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When it comes to music people have an overwhelming tendency to stick with the same ol’ boring playlists of hits.

Catalog radio has defined this of course and that at least made some logistical sense in that they were always petrified you’d tune out if an unfamiliar song popped up.

But in your own private music world where only you control the playlist, what excuse is there for not digging deeper?

Edna McGriff is not someone many have IN their playlist to dig deep into and the few who may have recognized her name at any point over the past 65 years or so would’ve figured they had little reason to go beyond her one hit featured on the top side of this single.

Yet imagine your shock to discover that the B-side may contain a performance – if not a song – that is just as good and in this case you didn’t even have to go digging if you had the single, all you had to do was flip it over.


What’s Mine Is Mine
Right away as the deep saxes come along honking in what can only be deemed a strutting formation, you know this wasn’t some hastily conceived throwaway to act as the little heard flip of a very interesting and soon to be very big top side in Heavenly Father.

If nothing else this is much, much different stylistically, attitudinally, musically AND vocally.

In other words Edna McGriff and company are pulling out all of the stops to make you aware that she’s not going to be tied to one image, no matter how appealing that more yearning, slightly innocent image she just presented us with may have been.

While you may not have guessed that she was as young as she was on that plea for her boyfriend off fighting a war in Korea to make it home safely to her, you definitely were aware she was somewhat inexperienced the way she came across, exhibiting a belief that merely tenderly hoping for something was going to pay off in the end. That was the entire key to the song working of course and to convey that she gave the impression that she hadn’t really lost anything yet in life, which naturally also means she hasn’t really been forced to fight dirty to win anything yet either.

On I Love You she’s not fighting dirty, but you get the idea she already has in order to win this particular guy, because now she sounds as if she’s almost gloating over having fended off any competitors and getting him for herself. There’s a smirking confidence McGriff displays here that may not overwhelm the overall contented mood she’s giving off, but you can definitely see it under the surface. The guy she hooked on this song was one she desperately wanted and those kind of guys require some additional effort along the way.

What she did to win him isn’t relevant, only that she’s proud of herself for whatever those actions were because they worked so well.

Throughout all of this she sounds older than on the hit side, not just in the fact she’s singing in a lower register, but also because the role she takes on is somebody with experience. Even though she’s appearing besotted with him on the surface, there’s a confident strut to her delivery that’s akin to her taking a very public victory lap in the story… although she might just as well take one for the performance itself.

The Sweetest Things You’ll Ever Hear
When you focus on the song rather than the singer it’s got sort of a vague familiarity to it thanks to a few callbacks to other rock songs over the past few years that are noteworthy though not necessarily immediately obvious.

A lot of them are melodic, albeit fleetingly, which helps give you the sense that you feel comfortable giving yourself over to it without quite knowing why. The first stanza harkens back just enough to The Ray-O-Vacs’ hit from late 1949, I’ll Always Be in Love With You to have you to trying to remember where you heard it, substituting other lyrics for McGriff’s to see if you can conjure it up.

The next thing that pops up is a more recent example, as McGriff channels Ruth Brown’s I’ll Wait For You during the middle eight, but in doing so she wisely shifts melody in the midst of it before reverting back to the same throbbing beat that Brown perfected to close it out as she segues back into the main course again.

This keeps the sources disguised just enough to not feel as if you’re being given secondhand material, yet because those sources have already gotten the stamp of approval from rock fans it doesn’t hurt when it comes to pulling you in either.

Meanwhile the arrangement for I Love You takes advantage of a beguiling mix of instruments, layering them together to always shift your focus and keep you off-balance. The same organ that appeared in a much more churchy role on the flip now is being tasked with creating a hazy mood, pulsating in a way that was still unique in popular music at the time, expressing both anticipation and rapture simply by cutting the notes short for the former and holding them for the latter.

Things really start to get interesting heading into the break as the saxophone of bandleader (and co-writer) Buddy Lucas shifts from a mellow ambiance behind the vocals to a swaggering solo as the guitar throws poison darts around the studio trying to unsettle him. Over the course of the song you get so many different overlapping textures here that you don’t know which way to turn, yet whichever you focus on is not going to disappoint.


You’ll Be Shoutin’ Yessiree
If you want to be cynical you might say this was a very effective pastiche an established rock formula.

Sure, everyone wants to hear someone in their ear saying I Love You, but not every voice saying it, or singing it, comes across the same way to all people.

Perhaps if your affinity for that gently swinging melody isn’t as great and you don’t have quite the same interest in the psychological aspects of her situation you might find the record a little less captivating, but it’s doubtful you’d be able to find fault with any of the participants here.

McGriff sounds great, the band is adding plenty of unexpected spice and there’s a casual self-assurance about the way they interact that is remarkable considering the singer’s youth and inexperience.

Ok, so chances are this single will be the high point of Edna McGriff’s career as one half is her only hit while this side has the benefit of being a happy discovery. But in early 1952 you didn’t know that would be the case and after this release you had every right to expect – and every reason to hope – that this was simply the start of a legendary career.


(Visit the Artist page of Edna McGriff for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)