Expanded from a segment in Part 18: Klassic Kwotes III
GETTING MORE TALE #708: The Perfect Roll
I once read a quote from Keith Richards in the late 80s about the state of rock and roll. “I hear a lot of rock,” he said, “but not much roll anymore.”
I thought I knew what he meant. You heard a lot of rocking, but not a lot of that Stones-y jangle. None of the rhythm & blues. None of the subtlety. That’s what I read his quote to mean.
Then I heard something else a decade later that made me wonder if “roll” meant something else.
WHAT IS “ROLL”?
A knowledgeable rock guy named Neil was working that day. The Verve were still popular, and for good reason. 1997’s Urban Hymns was a phenomenon brought on by “Bitter Sweet Symphony”, which has since become a classic. The song even has a Stones connection. The famed string section is a sampled from Andrew Loog Oldham’s cover of the Stones’ “The Last Time”. The lawyers had a field day with that one.
On this afternoon, a guy came in and started asking lots of questions (including “Do you believe in Jesus?” but I digress). One thing we always hated was when customers would ask to listen to music on the store system even though we had six listening stations. (Granted, only four worked at any given time, but again, I digress.) This guy asked to listen to The Verve.
Because we tried to be nice and not dicks, we put The Verve on the store system and skipped through the tracks for the guy. He told us, “There’s rock and roll, and then there’s rock, and then there’s roll. This CD supposedly has the first ‘roll’ performed since the 1960s!” That’s what he was listening for.
We went back and forth through a few tracks. Then he burst out, “Did you hear that? Did you hear that! That was a perfect roll! The first roll performed since the 60s!”
To this day I have no idea what he was talking about.
Rock and roll is an amalgam of different influences, including gospel and R&B. None of those influences have gone extinct since the birth of rock. Whatever it was that this guy heard, something that hadn’t been performed since the 60s, I still cannot figure out.
Oh! And the “roll” guy? He didn’t buy anything!