Saturday, November 14, 2015

American Police Hall Of Fame and Songs About Cops

Our voyage North on Interstate 95 takes us from the Space Coast Stadium in Viera to Titusville FL.



Titusville is the home to a few Halls of Fame. Two are located near the entrance to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center, while a third is located in downtown Titusville, This week we are focusing on the American Police Hall Of Fame near the gate to the Space Center.

American Police Hall Of Fame & Museum
American Police Hall Of Fame & Museum
(Wikipedia/CC)


American Police Hall of Fame & Museum was built in 1960 to serve as a memorial to fallen officers as well as a tribute to the law enforcement community.The museum features a Robocop at its entry and also the squad car from the film. Here you will find a variety of police vehicles, uniforms and equipment. There are mock up dispatched centers and even a police helicopter to explore. Crowd control equipment and execution devices showcase the rule of force.

Robocop at the American Police Hall Of Fame
Robocop
(Flickr user Marcin Wichary/CC)

Robocop Squad Car
Robocop Squad Car
(Flickr user Marcin Wichary/CC)

Mock Dispatch Center
Mock Dispatch Center
(Flickr user Marcin Wichary/CC)

1945 Police Academy Reference Book
1945 Police Academy Reference Book
(Flickr user Marcin Wichary/CC)

Police Equipment On Display
Police Equipment On Display
(Flickr user Marcin Wichary/CC)

Tear Gas Canisters
Tear Gas Canisters
(Flickr user Marcin Wichary/CC)

The Electric Chair
The Electric Chair
(Flickr user Marcin Wichary/CC)

A memorial honors fallen officers who have given their all in the line of duty. In what I feel is just a but of irony, an attached gun range allows visitors to fire a few rounds. Memorial Day is celebrated here with ceremonies, special activities and a Motorcycle Police Memorial Day Run.



Songs About Cops
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Previously, in San Diego, California on Highway 101, Old Highway Notes made a visit to the Police Museum located in the city's Old Town. While thee we ran through a few songs about bank robbers, police and jail. Music is rich in tales of outlaws and lawmen, since we are at the American Police Hall Of Fame, here are some more songs about cops and the job they do.

The songs I found are mostly not be in favor of police, except perhaps respect for them as adversaries. It seems like there is just some sort of natural tension between the freedom of the music and the regulation of the law that is timeless. Career musicians have always seemed to be on the fringes of legality. When punk rock came on the scene, police oppression was a big focus of the movement. Several notable punk songs make our list that look at the subject of police oppression.

Long before punk rock came along there were the blues. Blues musicians often lived outlaw lifestyles-or at least maintained that reputation. Our opening track, Police And High Sheriff Come Ridin' Down by Alabama blues man Ollis Martin from 1927 does nothing to change that. Next, Big Dave MacLean, a blues player from Canada, shows us that the tension between music and the law is not limited by national borders with his own interpretation of the song from 2008.
  • Police And High Sheriff Come Ridin' Down The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of: Super Rarities Ollis Martin 3:05
  • Police And High Sheriff 35 Years Of Stony Plain Big Dave McLean 1:13


No one sees a cop quite like a kid. The authority of the uniform and their role in the community can be awe inspiring to the younger set. Our next two songs look at law enforcement from a child's point of view.

Our Gang or The Little Rascals was a series of comedy shorts that were made from the 1920's to the 1940's that took a humorous look at everyday life from a kids point of view. The soundtrack from The Little Rascals film featured some great early hot jazz and soundtrack music. Unfortunately, due to primitive techniques no master reels of the recordings used exist.

The Dutch group the Beau Hunks specialize in recreating historic music. Their album The Beau Hunks Play The Original Little Rascals Music is a modern recreation of soundtrack music from those short films. Cops is a short piece that resembles the music of the Keystone Kops films of the same era. Both series of films made by Mack Sennett Productions. Musically, it lampoons the authority of the man with a badge.

Casper, The Friendly Ghost takes a warmer look at law enforcement from a mid 20th century perspective. Motorcycle Policeman from the children's album Musical Adventure In Make-Believe is a charming little record. It also the most positive look at law enforcement that makes our list this week. From here things just get darker.
  • Cops The Beau Hunks Play The Original Little Rascals Music The Beau Hunks 0:37
  • Motorcycle Policeman Musical Adventure In Make-Believe Casper The Friendly Ghost 3:21


When Buddy Hollie died in that famous plane crash in 1959, his band The Crickets decided to carry on. They recruited a guitarist named Sonny Curtis to step in and take the place of Buddy Hollie. He brought with him a song he wrote in 1958 called I Fought The Law. The Crickets recorded the song to little fanfare on their album In Style With The Crickets. The song was largely unnoticed until a 1962 cover by Paul Stefan and his Royal Lancers achieved regional success in the Milwaukee area.

In 1964 a cover version of the song by El Paso, Texas's Bobby Fuller Four became a Texan regional hit. The record helped capture the attention of the Del-Fi record label. In December 1965 Del-Fi re-released the record nationally. It rose to number 9 in the charts.

In 1978,  The Clash were in San Francisco recording their second album, Give 'Em Enough Rope at the Automatt studio. The album, would become the bands first US release rising to 128 on the US charts. Oddly, the Clash's first album was released in the US AFTER their second album.

A jukebox filled with classic records was part of the Automatt's decor and the machine held a copy of I Fought The Law by the Bobby Fuller Four. Singer Joe Strummer and Guitarist Mick Jones both enjoyed the record and by the time they returned to England they could play the song.

I Fought The Law must have been destined to be a punk rock record. At roughly the same time the Clash was learning to play the song Sid Vicious, famed bass player for the Sex Pistols, was working on his own version. Vicious would commit suicide before recording it.

Back in England, the Clash recorded their own version of I Fought The Law for release on the EP The Cost Of Living. The song was later added to their first album, The Clash as part of it's American edition release.

The song was the band's first single in the United States and helped the album gain traction in the US market.

  • I Fought The Law Highs Of The Sixties Bobby Fuller Four 2:14
  • I Fought the Law The Clash The Clash 2:39

Punk Rock emerged in part from poor economic conditions in England. In Jamaica, poor economic conditions and violent national politics was expressed in reggae music. In early 1976 violent gangland clashes occurred between the various political faction culminating in 20 homes being firebombed in Kingston, Jamaica's Trench Town Neighborhood. Trench Town was the center of the reggae world, as Wikipedia notes: 
Trench Town is known in popular culture due to numerous skarocksteady, and reggae musicians, including The AbbysiniansWailing SoulsThe ParagonsOs Paralamas do SucessoThe TechniquesToots & the MaytalsDean FraserErnest RanglinAlton EllisHortense Ellis, Winston "Flames" Jarrett, Delroy WilsonJoe Higgs, Adina Edwards, Junior BraithwaiteLord TanamoStranger Cole, Cynthia Schloss, Lascelles Perkins, Dobby DobsonNoel 'Scully' Simms, the Folkes BrothersWilfred 'Jackie' EdwardsLeroy SibblesBongo HermanRoy ShirleyMassive DreadAnthony JohnsonPeter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, but most notably Bob Marley, who spent much of his youth in a "government yard" on First Street.
In May of 1976 a fairly minor league reggae musician named Junior Murvin auditioned with the legendary reggae producer Lee "Scratch" Perry. Junior Murvin had already appeared on several recordings and had a minor local hit record. Murvin played for Perry a song he wrote called Police and Thieves. The song was about police brutality and the gang warfare that was tearing apart Trench Town.

Lee "Scratch" Perry liked the song, recorded Murvin preforming the song later that same afternoon after reworking a bit of the lyrics. In the lightning fast reggae scene of mid-70's Kingston, the next day Perry was in the studio remixing the song with various dub versions. Junior Murvin also returned to the studio the next day to record a few more vocal tracks with different lyrics.

Mixing the song with Growler Dub by the Upsetters, Lee "Scratch' Perry immediately released the record to a reggae mad Jamaica. It was a hit! By June, the dub record was released internationally. In England it was an even bigger hit than in Jamaica, packing the floors in the countries dance clubs. In the US, the song did well within the category of reggae music.

By the end of the year, Police and Thieves was well on its way to being a permanent part of the reggae canon. It was named the 'Reggae Single of the Year' by Black Echoes, a long running Caribbean music program in Dublin, Ireland. In NME magazine, the song placed sixth in the 1976 end of year singles chart.

Police and Thieves gained further notoriety in the summer of 1976. That August, the long running Notting Hill Carnival exploded into rioting. The Carnival is an annual celebration of Caribbean Culture held in Notting Hill England. The festival had operated without permits for years. Occasionally police clashes would occur as police tried to disperse revelers who were parading without an official permit. In 1976 the conflict was particularly riotous. For many of the Notting Hill rioters, the hit song Police and Thieves was an inspiring anthem,

Notting Hill Carnival Reveler
Notting Hill Carnival Reveler
(Wikipedia)
In the crowd in Nottingham that August were Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon of The Clash. They became fond of the song and it became a something they would goof around with during band practices. A particularly good playing of the song during a recording break inspired the band to record a clean performance as a last minute add on to their album, The Clash.

Police and Thieves was arguably the first record to merge punk rock and reggae, Junior Murvin was not impressed saying, "They have destroyed Jah work!" Lee "Scratch" Perry did not like The Clash version either, saying the band had "ruined" the song. The Clash got better at reggae and eventually Perry respected them, assisting with production on their Sandinista! album.
  • Police & Thieves Hip-O Mon Vibration Junior Marvin 3:55
  • Police & Thieves The Clash The Clash 6:00


Punk Rock in the United States had its own flavor. In California, The Dead Kennedys borrowed guitar riffs from surf rock and tied them to inflammatory, fast, melodic music. Their song Police Truck looks at police brutality from the point of view of "bad cops" who committed violence against the citizens they were supposed to be protecting. We feature a live version recorded at the Deaf Club on March 31, 1979.

The Dead Kennedys not only preformed as a band, they also founded the record label Alternative Tentacles. The label was started so the band could self release their own records. It also released records from other punk bands unlikely to be signed by major labels. In celebration of the Alternative Tentacles 100th release, a tribute album of Dead Kennedys songs called Virus 100 was released. From that album we take The Didgits and their version of Police Truck.
  • Police Truck Live At The Deaf Club Dead Kennedys 2:55
  • Police Truck Virus 100 (A Dead Kennedys Tribute) The Didjits 2:19


The Clash keep appearing on this week's playlist. Our next track comes from their final album Sandinista! It is the straight ahead punk rocker Police On My Back. ACalifornia hardcore punk song comes next, with Black Flag recounting their own tale of police oppression in the song Police Story.

  • Police On My Back Sandinista! The Clash 3:17
  • Police Story Damaged  Black Flag 1:33




A couple of tracks from promotion CD's are now added to the playlist to take us away from punk rock rage.
  • Cops Too Here It Is, The Music CDK Vol. 1 Keith Levene 3:11
  • Policeman Give 'Em The Boot The Skatalites 3:31
George Thorogood and the Destroyers gives us a blues rock, good old boy gone wrong, Cops and Robbers story to add to the playlist. Next, Phish describe an encounter with the Makisupa Policeman. Side note: in an interview, Trey Anastasio, the lead singer of Phish, was asked what Makisupa meant. Anastasio replied that it is a word the band made up-it has no meaning, they just thought it sounded funny. Got to love Rock and Roll! Finally, this week we close out by getting indie and listening while The Strokes sing about New York City Cops.

  • Cops And Robbers Haircut George Thorogood & The Destroyers 4:50
  • Makisupa Policeman Live Phish, Vol. 1: 12/14/95, Broome County Arena, Binghamton, New York Phish 6:46
  • New York City Cops The Strokes 3:51




Mileage Stats

Route 66: 1/4 Mile/1 State/1097 Tracks/394 Videos/43 Posts
Highway 101: 25 Miles/2 Countries/1 State/702 Tracks/418 Videos/33 Posts
Interstate 95: 219 Miles/1 State/128 Tracks/198 Videos/19 Posts

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