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With every artist we encounter the hope is that we see progress as their career unfolds.

Rarely will they completely transform themselves over the years, reinventing themselves at every turn, but if an artist can just make incremental improvements on their technique, or be open to adapting to a new approach or experimenting with a new style, then at least they’ll never become boring because they’ll always have something new to offer.

Crown Prince Waterford didn’t change a lick from the first time he opened his mouth until the last shovelful of dirt was thrown on his coffin, yet in spite of this he was never boring, proving to be the rather colorful exception to one of music’s most enduring rules.


You’ve Got Eyes For Me
Since the man born Charles Waterford steadfastly refused to alter his game plan over the course of a long career he had to rely on another attribute to draw some admiration from a demanding listening audience… consistency.

With Waterford you not only knew more or less what you were getting each time out, but you also knew it’d be pretty easy to take. None of his records might blow your mind, but few would really let you down either.

A harsher critic would call this predictable, a more lenient one would say it was reliable. Neither is wrong. It absolutely can be both, which is why Crown Prince Waterford was best taken in small and sporadic doses, interspersed with other artists from across the spectrum – instrumentalists and vocal groups, balladeers and those who wrung you out with emotion, males and females, young and old.

If you had enough variety in your playlist then an occasional offering from Waterford would always be a welcome inclusion, someone to liven things up and remind you that at its core rock ‘n’ roll was a simple music following simple rules.

I’m Sweet On You is almost interchangeable with a half dozen other songs in his catalog – the melody, the vocal cadences, the ebb and flow of the rhythm, all of it was taken from his standard playbook with little variation save for a slightly more subdued and humble lyric here.

But if you liked this approach any of the other times he used it you probably won’t be complaining about it much this time around either because somehow Waterford makes it sound almost fresh this time out.


I Get Weak In My Knees
Let’s start by addressing the weak spot on the flip side of this single, Time To Blow, which was the far too weak support offered by bandleader Joe Thomas whose saxophone was lethargic to start with and seemed to be wheezing its last breath by the end, submarining what was otherwise a pretty solid effort by the rest of the band and Crown Prince himself.

This time out the same band in the same studio on the same date turn in a really good performance from top to bottom, providing the kind of backing that Waterford needed to make this work. The rhythm is insistent without getting carried away with it, something always necessary unless you wanted the Crown Prince to start bouncing off the walls with unbridled enthusiasm, and the smaller touches from the sax and guitar add plenty of color to the arrangement without standing out and drawing attention away from the main attraction.

There’s something familiar and reassuring about this track making I’m Sweet On You sound almost timeless. It fits nicely in 1950 but the backing could’ve been lifted and used in 1957 and wouldn’t have sounded out of place then either which is an eternity in a music as ever-changing as rock ‘n’ roll.

The piano and guitar interplay at the start crackles with energy yet remains totally in the pocket throughout the intro, easing you into the vocals in a way that prevents a jarring transition. When the horns come in they’re playing such an enduring riff that you could realistically put any singer from rock’s first decade over them and not think they were out of place.

After Waterford surprises us with a more subdued vocal turn he hands things off to Thomas for his obligatory solo and much to our delight the saxophonist is following suit, focusing on doing nothing more than just adding a little melodic embellishment while bringing a slightly more urgent feel to it and most importantly not trying to do anything more than provide a sturdy bridge to the second half of the record.

It’s such a well-judged performance by the entire band that there’s not much to highlight, yet nothing to criticize even slightly. It’s far from memorable maybe but it’s perfect for the needs of the song and the singer at its center.


You’re Easy To Love
When Crown Prince Waterford was racing his motor on past songs you got the impression that he was somebody who craved attention. It might not even matter how he got that attention, whether he acted the fool, did something daring but reckless or even risked criminal charges for coming on too strong to somebody not as eager to hook up with him as he was with her.

But on I’m Sweet On You he not only manages to control those urges but he comes off looking all the better for it because he still knows how to emphasize the excitement stirring under the surface of each line while keeping his hormones in check.

Maybe that IS progress come to think of it, but while it makes for a calmer record than we’ve come to expect out of him it also makes for one that’s easier to listen to in any setting.

The story he gives us helps in this regard as the title indicates he’s simply trying to win over a girl with charm, not abduct her with brute force for once, and as such he’s got to play it cool and act like a gentleman the best he can.

There are moments where you can tell he might be thinking of ripping off the necktie, tearing open his shirt and dropping his drawers as his voice rises in anticipation of what might possibly await him if he’s successful, but he pulls back before risking getting slapped in the face and it works so well because the dynamics of someone wanting to reveal more than they’re able to gives the record a built-in tension that keeps you hooked.

His own persona might help here too, for while he thinks of himself as a ladies man there’s always a lot more bluster in his usual delivery than there’d be if he was as successful as he wants us to believe he is and because he’s dialed it down a little here this performance manages to give us a rare glimpse into his underlying doubts and uncertainties that he keeps hidden behind the bravado most of the time.

We never do find out if he and this girl will get together, but we also don’t get the idea she’s climbing out the bathroom window at the restaurant to get away from him, so while record ends with the outcome still in doubt, we at least know he’s got half a chance if he continues to play his cards right.

I’ll Always Be Faithful, I Won’t Let You Down
Unfortunately Waterford the singer was running out of chances, as this was the last side from his last session for awhile and when he’d return down the road the landscape around him had changed too much for him to fit quite as comfortably in the rock scene as he had over the past few years.

But while that’s somewhat of a sad fate for an artist who was so gung-ho about this style of music, we can’t feel too sorry for the Crown Prince, for although it was obvious by now that he’d never ascend to the throne, he probably was just as happy mingling with the commoners, singing for his supper and an occasional roll in the hay.

I’m Sweet On You is a good way to bid a temporary adieu to such an unforgettable character, not quite his best effort, but maybe his most measured one, leaving us with fond memories of him without us needing to invent an alibi to distance ourselves from his more off-color transgressions.

More than anything this was a record that showed him finally settling into a comfortable role, letting the band do their job while he did his, neither trying to set the world on fire, but rather basking in the glow of a music world already aflame with the rock he helped to ignite three years ago.


(Visit the Artist page of Crown Prince Waterford for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)