Monday, January 22, 2007


Paul Perryman, Satellite Fever Asiatic Flu.

Strange as it may seem now, this was a topical song, referring to the resurgence of the "Asiatic Flu," which had first appeared in Russia during the last years of the 19th Century. The 1957 pandemic began in China early in the year and had spread to the United States by the summer. (Shoghi Effendi, leader of the Bahá'í faith, died from it, along with possibly a million others worldwide.) The outbreak, and the subsequent mass vaccination campaign, already had inspired songs like Ebe Sneezer and His Epidemics' "Asiatic Flu," whose lyrics included the immortal couplet "You know what I think about this here disease/Give it back to the Asians and let them (sneeze sound)!"

Add in some hysteria about the Russians' launch of Sputnik, and the potential for nuclear war via outer space, and you've got the raw material for a gloriously insane rock & roll attack, featuring an inspired, vulgar, squalling sax break.

(And it goes without saying that the whole thing is a pretty transparent rewrite of Huey "Piano" Smith's "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu" from the previous year.)

Of Paul Perryman I know absolutely nothing, except that he released a few other singles for Duke in 1957 and 1958, the most notable being "Just to Hold My Hand," soon covered by Clyde McPhatter. Perryman may have been from Alabama, and some have speculated he was a protege of Duke's owner Don Robey, but who knows. The man exists now as a name on a few half-century-old 45s. Still, with a track as great as "Satellite Fever," that's achievement enough.

Released as Duke 181 c/w "I'm Walking Out." The only place to find it on disc is apparently the out-of-print Pittsburgh's Favorite Oldies, Vol. 6.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I've got this on 78 rpm