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KING 4548; JUNE 1952



This is hardly the type of record you expect to see here and if it were another artist it might not make the cut at all.

But one of the intentions of this site is to chronicle the evolution of rock artists as well as the history of rock ‘n’ roll as a genre unto itself.

In the latter department this record is a stretch for inclusion, not that it can’t credibly be squeezed in but it’s hardly a sure thing stylistically. But when it comes to Bill Doggett’s career as he transitions from jazz sideman to rock frontman this record actually is somewhat important in showing just how difficult this move was going to be.

When he eventually figures it out, you may not immediately think of this single as a particularly important moment along the way, but in many ways it is because you need to discard the ideas destined for failure before discovering the key to success.


Every Now And Then…
If you looked at the label scan the first thing that should jump out at you are the words “Vocal By Bill Doggett”, as you pause, tilting your head quizically, then sputter… “Bill Doggett’s not a singer!”.


Not that’s he’s awful, but it’s not what an organist used to playing behind others and now leading an instrumental combo is necessarily going to concentrate on… is it?

Therein lies Doggett’s dilemma in 1952. The rock instrumental has had a slight revival this year but is not what it once was commercially and the organ is not the instrument that anyone, in any style of music, not just rock, thinks of when it comes to popular sounds.

Now he could take the route that labelmate Earl Bostic has wherein he showcases his versatility by releasing songs that cover every conceivable genre – rock, jazz, pop, suitable for everything from swanky night clubs to the chitlin circuit along with some bachelor pads.

Maybe that was the plan here, as the flip side, the weirdly titled Glo’ Glug, is the kind of instrumental that fits the bill with its bouncy organ trading off with the glassy guitar of Jimmy Cannady on a song that sort of winds its way around the edges of various genres without settling on one of them.

It’s pleasant enough for what it is, but like a lot of Bostic’s sides of a similarly uncertain stylistic residence I’d imagine this kind of thing worked best as background music for a cocktail party in the suburbs where a couple in their mid-30’s realize they threw away the last eight years of their lives by having three kids and moving THERE of all places and want to forget this by swimming in martinis with their social climbing neighbors while listening to music that suggests they’re more hip than they really are.

Their attempts will fail of course, the house will be a mess and they’ll be hungover when the kids come down the next morning expecting their Corn Flakes and wondering why the record player is still spinning around in circles stuck in the run out groove of a Bill Doggett record.

But hey, if that sounds remarkably like your own miserable existence, by all means give it a spin!

On this side however with Please Don’t Ever Let Me Go we have something that’s aiming to be just little more commercial for the market Doggett has got one eye on, still uncertain if he can cut it here but willing to try.

The problem is he’s determined to be the focal point of his own record and understandably skeptical that the organ can pull that off in this setting, so he decides that he’ll open his mouth and introduce himself to you by singing… even though as we said Bill Doggett’s not a singer.

Yeah, this probably won’t work either come to think of it.

It Acts Like Magic, But It Would Be Tragic
One thing we all know in life is that not everybody can sing, despite most people having a working voice box.

But there are different standards we apply for singers depending on their day job. If the singer in question is a parking lot attendant or a pastry chef we’ll probably be much more lenient if they can at least reasonably carry a tune while staying in key without randomly changing tempos out of nervousness.

However if that person currently earns a living fronting a band that records professionally, we won’t be as likely to extend them some mild appreciation for simply having a “nice voice” and enough confidence to show it off without downing six shots of Fireball in rapid succession before stepping to the mic at the karaoke bar.

Let’s just say that we hope Bill Doggett brought some lemon Danishes after parking your convertible before he starting crooning Please Don’t Ever Let Me Go. Strictly speaking he’s what you’d call “capable”, but anything beyond that description will have to be cleared by our panel who will rigorously uphold the strict standards that should be applied to anyone opening their mouth on a commercial recording.

At least he clearly understands music. The song, which he also wrote, follows a natural melodic progression, features the proper emotional shifts to go with the changes which are highlighted by a hummed “Mm-hmm” which are a nice touch but also are clearly trying to suggest he’s more relaxed than his clammy hands and pit-stained sports shirt would attest.


I Tried To Get You Out Of My Mind
Maybe in someone else’s hands – or throat – this would’ve been… decidedly average.

The lyrics are perfectly suitable for this kind of wistful daydream about a girl he’s probably not too serious about (despite what the title suggests) but who he always enjoys seeing and has a good time when they’re together. It’s got an easy-going nonchalance that covers his nervousness to a degree, but even so the organ solo which he supplements with an extended humming refrain, is clearly when he’s most comfortable.

The rest of the band is dutifully following along, knowing Please Don’t Ever Let Me Go is more of a studio experiment than a serious attempt at scoring a hit. If they’re going to play it on the road it’ll be the last song before their second break of the evening, a time when most of the patrons are getting sloshed enough not to mind him warbling a tune.

It’s not much, but then again it wasn’t intended to be. Instead this is merely checking off one of the options for his primary pursuit as a lead artist early in the game, probably so he’s not compelled to try it much after this.

We can at least be grateful for thing however which is if he’d been a little more enamored with his own voice we may never have reached the point where Bill Doggett turns into one of the most interesting instrumental rock acts of the next fifteen years.

They say you have to learn to crawl before you can walk, but this record proves in certain circumstances sometimes you gotta fall down before you can crawl or walk, let alone run.


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