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BLU 115; NOVEMBER 1950



Vocal groups are in many ways the sum of their individual parts, but there’s usually one individual who could stand alone.

The groups themselves generally understood this and often feared their leaders defection even though in the future more times than not leaving an established and popular group would never turn out quite the way they anticipated.

That was always the risk a good lead singer faced when thinking of breaking off and going it alone… they may be able to sing well enough to do so, but they thrived when surrounded by others.

For The Robins’ Bobby Nunn he stuck with them throughout their run but along the way made a few solo records that showed where an alternative career path might’ve led.


Don’t Have A Nickel, Ain’t Worth A Dime
You’ll notice that technically this is NOT officially a Bobby Nunn solo outing, but rather it’s credited to saxophonist Bumps Myers, someone who’d turned in some good sides in the past but who has sort of disappeared from the release rolls this year.

That’s a shame because not only was he a good musician who clearly had an affinity for rock ‘n’ roll, but because rock ‘n’ roll was in need of more sax stars after the industry having apparently collectively decided they’d worn out their welcome following two years of being the defining sound of the entire genre.

But while Myers is a welcome presence on I’m Clappin’ And Shoutin’ he’s not the focal point… that would be Bobby Nunn, who once again is moonlighting from his day job as The Robins lead.

Now here’s where it gets interesting and little frustrating… Nunn’s first appearance on Dootsie Williams’ label came a year and a half ago, in July 1949, which raises the question of whether Nunn went back in the studio more recently to lay down these two sides with Myers, or if he’d already cut them back in the spring of ’49 and for some reason Williams held them over this long.

That seems unlikely and since The Robins were no longer working and touring with Johnny Otis and thus weren’t affiliated with Savoy Records where their records were still being issued, Nunn had plenty of time to look for outside work.

So we’re left trying to compare last year’s release with this to try and figure out when it might’ve been recorded. Unfortunately that leads nowhere but in circles, yet what becomes clear is that this song fits in perfectly with what was going on when it hit the marketplace as 1950 wound down.


I Feel So Good Today
I guess that’s where we should start, and not just because Myers is the guy who is getting credit for the record, but also because its his band – The Frantic Five – who are setting the storming pace that makes this come alive.

It does sound a little more lean and sinewy than last year’s I’ve Got A Country Gal, but the same components are present starting with a barreling piano, a resonent bass laying a deep groove, thwacking drums and hand claps to establish the beat and topped off by Myers saxophone which starts off sultry before gradually tearing off its clothes and gyrating naked around the room.

This is a party atmosphere being whipped up by the band and yet they manage to remain under control even while pushing things to the edge of anarchy. It’s little more than a mirage in some ways as they’re simply each emphasizing a different component of their individual parts. The drummer hits the cymbals extra hard for instance which resonates more. The pianist hammers the treble keys a little more forcefully to get that ringing sound.

Essentially they’re drawing attention to the most animated noises they can make while otherwise keeping the structure intact. As a result I’m Clappin’ And Shoutin’ holds its form and progresses naturally yet still gives the impression of going absolutely wild.

Myers does wind up getting a lot of time in the spotlight, not just with his three extended instrumental breaks but in between those he’s responding to everything Nunn sings with a passionate tone on his horn.

The solos are all first rate and all slightly different, the initial one building the tension by laying into the sultry vibe while the second one starts to tear things up as the piano boogies away behind it. He eases back on the power as it goes on so Nunn has a way to re-enter the picture without stepping over any debris that might get left on the studio floor had he kept going further.

The final run-through may be more sparse in nature but is no less invigorating as the pace behind him remains at a solid clip before Nunn returns to send it over the finish line in a heap. It may not break much new ground or even reach new heights, but it shows you can still get high on well trod ground.


Add A Little Lovin’
As good as the instrumental track is and for all the excitement it provides, the salesman for this party is still going to be the singer and Bobby Nunn has no problems delivering what’s called for.

He always claimed he was more at ease singing in his natural baritone rather than the bass voice he was required to use with The Robins – not that anyone was complaining when he dropped to that lower register – and here he gets to show it off throughout the record.

I’m Clappin’ And Shoutin’ was written by the great Jessie Mae Robinson and while this may not qualify as one of her deeper compositions, it hits all of its marks as a celebration of the type of environment rock ‘n’ roll existed and thrived in over the years.

There’s no set up to any of this, we’re thrown right in the middle of the party as Nunn is already worked up as he and the band are exchanging random “Hey-Hey”s before we jump headfirst into the first chorus. Robinson changes the taglines each time to make this a little less repetitive, but essentially it’s nothing more than variations of a theme, all centered around the exuberant mood being elicited from the music itself.

Nunn’s job therefore is the embody that spirit in his delivery, to never take his foot off the gas, to sound as if he’s not in a sterile studio cutting a record but instead is knee deep in empty bottles, discarded brassieres and a few passed out lightweights whose eyeballs are still spinning in their head as they drift off to dreamland with silly grins plastered on their faces after having far too much fun.

That he does so with such conviction tells you he’s been to plenty of these all night soirees himself and though you may not learn much new about them by listening to him carry on so gleefully, you definitely will be immersed in the moment and that’s all that really matters with records like this.

Just Can’t Make It Stop
On some levels this performance, while undoubtedly boisterous good fun, has its limitations. It’s a fairly one-note performance all around, even with some differing approaches by Myers on the sax he’s still got the same destination in mind with all of them. The rhythm section locks into their groove and never deviates from it and Nunn maintains the exact same frame of mind for the entire production.

It’s all well done, but hardly very challenging.

But who said complexity and nuance were requirements for these kinds of bashes let alone rock ‘n’ roll itself? This entire genre was conceived as party music by a community that previously had few acceptable public outlets for celebration, yet remained vibrant, upbeat and uninhibited in their daily lives away from the harsh glare of outsiders.

Not all music is designed for such wild goings-on of course, there are plenty of funeral dirges, sentimental melancholia and yearning love songs to touch different emotions in each listener, but for expressing sheer joy and reckless abandon nothing yet discovered could top rock ‘n’ roll.

When its listeners were the ones declaring I’m Clappin’ And Shoutin’ with every record they played at each party they threw where that music was so vital in setting the scene, then it only made sense to state it in the most unequivocal terms for everyone to enjoy.

Simple? Yes. Simplistic? Hardly.

This was life at ground zero for the rock denizens in 1950 and for that reason we should never feel reluctant to join in the celebration because the party they started hasn’t died down yet.


(Visit the Artist pages of Bumps Myers and Bobby Nunn for the complete archives of their respective records reviewed to date)