SONG: Brand New Cadillac
ARTIST: Vince Taylor and the Playboys
Listen to it here:
“Brand New Cadillac” was written and recorded by Vince Taylor in 1959. Although the song didn’t see a lot of airplay in Vince’s native UK it was a big hit in continental Europe, especially Scandinavia, being successfully covered in by Swedish rock group Hep Stars in 1965. The song was breathed life into again in 1979 by British punk superstars The Clash on their third album London Calling.
Vince Taylor was born Brian Maurice Holden in Isleworth, England on July 14th, 1939. When he was 9 his dad moved the family to New Jersey where Taylor took flying lessons. He was 18 years old when he heard the music of Elvis and Gene Vincent and started to sing. At a club in London he met a few fellow musicians and they formed a band called the Playboys. In 1958 they released a few songs, including Brand New Cadillac but none of the songs saw the kind of success that record companies really look for. Taylor was a great showman but was essentially an unpredictable person which proved difficult for his band mates, who parted ways with him in 1961. They got back together in 1962, but old habits die hard and they broke up once again shortly afterwards. Taylor formed another band with whom he again saw moderate success, but he was struggling with drugs and alcohol and the band disbanded. Taylor moved to Switzerland where he became an aircraft mechanic, and passed away from lung cancer at the age of 52 in August, 1991.
David Bowie states that Vince Taylor is the main inspiration for his Ziggy Stardust character.
Vince Taylor got his stage name from a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes that had the slogan “in hoc signo vinces”.
Wow, this is what I imagine when I think of rockabilly! It makes me think of heading to a car show in a skin-tight leopard print wiggle dress with black peep toe pumps, cat-eye sunglasses and hair in a big ol’ barrel roll. I knew this song before hearing this version because I really like the Clash, and this song is on arguably their biggest album London Calling and I didn’t realize that it was a cover! I like the really abrasive, in your face guitar (I wanna say Stratocaster?) – it’s so twangy and reminds me of all the great surf music coming out around that time. Vince Taylor’s voice is just ok, but it suits the song very well. I also realized there isn’t any other voice on this song. It’s all Taylor all the time, but it kind of sounds like it’s a duet between him and the guitar. There’s some boogie woogie-piano buried in there, barely-there bass and serviceable drums. The lyrics are a pretty basic rock song template – I got a girl! Aw dang she left. But I’m not really expecting intricate love and heartbreak into rockabilly. It’s a fun song! But sorry Vince, I think I like the Clash’s version better.
Wow, is this song ever refreshing after all the bland pablum we’ve had the last few reviews! Now, I’m not saying this song is anything super crazy life-changing, HOWEVER, it’s a blues, with a decent guitar solo that sounds like what surf guitar emerged from. I’m not a huge fan of Vince Taylor’s voice and his tuning is questionable at best, but I do like how he plays with rhythm, and I love the high energy that everyone gives on this track. The guitar solos are kind of fun, and somehow the super trebly guitar sound works here. This track is messy, imperfect, and it sounds like either they had limited time, or wanted a warts-and-all feel to this song, and I appreciate that. I guess this genre is almost “spooky rockabilly” or something. I don’t know this song at all, but it’s fun.
Average mark out of 10:
Other notable versions of this song:
Brian Setzer Orchestra at the infamous Woodstock ‘99
The Clash, of course!
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Link to 1,001 Songs to Hear Before You Die spotify playlist: