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When taking a deep dive into any artist’s full catalog like we do around here, there’s bound to be some recurring themes we touch on.

After all, artists generally have a pretty consistent image and stick to a stylistic approach that suits their abilities and so, over time, they may tweak the formula but it’s not often they deviate from it completely.

When they do it can be cause for concern if they’re stepping outside their comfort zone, or it can be reason to admire them for taking chances.

Not all risks pay off but if you can’t at least appreciate the attempts at spreading their wings a little then maybe listening to music isn’t the right pasttime for you to pursue.


I’m Really Not The Same
As alluded to in the opening, we’ve touched on this same topic before with Goree Carter, and fairly recently at that. Last month on Coral Records he tried switching up his playbook with a “dreamy ballad” in which his guitar stepped aside to let the horns provide the musical bed and while Please Say You’re Mine is not going to make most fans’ Top Ten sides by Carter, it was at least a solid attempt at diversifying his output.

Now, just a month later on a different label entirely, he’s trying once again to show he’s more than simply a guitar wiz with the aggressive attitude to go with it by releasing the atypical You’ve Got Everything, a record that sounds almost like a parody of the type of romantic Spanish-styled ballad it’s alluding to.

The fact that he was still looking for his first hit might suggest that deviating from what he did best wasn’t the smartest of moves, especially with something that finds him shifting his voice dramatically in the process, but if you aren’t connecting with a broad slice of the public anyway, why not show a different side of yourself?

Call it indulgent if you must, or call it daring if you’re more generous, but one thing you can’t call it is “more of the same”, and that – at least in rock ‘n’ roll – is something that always keeps things fresh.


The World Seems To Change
Unlike his last attempt at a subdued romantic offering, Carter’s guitar has a slightly greater presence here with his semi-acoustic intro and constant strumming behind his vocals, but of course while it’s well played it’s hardly indicative of his usual attack and conquer approach.

For many that will be a detriment, but it’s such an usual sound for 1951 rock ‘n’ roll that it becomes oddly charming the more you hear him because it’s clear he’s trying to create an entirely different mood for You’ve Got Everything.

If that wasn’t obvious enough with the instrumentation, it becomes pretty hard to miss when he opens his mouth because what’s coming out is unlike anything we’ve heard from him before.

Picture someone who may have a halfway decent voice singing in the shower or while driving a car with the volume cranked up, but who is self-conscious about revealing it in more intimate surroundings with little or no musical accompaniment. That’s when they’ll try to use an overly dramatic intonation, rising and falling in an unnatural manner to take the onus off the voice itself, in Carter’s case his usual nasal tone.

This technique tends to make the performance come across as a put-on but because it’s usually being done in a non-professional environment by an amateur it rarely lasts long before the singer cracks a smile and gives up, eliciting – they hope – some laughter. Here however Carter keeps it up for the duration which winds up giving it an odd legitimacy.

It still does sound like he’s joking to a degree, but you get used to it enough to let the joke pass while you focus on everything else which more than holds your interest starting with the bolero tempo in the bridge which gives this an unexpected jolt after the gently swaying melody that preceded it.

Lost in this exotic arrangement are the lyrics which once again shows that Carter is quite skilled at conveying basic emotions with subtle flair. He’s romantically serenading a lady, telling her in a creative manner what she means to him, and while excessive compliments can backfire in real life by making you seem utterly dependent on a woman’s affections to be happy, here they serve their purpose thanks to the structure of the song, the stuttering rhythm behind him adding to the dramatic feel.

Yeah, there’s no doubt this would’ve worked much better if he’d sung it straight, or brought in another singer to carry it out while he backed them on guitar, but there’s definitely a really good song and arrangement at the core of this record and as experimentations go you’d rather see someone whose reach exceeds his grasp than somebody who is content sticking to what is always close at hand.


Even That You Can’t Tame
There’s no way this was hit material, not in 1951 or probably any year since, but to these ears that only makes it all the more fascinating to hear.

Artists are so conditioned to be commercial that heading in the opposite direction, whether for a lark or to scratch a creative itch, is as sure a sign of self-expression as we’re likely to get in this business and since we always claim to want artists to try something new, we can hardly fault them when they do, even if it has the appearance of something bound for failure.

One listen to You’ve Got Everything will tell you that this was NOT an average record for its time, but when looking at the grades from a different angle, one which tries to weigh the individual elements of it and find the proper balance as to how they play off one another and ultimately how well they mesh when all is said and done, this earns that mark fair and square and that may even be underselling it some.

Maybe it has a bit of a sideshow quality to it, but not every side of every record is meant to be seen in the glaring spotlight of the big top, and if you don’t take it so seriously there’s a lot to enjoy here.

Somewhere there’s a “straight” rendition of this by a naturally theatrical baritone that is a killer record in waiting, but since Elvis Presley never got around to recording it in the Jungle Room in the 1970’s, we’ll probably never get to hear such a version so we’ll have to make due with this one.


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