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KING 4310; SEPTEMBER, 1949



No, no, no, we didn’t turn our backs on you, Crown Prince! Honest!

I know it’s been awhile since we’ve reviewed a record of yours on these pages, Mr. Waterford, but it wasn’t our fault. Circumstances conspired against you, that’s all. A perfectly honest, completely unintentional, but admittedly regrettable scenario developed that deprived us of the joy of talking about your deliriously cracked vocals, unbridled enthusiasm and your blatant disregard for life and limb on record.

Actually, your highness, if you’ll beg our pardon for saying so, it was YOUR fault in a way. Maybe you just weren’t aware of the requirements for being reviewed here. Though you certainly always fulfilled the first of those – singing rock ‘n’ roll as lustily as the human voice was capable of – as of late you’ve fell a bit short on the other, slightly more stringent, prerequisite… namely you need to have new records being actively released!

It’s kind of hard to review something that doesn’t exist and because you weren’t recording for any label since Capitol dumped your sorry assumm… since Capitol “parted ways with your excellency”… after your earlier releases for them inexplicably failed to draw notice, it made it rather hard to meet that all-important condition.

I’m sure your lack of a recording contract these last few months wasn’t a knock on your lack of technical skills or your sometimes repetitive material. I suppose it might just be that no other record label wanted to pay a King’s ransom for the services of a self-described Crown Prince.

But we’re glad you’re back, we really are. The rock ‘n’ roll empire wasn’t the same with you. For where else among the riff-raff in this dilapidated musical monarchy of ours can we be in the presence of royalty?

So with trumpets blaring and flags unfurling, let’s all hail the return of our beloved Crown Prince… sure to one day be the King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself… Charles Waterford.

Oh How I Cried
Though it’s been ten months since we last encountered a record by the estimable Crown Prince Waterford, Leaping Boogie from November 1948, it was actually a year before that when Waterford last laid down tracks to see the light of day, as all of his Capitol Records output came from November 1947 when they, like every other label at the time, were frantically pulling in anybody and everybody off the street who could carry a tune so they’d have enough material in the can to get them through a prolonged recording ban which would take up almost all of 1948.

Not surprisingly just before the ban was about to be lifted the following month Capitol issued their final sides of Waterford and washed their hands of him, glad to be able to move on and find new artists who were far more dignified than his unique brand of musical madness.

As to what Waterford did during 1948, other than wait for his next single to be issued to watch it sink ignominiously without a trace, is anybody’s guess. I’m sure he was out on the road, barging into clubs and leaping onto the bandstand to sing a song or two before the startled proprietors called the fire department to come down and turn the hoses on him to wash him off the stage.

But that’s not entirely fair to his eminence. For while Waterford was hardly a refined performer he was always an enthusiastic and reasonably exciting singer, even if after listening to him you sometimes felt the need to stop off at the nurses aid station to be checked for bruises.

Rock ‘n’ roll needs artists like Crown Prince Waterford however, those existing more on perspiration than inspiration, if only to remind the music not to ever take itself too seriously. Though he may have been an insignificant also-ran in a commercial sense, spiritually Waterford was the forefather of such disparate rock styles as rockabilly, garage band, punk and any other sounds where the artists in question simply turned up the volume to mask their lack of technical ability and barreled ahead at full speed.

King Records would be his last outpost for quite some time in a recording career that had begun four years earlier with tiny Hy-Tone before moving up to noteworthy independent label Aladdin in the pre-rock landscape and then getting inexplicably picked up by major label Capitol (although shunted off to the Capitol-Americana imprint designed to feature their non-pop hopefuls, otherwise known as second class citizenry).

Now it was back to the indies, but like Aladdin, this was one of the best and most successful of the smaller tier companies in the country at the time and one with a long history with, understanding of and appreciation for rock ‘n’ roll.

If anyone could steer Waterford back in the right direction, you would think it would be King Records.


You’ve Had Your Fun
Because this is the only chance we’ll have to delve into Waterford’s first – of two, held months apart – sessions he cut for King, let’s first take a look at the full body of work that came from that June 1949 date to see if we can get any sense of him possibly shoring up his many deficiencies, or see if there’s any indication that King Records were trying to rein him in or give him an alternative approach or two to try.

Two of the four songs cut that day went unreleased and since we’ll be covering the other two in this review as well as tomorrow’s for the flip side, let’s briefly examine the two left in the can.

The first of which, All Over Again, was completely unexpected because Waterford tones down every single notable attribute he has in an effort to croon! Yeah, you read that right. The man who made bellowing a personal hallmark and who never fell below a dull roar when he opened his mouth is now trying to sing “pretty”… and he’s doing it pretty badly, as you might expect.

Though the arrangement of that song is much too pop-centric for our rock tastes it would’ve made for an interesting B-side for the best of his usual full-speed ahead barn-burners, simply for the contrast in styles. The Crown Prince tries his hardest with it and is oddly endearing for the effort. He wanders off-key, doesn’t have nearly the range to cover the notes, nor the judgment to know just how to shade some of the sentiments properly, but drunken karaoke performance though this may be, it’s also exquisitely arranged (presumably by Henry Glover) and as a song it certainly has far more sensible and heartfelt lyrics than the outrageousness of his own compositions. You can certainly see why they kept it locked up, but it’s reveals a a certain charm that Waterford would otherwise never explore.

