Monday, April 07, 2008


The Party Boys, We Got a Party.
Charlie Feathers, Wild Wild Party.
Jerry Lee Lewis, Save the Last Dance For Me.

Parties don't exist in the present tense: they live in the jittery conditional mood, or as a void in the future tense (expected, planned, anticipated--or dreaded) or they are walled up in the preterite or the pluperfect tense (remembered hazily, recounted as legends to others). During the party itself, all is barely grasped as it occurs, in the way that, when watching a movie, the eye only retains the last dozen frames that have flickered before it.

This is by no means a universal rule: family parties, for example, exist in the excruciating, endless present.

"We Got a Party" opens with a sense of bleary excitement, the belief that the future (just about to occur) holds untold promise, in women or at least in booze. Only the booze comes through. It ends near dawn, with the singers staggering around the shattered living room, about to get sick on the carpet.

I don't know a thing about the Party Boys, other than they recorded for Ron Records (this was their only single), that Huey "Piano" Smith is probably on the track and that their "We Got a Party" was a New Orleans cult classic for decades, deservedly so. On Best of Ron Records Vol. 1.

"Wild Wild Party" is a tall tale that the singer offers a friend the day after the party--he can barely keep everything that happened in one place in his mind ("they were runnin' and a hollin' and a shootin' and a fussin' and a snatchin' and a scratchin'/and alla this happened at the SAME...TIME"). He had woken up that morning with a vicious hangover and a bullet hole in his jacket.

It was the b-side of one of the singles Charlie Feathers made for a few local Memphis labels in the early '60s, a period when Feathers was considering giving up on rock & roll in favor of playing softball (he was said to be a top-notch pitcher). Recorded at Stan Kesler's studio in Memphis and released in December 1961 as Memphis 103 c/w "Today and Tomorrow"; on Rock-A-Billy.

Meanwhile, back at the party, the Killer stands against the wall, nursing a drink, watching his date dance with other guys. This won't end well.

Lewis' version of "Save the Last Dance For Me" was released in September '61 as Sun 367 c/w "As Long As I Live"; on 25 All-Time Greatest Sun Recordings, which every household should have.

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