Friday, February 4, 2011

Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Bright Lights


Wade Curtiss may not be the first rock & roll hero on everybody's lips when it comes time to granting lip service to the music's early pioneers. But he personified the D.I.Y. spirit of the music better than most who came in his wake. Spending his entire life in a wheelchair with his hands and arms severely deformed, Curtiss taught himself to play rock & roll on a converted steel guitar and formed his first band, the Rhythm Rockers, in the late '50s. Forming a partnership with part-time wrestler-singer Dixie Dee, the two released a spate of rockin' singles on various labels and solidly worked the Buffalo, NY area, establishing themselves as one of the top bands there. But in one of the stranger turns in rock & roll history, Wade took his show business acumen and reinvented himself as Dr. Master Curtiss, an "evil" wrestling manager. Wreaking havoc on his opponents in his motorized wheelchair, Curtiss stayed active in the wrestling world, resplendent in his gold pompadour wig and jewel-encrusted cane until his death in 1993 at the age of 50. 


1. Lucky Pierre/Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - lucky pierre time (0:15)
2. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Hurricane (2:03)
3. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Bright Lights (2:39)
4. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Real Cool (2:16)
5. Jim Fagan/Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - rhythm rockers dance ad #1 (0:32)
6. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Voodoo Mama (2:24)
7. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Shankie (1:51)
8. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Brang (2:10)
9. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - rhythm rockers dance ad #2 (0:33)
10. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Rompin' (3:01)
11. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Rock-A-Beat (1:58)
12. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Puddy Cat (Mama-Meow-Mow) (2:43)
13. Freddy Klestine/Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - rhythm rockers dance ad #3 (0:56)
14. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Maxine (3:03)
15. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Blockbuster (1:53)
16. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Vulture Rock (1:58)
17. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Friendly Advice (2:43)
18. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers - Scramble (2:54)

The Wade Curtiss story gets told in a very fine way with this packed-to-the-brim collection. This sumptuous 37-track single-disc compilation brings together the original singles (including both versions of the insanely rockin' "Bright Lights," the Rhythm Rockers' finest moment), outtakes, demos, radio spots, and interviews galore. Wade Curtiss & the Rhythm Rockers were a rock & roll band with deep rockabilly roots, as typified by boppers like "Real Cool," "That's It Baby," and a nifty cover of Joe Therrien, Jr.'s "Hey Babe, Let's Go Downtown." But on the surreal flipside of things is "Puddy Cat," a lo-fi answer record to "Surfin' Bird" that must be heard to be believed. A great little chunk of rock & roll micro-history here. ~ Cub Koda, Ro
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