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If the other side of this record was a perfectly acceptable average record for rock ‘n’ roll in 1950, this side shows just how precarious walking that fine line could be for somebody without an abundance of talent.

Same singer, same band, same day in the studio… yet a different song, different arrangement and much different results.

This a record that exemplifies why the margin of error for everybody in this field was a lot smaller than they probably considered when they first entered the business full of hope and bravado.


The Lights Are Way Down Low
Okay, first thing’s first, despite sharing the same title in the same year, this record has nothing whatsoever to do with Jimmy Preston’s Early Morning Blues. Today’s record features a prominent vocal whereas that earlier one was a moody instrumental.

Of course considering how poorly Carl Campbell fares when he opens his mouth here, maybe they’d have been better off releasing this one as an instrumental too.

Truthfully, the instrumental side of the equation on this Early Morning Blues is pretty solid. The opening carried by Henry Hayes’s alto sax may take a few seconds to orient yourself to the eerie tone he’s using but once you get situated it does what it’s supposed to do and gives it a unique ambiance.

The rest of the band is carrying out their roles pretty effectively too. We get a nice atmospheric guitar – not sure who it is, all we know is it’s definitely not Goree Carter who was getting his career ruined by Uncle Sam in September when they cut this – and Willie Johnson is staying busy on piano trying to give the otherwise crawling pace some life with lots of wheel-spinning playing that fits in nicely.

Johnson’s subsequent solo is more of the same, giving this a much needed energetic lift and when it shifts to a slower guitar solo it’s such a smooth transition that you find yourself listening more closely on replay to find where they actually traded off.

Surprisingly the saxophone doesn’t get more of a standalone spot, especially since Hayes gets a label credit. He does get a chance however to chip in again after the solos while responding to Campbell and giving this another layer in the process, but apparently they felt with such a morose song that a more prominent sax might’ve been out of place.

They’re probably wrong about that, for saxophones certainly can be played with plenty of ache in their lines, especially a more fragile alto, but overall the arrangement can’t be faulted for this record falling short in the end.

For that we need to turn to Carl Campbell, his clogged nasal passages and apparently the lack of an effective decongestant on the market in 1950.

Sleeping With Somebody Else
It’s frankly amazing how many professional singers are oblivious to the fact they have a larynx, or at least unaware of how to properly utilize it. Nasal voiced singers are so commonplace in rock ‘n’ roll that you could field a pretty good all-star team with those guilty of such transgressions starting with the aforementioned Carter and also including Floyd Dixon who recently appeared on Peacock Records himself.

Anyway, singing through the nose is not the preferred way to put a song across and it’s particularly troubling on slower songs where it tends to be more pronounced. Early Morning Blues definitely qualifies as slow and thus it should be off-limits to somebody with Campbell’s technical flaws.

Not only does his tone sound abysmal, but it robs the song of a lot of its emotional pull. We can certainly let ourselves believe that he’s been crying half the night over his baby leaving him if we want to give him credit for his method acting, but that’s still not the most pleasing way to sing a song and as listeners we tend to want to be captivated by the vocals, not reaching for a handkerchief to give to him.

Because it’s so off-putting we also tend not to pay as close attention to the lyrics and so the story he’s telling gets lost amidst his blubbering. Furthermore the slow pace isn’t just hampering the delivery of his vocals, but it also drags out the resolution to each line, which frankly is a huge detriment because when you actually examine the lyrics you’ll find that this might in fact be the first rock song about masturbation.

Consider the following: He tells us “It’s so hard when you’re sleeping by yourself”… granted “hard” might just mean “difficult”, as I’m sure they’d swear on a stack of Bibles in court was their intent, but that explanation sort of goes out the window when the conclusion of the song finds him saying “When my baby left me this morning that was the best loving I ever had”.

When she LEFT you?


With just yourself to… never mind. What you do in the privacy of your own bedroom Carl is nobody’s business but your own, even if you did brag about pleasuring yourself on record. Luckily for you however very few people bought this record and since there are no known published photos of you, I’m sure you got away with your boast.

Let’s just hope your mother didn’t scan the jukebox offerings and waste a nickel to hear her son… deliver such an uninspired record no matter what racy topics might be laying under the surface.

Once In A Lifetime Everyone Must Feel So Sad
There was never any hope for Carl Campbell to be more than a second tier journeyman, but even journeymen excel – relatively speaking that is – at certain approaches and this downcast number is definitely not what Campbell should be focusing on.

Early Morning Blues highlights Campbell’s weaknesses, almost taking perverse pleasure in putting them on display for us to criticize, and while the band elevates this just enough to not want to turn it off immediately, they’re also hampered by not being able to do more because of the song’s ponderous pace and decidedly limited ambitions.

What all of this shows is that when your best is only average it generally means your average output is something that won’t find many takers… even early in the morning.


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