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Good Rocking Etta

Stuart Bailie | 09:50 UK time, Monday, 23 January 2012

'Good Rocking Daddy', sung by Etta James, was quite popular in 1955. Then in the Eighties, it became a cult tune around London. This was partly the archival passion of Ted Carroll at Ace Records, plus the enthusiasm of DJ Gaz Mayall, whose Rockin' Blues night at Gossips were massively influential.
It was such a worthy tune, right at the centre of the Fifties youthquake. Etta mentions the boogie, the jump and of course the rocking experience. She's got a connection to the old band-leaders and jive-masters like Louis Jordan. Certainly the horn section bears that out. But there's also a lightness and a demeanour that looks forward to the new age. Elvis Presley is just about done at Sun records, en route to RCA and 'Heartbreak Hotel'. The culture is going to get frenetic, but Etta James - who had endured a horrendous childhood and will have a rather awful adult life also - sounds essentially sweet.
I think I first heard the tune at the Electric Ballroom in Camden around 1985. It would have been Jay Strongman on the decks and that lovely old venue was busy with the rocking girls, their ponytails and the fierce red lips, all grooving perfectly. For all of the above reasons, and as a fond tribute to Ella, I'll play the song tonight.


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