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It’s been awhile since we gave you an extra review at no added cost but since this is Easter Sunday and some people actually believe in strange things like that and as a result might neglect reading a website filled with scintillating reviews for seventy year old records because they’d rather get dressed up and be lectured to by men in funny robes while colorful egg laying rabbits hop around them and hand out candy, this seemed like a good day to revive our From the Vaults reviews, focusing on an unreleased song from a major act that has since become available to hear.

We promised to do more of these when we reach certain benchmarks in our Amazon affiliate ads, meaning the lengthy delay is your fault for not clicking on the links found on each page enough and then going to another website to buy Cadbury eggs or jellybeans or those little sugar Peeps to rot your teeth and make your dentist happy.

But we’ve gotten enough of you to fall for that gimmick lately and so as your reward for financially supporting this dizzy endeavor here’s a really good song that Specialty Records neglected to issue because they were too busy painting eggs or something.


Though he gets virtually no credit for it today, Jimmy Liggins was unquestionably one of the top rock stars of the late 1940’s. As in Top Five, certainly Top Ten, artists of the decade which in any other time period would mean he’d be universally known as a legend.

Of course skeptics would say that there wasn’t exactly a deep pool of competition for that title over the twenty eight months of rock’s existence in the 1940’s and since he never even scored a Number One hit during that run his credentials fall short of a few bigger names from this era who remain marginally more recognizable in the Twenty-First Century.

But then again, maybe Liggins’ case for that title would’ve gotten a bigger boost had Specialty Records actually released this song which was recorded November 4, 1947, less than two months after rock had its coming out party, because this certainly showed that in that short time Jimmy Liggins had learned all he needed to know in order to compete in this field.


The Doctors Have Given Up Tryin’
Okay, let’s start by showing just a little compassion and understanding towards Art Rupe, the owner of Specialty Records, who had no way of knowing just how big this rock ‘n’ roll thing was about to become when this song was recorded.

Considering that he HAD released two storming rockers during that same time frame – I Can’t Stop It and the epochal Cadillac Boogie – and neither cracked the (admittedly skimpy) charts at the time, maybe we can’t be too hard on Rupe for sitting on this in favor of slower rock cuts that didn’t seem quite as radical for the landscape at the time.

But then again let’s not be TOO generous with our sympathy because there are two sides to every single and if you want to release and promote something that is a little less revved up on one side there’s still room to issue Come Back Baby on the flip and cover all your stylistic bases as this is a storming rocker that starts off rather modestly before picking up steam until it is hurtling down the track with a vengeance.

Maybe Liggins was still stuck in the same melodic groove and that caused Rupe to overlook its appeal, but man oh man that’s still one heckuva groove to ride especially when the ones pouring on the coal were The Drops Of Joy in their prime.


I Can’t Make No Time
Yes, that’s the elephant in every room Jimmy Liggins entered in the 1940’s and if you’re not careful you might get a tusk lodged in some delicate place, but while the musical side of his songwriting, and moreover his fallback vocal cadance which accentuated the similarites more than recommended, was in danger of becoming stale, there’s no complaints to be made about the lyrics he attaches to that melody this time around.

Sometimes that can be hard to appreciate when the way in which he’s delivering the lines from song to song remains the same, but Come Back Baby features the kind of lines that deserve to be noticed.

This is one of the rare songs he didn’t write however, as it came from the vital pre-rock pen of Roy Milton, but Liggins deserves ample credit for the delivery which sells the story so effectively. He’s basically soliciting sympathy – in a purposefully exaggerated manner – to try and get his girlfriend back, starting off by essentially claiming he’s on death’s doorstep and only her return can revive him.

Of course he not only sounds healthy, but downright vigorous, and yet in spite of his blatant lies to her Liggins comes across as positively charming. You can’t get mad at him for his ploy because he’s not doing it to fool her and get her to rush to his bedside, weeping over his imminent demise. He knows that SHE knows he’s putting her on and he knows… or at least he hopes… that she’ll be won over by the comical lengths he’ll go to in order to convince her to give him another chance.

It’s that smile in his voice as he sings this which makes him so endearing and you can easily envision the girl breaking into a reluctant grin at his audacity which in turn will cause her to remember all of his good points while the negative aspects of their broken relationship fall by the wayside.

In case that’s still not enough… well that’s what he’s got the band for, isn’t it – to prod her into reconsidering thanks to two lively instrumental breaks which finds Liggins urging them on with gusto. Harold Land gets the first of these, a stuttering solo that’s mesmerizing by nature even as it restrains itself just enough so that it doesn’t set off any of the equipment monitoring Liggins’ vital signs.

The second of them is by Charlie Ferguson and this too starts off with a hypnotic approach before increasingly cutting loose. Just when you think it’s about to go over the top, off the rails or into a ditch, the other horns ease back in and slowly pull on the breaks, giving this a cushion to close things out with.

We never do find out if Jimmy and his girl reconciled, but if not I’m sure there are a few nurses on his hospital floor who’ll be glad to give him some personalized home care in the future if he can make them smile and shimmy around the room like this.


Stop My Cryin’
As with all of these unreleased records our placements of them takes into account what else was issued by Specialty and when. If there was a bit of a gap between Liggins’s output that’s where it’ll go and since there was a recording ban that wiped out all studio dates throughout 1948, it also meant that songs cut in late 1947 were going to have a longer shelf life than usual so it wouldn’t be harmed at all if it had to wait around nine months or so for a summer release.

But here’s the thing… whenever Come Back Baby might’ve gotten put out, it was still going to be potent enough to hold its own against anything more recent.

There are some sounds that are just timeless by nature and a rolling groove, a smirking vocal and a half-serious plot about love is a pretty enduring prototype in rock ‘n’ roll.

This might not be the best of those that Jimmy Liggins recorded, but it’s not far off either… certainly not something that deserved to collect dust in Specialty’s vaults for decades on end.


(Visit the Artist page of Jimmy Liggins for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)