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OKEH 6852; JANUARY 1952

 
 

 

Rock’s first female artist has been relatively quiet of late… in fact it’s been more than a year since we came across her.

Now that she along with the rest of the Regal Records artists have been brought into the fold by OKeh Records, a major label subsidiary that is attempting to deal with rock ‘n’ roll head on, it’s only natural to wonder what plans they have for her.

Since her first hit, just predating rock in the summer of 1947, was a version of a pop standard it’s entirely possible they were viewing her as a potential crossover artist from the start.

But if they’re truly serious about producing genuine rock hits on the genre’s own terms, then they need singers like Annie Laurie to stick with what she does best.
 

 

Get It Up On The Line
So which will it be, OKeh?

Let’s just say they’re hedging their bets.

To be fair, this is what two-sided singles were made for, isn’t it? Give one audience a song meant for their tastes and then give another fanbase something in line with their interests, promote them both equally so as to not give either side favor and let the market decide which is the better bet going forward.

The pop side certainly makes its intentions clear, for they aren’t going to get rock fans to stick around for all three minutes of Cryin’ Sighing, Dying… in truth you won’t get many of them to last even fifteen seconds after hearing the glassy horns that open the record, sounding like an arial assault of tuxedo clad paratroopers armed with brass and reeds rather than machine guns… and every bit as lethal with those weapons, I assure you.

Despite its less intriguing title, Get Me Some Money, is what we’re holding out for, a song featuring a rolling rhythm and assertive lyrics sold by Annie Laurie’s sassy vocal, reliable ingredients for at least some mild satisfaction among the rock crowd.

But considering Laurie’s disappearance from the hitmaker rolls of late, is it a case of too little too late for OKeh Records to get a decent return on their investment?
 

When You Want Your Thrill
After getting her start working exclusively with Paul Gayten, both at DeLuxe and then Regal, it was during her final sessions with the latter company that Annie Laurie had been handed over to the songwriting and arranging team of Howard Biggs and Joe Thomas (again, NOT the sax player), who followed her to OKeh as well – as did Gayten ironically.

Yet despite this shift in her creative team over time her records don’t sound any different. In fact in some ways Get Me Some Money sounds a lot like her best work with Gayten and maybe that’s by design.

Whatever the reason for this, whether they couldn’t come up with a creative direction of their own, or simply knew what she did well and saw no reason to deviate from it now, they use some choice materials here starting with the theme itself, a direct demand by a woman used to getting her way who makes it clear that whatever else her man provides for her in the physical department he’s going to have to deliver just as much, if not more, in the moolah department if he wants to keep her truly happy.

Unlike a lot of women who might flirt with someone while covertly checking out his bank statement before committing to him, it sounds as if they’ve been together for awhile and she’s merely reminding him of the financial demands of keeping her satisfied.

But regardless of your opinion on her expectations that it’s largely his responsibility to keep her looking good and dressing nice, it quickly deviates from merely being a case of her pressuring him to kick in a little bit of that green stuff to keep both of them happy before landing on some outright mercenary tactics.
 

Take Me on A Spree
The turning point comes when she admits that taking her out and spending money ON her is nice, but she’d rather him just hand over the cash to her so she can pocket it instead.

Normally this would have you question her ulterior motives, such as maybe the fact she’s using him for his dough while slipping around with another man who satisfies her in more carnal ways, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Nope, she’s just a serious investor it seems and like a lot of children of the depression she prefers cold hard cash.

Okay, she’s a gold-digger, I’ll admit it, but she’s not making any secret of it at least and with her up front attitude the guy can hardly say he got blindsided by this. The fact that Laurie delivers this message as unambiguously as possible makes it all the more enjoyable to hear… unless of course you’re the boyfriend in which case I have one very simple never-fail piece of advice to offer: Dump her.

Problem solved.

She’s sure to have more takers in the days to come however. The band for instance sounds particularly turned-on by her, the horns riffing like eager, excited schoolkids, a piano that jumps in from time to time unable to keep quiet, drums that are all over the place and a sax solo that is sloppy in the best of ways.

It’s not perfect, they’re a little TOO brassy for one thing, it they had dropped a trumpet and added an electric guitar to slice things to pieces behind her that’d have given Get Me Some Money an undercurrent of almost titillating danger, letting you wonder if she was the kind of gal with a cash fetish, maybe enjoying rolling around in it naked, but even without such a visual component this still packs a punch.

It may be derivative of her past work the way they sought to recapture Laurie’s distinctive vocal pattern, but everything else is fresh and subversive and worth every penny she’s asking.
 

I Know You Love Me
At a certain point when any artist who had some early success starts to miss the charts there’s a tendency to take them for granted.

The new music with the same old voice doesn’t register as much and consequently they’re destined to be overlooked, which of course often winds up leading to more extreme attempts to reconnect by veering too far away from what they did so well.

We’re clearly not at that stage with Annie Laurie, but if and when we get there be sure to go back to Get Me Some Money and ask yourselves if this had been a legitimate hit for OKeh and kept Laurie’s name in the conversation for the best female rock singer of the day, if maybe she’d have been given a steady stream of more appropriate material like this to let her stay in that upper echelon of acts.

But just like Laurie herself said, it takes money to keep people satisfied and that includes record companies, so while she was good enough – and versatile enough – to always have opportunities to keep cutting records, without the hits she was at their mercy.

Consistently good performances aren’t worth as much on the open market I guess.
 
 
SPONTANEOUS LUNACY VERDICT:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
(Visit the Artist page of Annie Laurie for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)