I put on the Demon Beat’s new 1956, turned it up to maximum volume and watched it melt all the snow around my house.
1956 dwells on the automobile accident that, according to guitarist Adam Meisterhans, waylayed rock pioneer Carl Perkins’s ascent into superstardom and left him a footnote somewhere in Elvis Presley’s biography. Perkins, best known for his “Blue Suede Shoes,” was badly injured in early 1956 and was forced to sit on the sidelines while his Sun Records pal Presley got more mileage out of the song and catapulted into the rock & roll stratosphere beyond Perkins.
As an incurable fan of what-if, I’m drawn in by how the band bemoans the loss of opportunity and wonders how the course of rock & roll would have shifted if things had been different. There’s something sympathetic but also devilish about picking apart the bones of what could have been and pinpointing precisely when someone’s star started to fade.
The album is arranged in five loosely structured movements, recorded in two takes, with guitarist/vocalist Meisterhans, bassist Tucker Riggleman and drummer Jordan Hudkins staging Perkins’s miserable disintegration over the course of 38 minutes. The vocals are a little hard to pick up on, but that somehow accentuates the confusion Perkins must have been feeling as his star power blew away on the breeze.
1956 is the conceptual mass heretofore hinted at around the edges of the Demon Beat’s releases. This is the sound of an awesome band studying the past to build the foundation of something incredible in the future.