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REGAL 3273; JUNE 1950



With only a few hit singles in her career, none of which had any real lasting impact and certainly nothing that would make her a familiar name nearly three quarters of a century later, Annie Laurie is the kind of rock artist who might be most in danger of being overlooked despite consistently solid output for more than a decade on the scene.

Or maybe because she was so consistent.

With no huge smash to serve as an entry point into her catalog… no off-beat records that leap out at you on first listen… no trend-setting moments to point to in an effort to explain her importance, Laurie’s reliable persona may almost be a detriment for her long-term reputation.

Everything she did was good yet rarely outstanding, her material played to her strengths without those strengths being anything out of the ordinary, she was well-known and appreciated by an entire generation of rock fans who were rarely afforded any historical respect themselves, all of which means it’s easy to see why she’d be taken for granted.

So what you hope to find to correct this oversight is some record of hers that offers up a slightly different take on her appeal, something just quirky enough to pique people’s interest and yet something that’s not so far outside her typical style to make the rest of her catalog seem disappointing by comparison.

Something like maybe this record.


Like I Never Did Before
Maybe that lead-in will come across as somewhat of a stretch to certain readers who’ll hear pretty much what they’ve come to expect out of Annie Laurie when listening to this, namely a strong confident vocal on a mid-paced song with a good melody and subtle, but insistent, rhythm.

To be honest it could be that more conservative view is the right one in this case. Maybe I’m looking for something that isn’t quite there and reading into various small moments more than is actually there upon closer examination.

But then again, there’s definitely something about I Need Your Love that sounds different, even if I can’t quite put my finger on what that is. There’s a strange mixture of eras that come through for me, sometimes seeming like a throwback to an even earlier time, yet then sounding as if it’s peaking a few years, if not a decade or more, into the future.

Yet none of it ever fully takes shape and morphs into something from another dimension altogether. It simply remains – to me anyway – a vague impression of a lot of different elements colliding in a song that somehow manages to make them all fit and seem perfectly appropriate for mid-1950.

Maybe that’s Annie Laurie’s greatest gift in the end, someone who was almost chameleon-like in her ability to just fit in to what was going on around her and which also explains why, like most chameleons, she was bound to be overlooked.

Thrill Me Night And Day
The horn intro is not what you’d expect to hear at the time this came out. Though at first blush it’s too brassy for rock of 1950 which immediately has you worried this will be heading back three or four years to some jazzy pre-rock landscape we’ve left behind, the more you focus on it you’ll find it actually has some textures that sound far more suitable for something a dozen years in the future without it sounding really ahead of its time.

That contradiction is at the heart of I Need Your Love, a record that never finds an entirely solid footing because it’s so eclectic, yet is still immensely enjoyable despite those disparate components because everyone involved, Laurie herself, the band and the producer alike, make absolutely no mistakes along the way.

The song was written by Howard Biggs whom we’ve met before, first as The Ravens musical arranger/pianist, then as a do-it-all A&R man, writer, producer for Regal Records where Annie Laurie was firmly ensconced.

Normally of course she’s working with Paul Gayten – and they’re sharing vocals on the top side of this record and he’s backing her here as well – but having her tackle somebody else’s material allows her to tweak her usual approach simply because someone else is the one adding slightly different shadings to the recording.

That’s what really stands out here too, for we know what we’re going to get from Laurie herself – selling a fairly straightforward proposition to an unnamed man with understated sassy conviction. She’s not desperately begging this guy to give her some loving, but she’s also not being coy about what it is she wants. The lyrics may only skirt the edge of the physical descriptions of the nocturnal activities she’s hoping for but we know she’s already discarded the bra under her sweater before he even arrives at her house and she’s had one, if not two, glasses of wine to further loosen her inhibitions.

None of this comes across as cheap or exploitative, merely determined with a sort of cold-eyed shrewdness that is admirable in its own low-brow way. In fact she makes it clear they used to live together before she threw him out for unnamed transgressions, but I don’t get the idea that she’s seeking reconciliation here as much as she’s looking for a one-night stand to relieve her of certain… ahh… “womanly tension” that arises from time to time as evidenced by the song’s best line which has her complaining “I’m tired of hugging pillows when I should be hugging you!”

Laurie’s delivery throughout this is a delight. When she purrs you lean in as if she’s addressing you, when she raises her voice in anticipation of some rapturous delight you’re unbuttoning your own shirt with a gleam in your eye and when by the end she sounds as if she’s just been satisfied you look around wondering who snuck in line in front of you and had the pleasure for themselves.

Don’t look too far because chances are it’s the band members who are getting her off in some form or fashion, as their playing remains the driving force behind the song with some subtle but inspired choices along the way.

Can’t Hold Out Much More
On so many early rock records it’s the higher pitched horns – trumpets and alto saxophones – which are the bane of the genre as it struggled at times to settle into its own skin. Once a more aggressive style of arranging came into play with raunchy tenor saxes buttressed by some cruder honks from the baritones, that’s when rock found its footing and accentuated its differences from what had preceded it.

All of which makes it incredibly strange to hear those trumpets and altos make a decidedly successful return to the forefront on I Need Your Love, setting a mood that perfectly fits the particulars of the scene they’re setting out.

Here’s a woman who’s doing something which her friends, family and her own better judgment would almost certainly disapprove of, yet she’s adamant that it’s exactly what she needs. She’s not thinking of the long term entanglements that will surely arise from this sudden tryst she’s proposing, just the fleeting pleasure it will bring and the arrangement highlights that conflict with the exuberant squealing highs of the horns replicating the anticipation while the stuttering tenor honks in the break act like a moral weight pulling her back down.

There’s a playful strut to it all, the horns seem to each have their own personality as they play, from whimsical to sarcastic, and with some crisp drumming and Gayten’s funky piano thrown in to fill the remaining gaps, the arrangement is full, rich and vibrant from start to finish.

With its various layers might not be entirely typical for its time, but it’s also not so far removed from it that you’re thrown when you hear it mixed among other current releases, yet in the end maybe the fact that it all sounds so effortless is what causes it to run the risk of being yet another record of hers that slips past your guard.


A Fool To Ever Let You Go
With stardom the widely hoped-for, yet largely elusive, goal of almost every artist who steps into a studio to a cut a record, falling just short of those aspirations has a tendency at times to make the efforts seem like an exercise in frustration.

True to form I Need Your Love wasn’t the kind of song likely to become a major hit and despite its obvious quality it didn’t stir much action, coming and going without really doing anything more than confirming what we already knew about Annie Laurie.

But that dependability obscures the fact that she handles each role she’s given with such apparent ease that you don’t notice how well she does it. Maybe if she threw in an absolute dud every once in awhile to lower our expectations it’d make us appreciate these minor gems she gives us more often than we tend to give her credit for when looking back at a career that deserves a lot more praise than indifference.


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