Harmonica Frank Floyd The Missing Link

Since I purchased a new turntable a few years ago and began expanding my vinyl collection again after a few years of neglect, I have been very fortunate to stumble upon a few gems I never imagined I’d be lucky enough to own. One of those is a European Sun Records compilation, featuring a song recorded in 1951 by Harmonica Frank Floyd called "Rockin’ Chair Daddy.” I vaguely knew of the song through Greil Marcus’s description of it in Mystery Train, but even his typical mythologising couldn’t prepare me for the song’s impact. From the first beyond-echoey notes of Floyd’s cheap acoustic guitar, harmonica and voice — shaped by countless prior years of hoboing — the song is the sound of a barrier being broken. When someone asks me now what I think the first rock and roll song is, I tell them this is it. Above all, it’s the attitude, and every Sun Records artist who came after Floyd borrowed it, unknowingly or not. Of course, both "Rockin’ Chair Daddy” and Floyd were forgotten long before Elvis finally strode through that barrier, but thankfully Floyd’s impact reverberated among enough people to allow him to keep playing until the end of his life in 1984. This album, compiled from three sessions in Memphis in 1979 co-produced by Jim Dickinson, obviously displays a man in his declining years. Yet, the toll of hard living is not anymore apparent than it’s been on Johnny Cash’s recent albums. In fact, Floyd’s energy on the humorous talking blues "Swamp Root,” and his other most well-known song, "The Great Medical Menagerist,” still has the power to astound. Above all, this wider view of Floyd shows he was simply a consummate entertainer. Although some musical purists might try to deny that’s what rock and roll is about, Frank Floyd was proof that sometimes that’s the only talent you need. (MerLess)