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In the waning days of 1947 in a desperate attempt to get as much material down before the recording ban hit at midnight New Year’s Eve Imperial Records were eager to bring whoever they could find on short notice into the studio.

Los Angeles club act, singer and pianist Charlie Davis fit that bill.

He cut so many tracks for them in a short time that Imperial was able to keep releasing Davis’s singles one after another for the rest of the decade, by which time the ban was over, the company was in no better shape than it had been prior to his arrival, and were scuffling along until a fortuitous turn of events not only made them relevant in the marketplace but an actual leading light in rock ‘n’ roll for more than a dozen years.

Charlie Davis was long since forgotten by then.

If anybody is deserving of a second look it’s Davis and since he wasn’t able to get one in life when it might’ve helped his floundering career, then he might as well enjoy whatever light we can try and shine on him from the distance of seventy years into the future in the hopes that the beam isn’t so dim that he remains hidden away in the shadows forever.

Gimme Your Number And I’ll Call
Of course this isn’t exactly the easiest of tasks even with the best of intentions. Imperial Records, though better chronicled historically than a lot of the labels we’ve covered to date, wasn’t exactly rolling in dough when these sides were first issued and though they were fairly aggressive in their initial promotion of Davis, taking out ads for his first few releases, complete with photos of his smiling mug so we have some sense of who we’re dealing with, once those records failed to make much headway with listeners they cut back on their spending probably treated the rest of his releases as tax write-offs.

Normally this isn’t too much of an obstacle for our job here, but while the actual reviewing of the record itself isn’t impacted by their lack of publicity, it does make for a rather difficult task when it comes to getting the release date accurate.

We’re slotting You Fine And Healthy Thing in December 1948 because there weren’t any ads for his work by now and while the reviews for the singles in this numerical run were from February 1949 there was always a lag of a few weeks if not months by the trade papers when it came to small indie labels like Imperial.

Not that it really matters of course.


Just How Fine Can You Be?
Now what about the record itself? Ya know, the reason for us being here?

Well, if you’ve read any of the previous Davis reviews you pretty much know what to expect from him, although just to punish us for this extended indulgence into our own methods of operations he takes a slight unexpected left turn on this one.

But they’re on firm ground with the usual blaring horns that kick it off in rousing fashion, heavy on the higher tones, before we get the one bit that is new to us – a spoken exchange between he and a member of the band acting a little clownish over a fine woman they happen to see. It’s crude, as you’d expect, and not quite as funny as they’re hoping, but it’s humorous enough to tolerate and it at least provides further evidence that they came to their record sessions with plenty of different ideas to try out if nothing else.

Davis essentially angles his buddy off from hitting on this girl so he can do it instead, and as a result You Fine And Healthy Thing is a succession of compliments delivered to her as she probably flees through downtown Los Angeles, darting in and out of traffic or trying to find some store she can duck into that they won’t be able – or willing – to follow, like a jewelry store or some other place that sells things they can’t afford.

Come Up And See Me Sometime
The lyrics aren’t much – and the chorus is even less so, as they repeat the words “You’re fine” in tandem far too much before concluding the line, but they do all of this with admirable enthusiasm and while they’re clearly making nuisances of themselves at least they aren’t grabbing her by the wrist and pulling her into a dark alley to have their way with her. In fact, they seem to realize they have no shot with her and are more intent on amusing themselves than making a genuine play for someone who won’t give them the time of day for their troubles.

The sax solo is equally crude, which unlike being crude when propositioning a female is actually welcome on a rock record even though Porter’s trumpet intrudes on the action, much like Davis’s buddy had done when it comes to hitting on the girl, but as happened when Davis re-took the reins vocally, so too does the saxophone which brings this back into our comfort zone.

None of this is going to result in anything – not a hit for Davis or Imperial, nor a date for Charlie and his pal – but it’s relatively harmless fun in both cases (unless you’re the girl that is, in which case let’s hope she’s carrying mace, or if that wasn’t available back then, a blackjack to ward off these goons). What works here is their overall enthusiasm and the structural risks they take in order for this to be noticed.

That You Fine And Healthy Thing WASN’T noticed is par for the course, but then we’ve laid out in plenty of detail how his best sides were similarly ignored, as were the records of his labelmates that Imperial actually went the extra mile to promote, so while Charlie Davis has plenty to complain about in how randomly Imperial issued his material, in this case its failure might have been more that the girl in question, as well as the listener, had better things to do with their time.

Thankfully if you’re one of the three or four people who made it to the end of this review, the same can’t be said of you and we’re grateful you didn’t have anything better to do with YOUR time.


(Visit the Artist page of Charlie “Boogie Woogie” Davis for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)