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Over the course of almost 2,200 reviews of rock ‘n’ roll singles released over the first five full years of the genre’s existence regular readers have come to expect a lot of criticism being directed at the record labels, their owners and producers.

Some might find it humorous, others might see it as excessive, but the important question remains: Is it warranted?

Well, if you were on the fence about the subject, maybe feeling a little uncomfortable about how harshly we treat these seemingly innocuous behind the scenes figures and relentlessly mock their decisions, pillory their judgement and denounce their very existence, this record should ease your mind by firmly laying to rest any opinion that we’re being unfairly harsh and have it in for these worthless bums and soul-sucking cretins.


Close All The Windows, Lock All The Doors
You’d think that if we were choosing this particular single to fully air our vitriolic diatribes on the people residing in upper management positions of these record companies, the obvious side with which the unleash this furor would’ve been on the ill-conceived pop cover of You Belong To Me found on the top half.

After all, wasn’t that misguided idea the epitome of the condescending outlook these people had for rock ‘n’ roll in general, even as they were reaping the rewards for associating themselves with the music in the first place?

Yes, it was, but no that’s not the most egregious offense to be found on this release, even though it was a much worse song and an inferior record all things considered.

But while we can’t forgive OKeh Records for making the call to have Annie Laurie cover a song that couldn’t possibly do her much good, to say nothing of advancing rock’s cause in the marketplace, at least we’ve come to understand their myopic viewpoint when it came to cover records. The industry had been predicated on everybody cutting the same popular songs for so long that many of them assumed the wisdom of that undertaking was infallible, even for a genre that prided itself of authentic original expression like rock ‘n’ roll.

This side however, I Feel So Right Tonight, is another story altogether, because this one IS an original composition, and one with a storyline perfectly suitable for a rock act to sing. Therefore while our expectations for the other side was pretty low to begin with, when it comes to this one we had high hopes.

Annie Laurie has been on something of a roll of late since landing at OKeh, and while she may not have had the hits to show for it she’s released a bunch of very good records that can stand with anything she’s done, proving her skill and versatility as an artist.

Here’s where it should’ve reached its apex and paid off for them.

Instead here’s where it all fell apart because of their own inexorable stupidity.

All I Wanna Do…
The target of our our rage today isn’t Danny Kessler, the white head of OKeh Records who was also the de facto producer for most of their output. We’ve actually been fairly gracious towards Kessler over the last year or so, at least as much as we can stomach being to a stuffed shirt.

Instead, today we’re taking aim at two black men with actual musical credentials, Howard Biggs and Joe Thomas, who possess a laundry list of notable hits under their names in rock ‘n’ roll, but who with this release pretty much are handing in their resignations as viable songwriters, arrangers and producers forever more.

They’re finished. Washed up. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Drop dead.

Actually it’s not easy being SO definitive in our dismissal of their careers from this point forward based on a song they wrote which, on paper anyway, is really damn good. From the title itself to the message it contains, I Feel So Right Tonight is exactly the kind of statement that a rock veteran like Annie Laurie should be declaring proudly in order to quell any doubt that she’s past her prime… or god forbid looking to move into the sunset warbling pop songs as the other half of this single might attest.

The lyrics back this assertive attitude to the hilt, as Laurie is making her play for a guy without an ounce of subtlety, discretion or coy ambiguity. She’s coming on to him as directly as a woman was allowed to in 1952 and if we were told this was taking place behind closed doors we wouldn’t have any doubt that her clothes would already be strewn around the room when this fella walked in.

Whether or not they were a couple leading up to this and she simply craves him tonight more than most, or if she only happened to meet him this afternoon and is not about to let him slip away, it barely matters. She’s going to get him one way or another even if she has to tie him to the bed herself… which is exactly the kind of thing we depraved rock fans like to hear.

But maybe because it IS so direct in its intentions Biggs and Thomas choose to take the onus off of it by giving I Feel So Right Tonight an arrangement that goes so far over the top that you can’t possibly take it seriously. Instead of slinky guitars, spasmic pianos, thumping drums and honking saxes creating a sultry scene of pent-up lust followed by sexual release, we get opening night at the Ritz with an overstuffed brass section in spangly tuxedos blasting away.

This isn’t rock ‘n’ roll… heck, it’s not any kind of REAL music, jazz, pop or anything else. It’s nothing more than organized fanfare suitable for the circus. All they’re missing are the trained elephants.

Somehow the two men responsible for the arrangement did not lose their jobs for this debacle and so unfortunately the only one who suffered irreparable harm with this release was Annie Laurie herself, who in spite of their infernal meddling manages to valiantly battle the overwrought musicians to practically a draw.

She can’t quite pull that off – she’s not a superhero after all, just a singer – but you can tell how much she wants to really lay into these lines and display the kind of carnal fire it calls for. Instead, she’s battered senseless by 87 men with horns until her body, her spirit and the record itself are all broken and laying in pieces on the studio floor while the guys in the control booth casually discuss where they’ll have dinner tonight as the janitors come in to sweep away the carnage they left behind.


Don’t Have To Tell Me What We’re Gonna Do
Sometimes when looking at people’s credentials we make too much out of technical qualifications, even though it tends to be somewhat crucial that an airplane pilot knows how to fly and land a plane or a surgeon has some skill in opening a body and fixing the broken parts.

Surely Howard Biggs and Joe Thomas know music from a technical standpoint. They can write songs, they can arrange them, and Biggs as a pianist can play them as well.

But can they HEAR them?

One spin of I Feel So Right Tonight tells you that no, they can’t. What could’ve been a great record with even just a predictable by the numbers rock arrangement becomes an awful one due entirely to the fact they attempted to make this suitable for Las Vegas showrooms.

We try not to be TOO over-the-top in our attacks on the people responsible for these things. They’re just records after all, 89 cents worth of shellac. Because of that we don’t want to overreact and call for someone to get beheaded just because of a poor choice of instrumentation.

But that being said, sticking small charges of dynamite in the eardrums of mssrs. Biggs and Thomas and lighting the fuses would hardly be an excessive response to this atrocity.

Heck, we’d argue they’d never even know the difference, because it’s obvious they’re both stone deaf already if they thought this was a good idea.


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