

You wish that pianist was let off the leash a bit more.

It might have taken his career in a very different direction -- the pianist is in fact the acclaimed jazz pianist Mike Nock who at the time was in his teens.

 

For more on-offs or songs with an interesting back-story see From the Vaults

Johnny Devlin was interviewed at Elsewhere here

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

The Valli Boys; Night Hawk (1966)

The Valli Boys; Night Hawk (1966)

Quite where Frankie Valli's solo career emerged separate to the Four Season's discography is hard to discern. Before and during the Four Seasons era of the early Sixties he appeared simply as a... > Read more

Aretha Franklin: This Bitter Earth (1964)

Aretha Franklin: This Bitter Earth (1964)

It is standard received opinion that it wasn't until the great Aretha Franklin left Columbia Records for Atlantic (and sessions in Muscle Shoals with Jerry Wexler), that her career got serious... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Lipbone Redding: Hop the Fence (Bepop)

Lipbone Redding: Hop the Fence (Bepop)

American Redding has been an itinerant musician through Europe, the States and Asia whose music is so memorably enjoyable -- and his vocal technique of sounding like a trombone -- it would... > Read more

Vayo: Tango (Pantaleon)

Vayo: Tango (Pantaleon)

Every journalist-cum-travel writer who goes to Argentina writes about the seduction of tango, the sensual poetry of the dance and so on. To be honest, having been there, it's hard not to. Like... > Read more