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CORAL 65058; JULY 1951

 
 

 

In life we’re constantly told to keep plugging away and never give up until we reach our goal. We’re regaled with stories of people who continued trying their best in the face of long odds with the belief that they’ll eventually break through and be rewarded for their perseverance.

It’s one of humanity’s greatest lies.

Not that those things don’t happen, or that you shouldn’t be determined to succeed no matter what obstacles life throws at you, but rather you aren’t celebrated for DOING SO unless you actually become one of those who do get what you were after in the end.

For everybody else who keeps trying and falling short, you are deemed a failure… no matter how much more you deserved success than those who achieved it.
 

 

This Can’t Last Much Longer
When Goree Carter died in at the tail end of 1990, just two days shy of his sixtieth birthday, the world did not mourn his loss… nor did they even know of it.

The world tends not to pay attention to people who never moved out of the house they were born in, who worked at a rice mill and were quiet and soft-spoken to boot.

But forty one years earlier Goree Carter more or less invented rock guitar even though he got virtually no credit for it during his lifetime. Well after he passed however a few intrepid explorers began to sing the praises of the song that featured his explosive playing – Rock Awhile – and he began to get some acclaim that was long overdue.

Yet even with a slight uptick in historical recognition the rest of his impressive musical résumé continues to be completely ignored despite his catalog being rife with classic sides, all self-written, showcasing some more storming guitar tracks alongside a wider array of stylistic experiments which made him among the more interesting and enjoyable of rock’s early acts.

But I’ve Got News For You… no matter how good it is, no matter how important or influential it was, people continually have blinders on when it come to even acknowledging this era of rock ‘n’ roll and while Carter just may manage to get a mention every now and then for his monumental first attempt, the rest of that output will be left for a few lunatics to pore over, trying to bring posthumous credit to someone who should be seen as a legendary pioneer rather than a modern obscurity.

Here’s another record to bolster that case which is sure to fall on deaf ears.
 


 
 

I Work Hard Every Day
I’m not sure which is harder to fathom… is it the fact that Goree Carter has yet to be widely embraced by historians for being one of rock’s best and most consistent early rock acts… or the fact that he had no commercial success back then to force the issue?

Both are incomprehensible, but let’s start with the latter and say that he hasn’t been necessarily helped much by the record labels he recorded for – Freedom Records, where most of his best sides were cut, didn’t have much reach beyond the Gulf Coast region, which is also where Sittin’ In With was located and tended to sell best, but despite releasing great sides for both companies and being a big local draw in the Houston clubs at the time, he couldn’t even score a regional hit in that market.

Now he’s on Coral Records, a Decca subsidiary, and while the parent company clearly has no real affinity for rock ‘n’ roll and not many connections in the current Black marketplace, they DO have a sizable war chest of promotional dollars to spend to tout someone like Carter and yet they didn’t shell out a dime to push this song, which sort of tells you why Decca’s operation went from being the biggest of the 1930’s and 40’s to one struggling to maintain relevance once rock ‘n’ roll took over the world.

I’ve Got News For You again however… had they really got behind Carter and this record, maybe they’d been able to become the one major company to buck the odds as that transformation of the American marketplace took hold, because once again Goree Carter shines here.

But it’s achieved not simply by sticking to what he’s made his reputation on, but by skillfully incorporating the other dominant sounds of rock at the time to provide a one-two punch for the ages.
 

You Get Up Early In The Morning
The horns kick this off and are answered by Carter’s slithering guitar, the two trading off in a dynamic give and take. When Goree’s nasal vocals come in there’s a slight let down, but then again with two such vibrant instrumental sounds almost any voice would suffer by comparison.

As is often the case with Carter, the story he crafts more than makes up for any vocal deficiencies as he’s making his case against his lazy girlfriend in a way that is pointed and full of incriminating details and with a convincing amount of backbone behind his declarations that he’s done with her. Though the plot is solid and it’s got some good lines, it’s the attitude which sells this, conveying his disgust with her as much with a sneer as with a put-down while his vocal pattern itself rises and falls with melodic and rhythmic assurance, alternately pulling things forward and then pulling the chute to ease us back down to the ground.

With a tension filled slow creeping guitar solo early and a slinky droning sax solo later on, the instrumental facets contrast nicely with Carter’s more insistent vocals, meaning there’s tremendous balance to this record.

It never shifts into high gear, but I’ve Got News For You, it doesn’t need to in order to be effective. The record finds a comfortable groove early on and with his guitar adding bite behind and between the vocals and the saxes brightening up the more dour mood brought about by his criticism of the girl in question, there’s no weak spots here.

Too bad nobody paid him any attention… again.
 


 

Our Love Can’t Last Long This Way
There’s always a risk of championing somebody with no verifiable success over a long stretch because to do so calls into question your own objectivity and may give the impression that doing so comes down entirely to one individual’s taste based preferences when it comes to music.

But when it comes to Goree Carter that concern never was an issue because for one thing his records do tend to run counter to much of what else has been celebrated around here – guitar rather than horns at the forefront, weaker vocals rather than those with great voices – but also because it seems impossible to imagine any rock fan, particularly those who tend to actually prefer scintillating electric guitars and tightly crafted songs, haven’t picked up on him… or wouldn’t be enamored with his work if they actually got the chance to hear it.

Carter is someone who was ahead of his time without his records seeming out of place IN his time, a rare feat in any era and more than enough reason to hold him up as one of the genre’s most important artists.

But I’ve Got News For You, it’s not only the fact he laid down a template that other, far more celebrated, acts would follow closely which remain cornerstones of rock to this very day, but rather it’s the fact that he did all of that just as well as any of them who followed in his wake, not just once or twice, but time and time again.

When he did eventually give up, bitter and dejected over his lack of success, he had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. The shame in this case was how people calling themselves rock fans didn’t care then, and haven’t cared much since.
 
 
SPONTANEOUS LUNACY VERDICT:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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