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ALADDIN 3093; JUNE 1951



How much honesty do you owe someone if you’re their friend?

If they ask you if the clothes they’re wearing to go out look good and it appears to you as if they’re heading off to join the circus in that outfit, do you tell them?

If they ask what you think of their date who they clearly are smitten with while you’re pretty sure you saw their face on a Wanted Poster at the Post Office, is that something you can let them know without jeopardizing your friendship?

How about if your pal wants to order another drink and they’ve clearly had one too many, is it your obligation to cut them off and drive them home?

What about if all they’re doing is singing about having one more drink and you know that heading down this thematic road again so soon after the last trip to the bar is not a good career move, do you tell them?

Yeah. We’re definitely telling him.


I Lost All My Might
One of the unfortunate realities of the singles era among independent labels especially, is that the companies tend to insist their artists replicate a huge hit as closely as possible, both musically and thematically, because they don’t trust the artist to pull off the same feat again with a new idea and don’t trust the audience to appreciate that next original idea even if they did allow it.

Aladdin Records had already milked the Chicken Shack Boogie formula dry with countless thinly veiled remakes over the next few years. Now after some misguided attempts to turn Milburn into a cover artist who tackled material from every conceivable genre as if the songs were better than what he himself could come up with, all of which threatened to derail his popularity, they lucked out when an original, Bad, Bad Whiskey, restored him to greatness last fall.

As his reward for such an impressive comeback they were now attempting to drown him with Just One More Drink in the very same glass they’d just raised to toast his recent success.

The fact is though that great artists rarely try and repeat themselves on their own volition… there’s too many new challenges to meet, they take too much pride in their creativity and they have too much arrogance when it comes to their standing in music circles to merely churn out shallow facsimiles of their greatest hits without being pushed or coaxed into it.

So while we can rail against the label for urging them to revisit a past triumph, the harder part for us to reconcile is that as much as we deplore the concept itself there’s no denying – that in this case anyway – they do it so damn well that we’re prone to forgive them for their regurgitated material.

I Really Ought To Leave Now
We probably should start with all the things we DON’T like about this record – or should we say the transparent motives behind this record – because the components themselves still work.

Let’s begin with the melody. The SAME melody as Bad Bad Whiskey. Oh, they DO make an attempt at altering it but no more than they have to in order to avoid a plagiarism charge. They slow it down some, switch up the parts so that the guitar is taking the part that Milburn’s piano essentially played the first time around, but they aren’t fooling anyone… nor really even trying to.

The goal here is to elicit the same instinctual response to the way these notes fall because it still is alluring even with the slight changes. It’s also not too ambitious which is where we take umbrage to their attempts. You have the best producer in the biz, Maxwell Davis, who wrote this on order for Milburn who has been the best artist in rock’s first four years, and the entirety of your creative inspiration is merely cosmetic?!?!


From there we move to the next issue which is the subject matter itself which is also the same as last time when Milburn was bending his elbow at a bar. That was eight months ago and he’s still there asking for Just One More Drink. Talk about cast iron kidneys!

By making the song essentially a sequel you’re not even forcing yourself to come up with a new setting, let alone a different mindset and outlook. Even if you were to promote this AS a straight sequel to his last #1 hit you’re already narrowing his scope. While Milburn remained popular – and did so with a number of drinking themed songs – he limited himself both thematically and musically by mining the same downbeat sleepy vein over and over again just as rock was becoming even more flamboyant and diverse, roads which were increasingly closed off to him because he kept putting these songs on his tab.

So despite the fact that this record was a huge hit down South – Georgia especially – as well as New Jersey, though it never reached Billboard’s national listings, it’s safe to say that this was a mixed bag at best because of the stylistic ramifications that came with constantly repeating himself.

Yet listening to the record and divorcing yourself from those dire thoughts you can’t help but say… what the hell, how ‘bout another round, because this sure tastes good going down!


I’ll Be On My Merry Way
What stands out about Milburn’s performances on these songs is how convincing he is as a singer who is half in the bag… still upright, not exactly slurring his words, but with his eyes at half mast, his energy depleted and his focus wandering just a little as he goes.

The fact that Amos was developing a real life drinking problem as this was released may or may not have anything to do with the role he was asked to play time and time again, but let’s at least hope he was THIS kind of pleasantly subdued drunk rather than an obnoxious loudmouth, a hyperactive garrulous barfly always buzzing in someone’s ear or a surly troublemaker with a chip on his shoulder.

In fact Milburn’s so laid back that as long as he wasn’t driving most bartenders wouldn’t cut him off before giving him Just One More Drink because it’s obvious he’s feeling no pain and will be no trouble at all, other than perhaps urinating down his pants leg in the bathroom.

It might be a stretch to call somebody whose blood alcohol content is approaching twice the legal limit “engaging”, but he’s certainly controlling himself pretty well and is still able to tell a good story, as his recounting of the dice game he lost before he landed here at the bar is a colorful touch to what is ultimately a sad story of a man unable to control his impulses.

But there’s no consequences to his actions – at least not until his rehab bills come due – and so you gladly go along with him, helped along by the effortless flow of the piano that shows he’s still coordinated enough to get to his destination without falling down.

Of course he’s got a valuable wingman in the guitarist who adds the right licks at the right time, akin to the buddy who keeps his companion upright or is quick enough to catch his drunken cohort’s puke in his hat rather than have it end up in the lap of the lady enjoying one Tom Collins before dinner who is unfortunate enough to be sitting too close.

Maybe the scene painted here – our telling of the tale rather than Milburn’s I mean – isn’t your speed, but Amos is the picture of contentment on this song, his voice going down smooth with some sweet music as the chaser.

Just Before I Go
The crux of the record business is that labels are constantly searching for hits because that’s all that matters to their bottom line which means you’ll always try banking on surefire hits if you can.

Yet artists themselves tend to take the “artistry” designation seriously – at least far more so than the record companies – and try to avoid doing things which are seen as cheap and exploitative even if it might make good business sense to imitate something already proven to be popular.

That doesn’t mean they avoid general trends but artists try and stay in their own lane even if it’s relatively easy to copy somebody else’s hit sound.

Yet copying yourself as shamelessly as Milburn and Davis do on Just One More Drink is a murkier ethical ground.

Ultimately it’s a dead end creatively even if commercially it may take awhile for there to be any backlash, but when you can pull it off as well as they do here, as much as we cringe at Aladdin’s brazenness, we’re gonna order another round anyway.

I’m sure we’ll hate ourselves in the morning when the buzz wears off.


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