The Train Kept a Rollin by Johnny Burnette and the Rock N Roll Trio is a rockabilly song.
Song Title: The Train Kept A Rollin Artist:Johnny Burnette and the Rock N Roll Trio Album: Johnny Burnette and the Rock n Roll Trio Genre: rockabilly oldies Lead Vocals:Johnny Burnette Backing Vocals: Anita Kerr Singers Guitar:Johnny Burnette, Paul Burlison (possibly Nashville session guitarist Grady Martin) Piano: Owen Bradley Bass: Dorsey Burnette Drums: Buddy Harman Jr. Producer: Owen Bradley Recorded: Owen Bradley studio, Nashville, Tennessee, July 2, 1956 Released: August 1956 Format: 10" 78 rpm and 7" 45 rpm records B-side: Honey Hush Label: Coral (61719) Number of listens: 17909 Current rank: 203 (updated weekly) Highest rank: 188 (play the video all the way through to register a vote for this song)
In 1956, Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio reworked Tiny Bradshaws 1951 jump blues song using a rockabilly/early rock and roll arrangement. The Trios version features guitar lines in what many historians consider to be the first recorded example of intentionally distorted guitar in rock music, although blues guitarists, such as Willie Johnson and Pat Hare, had recorded with the same effect years earlier.
The Trios guitarist, Paul Burlison, explained that he noticed the sound after accidentally dropping his amplifier, which dislodged a power tube and later, whenever I wanted to get that sound, Id just reach back and loosen that tube. He utilized this effect with the songs main instrumental feature, a repeated three-note minor key [guitar] riff. Burlison recounted how he came up with the signature riff:
[I was] in the dressing room with the loose tube. Johnny [Burnett] was playing an E chord and I was playing in a G position but Id take my fingers off and play in octaves [using the thumb and middle or index finger]. He wasnt singing The Train Kept A-Rollin, it was another song, and I got to doing doom diddle doom daddle doom daddle [Later] I told Owen Bradley about it at the Barn, where we cut the stuff, and he said, let me hear it. So I started doing it and he said, Well, lets do it.
Later, authors Vince Gordon and Peter DijkemaIt argue that the guitar sound on The Train Kept A-Rollin could be created with distortion commonly achievable with a highly-overdriven early 1950s guitar amplifier. They point out that in the recording, the higher treble strings sound relatively clean, with the low E string having the most distortion; with a tube malfunction, all strings would be distorted more or less to an equal degree. The authors add that this difference in sound could be achieved with the pole piece for the low E string raised higher than the rest, thereby allowing it to overload the amplifier more than the treble strings. They also argue that Nashville session guitarist Grady Martin provided the guitar parts for the Trios recording; they base this on stylistic and technical qualities, since, at the time, Martin was a more accomplished player than Burlison, and these qualities are apparent in his work on other recordings.
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