THE ''FLYING SAUCER ROCK AND ROLL'' SESSIONS
STUDIO SESSION FOR BILLY RILEY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956
SUN RECORDING STUDIO
UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY DECEMBER 11, 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
''FLYING SAUCER ROCK AND ROLL''
Roland Janes confirms that he brought Indiana-born songwriter Ray Scott over to Riley's house so they could go through Ray's material and come up with a follow-up to ''Trouble Bound''. "We went through everything Ray had and is only one we took was ''Flying
Saucer Rock And Roll''. But it was a good one."
Scott was no stranger to the Sun studio but fancied himself as more of songwriter than a recording artist. Nevertheless,
his several vintage recordings at sought today by collectors. Two of his demos for Sun appeared on Bear Family That'll Flat Git It (Sun) - Volume 17 (BCD 16405 AH). If you listen closely to these ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll'' sits, you'll hear an obvious
separation between two different sessions. Alternates Take 1 to Take 6 were recorded before session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis joined on, and so the sound changes appreciably starting with Alternate Take 7. But along with that there's also a surprising key change.
Prior to the addition of a piano, the boys rake the song in C, a most unlikely key for a rockabilly band. Once Lewis joins them, they take it up a half a tone to the key of D. D is an accessible key for a piano, guitar and bass. It's C that needs some explanation,
and the best one is simply that without a piano or sax in the band, the stringed instruments only had to tune to each other - not to the outside world. In all likelihood, they thought they were playing in D at the first session. But Jerry Lee's instrument
was less flexible, so at the second session the piano defined what D was. Riley's wife Joyce confirms that during the later years of his life, Billy performed the song in the key of C - a comfortably lower key for a more mature voice.
Riley fans may listen to Alternate Take 10 of ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll'' and wonder why we have included the original single among this collection of alternates. The answer is simple.
It isn't the master. It's very close, but the difference tells quite a tale. This is the bed track upon which the master was based. It was overdubbed for release. So what was added to this nearly perfect piece of 1956 rock and roll? The answer is Screaming!
This is the very opposite of 'sweetening', which later became the industry standard for overdubbing. Leave it to Sam Phillips and Sun Records.
No strings or choral voices
were added. This was an attempt to unsweeten a track, if ever there was one. It's true that the original recording (Alternate Take 10) did have some screaming on it.
not enough for Sam Phillips. And so more of Marvin Pepper's raucous screams were added before release. You don't believe it? Listen for yourself. Do a side buy side comparison between this track and Sun 260. Lord knows, we've done plenty of them The results
Half a century later, we reluctant tim learn that not all that wild abandon we heard on the single was as spontaneous as we had hoped or assumed. Some
of it had to be added after the fact.
In case you're wondering why anybody would go to all this trouble to layer in more screaming, think about the era. ''Flying Saucer
Rock And Roll'' was recorded in December, 1956. In January of that same year, Little Richard , the iconic screamer of rock and roll - hit the charts with ''Tutti Frutti''. Three months later, he was back with ''Long Tall Sally''. The era of screaming rock
and roll had begun. Billy's vocal here already sounded like Richard Penniman. Why not add some screams and complete the picture? Another rockabilly record of the period that included screaming was Gene Vincent's ''B-I-Bickey-Bi, Bo-Bo-Go'' (Capitol 3678).
Billy Riley's attraction to Little Richard's musical style will be an in these notes. It was apparent in more than just the recording studio. Roland Janes recalls a road tour with Hayden
Thompson. ''Every night Hayden would do a special set where he'd do nothing but Elvis songs and imitate his style. Billy would do the same thing with Little Richard songs. At the end of the show the two of them would come out onstage and do a grand finale
so they'd have Elvis and Little Richard on stage together. It was something to see."
With a record on the market, Billy Riley needed to put a band together. Jack Clement
was too busy engineering at Sun and to be playing clubs and Bernero had always been temporary. That left only guitarist Roland Janes. Billy Riley and Roland Janes had met a teenage drummer, James M. Van Eaton had been down at Sun with another group. He was
quickly drafted into the fold, as was upright bassist Marvin Pepper. By the end of 1956, Riley's group had been co-opted as the house band at Sun Records.
and December 1956 Billy Riley and his group worked up their second single. Two weeks before Christmas they were joined by Jerry Lee Lewis who, ten days earlier, had cut his first single with the help of Roland Janes and James M. Van Eaton. On December 11,
they cut one of the all-time rockabilly masterpieces, "Flying Saucer Rock And Roll".
01(1) - "FLYING SAUCER ROCK AND ROLL" - B.M.I. - 2:02
Composer: - Ray Scott
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 11, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm
BCD 17122-1-12 mono
BILLY RILEY – THE OUTTAKES