Here's a great example of what we used to call the Folk Process at work. With, frankly, quite astounding avant-garde results.
We begin, from 1951, with bandleader Tiny Bradshaw's original version of "The Train Kept A-Rollin."
To be honest, I had never heard Bradshaw's take until I downloaded it over the weekend, but I was rather amazed to find (as you have doubtless noted by now) that it's an entertaining but utterly conventional jump blues. Party music, in other words, and no different really from countless other r&b hits of the period by the likes of Louis Jordan, Joe Turner or Wynonie Harris.
Which is why this next version from 1956 -- by the legendary Rock and Roll Trio, featuring the great Paul Burlison on perhaps history's earliest known example of fuzz guitar -- is so jaw-dropping. The Trio's take positively drips menace and madness by comparison, I think; lord only knows how it sounded to average ears at the height of the Eisenhower Era.
And then we have, from 1966, The Yardbirds with their further reimagining. Jeff Beck's simulated train whistle at the top was the clue that this one -- all metal and snarl -- was heading down a totally different track than any rock band had ever travelled.
Of course, a year later the Yardbirds (with Beck dueling with Jimmy Page) would transform it again (as "Stroll On," for Antonioni's Blow Up) and send the song hurtling into what might as well be another galaxy. But we'll get to that during Friday's Listomania.