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MODERN 20-819; MAY 1951



Night isn’t quite falling on the career of rock’s first guitar hero, Goree Carter, but it’s safe to say that it’s rapidly approaching dusk at the very least.

What’s most frustrating about this undeserved fate is how many things seemingly within his grasp that might’ve prevented this slide into obscurity slipped away in the blink of an eye.

Modern Records was a company that had the resources, both promotional and production-wise, to give his music a better platform but this was his only release for them and very well might have been bought by them as a finished recording – one they had nothing to do with producing – and issued simply to see if there was any interest in him or to fill a gap on the release schedule.

Sadly, that will wind up being the main theme of the rest of his all too short career.


Left Me Out In The Rain
When discussing the top side of this release we mentioned how much of the sides Goree Carter cut in 1951 took place in makeshift surroundings, more often than not a home studio with equipment hauled in, making do with the acoustical limitations of a room not designed for recording and with fewer microphones and probably no mixing board of any kind.

Though the recording date and place were the same as they are here, Seven Days benefited from being a fuller arrangement with louder instrumental parts playing an uptempo tune, all things that tend to make the technological shortcomings of the setting somewhat less impactful on what you hear on record.

By contrast this is a slower and more sparse atmospheric song which requires a more precise mix. If shorn of the ability to adjust levels in the control room it means they had to maximize the microphone placements to ensure that all of the instruments were going to be heard and they don’t quite do so here.

Now part of the problem with When Night Falls is found in the arrangement itself, particularly the horns which have the ability to be heard even in less than ideal settings. Yet their parts are far too mundane to really bring much to the table. It’s not that what they’re playing is out of place or out of tune, but rather it’s just a standard textbook arrangement that minimizes their chance to actually add something of value to the song, particularly just bolstering the overall sound palette.

Instead Henry Hayes on alto and Ed Wiley’s tenor are merely playing beginner lines, placeholder parts, effective only in a minimalist way without being at all captivating.

That means the focus has to shift to Carter’s guitar which is hardly the worst thing in normal circumstances, but as this is a slower cut he’s left to only play fills rather than carry the rhythm. What he plays is typically well-done, exploring different tones and textures, suggesting different mindsets in the process as a way to comment on the story, but even the solo is subdued and has a lot of space in it.

In many ways this sounds almost like a dry run-through before they get down to the business of fleshing out the arrangement and crafting a real backing track… something that Maxwell Davis, Modern’s top producer, would’ve been perfect for.

Instead it’s a loose head arrangement that they might’ve cut twice in somebody’s living room, each of them collecting just a few dollars for their morning’s work before heading out for lunch.


When I Miss You Most Of All
As for the song itself, Carter’s guitar wizardry tended to over shadow his writing but he’s got a knack for telling tight stories with very distinct outlooks and enough good lines to make you take notice.

Some of that is apparent on When Night Falls, a sad song about a guy who’s been hurt by a woman and is dejected about it rather than mad, but it’s more of a contemplative mood piece than a fully realized song.

However there are few things of interest, such as how the title is incorporated cleverly into the story – not as a chorus as was normal operating procedure, but to set the scene, as his pain is more evident after dark when he’s alone with nothing to distract him. The problem is that with the song’s pace and structure we don’t get enough story packed into the performance to satiate us.

Being a 12 bar blues format the first line of each stanza repeats itself which means we become anxious to hear the resolution but there really isn’t one, or rather there aren’t as many resolutions as there are views he’s expressing, so it keeps pushing the payoff down the line. When it does come as the song is wrapping up he tells us after all this misery he’s not changing his outlook, but instead will continue to simply hope this girl returns to him. A believable self-delusion to have for a guy in love maybe, but certainly not a satisfying ending to a song.

Maybe some of this would’ve gone over slightly better with a more skilled vocalist, for as with a lot of nasal voiced singers the slower pace hurts Carter because there’s no way to mask his technical weaknesses as there is with uptempo cuts where enthusiasm is always the great equalizer.

At least he’s an expressive singer though and so Carter convincingly embodies the mood he sets, but let’s face it, the emotional impact of what he’s saying doesn’t hit home nearly as much as it would if he was using Roy Brown’s voice on the same song.

In the end the grade you’d really like to give this is an Incomplete. A decent idea done in by a spotty arrangement and no discernible production. But that being said, even had Davis been on board, re-recording this in a proper studio with intricately worked out charts, the limitations on this kind of song are evident… a B-side even in the best of circumstances.


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