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The sequencing of these reviews within each month are somewhat random, but since we have just the released records themselves to choose from there’s a limit to what order they can be placed in.

That means sometimes there’ll be a string of really bad records to deal with and other times a run of really good ones coming along, but most of the time there’s inevitably a mix of weak and strong with a lot of mediocre stuff to keep things on an even keel.

Recently though we’ve had a pretty solid stretch, the last side of the last release aside, which almost by itself off-set all of the positives over the past week or so. Because there’s been a recent wave of the vaunted green numbers appearing in the release rolls there’s no real need to have someone exciting to come along and shake things up a bit.

Yet when someone like that does come along we won’t complain no matter what purple patch he shows up in the midst of, especially when that man is the enigmatic Charles Waterford… The Crown Prince of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself, making just his second appearance on these pages over the past year.


Look Out There Boys!
They say you don’t appreciate a lot of things until they’re gone and if you were prone to cynically doubting that was true, the re-appearance of Crown Prince Waterford might have you changing your mind, even dropped in the middle of some of the best and most memorable releases of the entire year.

But poor timing is really the only criticism was can throw Waterford’s direction because as soon as you hear his exuberant hell-bound for leather vocals emanating from the speakers you realize how much this ramshackle singer has worked his way into your heart in spite of himself at times.

Never a polished gem, nor even a diamond in rough, Crown Prince Waterford was more like costume jewelry – made to catch your eye, be slightly ostentatious in the bargain, and inexpensive enough that he was always worth picking up just to see what he was shilling this time around.

Paired with saxophonist – and King solo artist – Joe Thomas’s band, Waterford takes another futile whack at stardom with Time To Blow, something that probably had no legitimate chance to stand out, especially with so many great records vying for sales at this juncture, but for those who somehow managed to stumble across it the enthusiasm in his voice while making yet another rousing call to arms surely will brighten your day if nothing else.


So I Can Holler This Morning And Really Rock This Crowd!
If you’ve been with us from the first time Waterford romped into view way back in late 1947 with the rousing Move Your Hand, Baby, you pretty much know what to expect since he rarely deviated from formula from one record to the next.

But oh what a durable formula that is, especially when delivered by someone who genuinely enjoys feeling the musical spirit move him as he cries out to the band to play louder, the bartender to pour faster and the girls to… well… to do something their mothers may not approve of.

Sometimes such repetitive game plans can grow tiresome and lose their spark, and to be fair that’s happened on occasion with Waterford in the past, but on Time To Blow he seems reinvigorated and is relishing in his role as this party’s master of ceremonies.

His vocals are held below a dull roar for much of this record, which may be a detriment if you’re merely interested in blowing the roof off the joint, but his delivery is well-measured for a change, rising and falling with the simple standard melody he generally stuck with through thick and thin. Rather than be a drawback the familiarity of the structure gives him the comfort to dig into the feelings beneath his cries for things to get cranked up as he lays out for the band what he, and by extension you the listener, requires to get this party jumping.

The specifics are easy enough to guess: pump up the volume with a tenacious boogie, a thumping back beat and prodigious blowing skills. He ostensibly gives reasons for wanting the music played this way, focusing on having his heart broken when his woman left, but we all know perfectly well if she was still with him he would still be demanding the same soundtrack to whatever debauchery he and his sweetie were about to partake in.

Of course there’s plenty of booze going around, though he tells us he didn’t get any as the band drank it all before the bottle (just one?) made it around to him, but unfortunately by the sound of their playing it just made them sleepy, not more vulgar or uninhibited, which is where they let his highness down.

Let’s Rock This House Tonight
The highs and lows of former Jimmie Lunceford sax star Joe Thomas have been cause for plenty of hand wringing around here as he tries with varying degrees of success to make the transition from swing, at which he was a master, to rock ‘n’ roll, a far more simplistic style of music that remains for the most part frustratingly out of his grasp to fully understand.

Thomas’s main problem at times seems to be his confusion, or contempt, over the primary needs to convey rock’s most base concerns – unbridled raunchiness when it comes to saxophone exhibitionism.

But before we can get to Thomas’s shortcomings we need to first credit the others in the band who have a better comprehension of what’s being asked of them. Unfortunately the session info doesn’t list a guitarist, but there’s certainly a guitarist present as he’s the one who gets this record off to such a good start, playing a catchy riff in the intro as George Rhodes’ piano lays down the basic boogie alongside some simple drums.

When the horns come in behind Waterford they’re right on target, keeping things rolling along nicely with what amounts to little more than melodic padding but which is effective as can be in their support of the Crown Prince who seems to get even more invigorated by their presence.

So far so good, but when he cries out that it’s Time To Blow that’s when you expect the tenor to step out in front and raise the stakes even more. You may be a little worried seeing as how there’s a full arsenal of horns present – trumpet, trombone, alto and baritone saxes – but when Thomas takes the cue you’re thankful that they aren’t deviating from what’s expected of them.

But then he starts to play and you realize you might’ve been better off if they HAD switched things up as Thomas is playing something that is modestly demure at best, completely underwhelming at worst. It’s melodic at first, we’ll give him that, but it has little energy and seemingly no awareness of what Waterford is urging him to do, which is blow up a storm.

When Thomas finally does start to dig a little deeper it improves slightly, though it’s still holding back too much, but it’s good enough for you to excuse his lack of grit if he merely stuck with it longer. Instead he senses he’s losing the interest of anyone listening, and probably drawing harsh glares from Waterford on the bandstand, and so Thomas tries to spice things up by… squealing like a stuck pig… one with no musical training to boot.

Under-powered and left to screech by the end, missing notes because he’s lost his breath apparently, he turns what could’ve been a song to equal those green numbers into one that requires all of Waterford’s gregarious charm to keep it on the positive side of the ledger.


Don’t Nobody Start A Fight
As the last session Waterford would cut during his relative heyday (with one more release to follow on a tiny label held back from a few years ago) we can bemoan the missed opportunity here all we want and throw shade at Joe Thomas for undercutting Waterford’s chance at getting a dark horse hit in the process, but we know full well that even under the best of circumstances that was unlikely.

Say you give Time To Blow more firepower behind him, what have you got? Another party starter for a party that’s already in full swing and doesn’t really need a charismatic loudmouth to try and draw attention to himself when Wynonie Harris is still in the room holding court with plenty of others now vying for that position themselves with a lot more talent to back up their play.

So in the end Crown Prince Waterford remains what he was at the very beginning of this journey, a solid role player on rock’s junior varsity squad, but not even consistent enough in that part to be appointed captain of the B-team.

Yet in spite of his own limitations that have sunk a few of his past efforts, and in spite of the inadequacies of the band behind him on this otherwise good performance, we never quite tire of seeing the Crown Prince strut across the stage… full of himself at times maybe but always equally intent on making sure all of you have a good time as he is with basking in the spotlight.

Though it might be hard to argue that Waterford made any significant contributions to rock’s advancement over the years, rock ‘n’ roll was still better off for his presence, for it was he who first embodied the music’s most enduring image, that of somebody who was happy just to be there, partying with the rest of the outcasts as if it was the only place on earth he wanted to be.


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