Five Songs, Part 101

Earl "Speedo" Carroll (top) with The Cadillacs. Photo: James Kriegsmann/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty, via guardian.co.uk.

Earl “Speedo” Carroll (top) with The Cadillacs. Photo: James Kriegsmann/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty, via guardian.co.uk.

Happy December. Five Songs this week honors both the dearly departed and those who are still with us — those who are still with us and performing tonight (Dec. 1) at Cafe Nine in New Haven.

In the dearly departed category, the honorees are two guys who checked out this week: Mickey Baker and Earl “Speedo” Carroll.

Guitarist Baker was one of the flat-out pioneers and influences of rock’n’roll guitar sound with his plucky, wiry style. He appeared on a ton of great recordings — “Money Honey,” “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean,” the originals of “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On” — but he’s best known for his 1957 duet with another future influence, Sylvia Vanderpool. The same Sylvia who recorded the

Mickey & Sylvia -- big beneath-the-surface influences on pop music.

Mickey & Sylvia — big beneath-the-surface influences on pop music.

orgasmic 1973 single “Pillow Talk” — and, as Sylvia Robinson, launched hip-hop as a commercial force when she and husband Joe started Sugarhill Records.

Carroll, who in his later years was a beloved janitor at P.S. 87 in Manhattan, was one of the most spirited voices of doo-wop, as the lead voice of The Cadillacs and later with The Coasters. And his angry rejoinder one day at being called by his nickname (“My name is Earl!”) was turned into one of the best-loved doo-wop tunes of all.

On the living side, there are Andre Williams and Barrence Whitfield. The 76-year-old Andre, one of the people on the ground floor of Detroit soul, has been recording since a lot of you were born (1957).

Mr. Andre Williams. Photo: Bloodshot Records.

Mr. Andre Williams. Photo: Bloodshot Records.

And the cat’s lived several lives now, professionally and personally. Mr. Rhythm, The Black Godfather, Mr. Dirty, King of Sleaze Rock — all the names fit! And not only has he had his own recording careers (’50s-’60s, 1996-present and going strong), he wrote Little Stevie Wonder’s first single as well as “Shake a Tail Feather” and “Twine Time,” and also managed Edwin Starr.

Barrence, a mainstay of the Boston music scene, was actually born Barry White, but he realized at a young age that the town wasn’t

The mighty Barrence Whitfield.

The mighty Barrence Whitfield.

big enough for two of them, and the other one was Barry White first. I haven’t seen in 15 years, two moves and one gender. How they packed so much power into that short and squat body, I have no clue. But he’s still bring the noise. And his sound transcends genre — rock’n’roll, R&B, jump blues, country.

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough — I have a show to get ready for! Have a blast.

Gloria — The Cadillacs

Speedo — The Cadillacs

Love Is Strange — Mickey & Sylvia

Bacon Fat — Andre Williams

Jail Bait — Andre Williams

Stop Twistin’ My Arm — Barrence Whitfield & the Savages

The Girl From Outer Space — Barrence Whitfield & the Savages

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