Today, S.A. continues our journey into a beloved and weird American musical trope: the eternal chicken!
Welcome to feature number two of ACRO Collective’s C-H-I-C-K-E-N series; all jump blues, R&B, hot jazz, and jive. I walked into this with big dreams of ‘60’s rock and Hasil Adkins chicken-punk, but these sounds overcame me: Big Joe Turner bending “Shake, Rattle and Roll” into “Chicken and the Hawk,” Billy Ward and the Dominos with their overwrought moanings, the anthropomorphized chicken clucks of Slim & Slam! You get a real sense of the hand-holding between hot jazz and early country music from some of these tunes, particularly Zeb Turner’s chicken-ified “Walking the Floor Over You,” and the chicken even stands to usher in the early soundings of rock ‘n’ roll. Listen up for the stacked, scooping harmonic bursts in Andre Williams’ “The Greasy Chicken,” the proto-Wall of Sound bumping of “Little Chickee Wah Wah,” and take a look at Mabel Lee performing the Chicken Shack Shuffle in an on screen celebration of Tillie’s Chicken Shack, in Harlem, 1943. “A Chicken Ain’t Nothin’ But A Bird,” maybe, but this bird’s stuck with us. We owe each other this chicken dance!
Special thanks, once more, to Dave Rogers, WTJU-FM’s own Professor Bebop, for sharing many of these songs with me. Looking forward to collaboratively magnetizing the chicken ad infinitum!