Pete Frame’s The Restless Generation

It’s not only Rock Family Trees Around Here. Pete Frame is also the author of the brilliant The Restless Generation: How Rock Music Changed the Face of 1950s Britain

The book tells the story of the early development of British rock music, starting from an extraordinary mix of jazz, blues and skiffle, played with great gusto and varying degrees of talent by a bunch of rebellious enthusiasts. Britain lived in the shadow of the American scene – but a scene that was rarely heard in the UK owing to the conservatism of the BBC and the restrictive practices of the Musicians’ Union. We took a while to catch on, and it was a long time until the UK had much to offer back to the US, but the history of how this developed is quite fascinating.

The book ends with a list of Pete’s Top Twenty UK Singles of the 50s, in chronological order. Here, conveniently, are iTunes links to the songs. And, if you listen to them all, you’ll have to agree that Cliff was the only one who really got it. I wonder what ever became of him?

1. Lonnie Donegan – Rock Island Line

2. Tommy Steele – Rock With the Caveman

3. Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group with Nancy Whiskey – Freight Train

4. The Vipers Skiffle Group – Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O

5. Dickie Bishop & his Sidekicks – No Other Baby

6. Lonnie Donegan – Cumberland Gap

7. Lonnie Donegan – Gamblin’ Man

8. Johnny Duncan & his Blue Grass Boys – Last Train to San Fernando

9. Wee Willie Harris – Rockin’ At the Two I’s

10. Marty Wilde – Endless Sleep

11. The Five Chesternuts – Teenage Love

12. Cliff Richard & The Drifters – Move It

13. Lord Rockingham’s XI – Hoots Mon!

14a. Billy Fury – Maybe Tomorrow

14b. Billy Fury – Gonna Type a Letter

15. Marty Wilde – Danny

16. Vince Taylor & the Playboys – Brand New Cadillac

17. Johnny Kidd & the Pirates – Please Don’t Touch

18a. Cliff Richard & the Drifters – Living Doll

18b. Cliff Richard & the Drifters – Apron Strings

19a. Cliff Richard & the Shadows – Travellin’ Light

19b. Cliff Richard & the Shadows – Dynamite

20. Adam Faith – What Do You Want?