No tags :(

Share it




After having defined the output of Freedom Records for their first year in business, both as a lead artist and studio guitarist and most importantly as the figure who ultimately set their course for rock ‘n’ roll when the label initially wanted him to pursue the blues instead, Goree Carter now leaves their employ and heads to another label in need of the same reset button.

Though his role there would be much the same as it was at Freedom, forces were conspiring against him in life and as a result his time was fast running out to make an impact.

You’re In Love With Me
A lot of things about this release – and this stage of Carter’s all-too brief career – are shrouded in mystery, but here’s what we know… and what we have been told but have some questions about all the same.

Though this was cut in Houston, it was with without The Hep-Cats – (a/k/a Conney’s Combo) – in tow, with whom he’d made all of his crucial sides for Freedom Records. That’s because it’s not Freedom Records who he’s recording for despite having signed a three year contract with them which has only lasted one year to date.

Instead it’s the New York based, but Gulf Coast-centric, Sittin’ In With label and their house band led by saxophonists Henry Hayes and Ed Wiley.

The session info says this was cut in June, and we’ll slot it there temporarily (which is why it’s also appearing here late, as in trying to definitively establish the release date it got inadvertently pushed back and subsequently forgotten).

Personally I think it was at least a month earlier for the company was switching from a red to yellow label at this time and these last red sides land too close to the later sequenced yellow sides, but whatever… it’s all part of the confusion. How and why he switched labels, whether Freedom was even aware of it beforehand, or if this was cut on the sly, is just mostly speculation anyway.

What’s not speculation is that no matter his landing spot, Goree Carter was still leaving no doubt as to what his musical allegiances were with Let’s Rock, but without the band who had contributed mightily to ensuring that approach was delivered to perfection behind him he’s going to have some trouble convincing everybody that this decision was the best idea.


Talking About Happy
The record starts off trying to create a semi-controlled racket with horns blasting over a solid enough rhythm but the problem is somebody let in the wrong horn section. These sound like cartoon horns, high pitched, whiny and severely under-powered. You’d be hard pressed to locate a baritone or full-bodied tenor sax among them as the studio seems cluttered with altos and trumpets instead, all playing enthusiastically perhaps but without enough power.

That puts Carter in precarious position to start with for if he’s responsible for delivering all of the musical “oomph” himself then he’s got a lot on his plate.

Luckily as proven over the past year Goree Carter is up for the task and when he comes in singing full of vigor you’re inclined to pass off the misjudged intro as something akin to “working the kinks out” at a new label.

As a songwriter Carter’s been remarkably consistent and historically underrated, for while it’s easy to focus on his guitar pyrotechnics as the reason for his belated stature in rock he had to have songs that could feature that component and hold up well by comparison, lest his playing overpower the compositions entirely.

Let’s Rock is about as unambiguous as it gets, a mission statement meant to leave no doubt as to his intent regarding the direction he’s headed with his new label. The specific content takes a back seat to the larger message which is conveyed through fairly standard tropes – guys and girls having the hots for each other, his natural inclination to show off to impress her in the hopes it leads to some sort of physical encounter which may not be appropriate for public viewing.

Did we leave anything out?

Nope, that’s about it. This is a perfunctory scene setter, not a dissertation on what makes for lasting relationships and in that sense all it really has to do is establish his rather shallow goals – to get laid – and give some indication as to how excited he is about that prospect.

It does both without wasting much time and while he never gets crude about what he’s after, he’s also not wasting time with flowers and flattery to break down this girl’s hesitancy either. You almost get the idea that if she says no he’ll shrug and move on down to the next woman in line until he finds a willing partner.

It may not be how you’d want to come across looking yourself – impatiently horny rarely works – but in terms of being effective in a rock song it’s got a bit higher success rate to it, something Carter is counting on since those horns are determined to trip him up before he even gets to ask her name.

Rock With Me For Just A Little While
Had the horn section been overhauled this record might be comparable to some of his best sides but almost the entire first minute is weighed down by poor choices for the instrumental lineup, something which not only is entirely avoidable but should’ve been the very first thing they addressed when handing out parts.

Deeper horns up front would’ve allowed Carter’s nasal voice to operate in a different tonal range than the horns he’s given and in the process cut through the din and provide a better contrast, not to mention just sounding more muscularly aggressive than the high-pitched squeals of an over-matched trumpet they also feature too prominently here.

But once Carter throws down the gauntlet in the first vocal stanza the instrumental break that follows picks Let’s Rock off the canvas and attempts to rehabilitate the image of his co-stars after that early panning of their more feeble attempts that kicked this off.

The first solo falls to a genuine saxophone but unfortunately it’s Hayes’ alto rather than Wiley’s beefier tenor, but I suppose it’s better than nothing. At least he’s playing with the right attitude, blowing out notes as fast as his lungs can draw breath. The brief Carter guitar solo that follows however shows what having both the right attitude AND the right equipment can add to the proceedings, as Goree’s fingers just fly through the opening before giving us a few hesitation moves to set up the next vocal refrain.

The second instrumental break – actually, it’s the extended outro to the record – features no solos, but rather they all jump in playing up a storm, even the trumpeter has the guts to try and throw down with the others, but you’re listening for Carter’s contributions above all others and hearing him do a lot with just a little bit of time makes you wish that whoever was producing recognized this and went back for a Take Two where he told the others to sit out and let Carter handle the whole damn thing himself.


You Like My Style
This is a fairly easy record to analyze in terms of strengths and weaknesses but harder to assess because the pros and cons are pulling at opposite ends of the same rope.

Goree Carter himself contributes nothing but positives in his three roles – a good, albeit fairly rudimentary, story perfectly suited for the type of record this is; an energetic vocal that brings the right emphasis to that story; and another great, if far too brief, guitar workout that shows why he was the genre’s first true star on the instrument.

The downside isn’t the arrangement itself, nor the actual abilities of the musicians being asked to carry it out, but rather the A&R director who called up the wrong numbers in his little black book and instead of getting the brawny horns best suited for this type of song, he got the kids who weren’t strong enough to push and shove their way to the front of the class when choosing instruments back in grade school and were stuck with the leftovers.

But because their effort is genuinely present throughout Let’s Rock and because they never resort to trying to play with class or dignity (even screaming like banshees behind the solos), we can’t be too harsh on them, but since we know that had The Hep-Cats been backing him this would’ve jumped one, if not two, whole numbers, we can’t overlook it entirely and claim it’s better than it is.

The lesson being, even if the grass looks greener on another label never give up your freedom and sit in with just anybody.


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