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REGENT 1045; MARCH 1952



Family businesses at one time were all the rage when someone’s (usually male) offspring were expected to follow in their father’s footsteps and go into the same field. They’d learn the trade at their daddy’s feet while probably barely being paid for it, eventually becoming a de facto partner – so the father can have more time off no doubt. When the old man is ready to retire he’ll hand over the business to his son(s) and leech off them until he dies.

The old fashioned American way!

Music is a little bit different in that regard, but whether we’re talking George & Ira Gershwin or The Carter Family, there have been notable blood relations scattered across popular music long before rock ‘n’ roll made it even more common. We’ve already encountered The Griffin Brothers and The Trenier twins most notably, but others like Rufus Thomas will go on to have children whose careers would give the family hits for the better part of forty years.

The Harris family, at least ON record as opposed to behind the scenes, weren’t quite as fortunate commercially, but their presence in 1950’s rock will be pretty ubiquitous all the same.


I Can’t Use You At All
Though Marcene “Dimples” Harris would eventually be somewhat overshadowed in her family by her older brother Kent, who wrote extensively, recorded under a variety of names (one of which, Boogaloo And His Gallant Crew, is in contention for the coolest group name in rock history), produced and owned a label along the way, it was Dimples who first got the family’s foot in the door (eventually recording with two other siblings Betty Jean and Beverly as The Harris Sisters) when she got noticed at a show put on by Los Angeles disc jockey Hunter Hancock.

The details about her professional start is a little vague. For one thing The Dimples Harris Trio featured her singing and playing organ whereas the record has her on piano (an instrument she learned while quietly watching the white daughter of her mother’s employer continually fail to meet her private piano tutor’s expectations, after which Dimples would play all of the lessons perfectly).

It’s doubtful, though not impossible if the Watts nightspot she was said to be a regular at during this time was Johnny Otis’s Barrelhouse Club, that Johnny’s bassist Mario Delagarde was part of that original outfit which would be pretty impressive for a 16 year old girl to get his services on stage. Whether or not that was the case, we know he’s on the record (along with Carl Burton) and that’s surely how she came to the attention of Regent Records, a subsidiary of Savoy where Otis was the label’s biggest star.

Whether the company felt they were just doing one of their artist’s a favor (which is doubtful considering their penny pinching ways), or if they truly didn’t find much potential in the group isn’t known, but the session that produced Call Me Daddy took place way back in January 1951 only to have Regent shelve two of the four tracks altogether while sitting on this one for over a year despite not having a prolific release schedule.

Though you could argue that they hadn’t exactly deprived themselves of a hit by holding it back so long there’s absolutely no benefit to not releasing the record and taking your chances that it might find an audience. Considering the company was in dire need of a deeper roster of rock acts to promote now that it had become unquestionably the hottest brand of music in Black America, to have a talented and beautiful girl fall into your lap as an artist to try and nurture into a star was what every record label dreamed of.

Naturally Herman Lubinsky ignored the dream and fell back asleep, relegating his company to an afterthought in rock after such a promising start.

Our Love Will Never Last
The first voice we hear isn’t Dimples Harris at all, but rather a male counterpart intoning the title line.

It’s a somewhat strange choice for a variety of reasons. You’d think you’d want to put the spotlight on Harris from the start, as it’s not often a mystery vocalist kicks off a song by the featured artist – Stevie Wonder’s You Are The Sunshine Of My Life being the most prominent example where it did work – but by doing so you also change, or at least explain, the odd title – as it is written and sung without the comma after “me”, changing the meaning entirely.

Obviously a song entitled Call Me Daddy being sung by a teenage girl requires some sort of explanation and my guess is that it was a song that went over well at live venues where the give and take between a guy and girl would have added visual appeal.

Then again there does seem to be a certain salacious ring to that demand that doesn’t quite translate to her saying “Call me mama” which she says in response.

Call me baby is more like it – and more commercial too.

But anyway, the song has sort of a laid back feel to it, almost sounding like a well-recorded demo with her simple piano backed by very dry distant drumming which might even be hands slapping thighs to keep time. I don’t hear a bass other than Harris’s left hand so Delagarde is probably singing the male parts.

The story is rather simplistic too with both parties lightly emploring the other to refer to them in the way they prefer, obviously meant as a term of endearment, but since they’re in agreement over how they each want to be addressed it shows that they’re on the same page romantically and so it drains any and all tension from the exchange.

That all makes it sound pretty desultory I’m sure, but there’s a definite endearing low-key charm to this that comes through, especially in Harris’s voice. Maybe the “sitting around a piano rehearsing” vibe this has isn’t to everybody’s taste, but considering how little of that we have from this era to appreciate how singers sounded in more unguarded moments, to have a record that essentially recreates it for us – assuming it wasn’t surreptitiously recording during such an after hours session – is hardly a bad thing.


(Visit the Artist page of Dimples Harris for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)