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KING 4544; JUNE 1952



If you’re one of those people – and there are lots of them – who detest the entire concept of a rock ‘n’ roll song that refers to the male genitalia in an intentionally childish way for laughs, it would probably stand to reason that a straightforward song with mature lyrics and perspective and a more standard melodic structure than the sing-along vibe of the flip side would be more your speed.

Then how come it isn’t?

Of all of Dave Bartholomew’s songs, this one, workmanlike and reasonably competent if not without its usual flaws, barely gets a mention when talking about his own catalog.

It’s not his best effort by any means, but there’s no sensible reason why it’s been so widely ignored… that is unless you’ve been too busy playing with your own…

Nah, that’s too easy.


You’ll Know Just How I Feel
We talked about it with the aforementioned top side, how Dave Bartholomew, for all his gifts as a songwriter, always tried to minimize his own shortcomings as a singer with the tunes he wrote for himself.

You’ll note that with his work for others, be it Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Jewel King, you name ’em, almost all of his songs had very good, memorable melodies. Yet on his own songs the melody was often lacking.

When he DID come up with a more well-thought out melody for his own material he’d invariably downplay the story and use simple, often choppy, lyrical structures.

In other words, while he would combine great melodies and good stories for others because he knew they could handle singing them, he’d shortchange one or the other on his own output because doing so meant it’d lessen the chance that he’d screw them up vocally.

Of course it also lessened the chance for any of them to be hits and so while some might just pass this trait off as a Bad Habit, we know enough about human psychology to call it what it rightly is – insecurity.

Yeah, that’s right, one of rock’s most accomplished multi-talented figures was insecure about his abilities in one area and that – more than his quirky singing voice – undoubtedly cost him the chance to be a bigger star as an artist.


All Night Ballin’
We can’t rightly claim this is one of Dave Bartholomew’s best musical creations by any stretch of the imagination, but with its lurching pace featuring ebbing and flowing horn lines behind him in a catchy and appealing manner, this has got a comfortable base to build from.

Since it’s structured in a way to relieve his vocals of having to carry the melody, it theoretically should allow him to focus on storytelling, provided he can consistently nail the flow and cadence required to make it work.

He can’t.

At least he can’t all the time, which means that even when he does get off a line in ideal fashion he’s already thinking about how he might screw up the next one. There are some along the way he seems to ad-lib, which was a Bad Habit with him his whole career, while others were obviously well-crafted but he sells them a little short.

It’s interesting to think of what he might’ve done to cure this problem going in. The easiest solution would seem to be to write each song as if they were intended for someone else to sing – someone admittedly with limited range, but far more comfort with their delivery – and then all he has to do is sing it himself instead. Maybe even find somebody to sing the demo and he just duplicates it.

I know, that’s kind of degrading for a legendary figure to need training wheels to sing his own songs, but if Marlon Brando can use cue cards to remember his dialogue in some of the best movies ever made, then Dave Bartholomew can do likewise.

It’s a shame too because in spite of his Bad Habit of sabotaging his own records, Bartholomew has a solid premise based on trying to live the good life in spite of your own flaws, but unfortunately he doesn’t stick with the same outlook from one stanza to the next. While there are some good lines thrown in and each of them work individually to create a solid perspective, he often negates what he just stated with the one that follows.

All of which brings us back to what works best, namely the musical side of the equation which in spite of its simplicity goes a long way towards redeeming the record as a whole.

The horn parts are almost like a prototype for the blow harmonies on The Moonglows’ classic hit Sincerely, a way to add rhythm to a slow tempo via hypnotic throbbing beats. There’s not much more to it than that here, but with Todd Rhodes’ band playing behind him you know these are disciplined musicians who will be content to lock into their roles without feeling the need to stand out.

To further boost their impact however Bartholomew gives them subtly overlapping parts that creates a churning effect, even at the crawling pace it uses, and you find yourself getting lulled into a content state of mind as a result, distracting you from the shortcomings elsewhere. The result is the record sounds better than it actually is if you add up all of the components individually and since we tend not to listen to records in pieces, he more or less gets away with it.


Come Up And Join Me
In a way Bartholomew almost benefits from diminished expectations as an artist. The opposite is true however when he’s acting as a producer for someone else.

Maybe that means it all evens out in the end as we hold his productions to a higher standard than his own output.

That’s probably a Bad Habit for listeners to get in to, but we’re only human – most of us at least – and the more time you spend with somebody, the more you become accustomed to their methods.

With Dave Bartholomew you know enough not to be surprised by the choppy nature of his own songs and so they become much easier to take than if Fats Domino did the same thing on a record that Bartholomew only produced.

Still, that doesn’t mean most of these compromised tracks are going to be highly recommended, only that they won’t be widely panned either. Considering his ongoing insecurities about this facet of his career, it’s a deal he’ll gladly take… especially when on the other side of this single he’s going to be criticized for diddling around in another way altogether.


(Visit the Artist page of Dave Bartholomew for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)