Graham Reid | | 1 min read
When the cleanest white-bread rock'n'roll singer of the late Fifties sings "no more Mr Nice Guy, no more Mr Clean" you know he's well in on the joke -- and that if you bought the album this came from (In a Metal Mood) then the joke was on you.
First, they might have been hard rock songs he was covering (Smoke on the Water with Richie Blackmore on guitar, It's a Long Way to the Top, Enter Sandman etc) but there was barely a blazing guitar within earshot.
Pat certainly put on the leather waistcoat for the cover shot (he's on a chopper on the back) but he wasn't so dumb to make an absolute arse of himself: these are mostly swinging big band treatments or orchestrated ballads (Love Hurts) . . . and some not bad.
But the self-awareness is slightly double-edged too: on AC/DC's It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock'n'Roll) the lyrics tell of getting ripped off and so on . . . which is exactly what a lot of black artists thought when he turned their raw rock'n'roll into safe-as-milk and rather bloodless versions which did serious chart damage while their originals languished.
To hear Pat's version of Little Richard's Long Tall Sally is to witness a song with the life drained out of it.
And yet . . .
There has been a very good case made that Boone-- who is interviewed here -- was also a conduit for those on their way from conservative white Christian America into the darker and more edgy world of black r'n'b and rock'n'roll. He was a stepping stone, the warm up act, the door opener. Maybe.
So in his early 50s why a rock'n'roll parody album? Because Boone, to the surprise of many who just read him as a Christian conservative, had a sense of humour. Unfortunately his own folks didn't get it and he was ousted from the Gospel America television show until he explained the joke of him in black leathers.
So "no more Mr Nice Guy"?
Nope, it was business as usual after this slight digression.
As far as I'm aware Little Richard was unavailable for comment.
For more one-offs, oddities or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults.