[Motorcycles in Music] The Storey Sisters / Bad Motorcycle (1957)

Bad Motorcycle was a hit single on the Cameo label, performed by the Storey Sisters in Philadelphia in 1957. Its infectious chorus and naive, confessional lyrics still charm today.

Ann and Lillian Storey originally recorded under “The Twinkles” and the song was initially released with that credit. The 1958 re-release hit #45 on Billboard’s pop charts.

In the song, a girl gossips about a boy she just met, and describes him as “a bad motorcycle”. He’s bold enough to ask for her phone number and to ask her out on a date, but he calls her when he said he would, so he can’t be all bad.

The song plays off the 1950s view of motorcycles as being wild, edgy, non-conformist. (Perceptions that still persist today with some cause.)

The chorus has a refrain of “voom voom voom” that’s echoed by a bass drum beat, with a rhythm that recalls jump rope songs. In the middle is a short but peppy guitar solo by “Wild” Jimmy Spruill. Spruill played on dozens of rhythm and blues and rockabilly hits and had a hit of his own with the 1959 single Hard Grind.

The sisters had a total of four singles (or eight tracks) to their credit, but Bad Motorcycle was their only hit.

Bad Motorcycle is available on the Cameo Parkway 1957-1967 boxed set. Fans of singer/comedienne Tracey Ullman make recognize the song from her cover version on her 1984 album You Caught Me Out. Ullman’s version is campy and silly, while the Storey Sisters’ version is a better performance with much better instrumentation.

Bad Motorcyle

I was on my way to school
When a fellow I did meet
Took me by the hand
And he told me I was sweet

And I knew by the way he smoked
He was a bad motorcycle, voom-voom-voom
Yes, I knew by the way he smoked
He was a bad motorcycle, voom-voom-voom

As we walked home alone
He asked me for my phone
He told me his name
And I told him the same

And I knew by the way he smoked
He was a bad motorcycle, voom-voom-voom
Yes, I knew by the way he smoked
He was a bad motorcycle, voom-voom-voom

Girl, I’m not jiving about a thing
He knew just what was happening
He had my heart just a pumping
Girl, he was really saying something
He had my heart up on a shelf
Girl he was really something else

As I went home
Sat down to wait
He called me at eight
Not one minute late

And I knew by the way he smoked
He was a bad motorcycle, voom-voom-voom
Yes, I knew by the way he smoked
He was a bad motorcycle, voom-voom-voom

Original © Thornett Music

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