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ALADDIN 3093; JUNE 1951



When it comes to rock ‘n’ roll music, which is better in theory… a recycled hit that doesn’t deviate from the original’s draggy melody and keeps the subject, the vocal delivery and the bleak outlook the same, or a new song, more uptempo with a unapologetic kiss-off theme?

Yeah, you’d think so, wouldn’t you? But not here.

Maybe your first clue that something was wrong about this one should’ve been the Two G’s they tried slipping you on this side.


I’ve Got News For You
When Amos Milburn first arrived at Aladdin Records in 1946 it came just as the company bid farewell to another act… Monte Easter.

The jazz trumpeter had recorded a handful of sides that summer with Mary DiPina singing and Maxwell Davis on saxophone including solid pre-rock sides like Boogie Woogie Man, although his most acclaimed side came before that on Sterling Records, the much more jazzy Ain’tcha Glad.

Easter was originally from Kansas City, had played in a group with Johnny Otis on drums early on and would later play with T-Bone Walker, so his musical connections ran deep. In the early 1950’s he’d even have guitar genius Jimmy Nolan in his act before Otis or James Brown got a hold of him. But while this shows Easter had a definite awareness and appreciation of rock ‘n’ roll, it doesn’t mean he was exactly qualified to write it for those whose affiliations with the music were much less transitory than his.

Yet old pal Maxwell Davis bought Ain’t Nothing Shaking off Easter for $300 and presumably it was Davis who put together the arrangement.

If so he appears to be under the impression that it was an outdated Monte Easter jazz tune, not an Amos Milburn rocker as we’d expect because while the basic concept is suitable for Milburn, everything else is a little bit off.

You Won’t Do Right By Me
If you were trying to give a broad overview of the dominant black music styles of Mid-Century America this might be a good choice to make, but if you were trying to be successful in just one of those styles at a time, this would be a much poorer selection because it tries to mix and match its influences without much luck.

That’s not to say there are glaring contradictions found in the song, parts that clash with one another outright, Maxwell Davis was far too skilled for that kind of thing, but whereas his usual approach was to blend things together seamlessly, here everything is pulling in opposite directions leaving you with a song that is completely adrift.

To start with there are those horns… jazz horns. Maybe they aren’t quite blaring horns, nor droning horns or even moaning with what they play, but they’re definitely whining instead of riffing or honking and that gets Ain’t Nothing Shaking off to a bad start.

This just isn’t a sound that has enough gravity to it, instead it’s keeping you at arm’s length and making you feel a little uneasy about it in the bargain, like you wandered into the wrong club and have already handed your outerwear to the hat check girl before you realize it but feel awkward about asking for it back right away so you can try and find a joint more in line with your tastes.

Then there’s the guitar which is right out of the blues handbook and gives the record a down home feel that doesn’t compliment either the horns or Milburn’s vocals which are a little too slow to make this exciting yet too fast to add any evidence of the hurt the rather simplistic lyrics suggest.

Milburn does his best to inject some personality into it… the way he draws out the word “man” on the accusatory line “You found another maaaaahn” comes across as a delightfully petty little jab at the both his ex and the guy she chose over him for instance. But while Amos is clearly bothered by this turn of events, he’s neither angry enough nor sad enough over the split to endgender any real emotions on the listener’s part.

As for their efforts to fit this more into the rock aesthics in the arrangement, Davis contributes a sax solo that after a slow starts shifts into a more exotic territory but only grinds very briefly, while Milburn carries the heaviest load with a long piano break where he gets to batter the keys into submission, but even that comes across as a way to fill the time rather than connect it with the story.

In other words this was a piecemeal song, or maybe a case of Maxwell Davis trying his best to help out an old friend in Monte Easter without making the song completely unrecognizable to its composer. Unfortunately that meant he had to make it much less compelling for the audience.


I Gave You All My Money
You never know what goes into the decision making process when it comes to which songs to release and which to put aside, but this is definitely one you’d think was a candidate to be left on the shelf.

As it was Milburn had a few unreleased gems to choose from, some dating back to the very start of rock ‘n’ roll, if you were looking for something that would’ve made for better B-sides than Ain’t Nothing Shaking, a song that didn’t even have the sense to shorten the last two words – Nothin’ Shakin’ – to match the vernacular of the audience.

Among the better choices to make were Atomic Baby from early 1950 which was collecting dust for the past year and a half and whose more aggressive attack would’ve given you a way to jolt yourself back into consciousness after passing out after having Just One More Drink the night before.

Then there was the Maxwell Davis penned Real Crazy cut at this same marathon session which would’ve made for a more interesting variation than what we get here. Heck, they had even put down an early Leiber and Stoller tune on that date, though the duo were hardly considered a big deal at the time and the song isn’t their typical witty fare that was sure to draw some interest.

But then again neither is this one. While Amos Milburn can make almost anything listenable, the fact is this remains a song trying to squeeze into a suit that doesn’t quite fit and as such it probably should’ve remained on the rack.


(Visit the Artist page of Amos Milburn for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)