No tags :(

Share it




Following an artist who is clearly deserving of more acclaim than they’re getting at the time can be a frustrating endeavor, trying to tip off those who might enjoy their work so that maybe their next release will see a little more action leading to greater opportunities in the future.

But when we’re well into the future – and the artist in question is well in the past, as in past-tense – then their fate is already sealed. We know Goree Carter will never become a star, never get a hit, and that each stop along the way, however promising it may have looked at the time, ultimately did him little good.

That can’t stop us from hoping however… hoping that one more good record for one of the more renowned independent labels of the 1950’s might draw some belated attention and retroactively help him achieve greater historical recognition for his efforts.

That too may be futile now that we’re more than seven decades removed from this release, but part of being a music fan is not giving up on artists who never seemed to get an even break.


So Much Competition
Like most independent record labels of the early rock era Imperial took awhile to get its feet under them and carve out an identity. Though they were based in Los Angeles they came into their own once they focused on New Orleans and just about cornered the market on the artists who emerged from there beginning in late 1949.

That’d remain their primary focus for the rest of their run, save for a handful of acts like Ricky Nelson late in the 1950’s, but here in late 1951 they began to cast their net just a little wider than Southern Louisiana, snaring some important acts from Texas, James Wayne – who’d ironically become more associated with New Orleans in time – and Goree Carter.

Any rock fan who’d faithfully deposited their spare change in whatever jukebox carried his records since 1949 had to be elated at this news as Imperial had proven to have high recording standards, reliable distribution and promotion AND a growing reputation among rock fans as a source for good records which meant they were more likely to seek out their red and silver label and take a chance on somebody they might not be as familiar with.

Though they were without the services of producer extraordinaire Dave Bartholomew, his absence wouldn’t necessarily be as big of a hinderance with Carter as maybe it would be with other acts, since Carter wrote all of his own material, was guitar-based rather than horn-driven, and usually just needed a simple driving beat to get his songs in gear.

Usually, but not always, as is the case with the relatively downbeat Every Dog Has His Day, a less exhilarating tracks than we’ve come to expect out of Carter, which might not get his stint with the company off to a rousing start, but effectively shows a different side to him that has some appeal in its own right.

No, it may not be quite what we’d recommend as a starter course on Goree Carter, but as a small piece of supporting evidence as to his being deserving of more recognition, it may serve a purpose after all.


Get These Worries Off My Mind
You can stop fantasizing about him hooking up with the New Orleans session aces – with or without Bartholomew at the helm – as the paperwork for this session reveals that it was recorded in Houston in June of 1950, just before Carter went into the service for a year.

This may or may not be the case, if it is then it’s possible the session has little or nothing to do with Imperial Records and possibly was bought off Freedom Records since it’s reputedly the same band – The Hep-Cats – that he always played with while at that label.

Yet a leftover track from that era is hardly the worst thing in the world to hear and if you think he’d benefit from having a consistent sound over his career then this would ultimately be a good thing rather than fall prey to different producers at different labels instructing different sidemen to play in a different way.

As it is, Every Dog Has His Day is a clear attempt to offer up something that distances itself from his more exuberant songs, yet at the same time goes well with those tracks, sort of balancing the scales with a more introspective performance.

Oddly enough one way this benefits Carter is that it actually takes advantage of his biggest weakness, that stuffy nasal voice which is far more suited for the kind of downhearted lament he is singing here than something like I’m Your Boogie Man on which he sounded as if he was about to drown at times, although the rest of the song helped to make up for it.

Here he’s leaving his girl because she’s allowing other guys to vie for her affections (read: sleep around on him) and while he sincerely hopes she’ll reconsider her actions with the looming threat of losing him altogether if she doesn’t clean up her act, he doesn’t sound all that confident about it, yet what can he do other than allow his self-respect to be trampled underfoot by her running around.

As with most of Carter’s songs it’s well written, although the slow pace means we don’t get quite as much information or action as we might like, but with strong support, especially Conrad Johnson’s drowsy alto sax answering him while Carter’s own guitar picks and chooses its spots for some stinging and slashing notes, you aren’t going to be bored no matter how much it crawls along.

The instrumental break trades off between piano and guitar, not entirely satisfyingly – too much wayward piano and not enough guitar – but the mood isn’t broken and while in the end Carter morosely tucks his tail between his legs he does finally utter the title line as a parting shot to her… not that’ll do much good by the sound of it.


About To Break Me Down
We know that the short-lived Imperial Records stint did Goree Carter no good and so there’s a tendency to look for reasons why his appearance on a top flight label couldn’t at least bring him a glimmer of recognition, especially since they had a good presence in his home region of Southeast Texas and a better national reach to give him the sales boost he needed, yet this too floundered.

Maybe if Every Dog Has His Day was a year and a half old it was a little overripe. Perhaps it doesn’t feature enough of his guitar, an instrument whose presence in rock had grown over the past year, nor does it have a more complex arrangement which was now sort of expected in the most promising songs.

It could also be that Imperial had held these over because of uncertainty over the validity of his contract following Freedom Records and Sittin’ In With both laying claim to him during that same period and by the time Imperial felt it was safe to release it, they no longer had a vested interest in him and just issued them to get them off their shelves.

Then again it might be that while this is fairly well done, it’s also not nearly as ear-catching as the records that were doing far better on the charts. With a mere twenty spots in a jukebox you didn’t have to be a math whiz to see there was now a lot more than twenty artists with much better track records than Goree Carter to take a chance on, so how could this even get much of a chance to be heard.

Whatever the reason, the results haven’t changed and consequently his commercial draught continues.

Though there will still be more to come from Carter, it’s fast becoming clear that when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, not every dog WILL have its day after all.


(Visit the Artist page of Goree Carter for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)