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Just over two years ago, in the fall of 1948, a 19 year old made his debut on record for a recently opened Houston record label.

The label soon shut down and the artist wasn’t heard from again in the ensuing twenty-five months, something few, if any, music fans noticed at that time.

Now he’s making his comeback… at twenty-one years old… recording for another fairly new Houston record label, albeit one that will be around for a lot longer.

Admittedly, this kind of story is hardly the kind of thing that will grab headlines, but it shows that the kids who were snatched up by label owners desperate just to have some product to put on the market in rock’s early days were still making a go of it once rock ‘n’ roll had gotten its footing and the record companies had a lot more options to choose from nowadays.


Roam All Over Town
Clarence Green hadn’t been idle these last two years. Despite his initial record, Green’s Bounce, barely drawing notice, he managed to stay active in clubs around the Gulf Coast as a solo act, playing piano and singing.

In the interim Peacock Records had started up in Houston mostly recording local talent, and while other local labels that followed Eddie’s Records, such as Freedom and Macy’s, had followed the same game plan, none of them remained solvent for long, despite some top flight artists and truly great releases.

What made Peacock different of course was its owner, Don Robey, a strong-armed club owner who wasn’t afraid to use force to get his way, while his far more amenable right hand woman, Evelyn Johnson, handled the business side with a lighter touch.

If anyone was in a position to know about Green’s modest success as a touring act without a recent release, it was surely Don Robey whose Peacock Club was the jewel of the black community in Houston where all of the major stars played. In fact he was impressed enough with Green to offer him a three year contract, something Green accepted and quickly regretted when he saw the questionable business practices of Robey for himself.

As a result he never recorded for the label again, but his one offering, Hard Headed Woman, got him enough local notoriety to sustain him for awhile.

Though it shares a title with Elvis Presley’s 1958 hit, it doesn’t share much else and to be honest is badly flawed in most ways that matter, but if nothing else is an interesting mix of influences that were all swirling around Houston and the Peacock studios in 1950.

On The Ball
This is the first time we’ll be talking about Green’s vocals since the first side we reviewed was a pretty decent instrumental. Considering he sang through his nostrils maybe he would’ve been better sticking with instrumentals.

Truthfully, while there are some interesting facets about Hard Headed Woman none of them have to do with Green himself, other than perhaps the songwriting.

He’s being backed by saxophonist Bill Harvey’s band and yet this sounds a lot sloppier than what Harvey was known for from his days with B.B. King in the early 1950’s. The horns are very prominent but they’re playing flat and somewhat uninspired. It’s a stock arrangement for the most part, drawn out lines rising and falling in predictable fashion, not terrible in concept but hardly very invigorating.

The sax solo is egregious – loud, unmelodic and far too deep to match up well with what Green himself was singing.

Behind them is a guitarist with too much time on his hands down the stretch. It’s possible, maybe even likely, this is Gatemouth Brown, as he was Peacock’s top artist and a great guitarist who used the same tone that we hear on this, but if so then he’s a little too rambunctious in his parts.

On Brown’s own records the guitar is used sparingly to great effect when it explodes in the breaks, but here after some really good early fills, it starts to dominate the record in the second half following a pointless and dull solo, competing far too much with Green’s voice at times… though maybe you can’t blame him considering how stuffy he sounds while singing.

The biggest problem is found in the arrangement itself, surely not Green’s fault, as there’s not a single complimentary sound to be heard here with too many parts working against each other rather than with one another. Worse is that Green’s own piano, at which he was quite good, is either not being played at all – though it’s credited on the label itself – or is simply being drowned out by the racket the rest of them are making

The result is a muddy sounding record, noisy but cluttered, unfocused and sloppy. If this was Green’s best selling record you frankly have to wonder just how many relatives he had with a dollar to spare.

Change Your Ways
Sometimes a poorly recorded song can have some good core attributes best brought out by other artists, or even a later session with a different band and an altered arrangement.

You wish that might be the case with Hard Headed Woman but the composition itself is rather flimsy. While it’s certainly true that whatever intrinsic value the lyrics might have are going to be obscured by Green’s clogged nasal passages as he delivers them, but that malady hasn’t stopped a lot of big name acts from having the words they sing stand out in a good way, so chances are these are far more run of the mill.

Sure enough, as if you couldn’t tell by the title, Green is complaining about his woman without being very specific about her faults. She roams around town (my guess is she’s shopping for decongestants for him) and he seems to think she’s too independent, though calling her fat-headed is uncalled for, at least without corroborating evidence as to why she deserves such insults thrown at her.

In a lot of these cases the singer is just deflecting criticism of themselves to the one they’re with and considering how much criticism Green will be getting for this clattering mess you can see why he’d want to distract us by focusing on this unnamed woman instead.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll let him off the hook ourselves. His name is on the label and therefore whatever flaws the band, the moonlighting guitarist and the girl in question may have, the one who is going to have to bear the brunt of this is Clarence Green himself.

The Best Thing To Do Is Pack My Bags
Much to everyone’s surprise, Don Robey apparently was looking to get more Green cuts in the can when he was drafted into the Army where he spent two years, acquiring the nickname “Candy” while in olive drab, the name he’d use for much of the rest of his career.

It wasn’t a career that had too many more records however, as he sidestepped his contract with Peacock when he got out by using pseudonyms and then began performing, but rarely recording, outside the country until his death in 1988.

But just because he was able to sustain a career for so long, and even though he had scant releases to choose from, that doesn’t mean Hard Headed Woman is the best evidence as to what allowed him to keep making music for that long.

If anything it’s evidence that he either underwent extensive vocal lessons while in the Army, or he relied on the fact that patrons in other countries couldn’t understand English very well, though I’m sure they could understand the difference between singing from your nose and out of your mouth.

Or maybe he just went back to playing instrumentals after all.


(Visit the Artist page of Clarence Green for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)