RAINBOW 11111; AUGUST 1950



Penance. (n) Voluntary punishment for having done wrong.

After launching an all-out aural assault on the top side of this record that may have resulted in world devastation according to those whose quiet evening was ruined by the clamor, Charlie Singleton appears contrite as this record kicks off, indicating he is truly remorseful for his acts of aggression.

It’s only after you’ve found it in your heart to forgive his reckless actions and wish him well in his future pursuits that he smirks at your gullibility and then turns right around and replaces wanton destruction as the theme of his music with perverse seduction.

All of which goes to show that when it comes to these rock ‘n’ rollers it’s always best to remain wary of deception.


The Calm After The Storm
When you cue this record up there’s a very good chance you’ll do a double take, checking the source to make sure you actually selected the right song as this sounds nothing like rock ‘n’ roll.

With an almost cartoonishly simply piano school lesson being haltingly picked out on the keyboards by the wonderfully named Goldo Mahones you fear that this might be either a terrible mistake or an elaborate joke at your expense.

Yet it’s hard to give up on it despite the mild appearances simply because after hearing the explosive H-Bomb Boogie yesterday you can’t help but think that the same musicians couldn’t possibly be responsible for such wild extremes and surely something will happen to confirm this is just a put-on.

It is too… as once this piano recital winds down the drumming promptly picks up, the pace accelerates and suddenly the horns come in full of sultry suggestiveness and that’s when you start to realize how carefully this was sketched out in advance.

It’s really too bad that The Late Creeper came along in the singles era, because had this been around seventeen years later as part of an extended suit on a concept album this would be the ideal follow-up after the devastation the previous song had wrought.

Provided you’re the kind who immediately flips a record over – or the modern day equivalent of such an act – to hear the other side after being impressed by the first side it still works extremely well in that regard, giving us a moment to catch our breath as we ponder whether this is indeed Singleton asking for forgiveness for his earlier sins, or if it’s merely a way to get his hooks in you even further.

When the “real” playing starts you realize that you were duped into questioning their commitment to rock ‘n’ roll for while this may indeed be fulfilling a different musical and emotional need than the more visceral top side, it’s one that is no less enticing in the big scheme of things.

Locating The Pulse
So now that you’ve readjusted your thinking it’s time to step back and figure out what they’re actually trying to do. The first thing you notice is that while this performance is more suggestive than explicit in what it conjures up, that doesn’t mean it’s exactly innocent either.

After that cleverly misleading intro there’s a slinky feel to what follows which depending on your state of mind could represent a form of wordless seduction, maybe with some sly exaggeration if you want to keep it G-rated, or perhaps if you’re a little less puritanical it might be the soundtrack for some elaborate peeping tom routine as its title hints at.

Either way though it’s very alluring with the notes bleeding slowly from the saxophone as the piano seems to stab the wounded instrument further just for fun. Of course Singleton’s horn won’t fully succumb to these taunts and over the second half shows a surprising amount of life following the more languid first half, as he slowly gets to his knees before staggering to his feet to show he and the song are still alive.

Though The Late Creeper has a much more identifiable melody than the chaotic flip the primary attraction with this song is the atmospheric vibe it creates. From the dual piano figures, the slow boogie bass of the left hand and the more hyperactive right, to Singleton’s sometimes lurching, sometimes drowsy, sometimes restless and sometimes straining sax, there’s always multiple grooves to catch your ear, something all the more impressive considering that the full band which had contributed so much to the racket on the other side are sitting this one out with only the drummer punching the time clock for this cut.

Yet in spite of the limited number of instruments there’s no lack of sound depth here, nor are there any awkward silences or uncertain transitions. The minimalist arrangement is incredibly effective and it manages to retain a sense of forward propulsion thanks to subtly interlocking rhythms created by the piano and when that takes over in the coda by returning to that simplistic pattern in isolation you smile at the way they managed to tie this all together in the end.


Quiet Down
In many ways this is a record that has almost an addictive quality to it, where your first hit of it doesn’t make it seem too potent but as you find yourself returning to it again and again it provides a reassuring comfort to your senses, pulling you under without a struggle.

That’s what makes this single such an achievement coming as it does from somebody who was just turning twenty years old. He manages to effectively embody two diametrically opposed moods that form the cornerstones of rock music – the wild excess on one hand and the tentative yearning hope as shown on The Late Creeper.

Which side you prefer probably has more to do with your own needs as a human being than the musical qualities shown by the artist. If you want music to announce your presence in bold terms and mask whatever insecurities you’re intent on hiding in the process, then the louder side is for you. If you’re comfortable enough to sit back and take in the sights around you and let situations unfold before making a move then this one is going to get the job done.

But that said they’re equally good (even bordering on great) in their own way. In a way it’s almost a shame there’s not much more to say about this one but it’s one of those performances that resists point by point analysis because it’s more about an all-encompassing mood than individual moments and as such demands to be listened to again rather than talked to death.

That’s good for you as it means less of me and more of Charlie Singleton.


(Visit the Artist page of Charlie Singleton for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)