No tags :(

Share it




The smaller record companies, those with limited resources and a small talent pool to draw from, augmented their roster of primary artists by allowing their session musicians to cut records of their own.

While the rock universe was obsessed with sax instrumentals in 1948-49 this tactic could be a boon to their bottom line but in the last few months with the downturn in hits for that style a lot of the sax players who got opportunities to cut their own records began to turn to vocals in an effort to stay relevant.

It didn’t always work out that way.


Pack Your Bags
Like so many deals with independent record labels at the time, there was no long term contract in place, no plan to build up an artist, nor even a well-conceived artistic vision to adhere to when cutting records.

For Ed Wiley this was even more the case as he’d laid down sides for Sittin’ In With in late 1949 and then had moved on from the company by the time Cry, Cry, Baby became a hit in the spring of 1950.

He’d headed east around that time and hooked up with different vocalists (Teddy Reynolds had handled the chores on that first record) and began to tour off the name recognition he’d gotten from his hit.

Yet as big as the country is, the music sphere is altogether smaller and it was probably inevitable that Wiley, with singer Piney Brown in tow, ran into Sittin’ In With’s owner Bobby Shad on the road. Eager to try and strike gold a second time Shad offered him another session and Wiley accepted, cutting two vocal tracks with Brown and two instrumentals.

Oddly enough it’s the vocal on this release, Pack Up, Move Out, which is the rock track and while Brown would primarily be a blues singer over the course of his career, he never gives off the appearance of being unfamiliar with this more rambunctious style.

The problem with it is however that even though all of the required components are present and accounted for, each one of them is just a little bit off in their execution, rendering what might’ve been a decent effort to be seen as something of a let down.

You Come Staggering In
With a strange opening fanfare styled horn intro the song gives off one impression that is immediately contradicted when it all kicks off in earnest as Brown comes in, his voice full and rich and raring to go.

Right away though there’s a rather obvious rift between him and the horns, as in they’re in the wrong key for what he’s singing. Brown sounds fine, but the horns come across as a little drunk because of this and it’s disconcerting to hear even if you could conceivably make the image it conjures up fit into the story about a guy telling his over-imbibing girlfriend that she has to hit the bricks.

Aside from the their technical problems there’s also the conceptual one which is evident by the tone they DO use which isn’t hefty enough to be of much use. They need to provide more of a punch in what they deliver to give Brown’s robust voice something solid to work from. Instead they’re thin and reedy sounding and that just makes Brown sound more frantic than intended, making Pack Up, Move Out sound like a lost Crown Prince Waterford performance.

He’s not without blame himself though, as the song isn’t spiraling out of control musically nearly as fast as he is vocally. Although the basic plot invites a fair amount of lyrical urgency as the rent is overdue which finds the landlord coming to the door forcing them to flee, it loses focus after that as he starts berating his girlfriend for drinking every night, shifting the blame, probably to avoid confronting the fact that he’s not pulling his own weight financially.

Though Brown’s performance remains on the border of enjoyable, never crossing into unlistenable by any means, it’s pretty clear they would’ve been better served to take it again from the top with a tighter game plan before starting out.

If One Trick Won’t Get It, You Darn Well Better Try Two
The early missteps in the arrangement dig a pretty big hole for a record that’s less than three minutes long to try and climb out of and they definitely don’t help their cause by letting the band members handle the responsatory vocals – a standard device in rock, but one requiring better singers than these guys are.

Yet Ed Wiley – remember him, the guy actually being credited for this thing – manages to pull things together when he actually gets the others to quiet down for awhile so he can step into the spotlight himself.

This results in the two highlights of Pack Up, Move Out, one far more notable than the second, which is nothing more than percussive hand-claps to re-orient the misplaced beat.

Wiley’s turn on the other hand is genuinely good, his saxophone emerging out of an impressive prolonged wailing vocal by Brown, bringing with it a sense of order and renewed focus to the entire record.

It’s hardly a dynamic solo by any means, but it’s an effective one nonetheless, reining the song back in and grounding it in something reassuringly familiar. He’s playing with a much better tone here with some admirable grit in it for good measure and backed by an impressive glassy sounding guitar and those aforementioned hand claps it all comes together nicely.

But is that brief interlude enough to overcome the record’s other weaknesses?

No, not quite.


The Rent Is Due
Had this exact same record with all of its flaws been released two years ago it’d have been much better appreciated. Then its runaway vocals and solid sax break would’ve been more exciting compared to what surrounded it on the release schedule, but now we’ve gone way past those bare minimum expectations and this seems like a record that was trying to meet an already outdated standard and still falling just a bit short.

Yet Pack Up, Move Out isn’t terrible, the plot is decent even if it’s not explored as deeply as you’d like to see and you could even argue that its mistakes are somewhat minor in the big picture, but even then you’d have to acknowledge that its highlights are fairly insignificant too.

That’s probably the best way to describe the record as a whole – an inconsequential performance by all involved, each of whom were capable of better even if this slapdash performance never quite showcased them at their worst.

If nothing else it remained simply a way to keep Ed Wiley on board a little longer as rock sped along the highway, unconcerned if it happened to lose a passenger or two like him along the way.


(Visit the Artist page of Ed Wiley Jr. for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)