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It’s an uncomfortable reality to face that most people are not long remembered for this world. Whatever you did while you were here will soon fade into oblivion and when those who knew you firsthand pass on themselves you will almost certainly be no more than a name on a grave, a faded line on a long ago census, a penciled in name on a family tree, the dates of your birth and death being all that’s left to define who you were.

A lot of people don’t like this cold eventuality and spend their lives trying to achieve something that will endure past their own expiration date and for musicians who get to make records – actual physical objects containing your voice, often singing your own words while playing your own music via some instrument or another – the possibility that you’ll live on in some small way must seem a little more likely.

Lucius Tyson was taking no chances of being forgotten and so he changed his name to the far more memorable Doc Sausage and made some records that he probably thought were audacious enough to stand the test of time.

In some ways they did. They’re not totally obscure seven decades later in any case, but whether or not they deserve to be remembered is another thing entirely.


Won’t Treat Nobody Right
Considering that Sausage was a late arrival – and early exit – to rock ‘n’ roll (late in that it was already up to speed before he joined in anyway), getting just in eight songs cut during his brief stint with Regal Records, his four singles coming out in fairly rapid fashion over a six month period from December 1949 through June 1950, the fact we’re still talking and writing about him in the next century makes his tenure there somewhat of a success I suppose.

But while he wound up with one hit scattered amongst those four singles (a cover version of the massively popular Rag Mop), and contributed another song on the top side of this release which earned some belated interest based almost entirely on the apparent suggestiveness of its title – Sausage Rock – the fact is neither of those records were exactly worth much attention to begin with and so his legacy, such as it is, actually winds up being that of someone who was a fairly cheap knockoff of something far more enduring.

Now there are a lot of artists in rock history who will let us down of course and to be honest unless you’re the type who jumps at every manic pitch a salesman makes you really shouldn’t have had high expectations going in on Sausage’s catalog. After all he was a journeyman bandleader of a jive group that didn’t cut the mustard in that field enough to sell more than a dozen copies of his output on a major label, Decca, that presumably was invested in his potential. So the odds that he’d have a truly successful comeback, either commercially or artistically, in rock ‘n’ roll a decade later when he was pushing forty years old is far too long to place a hefty wager on.

Yet he DID score that one hit and he did get some long term notice for his mere presence alone. But as to the output of those records… well, underwhelming is a more polite term than “waste of time”.

But now that we’ve gotten his two more recognizable songs out of the way, maybe we can better examine his potential to have even gotten that far in rock by looking at the sides he cut at the same time that didn’t have any built-in advantages such as a national craze for a novelty song that got him his hit or an intriguing and slightly off-color title that drew some looks for its follow-up.

Truth be told I’ve Been A Bad Boy is no worse than those more familiar songs and without any real anticipation going into the record it might actually wind up leaving a more favorable impression in the long run.


Some Might Want To Take My Life
Like the rest of his material, at least other songs he wrote himself, this is fairly dated from the get-go making it somewhat of an uneasy fit in rock ‘n’ roll. But unlike the more infamous top side which with its raucous feeling that’s hard to convincingly fake, the style which this tries to connect in here has less well defined parameters making it easier to slip by unnoticed.

That’s hardly the most reassuring thing to say about I’ve Been A Bad Boy but it sets it up for you to sufficiently lower your expectations as a listener because he’s taking a much milder approach.

The piano and drums that open this are merely colorful window dressing for what’s essentially a lament wherein Doc delivers some pretty standard lines about remorse over life’s mistakes that need no revealing details to feel reasonably authentic.

Sausage has been hauled in front of the judge for some unnamed offense. I sincerely doubt it’s a grievous offense but this being the era its in he’s facing thirty years in the clink if he’s found guilty. We all know he’s unlikely to get much sympathy no matter how he pleads for restraint, but it’s still interesting to hear him accept just enough responsibility for listening to bad influences in his life while at the same time making it clear that those anonymous influences are the true culprits in this affair.

We’re less concerned though with the charges against him – which we never do find out – and more interested in his own tale of woe. He does a good job conveying his somber mood, delivering his lines with a suitably remorseful tone, subdued and chastened standing there under the glare of lady justice, hardly an impartial arbiter seeking truth when it’s far easier for the law to lay blame on whoever society deems most expendable, but this definitely shows that Sausage was a fairly gifted actor, something he did for years on stage in between songs where their show encompassed everything from jokes to dancing to skits.

You’d like to have a little more variety in the lyrical excuses/confession, but even if he did come up with something plausible most listeners would probably assume he was lying which is what the prosecutor is counting on so he can get a quick conviction and still get a good table in the cafeteria for lunch.

I’ll Listen To Everybody
But unless this is a kangaroo court we’re going to have to hear from some others testifying on his behalf and once again he’s brought with him the Mad Lads who in spite of their ragged appearance make for fairly effective character witnesses.

First to be called to the stand is Charlie Jenkins who gets his best showcase to date on guitar, playing some discreetly melodic lines along with a handful of accent note flourishes for good measure. None of it is exactly riveting stuff, but it’s well-executed and tastefully done and lends a fairly nice mellow vibe to the song that might help to convince the jury that ol’ Doc isn’t some hardened criminal you have to teach a lesson.

This being an attempt to also convince us (the far more important jury of prospective record buyers) that I’ve Been A Bad Boy is indeed worthy of consideration as a rock song, that means the next witness to be sworn in is Earl Johnson, saxophonist, who after contributing mainly atmospheric touches while Jenkins had the larger responsibility behind Sausage’s confessional, now steps to the forefront and is asked to deliver the most convincing defense for Doc’s place in the rock world.

But smartly this is no rousing oratory, full of histrionic honks, squeals and emphatic snorts, that may turn heads in the courtroom but more likely than not will only convince onlookers that it’s a desperate attempt to overturn a surefire conviction. Instead Johnson offers a much more low key summation of Doc’s plight, soothing in its tones and pacing, lulling you into a sort of hazy acquiescence. It fits the image of Sausage as a mild mannered harmless soul the defense team is trying to paint at least and so if you find their positions somewhat plausible to begin with then Johnson’s languid work on his horn might just sway you to a non-guilty verdict.

Please Mr. Judge
I’m not one for hanging around courtrooms even if I’m not the one being accused of some malfeasance so I can only report that Doc Sausage was seen on the streets soon after this trial ended, which I suppose means he was let off with probation and was given a stern warning to stay off the rough streets of this rock ‘n’ roll jungle.

But we all know that’s a world full of temptation and so rest assured before long he’ll probably be picked up again for some perceived offense and given a harsh sentence, shipped off to some ungodly work farm where he’ll never be heard from again.

If he’s smart though maybe he’ll realize that the odds against him ever getting a break in this town are too high to keep trying to buck and so he’ll mosey off down the highway, looking for a more hospitable scene where his past won’t be held against him and where the future hasn’t quite come into view.

There he’ll be able to sing dispensable songs like I’ve Been A Bad Boy without worrying about offending the local constable or violating some law against failure to maintain musical relevance, or find himself being railroaded for impersonating a rocker.

Doc Sausage was never a threat to society, musical or otherwise, he was nothing more than a marginally talented, hard-working guy who simply wanted to do enough to be remembered a bit longer than he probably had any right to be. That’s nothing to hold against him.


(Visit the Artist page of Doc Sausage for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)