Monday, May 27, 2013

Researching "Cherry Red"

Today BBC New Business Reporter ran a profile on Cherry Red Records, which seems to have made a name for itself through its rock reissues. For me, however, the major connotation comes from my listening to Joe Williams singing with Count Basie and his Orchestra, specifically in a live recording from The Americana Hotel in Miami made on May 31, 1959. I discovered through a Google search that the phrase "cherry red" shows up often in rock songs. However, the real source seems to be a blues song by Big Joe Turner, whose lyrics (which have their own Web page) seem to be the following:
I ain't never loved and I hope I never will
Because a lovin' proposition, will get somebody killed
Lead me pretty baby, 'cause you know I can be led
Squeeze me pretty baby until my face turns cherry red
Basie's version seems to have been based on an arrangement by Pete Johnson and His Boogie Woogie Boys. The lyrics for this version were expanded and made a bit more explicit. Williams then spiced things up a bit further:
Take me, pretty mama
Put me in your Hollywood bed
Then you can love me baby
Rock me, mama
Till my face turns cherry red
There is a tendency to thing of how outrageous things got with the emergence of punk and similar trends, many of which seem to be the subject of the current Cherry Red Records reissues. I wonder if anyone over at the label's production headquarters appreciates how far back the raunchiness of their name reaches. In all probability Williams was wailing his version before any of them were born!

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