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“The Train Kept a Rollin’” by Johnny Burnette and the Rock ’N’ Roll Trio

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    “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: 23700

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    Summary quotation from Wikipedia:

    In 1956, Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio reworked Tiny Bradshaw’s 1951 jump blues song using a rockabilly/early rock and roll arrangement. The Trio’s 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 Trio’s 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, I’d just reach back and loosen that tube”. He utilized this effect with the song’s 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 I’d take my fingers off and play in octaves [using the thumb and middle or index finger]. He wasn’t 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, let’s 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 Trio’s 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.

—from Wikipedia (the Wikipedia:Text of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License applies to Wikipedia’s block of text and possible accompanying picture, along with any alterations, transformations, and/or building upon Wikipedia’s original text that applied to this block of text)


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