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DELUXE 3199; NOVEMBER, 1948

 

ALSO RELEASED AS MILTONE 3199

 
 

 

Before Chubby makes HER confession, I have to confess that heading into the reviews for November 1948 this was one of the songs that I was inclined to skip over in our long slog through 70 years and counting of rock history.

As detailed elsewhere with so many records to get to, and the fervent hope that I’ll get around to reviewing songs from this, the 21st Century, before we’re in the 22nd Century, not all sides by all artists are going to get covered here and having just gone into such detail about Chubby Newsom on the magnificent A-side, this otherwise mostly forgotten B-side seemed like an appropriate one to bypass as we inch our way closer to 1949, day by day.

But obviously I reconsidered and so here I am writing another two thousand words on a song few remember. After all, what’s another day in the big picture of things, especially if that day can be spent eyeballing the luscious hips of Chubby Newsom…
 
 

 
 

(Oh, sorry, I zoned out there for a second).

Actually the reason why I chose to add this at the last minute is – as often is the case here on Spontaneous Lunacy – it offered the opportunity to look at something from a different perspective which needs to be fully grasped to really understand how and why rock progressed as it did.

If that allows us to take another gander at the voluptuous Ms. Newsom in the process… well, I suppose that can’t be helped.
 

 

My Heart Beats Faster When I Know You’ll Be Around
When you get right down to it history really is the study of two things. What happened and what might’ve happened.

Since we can’t presume things which would’ve been completely unprecedented that “might have happened” (if a 13th Century shoemaker invented space travel… or a 17th century farmer perfected atomic energy) what we’re really interested in, or should be anyway, is what might’ve happened if something notable HADN’T happened exactly when and how it did.

THAT alternative easier to speculate about and is fascinating to consider. What if The Wright Brothers hadn’t gotten their plane off the ground, or what if they’d devoted their time and energy to making better apple cider instead of aeronautics? How would the 20th Century as a whole have changed? Not just recreational travel, but also how wars were fought and won and the subsequent fate of nations?

Or suppose Jonas Salk didn’t come up with the polio vaccine, would the disease have progressed to the point of an epidemic, perhaps wiping out civilization in the process?

Okay, so maybe LONG RANGE alternatives are a bit more difficult to accurately judge, but certainly short term events are easier to contemplate. If Neville Chamberlain had stood up to Adolf Hitler at the Munich Conference in 1938 would World War Two have happened at all?

What if the bus driver in Alabama was simply more lenient with Rosa Parks that day, possessing just a sliver of humane compassion and decency, might the entire Civil Rights movement have progressed differently, or would it have remained waiting for an “ideal case” for months, even years, thereby changing the participants and the circumstances and maybe the outcome as well.

In rock ‘n’ roll the consequences of any one decision might be far less than world wars and civil rights, but to the artists and the audience the aftermath of those decisions changed the landscape to the realities we now take for granted.

But what if it weren’t so? If records that altered rock’s direction significantly had not come out, then the road we’d be travelling would’ve remained pretty much the same as it had been before. The sounds, the views out the window, all of it, would be a lot like it was before.

Someone, somewhere had to make a decision – maybe a risky decision – to take a different turn along the route, heading off to someplace unknown. DeLuxe Records had just done that with Chubby Newsom and the result had far-reaching effects.

But what if instead when they brought Newsom into the studio in New Orleans to lay down her debut session after she’d been making a name for herself on stage by flaunting her sex appeal and after a hasty conference between those overseeing the proceedings they collectively decided that to accentuate that saucy persona on record would have been just too dangerous – too scandalous – and instead fell back on something a bit safer and more acceptable?

Something like say… Chubby’s Confession.
 

You Had A Good Woman But Wound Up Treating Her Wrong
When Hip Shakin’ Mama came out its impact was immediate because it sounded so different. Not the musical aspect as much as the attitude Newsom projected in singing it. For the first time in rock a woman was taking control of the gender based sexual dynamic unapologetically and the effect was liberating for female listeners, while for male listeners it was shocking and frankly quite arousing.

The record would soon catch fire in its home territory of New Orleans, sitting near the top of the local charts for more than a month, then spread nationwide, breaking into the Top Ten across the country, further heralding the sound of New Orleans rock to those far away from the red beans and rice of the bayou. But more than that it signaled a shift in what was acceptable, what was desirable to hear on record. The chastity belt was thereby loosened a little more, the guardians of morality and decency had lost another round due to that record’s impact.

In other words THAT was one of those major hit records that changed the direction and texture of music we talked about earlier.

By contrast Chubby’s Confession is the sound of the status quo when it comes to the female perspective in rock ‘n’ roll up to the moment they decided “The hell with it, let’s give ‘em sex with both barrels and take our chances!” and cut her doing “Hip Shakin’ Mama” as the plug side.
 

 
 

There’s nothing wrong with “Confession” as a record, but by this point there’s nothing really exciting about it either because we’ve heard its kind before. Its viewpoint – that of a woman yearning for a man, clearly submissive in terms of which one has control of the relationship, at least to begin with – has been explored in depth already by every other female act we’ve met. All those records have shared the same basic perspective and voiced essentially the same sentiments, some a little more powerfully than others, some with more descriptive details and greater nuance and effectiveness, but they were all cut from the same cloth as Chubby’s Confession.

