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After the surprisingly ahead-of-its-time performance contained on the other side, it’d be overly optimistic to expect something equally impressive on this half… let alone something which was breaking new ground on a different type of song.

Yet in some ways that’s what we get here, even if the song itself and some of its components are not up to our heightened expectations.

Even so, this single – the only one of their career – is proof that you’ll never know what you’ll uncover in rock history until you look in every conceivable corner and empty each unopened box you stumble across.


No One Seems To Care For Me
You wish that Apollo Records had a little more on the ball when it came to running their label, maybe then not only would Billy Austin & His Hearts have gotten a second release, but it’s likely their first release would’ve gotten enough of a promotional push to at least get some insight into which side the company favored.

As it stands, there’s no sign they viewed this as anything more than a late in the year tax write off, dumping it onto the market not expecting much and thus not getting much because so few knew about it.

But then again, they hadn’t really pushed the concurrent release from The “5” Royales either and that was the fifth single of theirs on the label and one which soon was topping the charts even without a lot of hullabaloo being made over it when it was released.

Maybe it doesn’t matter much in terms of which of these they viewed as the likely A-side, because at least they paired up the scalding uptempo cut Angel Baby with a more subdued ballad on this side which gives us a chance to hear them in a different light.

But even here, Night Has Fallen may be the slower song but it’s not lacking for inventive vocal backing, showing that this was clearly the group’s doing, their trademark if you will, something they brought with them to the studio after which Charlie Ferguson’s band merely filled in the instrumental details to supplement that.

All of which makes you even more frustrated that we didn’t get more opportunity to hear them on record to see just what else they might be capable of down the road.


I’ll Find My Love Someday
The frantic vocal patter on the barreling flip side was definitely groundbreaking in so many ways, really utilizing the effect of nonsensical gibberish as a distinctive form of rhythmic vocal support that would come to dominate the entire style in short order.

Yet while it was much more involved than previous attempts at such things, it also seemed to make some sense on a record taken at that rapid clip. The whole song was chaotic to untrained ears, so why would the backing vocals be any different?

But on a ballad that approach might not hold up. It would even seem inappropriate, as if mocking the more serious sentiments being expressed by the lead, and could be seen as farcical by some who want songs of this sort to be taken with the utmost seriousness.

If so, those people are in for a bad time with Night Has Come because even though the tempo has dropped, the backing vocals have been cut from the same cloth, giving us some moments of exaggerated exclamations, primarily from the bass singer whose stuttering interjections are the most noticeable and interesting contributions of the supporting players.

It’s hardly ostentatious however, and in fact when compared to what we’ll hear in a few years time is actually rather subdued, but in 1952 those kinds of interjections were decidedly rare. Whoever that voice belongs to at least he’s not alone in giving us something to admire, as the others are equally appealing here in smaller roles. We get a floating high tenor throughout the record and some nice harmonies at times as well, making you wonder just how many people were in the group, especially as we get a bridge led by another singer while the backing vocals get a little more involved with shifting parts.

Unfortunately the song itself is somewhat forgettable. The melody is just okay, nothing is out of place at least, but none of it really makes much of an impression either. The lyrics are of the standard wistful longing variety without any lines that stand out as particularly deep and while Billy Austin delivers them with as much heartfelt emotion as he can muster, if the storyline does nothing to capture your attention, then there’s little chance Austin has to really hit you hard and make you sit up and take notice.

Since the arrangement is taking a decided back seat to the vocals there’s nothing else here to shift your focus momentarily, which might have made Austin’s increasingly emphatic delivery down the stretch stand out more had it come after a languid sax solo or something.

Instead you’re left to focus mainly on the voices themselves and while they remain excellent, both in terms of quality and creativity, there’s only so much they can do to elevate this beyond the modest song they’re attached to.


Can’t Go On This Way
Once again, here’s where a label designation would help to put this in perspective. As a B-side this is really good, not just in giving us a different approach than what we heard on the flip, but also because then its compositional shortcomings wouldn’t be seen as anything more than just a good secondary effort, rather than something designed to entice us into buying the record itself.

Either way though the aesthetic results are the same, as we remain very impressed by the vocal talents, both singing and arranging, of Billy Austin & His Hearts, even if as a song our enthusiasm for Night Has Come is a little more subdued.

But don’t let that more objective assessment of this side’s commercial potential and subjective critique of its overall construction dissuade you from the real story here which is the affirmation of their role in bringing to the table a new more modern approach to group vocal techniques in rock.

Much of what you’ll come to know – and presumably love – in the next few years can be seen on both sides of this group’s one and only single and that alone is reason for celebration.

Heading into this release I sure didn’t see it coming, and by the scant amount of coverage found in vocal group sources online as well as in books and liner notes that could be dug up on them, nobody else seems to have picked up on it either. But the proof is in the grooves… these guys were truly prescient when it came to what sounds would have the farthest reaching appeal around the corner.

Too bad they wouldn’t last long enough to take part in it.


(Visit the Artist page of Billy Austin & His Hearts for the complete archive of their records reviewed to date)