Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup
managed to parlay limited guitar skills and a never more than competent voice into simple but durable songs that helped usher in the dawn of rock & roll. The big bang officially occurred in 1954 when Elvis Presley
made his Sun Records debut with Crudup
's "That's All Right Mama." Crudup
's original 1946 version of that song is included on the two-disc Arthur Crudup: The Essential
collection, along with another signature tune, "Mean Old Frisco Blues," and an interesting small combo version of the Charley Patton
song, "Dirt Road Blues." In truth, 38 tracks of Crudup
can get a bit wearing since he has only a couple of musical variations in his bag of tricks, but his instinctive understanding of how to write simple and effective guitar songs makes him arguably the first rock & roll songwriter.