This might not have mattered if this was the song they put out now and kept Hip Shakin’ Mama on the shelf, but once you’ve heard the more brazen and self-assured version of Newsom that was so captivating it’s hard to get worked up over hearing that same woman act like all of the others and express frustration at remaining unfulfilled, in need of a man to take charge and “satisfy her soul”.
 

I’ll Get Tired And Find Me Somebody New
Since we can’t get the racier image of Newsom out of our minds, it leaves the more traditionally chaste version without the means to compete for our attention. As a result the record plays like almost a by the numbers roll call of the attributes we’ve come to expect in such a song.

The prolonged seven second siren call of the horn section tries hard to rouse our interest but without seeing the shapely figure of Newsom sauntering on stage after that build-up we remain skeptical.

When Chubby does appear, vocally, not visually (unfortunately), she delivers her urgent pleas with the appropriate longing bordering on horniness but the mildly churning riffs she rides on aren’t fueling our imagination quite enough to get our motor running.

What made Hip Shakin’ Mama so great was it played UP her attitude as a take-charge woman, one who could do just that because she had the good looks and potent sex appeal to expect men to fall over themselves to be with her. That confidence was intoxicating and gave tremendous insight into Newsom’s persona. She wrote the song based on her own attributes and the reactions they had always elicited from men, which because she didn’t cloak it in demure modesty made it titillating, even as she was boastfully declaring that she could hold sway over us as well.

Women no doubt cast aside their jealously when listening just to revel in the absolute POWER Newsom held over every man’s bowed head, envisioning themselves having the same effect on their own wayward fellas.

But here she’s not the same Chubby Newsom. This one is wrapped in clothing for starters, the spell her body casts over the male libido vanquished by the change in perspectives. This girl, while certainly sounding similar vocally, reasonably urgent and insistent, is delivering sentiments that doesn’t match up with her tone. She’s now the one chasing someone, rather than someone… EVERYONE… chasing her.

Musically it’s all well and good, nothing fantastic but solid all the same. The horn solo starts off pretty good but eventually goes on too long and is hampered by being mic’ed too low to take center stage, or perhaps intentionally kept out of the spotlight so as not to conflict with the lyrical sentiments being projected by Chubby, which are far less assertive than before.

By the end of the song (another she wrote herself, so she’s definitely using her own experiences as a template) she regains her swagger to a degree, telling off her no-good man following the idiot’s neglect of her, and does leave him by the final stanza which elevates this a bit more than it would if she remained beholden to her man throughout, but you can’t help but get the feeling that this scene was taken from an earlier stage of Chubby Newsom’s life, perhaps before she umm… fully blossomed as a woman.

That earlier mindset we’re confronted with is one that she herself had just rendered outdated in three minutes on the flip side of this same record and once you’ve witnessed that attitude emerge it’s kind of hard to go back and pretend it hasn’t yet.
 


 

All of the pieces that go into this, which would’ve been more than effective enough just a few short months ago, have already been absorbed into our collective consciousness, fully processed and thus have become fairly rote by this point.

Newsom does all she can here but it’s simply that the content seems like a warmed over dish from last night’s meal. It might’ve tasted just fine when it was fresh and piping hot and the dinner party was in full swing with guests living it up that added immeasurably to the atmosphere, but tonight’s leftovers are being served up alone in the kitchen and the dish seems dried out, the spices not as tangy after being in the refrigerator and the only company is a hungry dog sitting at your feet, hoping for a few scraps.

It’s become routine in other words. Typical… average.
 

Then It’s So Long, Too Bad Baby I’m Gone
What keeps ANY cultural scene relevant is a sense of constantly moving forward, of coming up with something new, fine tuning it until the formula is perfect, then invariably churning it out for as long as it seems fresh and exciting, wringing every last drop of interest out of the formula and then just before it becomes stale somebody comes up with something ELSE that takes it all in another direction and the same process is repeated.

Once you run out of new ideas, or once the audience moves on before you can come up with an appropriate alternative, the movement stops moving and consequently dies off, or at least winds down as a relevant cultural marker.

Rock ‘n’ roll has NEVER stopped moving. Not in seventy years it hasn’t, which comparing it to the average lifespan of anything in popular culture may be its greatest achievement.

Chubby Newsom brought something new to the table that helped keep it moving forward, even if all that was really new about it were the chromosomes of the person singing that type of blatant sexual boast. But that was enough for the time to make what came before it, and what Chubby’s Confession now returned us to, seem suddenly passé by contrast.

Not worthless. Not without some merits of its own. But also not vital anymore. It was like hearing the news a week after it happened. The story was still the same, but the context had changed and people had moved on.
 

 

That we get to hear both the sound of yesterday and today on the same record cut on the same day by the same artist gives us some indication of just how rapidly all of this change was occurring and, as always, the audience intuitively turned the page and made the right choice in terms of which news was the freshest.

Tomorrow’s records would have to keep up with the other side from now on, while this side was quietly filed away and soon forgotten.
 
 
SPONTANEOUS LUNACY VERDICT:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
(Visit the Artist page of Chubby Newsom for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)