No tags :(

Share it

DECCA 48191; DECEMBER 1950



For much of the three years and counting that rock ‘n’ roll has existed, the major gains artistically and commercially have come via independent record labels.

That only makes sense. They were the ones who needed to find a market the major labels had long neglected and so rock ‘n’ roll’s birth was exactly what they’d been seeking. As a result they signed the genre’s best artists, let their bands, or the session musicians, have free reign in the studio and for the most part didn’t get in the way with “helpful suggestions” that would’ve surely derailed their progress.

When the major labels did start to pay it cursory attention they looked for mostly older and more respectable artists and then promptly interfered in their creative decisions in an attempt to have them conform to the company’s higher cultural standards which of course diluted the product and resulted in very few hits.

But let’s give credit where credit is due because the one area the major labels had a definite advantage over the indies was in making sure their artists didn’t waste their time on the studio floor – drunk, disheveled and disorganized, all of which usually described Cecil Gant to a T.


You Wanna Say We’re Through
As already discussed Decca’s signing of Cecil Gant, alcoholic musical vagabond that he was, fit their game plan of making calculated incursions into the flanks of the suddenly booming rock market. Gant was admittedly never an active participant in rock’s groundswell of creativity that led us to this point, but he was still a name artist in that community, even if he was now a generation removed from really making an impact.

Furthermore he was a malleable artist capable of rocking as hard as anyone if you asked him to, but at the same time he could tone things down, mellow out and deliver convincing ballads, instrumentals and even experimental concepts if the situation called for it.

What he couldn’t do however was be counted on to come to the studio prepared to record. He rarely wrote songs in advance, choosing instead to improvise on the floor, ad-libbing lyrics to a fairly standard progression or two. He was a good enough pianist where he could make these slapdash cuts sound decent enough, but he was helped by the fact most of the sessions for small labels had no backing musicians, or maybe just a drummer so adhering to a set arrangement was never going to present a stumbling block for him in his efforts.

Obviously that wasn’t going to be the case with Decca who prided themselves in having well-drilled musicians cutting written charts in an efficient manner. So whether that meant Gant was able to make the adjustment under his own volition or if Decca executives barricaded him in his room the night before after conducting a thorough sweep for any stashed liquor bottles or prostitutes and worked with him on material so they’d all be ready to record the next day is not known.

What IS known however is the fact that songs like It Ain’t Gonna Be Like That had more depth and complexity to them than the majority of Gant’s catalog to date and while they still were somewhat removed from rock’s main thoroughfare, they were probably as close as Decca was willing to travel in order to curry favor with that market.


I Have Begged And Borrowed
A hammering piano, drums that come in as the intro winds down and an electric guitar that falls in behind Gant as he starts to sing, this is the kind of arrangement that should be the minimum standard for most rock acts by now. As we know Cecil Gant wasn’t most artists and so this is a welcome departure from the bare-bones approach that we’re accustomed to with him.

Gant was always a really good pianist and his left hand here is carrying the rhythm with considerable focus while he throws in just enough embellishment with his right to keep things interesting.

Though this is not the same song as Frankie Laine’s 1947 record by the same title, It Ain’t Gonna Be Like That was probably crafted using that one as a starting point as it’s got some obvious similarities to the Mel Tormé written tune. Gant’s is more aggressive sounding of course and the lyrics, save for the chorus which is just the title line, are completely different and present a fairly good plot in its own right, but the mindset behind them both is more or less the same.

Gant’s girlfriend is on the verge of dumping him and Cecil is indignant over her lack of consideration for him and all he’s done for her over the years. He’s reeling off a list of complaints that sound more like sour grapes than major offenses and it quickly becomes clear that the primary offense is that she wounded his pride in not needing him anymore.

To be honest even on record, where he’s the one deciding what to tell us, he doesn’t seem like the greatest catch, working in a junkyard and sounding as if he’s been gargling everyday with carbolic acid. Yet even so there’s a certain dignity to him as he’s watching this girl slip away from him, a proud defiance that might not get her to stay but which will prevent him from lapsing into self-pity when the door slams in his face on her way out the door.

Trying To Make Me Lose My Mind
Of course it helps that for once he’s got bandmates to lend some moral support when facing this quandary.

Gant himself gets a chance to show off his barrelhouse skills on the keyboards during an extended break which is really invigorating despite its simplicity and you almost wish that they let him go even further on a second solo. Instead for the next instrumental break he hands things over to the guitar which chips in with a solo of its own, albeit one that sounds a little too country actually with a few jazz-oriented tricks thrown in for good measure.

It’s a strange choice for sure, probably owing to the fact that their session players had absolutely no experience in rock ‘n’ roll and were just trying to come up with something a little less dignified than their usual contributions in order to suit the image of the amiable vagrant sitting on the piano stool, but even if it’s slightly out of place it’s at least interesting enough to keep your attention.

For all of its modest charms It Ain’t Gonna Be Like That still a record that’s not very ambitious, certainly nothing that’s trying to set the pace in rock ‘n’ roll, but rather merely trying to keep within hailing distance of its best sides. To ask anything more of Decca Records would be to completely misread their own intent and disregard their goals as a company.

If it were left to them they’d be more than happy to put all of this noise behind them and move back to music that made sense, but as long as it was drawing interest they knew it was in their best interests to at least remain remotely viable to that audience, even if they were largely unaware of how to best do so.

I Gave You My Love And You Were Satisfied
For Cecil Gant this late career opportunity thrown on his doorstep allowed him the rare chance to have a little bit more polish put to his ideas. They weren’t able to forcibly remove the attributes which had made him unique thankfully, but Decca’s efforts to keep him focused and serious in his craft paid immediate dividends, though maybe not as much commercially as aesthetically.

To that end It Ain’t Gonna Be Like That gives us a Cecil Gant who is fit for broader consumption. The natural talent is still readily apparent but the sloppiness has been smoothed over.

Maybe this more professional composure he exhibited on record however caused some to reconsider their assessment of him. Whereas before you’d say his records had a good idea at their core and some enthusiastic playing and singing but needed more work to make them presentable, now you’d be more likely to say the work put in by others was what lifted a rather unreliable artist.

But that’s selling him short.

In truth Decca got what they were after here, an artist whose quirks were at the center of both his strengths and weaknesses. They maximized those strengths, tempered those weaknesses and found in the end there sat an artist who was just “good enough” to get by no matter the era, no matter the style, no matter the expectations.


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