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FREEDOM 1541; JULY 1950



For a guy who was one of the first in the delivery room after the rock ‘n’ roll baby came bursting into the world, Clarence Samuels has been desperately trying to claim some credit for its invention as well as to get some acclaim for his own records that followed suit.

He has not been successful in either attempt.

But we can at least admire him for not giving up and occasionally coming through with a record that has you thinking his efforts may not be completely in vain.


Gives Me A Present Every Holiday
After releasing what was by far his best single to date this past spring we still didn’t much optimism that he would turn his career around.

After all, you may improve your limited skills through hard work and sheer repetition but turning water into wine is the stuff of fiction, not reality, for most people. Besides, Lost My Head was hardly a typical record for any rock act, meaning much of its appeal lay in its distinctiveness, something that you couldn’t (nor would necessarily want to) replicate each time out.

He did have one thing in his favor however and that was he was working with the arguably best studio band up to that point in all of rock who had the ability to make the mediocre seem good, the good seem great and the great seem unbeatable.

Assuming Clarence Samuels fell somewhere towards the bottom of that scale, the best we might hope for if they stuck together for awhile was some consistently good records, although even that was an iffy proposition considering the limitations of his nasal bellow and lack of any moderation in his approach.

Knowing that he was someone prone to overindulging then, one look at this single might have you cringing because even without listening you can see that tendency in just what reveals itself on the label. It’s a two part record which means that rather than wrap a story up concisely he let it go on and on. As for the title, She Walk, She Walk, She Walk, if he felt once wasn’t enough, and even twice couldn’t get his point across, what hope was there for us if he felt the need to announce it three times before it sunk in?

Surely this would be an indulgent mess to end all indulgent messes.

In a way it kinda is… indulgent that is. But as for it being a mess, well, it’s certainly messy at times but also has a lot more going for it than you’d have ever expected coming from someone like him.


Don’t Start No Bugaboo
Lyrically this is something like a cross between a regular song with some good lyrics and a powerful delivery and a crazy man repeating a mantra to himself to keep the demons that haunt him at arm’s length.

It’s not too shy about revealing this duality either, as She Walk, She Walk, She Walk starts off sounding as if you missed the first thirty seconds, because there is no instrumental intro, no easing into the story or the vocals to get your bearings. Instead Clarence simply jumps in at full roar – and in mid-thought – and trusts that you’ll be too scared to bail on him before you learn what’s happening.

It’s a good choice on his part because you ARE too stunned by how this hits you between the eyes coming out of the gate to turn it off and run screaming from the room, though you likely are leaving the door ajar so you can keep your options open if he somehow manages to ramp it up from there.

He does… of course he does… this is Clarence freakin’ Samuels we’re talking about here, so after hurtling out your speakers within a second of the needle dropping, he’s chanting the title line in a wave of melodic bluster. It’s certainly an atypical approach to record making (for anyone but him that is) but even so it’s definitely engaging in its own crackpot way. But when he starts to almost speak in tongues, repeating the title, two words… albeit more than three times… as if it was being fired from a machine gun, even the most tolerant of listeners may be eyeing the nearest window to jump out of before it’s too late.

The only way you might not take the plunge to your doom is because by now you’ve been completely rattled by the intensity and are frozen in place, yet as he segues back into the proper story you’re surprised to discover that there IS a proper story. He likes a girl who is “just a heel” and apparently was playing him for a fool and has thus drawn his ire, which explains why he sounds on the verge of losing his mind for most of Part One.

When the instrumental break comes it’s actually something of a respite even though it’s hardly calm and quiet as the saxophone wails away over a prominent bass-line. It’s exciting enough without even trying to match Samuels’ fervor, knowing that if it did the horn would melt in their hands.

As side one wraps up with a fairly contrived, but still very clever and enjoyable, spoken aside/instruction, you can’t wait to flip it over to find out what happens next… not only between Samuels and the girl, but more crucially between Samuels’ steel plated larynx and the speakers that are in danger of being torn to shreds the more he carries on.

Look At Her, Jack, She’s Doin’ It Again
The way he teases you as the second side opens up let’s you know that he’s fully aware of just how over the top he is. There’s no subtlety to be found here, which is hardly surprising for someone whose usual idea of moderation is to drink nitroglycerin in two swallows rather than one gulp.

But the second side of She Walk, She Walk, She Walk is mostly about the indulgent aspects of the performance as vocally there may be a few scene-setting lines thrown in from time to time but mostly consists of the – pardon the inaccurate term being applied here – “chorus”, which sounds as if it’s being performed by a chicken on steroids with an anger problem who’s squawking around the barnyard in a rage.

He’s demented in other words, his eyes are spinning wildly in their sockets and he’s frothing at the mouth.

The more he goes on this way the more the words hammer away at your senses, bludgeoning you into submission. Whereas the first side sounded like a mostly coherent record, albeit with a slightly more crazed hook, Part Two sounds like it’s all crazy from start to finish as any sign of logic and order has been tossed out the window.

Luckily he’s got the musicians with him to keep him from hurting himself, mostly by easing him away from the microphone so they can play until the men in the white coats come to take him to the loony bin. Goree Carter delivers a nice efficient solo played with an alluring tone, throwing in some hesitation moves to keep you focused on what he’s doing so you don’t look over your shoulder to see Samuels sneaking up on you with a wild look in his eye.

You’ll hear him soon enough though, bouncing off the walls again and when he manages to somehow regain the ability to sing like a rational human being midway through and continues the story as if the insanity you just heard was the result of a fevered dream instead of the record, you probably shouldn’t be all that surprised.

Even the ending shows a good deal of creativity, as he slowly lets himself be wound down and presumably passes out from his histrionics, but it’s pulled off with an actor’s flair for the dramatic along with some studio tape-manipulated trickery that’s a first in rock, though after putting yourself through such an ordeal you’ll be excused for not being able to recollect any of it once you come to your senses a few days from now.


Walk Right Out Again
Any way you slice it, this is as overwhelming of a record we’ve yet to encounter. Not the best by any stretch of the imagination, but one that it’s virtually impossible to ignore.

She Walk, She Walk, She Walk really does “deserve” to be heard in its entirety, once anyway, but the first half is much better in a traditional sense than the more fractured sensibilities of the second side.

Yet this is a record where balancing the respective scores for the two sides wouldn’t do it justice, especially when people encountering most two-part records listen to the first half more, so keeping that in mind we’ll hold back from giving it the (8) that Part One would’ve earned on its own, but not insist the entire single suffer from the lunacy of Part Two.

The real story though is how someone who was as artistically compromised as Clarence Samuels found his salvation at Freedom Records, which in its short lifespan has proven to be the best musical rehab facility for down and out rockers you can find, whether former and future stars like Big Joe Turner, or singers one step away from lifetime imprisonment for their crimes against music as with Clarence Samuels.

In the past you’d keep your distance from him when a new release came out because you feared it would be really bad. Well, you still should keep your distance, but now it’s because you fear for your own life if you get too close, which all things considered is a vast improvement.


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