The next of the unreleased sides, Get Away From My Door is more along the lines of what we’re used to from the rampaging Crown Prince. In fact it is basically the same tune as he’s released multiple times to date, just refitted with new lyrics as was his wont to do.

But that recycled melody aside, this is really a good performance kicking off with one of the most prominent drum solos in rock’s first few years before Waterford comes tearing into it, offering up some of his best lyrics – admittedly not saying much, but most of these are pretty solid. If anything the arrangement of this one following that lead-in is the real disappointment, as trumpeter Glover – we’re just assuming it’s him producing – highlights that instrument far too much, though it’s sessionist Dave Froebel Brigham doing the “honors”, including an ill-conceived solo that would’ve worked far better on saxophone.

Which brings us to today’s record, You Turned Your Back On Me, something that seems destined for failure as it combines the most questionable aspects of both of the above rejected titles – the trumpet-centric arrangement of the latter and the crooning vocals of the former – and… quite amazingly… comes away with something not half-bad at all.

You might even call it good.


Now That I’m Free
Considering that Waterford’s on-record persona is that of a perpetually horny and socially uninhibited reprobate who never met a social construct he wouldn’t gleefully knock over, his transformation here to a downhearted man seeking some sort of forgiveness for his sins is touching, if a little suspect.

As is often the case in music this turnabout is thanks to losing the love of a woman, which is rather surprising considering it was no sure bet that he even knew the first names of his last dozen sexual conquests, but his sadness seems genuine as he recounts letting down “a gal who was faithful and true” for a romp – be it a one-night stand, a lost weekend or a month long tryst – with somebody else, only to have HER dump him.

Maybe not surprisingly for a well-known serial womanizer, Waterford isn’t addressing the one whom HE wronged in this affair, that would be his long-term squeeze whom he threw overboard when someone with longer legs, shapelier hips and a sly beguiling smile looked his way, but rather he’s singing You Turned Your Back On Me to the one who left HIM!

But in spite of his complicity in the events that led to his own broken-heart, Waterford – who for some reason here is billed under his given name of Charles, rather than the more colorfully appropriate Crown Prince – is oddly sympathetic in this role.

We know he’s a cad, he admits his own wrongdoing, even as he takes no blame for it but rather views it as a simple move up the bedroom ladder as it were, therefore perfectly excusable, he manages to sound contrite, although I’ll be damned if I know what for!

And the thing is, it absolutely works. His singing here, while hardly smooth and melodious, is completely effective, even coming across as sweet and sincere. This is the type of homemade message to his wife or girlfriend that some drunken heel would make after being caught in a hotel room with another woman, all in the hopes of winning back his estranged partner with charm and I think the other word is chutzpah… and in doing so convince her that he’s really got a heart of gold under the silk shirt soaked in cologne he wears out on his tour of the bars by the airport in search of a new fling each weekend.

Too often in real life I’d imagine the woman would take him back in spite of his transgressions, melting at the sound of him warbling this mea culpa to her on her voicemail. But since there is no resolution to You Turned Your Back On Me we can only assume – and hope – that the girl in question laughed as she erased it.

In fact I’ll go so far as to say she set his ass up, maybe she’s an old friend of Waterford’s girlfriend who conspired with her to catch the egotistical ladies man in a trap. She goes out one night playing the role of a girl looking for a quickie with no strings attached, or possibly even a sugar daddy who’ll buy her a few nice things in exchange for regular meetings during lunch hour and an odd weekend getaway, then once she’s got his wallet and some jewelry which she pawns, she vanishes, calls his now-ex (her friend in this scenario) and tells her to come to Palm Springs so they can run up his credit card bill together before he thinks to cancel it.

It’d be only fitting.

Just To Be With You
The band behind Waterford are remaining emotionally detached from his plight, even as their playing suggests otherwise, not wanting to be asked to put him up for the night or give him a lift back to the hotel with a long stop in a bar as he pours his heart out to them.

Their mournful accompaniment, though certainly pop-oriented, is entirely appropriate at least when viewed from his perspective, since he was the one wronged in this accounting of the events. and uses the instruments we usually bemoan, the light cocktail piano, the wayward trumpet, to give this sad sack some much needed dignity.

Even when Waterford lets out his grief with a few timely cries, they’re perfectly within the mood of the arrangement and when Harold Land, an old friend from a number of songs, turns in a softly discreet sax solo it adds the right touch to what is shaping up to be a completely unexpected surprise from an artist who seemed incapable of surprising anyone, even if he leapt out of the closet at you at five o’clock in the morning just to see your reaction.

Though we don’t condone Waterford’s abhorrent behavior that led to his loneliness and we’re reasonably sure that once he’s over it he’ll be back to his old ways, You Turned Your Back On Me is still a nice musical interlude from his usual antics, not to mention the long-sought after example of how to best use the flip-side of a single to deliver something completely different than an artist’s standard fare.

We’ll happily tell the jilted girl that she should be glad she got rid of this louse and will encourage the one who used him – for money or for fun – to get checked for STD’s, we can sit back and revel in Waterford’s misery with a clear conscious.

Yup, Crown Prince, it’s certainly good to have you back!


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