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IMPERIAL 5101; SEPTEMBER 1950

 
 

 

In the day of the single, be it 78 RPM or recently 45 RPM, there wasn’t much beyond that which could fit on the label itself to sell the record to curious souls.

The artist’s name and reputation based on past hits obviously were the biggest potential selling points but with more and more rock acts charting each month and with more artists than ever plying their trade in this field, that wasn’t always enough to separate a fan from their hard earned nickels.

So the title increasingly became a way to pique your interest and draw you in, hoping that the contents of the record lived up to a colorful, mysterious and intriguing couple of words singled out for your perusal.

Contemplating the myriad of possibilities of this record would be a tall order for any artist, but once you see Archibald’s name underneath it, you’d be more than willing to take the chance it could meet your expectations.
 

 

I Said A Special Prayer
Your first guess as to what this song might be about… well, maybe not YOUR first guess, but the first guess of many sick and twisted minds like mine… might be to think that Archibald was describing the decapitation and mutilation of an ex-lover, or perhaps a nosy neighbor or maybe his domineering mother-in-law, any of whose body parts would be found all across town as the song unfolded.

Admittedly that’s a rather gruesome subject to sing about, especially for 1950, but certainly has to enter your mind when seeing the three words at the top of the page.

For those inclined to believe Archibald is merely a troubadour and not a knife wielding butcher of women the title could also mean that the lady he’s describing is simply spreading her affections all over town and so rather than be a song about brutal retribution for such acts he’s simply wryly commenting on her seemingly being found in different men’s bedrooms each night.

Though that’s a little more palatable for the prevailing community standards of the era… well, comparatively speaking anyway… but that’s still not what She’s Scattered Everywhere is actually about.

The true plot may be less risqué than either of those but it still is plenty entertaining and Archibald’s quirky ebullient delivery only adds the enjoyment leaving you to wonder how he didn’t become even a fleeting star in the rock heavens.
 

I Love You Just The Same
Let’s start with the main event here, which is the story, a cockeyed look at a disheveled woman who apparently suffered a ghastly series of misfortunes that rendered her in need of “replacement” parts that would make Nebula from The Marvel Cinematic Universe look rather orderly by comparison.

Archie starts off poking fun at her leaving her wig out as she undresses for the night and so you’d think it might simply female accouterments like false eyelashes or fake nails or maybe a padded bra, but instead she apparently needs more help than those beauty enhancers.

The list includes… (check notes to make sure nothing is omitted) a glass eye, false teeth and a peg-leg!

She’s got more artificial parts than a mannequin and while Archie is not necessarily put off by her make-shift appearance, he can’t help but make light of the situation when he keeps finding these parts strewn all over the house.

The unusual thing about She’s Scattered Everywhere though is the fact that as humorous as the roll call of body parts is, it’s not exactly being played for laughs. Yes, it’s meant to be funny, but it’s not structured to accentuate it… as in set-up + punch-line = laughter.

Instead he’s mildly exasperated yet still likes her in spite of her maladies and is more bemused by the situation than anything… which actually makes it more entertaining than if it were delivered with each new line being presented as a side-splitting zinger.

Even the title is sung in a way that is accentuating the wry nature of it rather than the cruel implications it might have in somebody else’s hands. In the end you don’t scorn this woman or even pity her, it’s more like you want to meet her and start counting up the technical glitches in her hardware. When presented this way who could possibly resist such a macabre parlor game as that?
 


 

Knock-Kneed And Bow-Legged
If examining the litany of maladies this poor woman has wasn’t enough to sway you into giving yourself over to such a record, then there’s always New Orleans’s best musicians to urge you to reconsider led by Archibald himself whose piano is as intoxicating as ever laying down the rumba-influenced rhythms while Dave Bartholomew’s crew chimes in with their own off-beat contributions.

A city which draws so much of its musical heritage from such a wide array of sources means that its musicians have the ability to put all of those attributes into a cocktail shaker and pour out something that wouldn’t seem to work, yet goes down smooth all the same. On She’s Scattered Everywhere that’s precisely what Bartholomew does by letting the rhythm instruments – piano, guitar, bass and drums – do their thing while the horn section rides over it, adjacent to it and in competition with it at times, yet never in direct conflict with it.

The result is a record that shimmies from the moment Archibald kicks it off with his two-fisted piano before the horns lock into a deep rolling groove that takes on its own persona, both of them riding the drunken spirit they’re sharing as if the rest of the world is inebriated and they’re the ones who are stone cold sober.

Of course anyone who’s listened to Professor Longhair knows this kind of approach, yet it’s arguably tighter here than when ‘Fess tried similar tactics… less flamboyant for sure, but just as invigorating in its own way. You get so involved in it that you swear you hear more going on that actually exists, but it’s just that when one lurches, the other rolls and vice versa, giving you a never-ending series of ups and downs to get your kicks from.

The horns don’t separate and step out from one another, but they don’t have to to create a distinctive vibe with what they’re laying down and though Archie is the only one who could be said to have any time alone in the spotlight, you could easily focus on just him and assume that he was getting a far longer solo than he actually has.

Yet it’s no slight of hand trick at work here, but rather just a dense track that seems to constantly be shifting when all it really does is force you to keep adjusting your footing as it takes you in one endless circle around and around the floor.
 

You Know That Was Nowhere
There are some artists you’d follow almost anywhere, knowing that wherever they took you was bound to be someplace enjoyable. If Leon T. Gross is not one you’d normally put into that category it’s probably only because his output was remarkably skimpy, covering just two sessions in 1950 before his career as a recording artist came to a premature end.

But as with his fellow New Orleans raconteurs who made their living in the city’s many clubs (before and after their all-too brief stints on record), such as ‘Fess, Cousin Joe and Tuts Washington, plus a good many others of that vintage who never even got a chance to have their musical charm preserved on record, there was an infectious quality to the work of guys like Archibald which came through on every song and in every setting.

She’s Scattered Everywhere is a song that’s endlessly amusing more than laugh out loud funny… and it’s a record that’s continually catchy as opposed to immediately head-turning.

It’s New Orleans in a nutshell in other words.

Rest assured this is one night out that will leave you smiling… even if by the end of the night that smile is floating in a glass on the nightstand.
 
 
SPONTANEOUS LUNACY VERDICT:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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