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KING 4374; JUNE 1950



Sooner or later everybody in life knows “that guy”… you know who I’m talking about, that guy who can always be counted on to be inappropriate in any situation.

In school he was the class clown, not always as much of a riot as he thought he was, but always assured to disrupt the teacher’s lesson plan for the day. Outside of school, no longer under the watchful eye of adults, he really earned his reputation as he was always that guy who got the little kid down the street to eat a worm for a nickel, who thought it was a good idea to light off fireworks in the basement and who was sure to be casually strolling around the keg party buck naked hoping to shock people.

He wasn’t someone you necessarily wanted to take a long road trip with because he could get exasperating after a few hours, but in small doses he provided plenty of (mostly) harmless fun.

But whatever happens to those who were once “that guy”? Do they grow up and put goldfish in the office water cooler? Scour the newspapers for wedding announcements and send RSVP’s to total strangers hoping to get a free meal? Are they the ones still mooning the camera in group photos?

Or do some of them become singers where they have much freer reign to let their lack of inhibitions in life serve as their musical calling card?

It’s with that thought that we welcome back into the fold after a long sabbatical the one and only Crown Prince Waterford… that guy who may never have left too big of a mark on rock ‘n’ roll, but whose presence was usually welcome just the same.


When I’m Laughing And When I Cry
Maybe it’s appropriate that today as we officially celebrate the fourth anniversary of this ridiculous website, we do so by re-visiting one of the guys who made those early days around here so damn interesting.

Crown Prince Waterford had been one of the few singers in rock’s start-up period to have a home at major label – Capitol – and perhaps fittingly he represented everything that such a highfalutin’ company would come to despise about this unruly music over the years. Loud uncontrolled vocals… boorishly suggestive, if not downright obscene, lyrical odes to sex… absolutely no comprehension of the word restraint… all of which when combined with his out-sized ego hardly made him a well-respected figure in their stable alongside Nat “King” Cole.

Following their dismissal of him in 1948 he had to wait nearly a year before King Records scooped him up, a fortuitous landing place on paper for such an unruly singer but one which resulted in no appreciable benefit to his career.

In truth Waterford probably got there just a little late to take advantage of the circumstances as the label was by now fully entrenched with stars and so he seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Just half of his output from his first session there got released in the fall of 1949 and now nine months later they got around to issuing sides from his second go-round in the studio, of which Kissing Bug Boogie is typical of both his appeal and his limitations.

Sexually suggestive but abundantly charming… musically simple but confidently carried out… this showed that in three years Crown Prince Waterford hadn’t changed a bit and chances were if you gave him thirty-three years he’d still give you the same racy tales with an exuberant gleam in his eye.


Fast Or Slow… Wherever I Go
This is a relatively moderately paced song with not much room for wild playing which means that all of the excitement is going to come from Waterford’s delivery of this ribald tale.

But that’s not to say the musical accompaniment is tired or stale, there’s a good band backing him here led by tenor sax star Joe Thomas and while they mostly stick to the textbook definition of “supporting role”, there’s a couple notable highlights to be found, the first of which is the stinging guitar licks that open the track. Unfortunately while the rest of the band is credited the one missing bit of information is who is handling the axe.

Oh well, whoever it is the slightly fierce vibe it gives off is a good touch that gives Kissing Bug Boogie some erotic slinkiness to start with, but doesn’t get many more opportunities to show off beyond that, mainly supplementing the others who take on a bigger role.

It’s the piano played by George Rhodes that buttresses Waterford’s singing the most, keeping the proceedings relatively subdued by refraining from any wild boogies that surely would leave Crown Prince frothing at the mouth.

As it is though the slower tempo and lack of a heavy rhythmic bottom makes this sound slightly outdated… not out of date necessarily, but looking backwards rather than forward. Thomas’s sax solo is similarly mild, very well played with a nice warm sound, almost contemplative in nature (surely the first and only time you could accuse any Crown Prince Waterford song of having those qualities) but it’s not generating any excitement.

For that obligation we turn to the Crown Prince himself who surely isn’t going to let a controlled measured arrangement stand in the way of him getting his kicks!


The House Starts Rockin’
As a vocalist Waterford has a strong voice and a decent sense of melody, though not much variation in his rather stock phrasing, while his best quality is the lascivious charm he brings to off-color topics.

This attribute was so pervasive in his repertoire that even when a song’s lyrics were just mildly risqué he sold them for all they worth, in the process convincing you that what you just heard was salacious, possibly criminal and certainly something that might doom you to eternal damnation for listening to such things in the first place.

On Kissing Bug Boogie he requires all of those disreputable skills in order to imply all sorts of dirty meanings behind what otherwise might be fairly innocuous euphemisms. But since it was Waterford himself who wrote this, we know he indeed meant every last one of them.

That’s good, because without that treasure hunt for alternate definitions this might not be half as interesting.

The story, such as it is, leaves no room for debate about its overall topic – he’s got a girl who is quite the lover and he’s eager to ruin her reputation by telling everyone within earshot about her abilities in the boudoir. But since this is 1950 and apparently they had some sort of laws back then that made acknowledging the birds and the bees a capitol offense, we’re left to read between the lines as he keeps his praise confined to her “kissing”… although as we all know, “kissing” takes on many forms, all of which it seems Waterford is enjoying nightly with his sweetheart.

She kissed me on the cheek
She kissed me in the mouth
She kissed me up North
And she kissed me WAY DOWN SOUTH!

Needless to say, if you think you’re going to find these areas on a road-map you are sadly mistaken.

He then goes on to tell us that the house starts rockin’ when she kisses him in the pantry and I have to admit that while I’ve acquired a fair knowledge of back alley poetry I’m still a little bewildered as to what anatomical reference this particular line is attempting to convey, but I’m not complaining because he sure makes it sound kinky if nothing else.

Unfortunately during the break he must’ve had a quickie with his baby for when he returns for the second half of the song he’s shooting blanks as it were, the lines no longer dripping with double meanings, but rather just reinforcing what we’ve already come to know.

I’m sure that won’t stop Waterford for a late nightcap once his batteries are re-charged but for us we’re left wondering if after a few dozen songs in the course of his career, he was running out of ways to shock us.

Hello, Goodbye
Though we can’t complain about the effort and still find mild enjoyment, if not titillation, in the subject matter, it’s clear that being a second rate Wynonie Harris probably has greater value if you’re not on the same label as the first rate original by that name.

Furthermore, though the aforementioned blue laws were hardly in any danger of being repealed by an uptight society, that doesn’t mean records violating those laws, or at least pushing the limits with their material, were exactly hard to find now that rock ‘n’ roll had proven ever more commercial.

Songs that sounded a lot like Kissing Bug Boogie could be heard regularly if you knew where to look and while they’d never get played on the handful of radio stations that catered to this crowd, you probably knew which jukeboxes in town stocked them and if not then you knew which of your deviant friends would be first in line at the store to pick up their own copies for you to hear later.

In that way it made these records with suggestiveness as their main attraction much less valuable than they’d been when the only way you’d get to hear one was by knowing someone who knew someone else who knew “that guy”… the one who was hip to the tip of all the latest records containing anything smutty and indecent.

Crown Prince Waterford helped to make that world a reality and now he was paying for it, not by being ostracized for singing this, but because he was no longer the only one who was making this brand of lewd rock almost commonplace.


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