Brandon Russell - I'll be your resident guest blogger on behalf of the Huntington Beach Public Library. When I'm not doing this, you can find me searching through the library's music catalogue or shelving books on the adult floors.
It's the 1950s, and the United States is on the mend, with memories of World War II fading slowly in the rearview. The Space Race is ongoing, television sets are in almost every household (à la the dinner scene in Back To The Future), and literature boundaries are being shredded by the Beat Generation. If ever there was a time where America was in an immense transitional period, it was the 50s.
Yet, the decade is known more as a period of conformity: obedient, stay at home wives, always hard at work husbands, kids who say the word "swell" and wear letterman jackets. It's the quintessential ideal of what suburban life was supposed to be.
But generational differences became an issue, and conflict soon arose, changing the sociopolitical landscape forever. Think of Jim Stark, James Dean's famous portrayal of a troubled, middle-class teenager in Rebel Without A Cause. Things aren't always what they seem.
Enter scapegoat: Music.
Even today we are hearing the same accusations. Rap music is responsible for making kids violent, hate their parents, etc. Rock & Roll and Rockabilly was met with much the same criticism.
These issues have been going on for decades, and will likely continue on in the future.
Just as Rockabilly Riot's title suggests, artists like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly were responsible for inspiring the 1950s youth. Suddenly they were acting without inhibitions, openly expressing their feelings and disobeying their parents, essentially rioting against America's Utopian vision.
Guitars bounce, twang, and propel shaking hips, while voices hiccup, snarl, and shout - all ingredients are causing enraged parents holler in anger. Rockabilly Riot's collection covers the scene's staple pioneers, from Carl Perkins and Gene Vincent, to Roy Orbison and Ritchie Valens. This music is perfect for dancing, and even if you hate to dance, I bet you wont be able to resist at least toe tapping by Rockabilly Riot's end. Not only that, but it's an instant mood booster.
What more do you want?
One of America's most genuine music genre's, the artists in Rockabilly Riot expressed to a generation the earnest, repressed emotions that ran through the veins of many 1950s youth. It's no wonder there is such an enduring and thriving subculture built around the Rockabilly image today: off-kilter, rebellious, uninhibited, and most of all, FUN.