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Welcome to the first of our occasional forays into sides that were cut by rock artists during the period being covered here but which for some reason or another went unreleased at the time.

Though it runs counter to the main objective of the site in some ways, which is to chart how rock ‘n’ roll progressed in real time as evidenced by commercially available records, the fact is these alternative records DO show how the artists themselves were evolving during all this which is hardly incidental.

As we know record companies were never the best judge of what songs might make the biggest impact, so the fact these never saw the light of day is a further indictment on them, not a knock against the performances contained within, and hopefully will serve as further evidence that it was artists, not the record labels, who were determining how rock ‘n’ roll was taking shape.

I Wait For You Baby When The Evening Sun Goes Down
Amos Milburn had cut a number of storming piano boogies prior to rock’s official introduction to the world, all of which embodied the same DNA as this song and countless others that followed and made rock into the most exciting brand of music being offered to consumers in the late 1940’s.

But by quirk, coincidence or just plain bad luck, once rock ‘n’ roll debuted in Sptember 1947 Milburn’s initial offerings under this new, and still vague, genre term were not pounding party starters, but rather soulful and more introspective songs.

They were very good, especially My Love Is Limited which is alluring, a little provocative and wrapped in a sly and sultry package, but they weren’t hits and weren’t designed to grab you on first listen.

Aladdin Boogie was something altogether different which not only would’ve contrasted well with any of the songs you may have paired it with, but was the kind of electrifying performance designed to draw attention to the artist as well as to the music rock ‘n’ roll was already shaping up to be – wild, exciting and slightly dangerous.


Give You A Lotta Lovin’ When Your Baby’s Not Around
Though he was first and foremost a vocalist, at least someone whose primary output was vocal records, Amos Milburn was always a fantastic pianist and the intro here sounds as if Jerry Lee Lewis was paying close attention as this hurtles out of the gate at full gallop, grabbing you by the back of the neck and hauling you along for the ride.

You assume with a generic title like Aladdin Boogie, one designed to shamelessly promote the record company no less, that it’ll be nothing more than a rousing instrumental, but no, Amos is singing here, though he never utters the title line.

He’s hitting up a girl who’s married or dating someone else, though he clearly has slept with at least once before, and he’s both broke and horny and is looking for some sustenance to get him through the night, whether sexual or financial – maybe both!

Milburn possesses an unusual mixture of subservience and arrogance here as he’s sort of begging for her to take him back, going so far as to proclaim his love for her in the song’s most explosive delivery, but he’s maintaining his cockiness even as she apparently rejects his plea. That swaggering attitude is so intrinsic to rock’s persona that it’s gratifying to see that it existed from the very start.

If that wasn’t enough to sell his lascivious persona then the way he’s playing piano will tell you everything else you need to know, as clearly he’s trying to burn off his built-up sexual frustration in case she turns him down again and when that indeed turns out to be the case he can’t help but throw a few digs at her before he leaves.


You Gotta Reap Just What You Sow
The arrangement by Maxwell Davis is really good as well, showing why this pair would define the producer-artist dynamic of rock’s first few years.

There’s no horns anywhere on the track which usually would be a detriment with someone as skilled as him sitting on the sidelines, but in this case it actually works to the song’s benefit because if you added them you’d be taking the focus off the urgency his singing and playing suggests. Davis hasn’t left Milburn all alone out in the studio floor however, he’s got a guitar contributing some slippery lines between the cracks which adds to dirty feel of what Amos is saying, like he’s somebody you shouldn’t really trust.

The one drawback here is that the piano solo is almost TOO frenzied for its own good, sounding almost like an intentional exaggeration of the kind of wild interlude rock would be known for, and as a result it wanders a little too much, losing some of its impact in the process. While that may indeed be fitting for his state of mind, it wouldn’t hurt if it was a little more streamlined and focused to pack even more power into its time here.

Now even with that kind of controlled display would Aladdin Boogie have likely been a HIT record, thrusting Milburn into the front of the rock ‘n’ roll pack at this stage of the game?

No, it would not. These kinds of frantic records wouldn’t find commercial success for awhile longer and there’s no reason to think this might’ve altered that delayed reception.

But it’s definitely a more dynamic record than what he put out and would have been a better choice for one of the sides on that single to show what he was capable of with this approach.

As it was though they stuck to the slower output in the fall and so it was left to others to define this brand of rock as it was getting off the ground. But make no mistake about it, if you’d heard Milburn singing this on stage without having bought any of the initial rock offerings during the last few months you’d surely know the music world was in for some startling changes.


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