Rock And Roll 101: The Pirates

The Pirates 1978

The Pirates circa 1978

You can consider this kind of a prequel to my previous post on Dr. Feelgood.  Legend tells us that Dr. Feelgood got their name from Johnny Kid and the Pirates recording of an old  blues song by Piano Red.  It’s also immediately clear that Wilco Johnson’s guitar style was influenced by Mick Green.  I mention this connection because I love history and following the threads of style and influence.  I can easily hear a song at breakfast and then blow several hours on wikipedia reading about the band and everybody they were ever associated with.

Johnny Kidd

Moving right along…  The Pirates originated in 1950 as Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.  Perhaps you’ve probably heard a little song called “Shakin All Over”?  They were a bit influence on a band called The Who, have been covered by Motorhead, and in the early days they used to let a band called The Beatles open for them from time to time.  Johnny Kidd and The Pirates recorded a lot of great music and the group waxed and waned a number of times until Kidd was killed in a car accident in 1966.

The Pirates

All during the era with Johnny Kidd there were many versions of the band, but one of the more beloved line ups consisted of Mick Green, Johnny Spence and Frank Farley.  This trio got back together in 1976 and recorded a gob of amazing, fire-breathing rock and roll for the BBC.  These sessions were collected on the awesome Shakin at the Beeb: Complete BBC Sessions 1976-78.  I’ve been listening to this record almost exclusively this week and it just kills.  It’s like listening to rock DNA.

My favorite cut on this BBC compilation is “Castin’ My Spell”.  This song embodies a lot of what I gravitate toward in music: driving rhythm with a pretty basic structure yet an infectious quirkiness that sets it apart and worms into your ear.  Man.  What a cool cover this would make!

Have a listen and tell me what you think?  If you’re a Pirates fan, what’s your favorite song?

(BTW, if you click that link above and decide to buy Shakin at the Beeb or something Amazon will kick me some coins, which is awesome – how else am I gonna afford that sweet telecaster I’ve had my eye on?)


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