KING 4511; FEBRUARY 1952



When it comes to most rock artists we don’t need to waste time wondering if their next release is going to be reviewed here.

They are. They’re rock acts, making rock records and this is a rock history website devoted to chronicling every last rock single that saw the light of day.

End of story.

But there are a couple of artists whose ongoing stylistic uneasiness makes the fate of each upcoming release a crapshoot.

Almost since the beginning Earl Bostic has been at the head of that particular line and it’s never a sure bet that we’ll be reading about his latest musical excursion as it goes to market.


Every Now And Then
Obviously, because you’re reading this, it means this particular side of his latest single qualifies for rock… and does so without any real misgivings all things considered, even if for the first section of the song you might not be so sure.

But knowing Bostic as we do after twenty-four previous encounters with him, we’re aware that the worst thing you can do is make snap decisions on each record as it starts to play, because by the time it ends three minutes later you might think it’s an entirely different song from a completely different genre.

So you need to be patient as the needle drops, sit back and let it reveal itself to you slowly, like a stripper on a Sunday afternoon in a half empty house.

Sometimes you’ll be disappointed… with the record and the stripper… but other times it’ll be worth your wait.

The other side of this single you wish kept its clothes on. You can see why it’s called Lover Come Back To Me after hearing how uninspired it is as you envision running away before it’s half peeled.

It’s not that Bostic doesn’t play it well… he plays everything well, the guy was the most skilled sax player of his era in any style… but rather the song itself is tired and old fashioned, which is hardly surprising considering it’s an Oscar Hammerstein composition from way back in 1928.

Nothing against ol’ Oscar, but one or two credits aside he was not quite the best fit for rock ‘n’ roll interpretations for the most part.

Even so Bostic manages to inject a little bit of grit and soul into it towards the end, but mostly is just riding it like a broken-down horse around the corral, going through the motions to give the old nag some exercise.

The same can’t be said for The Moon Is Low, a song that surprisingly is almost as old – first done in 1930 – but which in Bostic’s hands (or lungs) is given new life and a new image to go with it.

Or considering how it sounds different from one section to the next, maybe that should be “he gives it multiple lives and multiple images”.


High Class, Low Brow
The way this starts off you’re set down in the middle of a bachelor pad with a sunken living room, boomerang shaped furniture and a martini within arm’s reach wherever you sit.

It’s a nice bachelor pad… airy and full of interesting things to catch your eye as the slinky sound from Bostic’s alto bleeds from hidden hi-fi speakers behind the lamps, but it’s not designed to get your heart pumping.

Thirty seconds in however, just as your eyes are drooping and you’re getting a little too relaxed, he takes out the defibrillator and re-starts your heart with some lusty blowing, still adhering to the melody but making sure you’re wide awake and your legs are twitching, ready to get up and meet the girl in the tight dress as she comes into the room.

He now eases off, being sure to appear courteous as he greets his guest and not set off any alarms in her defenses. After escorting down the steps to a comfortable couch he sits just far enough away to not seem threatening, but extends his arm over the back of the couch as if reaching towards her so he can pull her in later, when The Moon Is Low.

Sure enough he gradually gets a little more animated as the conversation begins to flow between them. As the moon outside gets higher in the sky as the night goes on, the lights in the bachelor pad gradually get lower and after some slightly raunchy teasing with her mid-way through the evening to test her comfort level with such topics, he realizes she’s willing and so he’s got no need to rush things and so he plays the charming gracious host, non-threatening in every way… other than eying her like a late night snack.

Of course the drinks are flowing and the inhibitions are lowering and the moon is rising along with something else that has a tendency to rise and as it gets to be about eleven o’clock at night – a little past the two minute mark of the record – the clothes come off and the action starts.

It’s a quickie… but an invigorating one… and while we can’t speak to the satisfaction of either of them in a physical sense, we can venture an opinion about the record that provided the backdrop for such a scene.

The verdict is while it’s not the worst way to spend an evening, on the whole it seems like it’d be a lot more fun to go out to a club and grind away all night on the dance floor with her while you’re both half in the bag, walk home together under the moon with her leaning against you to keep her steady as the warm tropical breezes cool you off, and then once you’re inside that bachelor pad and the clothes are discarded leisurely after a nightcap you’ll have a lot more time to heat things up again.

But hey, that’s just me… to each their own I suppose.


Lessons After Dark
My guess is that Earl Bostic, bookish appearance and all, probably made out okay without my advice.

Though The Moon Is Low is hardly a seamless fit in rock ‘n’ roll, it’s got just enough lecherous intent to fit the bill and I’m sure there’s a lot of ladies who like to take things slow and easy like this with only intermittent rounds of action to break up the otherwise tranquil evening.

Besides, they know Bostic is renowned as a master technician and they’re probably eager to find out for themselves if he’s as good at blowing, drawing and fluttering with his famed tongue as his reputation suggests.

If this is the mood music he prefers to show off his wares and he consistently scores with this approach, who are we to question how he goes about it?


(Visit the Artist page of Earl Bostic for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)