February 2005

Update April 2005: The musical selection below has been officially approved via email by Matt the Cat, the coolest DJ on XM Radio (channel 5 for "fifties"):

"Good to her from ya, brotha. I checked out your webpage and it looks great. I can't really disagree with any of your 28 choices. Nice job. It's good to know cats like you are out there groovin' and diggin' on the show.


Matt the Cat"

This page was inspired by a discussion in the lab, between two 40-something guys, pining for the good old days of the 1970s, the "decade that all the good music comes from", or so they thought. Well, maybe all bad haircuts were derived from the 1970s, but much good music came from the 1950s and 1960s. We'd trade a good doo-wop song for just about any hair-band you can think off, any day of the week.

For Black History month 2005 we have chosen 28 R&B artists, one song each, that are worth collecting on your hard drive, listed in chronological order. Each day in February we will feature one of the artist's pictures on the index page of Microwaves101. For 2018 we updated the page so that all the links go to Youtube, so check out the songs and in some cases hear live versions when you have some free time.

The hardest thing to do was limit the list to 28 songs, so we might still be doing this into March for a while!

Every time I look at this I want to add some names... for example, omitting "Sh-Boom" by the Chords was a huge oversight! Chubby Checker's "Pony Time", the Marcels "Blue Moon", anything recorded by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters needs a shout-out. "In the Still of the Night" by the Five Satins is one of the greatest recordings ever done in a church basement, it's on my bucket to visit that "studio" in Connecticut.   Unfortunately, there's just not enough days in one month to honor the greatest R&B singers. We'll have to do this again!


Wynonie Harris "Good Rocking Tonight" 1948
Rock and roll in 1948???

Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats
"Rocket 88" 1951
Regarded as the first rock and roll song.

The Swallows "It ain't the Meat" 1951
Cool picture, even cooler song, turn up the speaker and play it now! Thanks, Southside Johnnie, for covering this forgotten masterpiece during the seventies.

Guitar Slim "The Things That I Used To Do" 1953
GS used to play with a 300 foot wire so he could jump out in the audience. Think of him as the original Jimmy Hendrix.

Big Joe Turner "Shake, Rattle and Roll" 1954. The premier post-war blues shouter.
Who was that devil in nylon hose?

Bo Diddley "Bo Diddley" 1955
One of the most famous beats. The only artist on this page that I ever saw in concert. Banned from the Ed Sullivan Show in 1955 for ignoring Ed's pre-approved song suggestion. The link above takes you to the most badass performance in the history of television, circa 1965. I'm surprised he was not hauled into Congress for corrupting the youth.

Laverne Baker "Tweedle Dee"January 1955
She "retired" to play at an NCO club overseas
Nappy Brown "Don't be Angry" April 1955
Fats Domino "Ain't that a Shame"July 1955
Boogy-woogie New Orleans beat

Chuck Berry " Maybelline" August 1955
A great entertainer, pretty much invented rock and roll guitar, and served time for his affections for a white girl

Smiley Lewis "I Hear You Knocking"
September 1955

Screaming Jay Hawkins "I Put a Spell on You" 1956
This dude is so good he's scary

The Turbans "When you dance" January 1956
The first known use of the expression "doo-wop" is in this song.

The Cadillacs "Speedoo" February 1956
Speedo didn't believe in wasting time. Later in life, humble-but-lovable Earl Carroll served as an elementary school employee in New York City, and is featured in the book "That's Our Custodian!"

Frankie Lymon "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?"
June 1956
Too young to die, but left behind a huge body of work.

Little Richard "Good Golly Miss Molly"
Ex-hairdresser, the self-described "handsomest man in rock and roll". No argument from me in that regard, but Jackie Wilson was probably the most buff guy represented on this page.


Dell Vikings "Whispering Bells" July 1957
Yes, that's a white dude with them!
The Bobbettes "Mr. Lee" August 1957
From a Harlem public school, ages 11 to 13, original lyrics were about a teacher they hated. If your daughters had half as much talent, you wouldn't be looking at Microwaves101!

Jackie Wilson "Reet Petite" 1957
Rolls his R's better than anyone.

The Coasters "Yakety Yak" January 1958
Every song they sang was a hit. Good sax.

Lloyd Price " Stagger Lee" January 1959
A craps game argument, a stolen Stetson and a murder spawned maybe 100 songs, but this one is the best. Lloyd Price last sang a concert in 2017, keep an eye out for him!

Ray Charles "What I Say" July 1959
Some say that the musical universe is Ray-centric

Hank Ballard " Finger-Popping Time"
July 1960

Ernie K-Doe "Mother-in-law" April 1961
A song that needs to be played at
every bachelor party

Bobby Lewis, "Tossin' and Turnin' " May 1961
A MONSTER hit, 3,000,000 sold

Sam Cooke "Twisting the Night Away"
February 1962

The game "Twister" was originally called "Pretzel" and was patented in 1966, as "Apparatus for playing a game wherein the players consitute the game pieces", A.K.A. "Sex in a Box".

Little Eva "Locomotion" July 1962
Remade in the 1970s, but why mess with perfection?

Charlie and Inez Foxx "Mockingbird" August 1963
Carly Simon and Toby Keith and others have tried, but none could beat this brother and sister


Junior Walker "Shotgun" March 1965
Part of MLK's dream was that black singers wouldn't have to sing about being shot while in a chain gang.  Dig that saxophone!

Lee Dorsey "Workin’ In A Coal Mine" August 1966
One of three songs we know of that feature a hammer as a percussion instrument. Is there a worse job than working in a coal mine? No.

The Jackson 5 "I want you back" December 1969
MJ pretty much defined music in the 1980s, but IWYB is my personal favorite MJ song. His talent was on the molecular level.

Lou Bega "Mambo Number 5" 1999
In case you wondered where the spirit of R&B was at the turn of the century, ask Monica and her girlfriends.  I gotta get a suit like that.


Check out the Unknown Editor's archives when you are looking for a way to screw off for an hour or so!