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Normally we don’t like to do this – review two different singles by the same artist released in the same month – too close together.

The specific order of reviews in any given month is somewhat imprecise, other than to try and ensure the releases on a single label are covered in sequential order based on their catalog number, but otherwise we have some leeway where we put them within the month.

Since we have two singles by H-Bomb Ferguson on different labels that’s not much of a problem… except this one was followed by a string of other January releases by other acts on the same label and so it has to be fairly early on in the overall slate of this month’s records so all those other Savoy releases can be spaced out behind it.

But since he recorded this AFTER laying down sides on Prestige we wanted to cover those first to better tell his progress as an artist.

All of which is another way of saying that if you find the music of H-Bomb Ferguson to be ostentatious then this might be overkill for someone with your sensibilities. But on the other hand if you find his outrageous musical persona appealing then you have to be feeling pretty damn happy about this run of records we’re in the midst of exploring.


Tell Me What It’s All About
Sometimes longevity in music is enough to supersede more pertinent facts regarding an artist’s career success… or lack thereof.

Such is the case with Robert “H-Bomb” Ferguson who fifty years later was still performing and incredibly enough still recording to some acclaim as the century drew to a close.

I say “incredibly” because Ferguson was a decidedly minor figure in the pantheon of 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll, a shameless devotee of Wynonie Harris featuring the same lusty shouting style as his idol but usually lacking the overt sexual connotations that Harris made a career of exploiting.

In time, even though the late 1940’s and early 1950’s remained largely neglected by the broader public as well as most writers, there were just enough intrepid historians around by the 1980’s to dig a little deeper into those years and realize Harris’s importance. By then course Harris, who died all but forgotten in 1969, was no longer with us to speak to those days or show the younger generation how things were done back then.

So into the breach stepped H-Bomb Ferguson who began to appear at music festivals while wearing a succession of colorful wigs while his later material accentuated the topics only touched upon in songs such as Good Lovin’ which was the closest thing Ferguson had gotten to a legitimate hit.

It’s exceedingly doubtful than anyone digging his later appearances were much aware of this record, maybe not even all that aware of his debt to Harris, but in early 1952 if there was a brief moment that looked like it might be his road to the kind of career he hoped for, this record was its on-ramp.

You Know I’ll Treat You Right
Don’t let the practically whispered intro the song lead you to think this is going to be a tame record, for that’s literally the only quiet moments to be found here, as after that intentional misdirection H-Bomb Ferguson delivers a barreling vocal that lives up to his destructive nickname and ensures this one dimensional party-starter leaves a crater in the ground.

And no, that’s not a backhanded compliment, it’s a straightforward compliment. He earns it.

Throughout the record it’s the band who are chanting the Good Lovin’ phrase itself leaving H-Bomb to launch grenades with every line. It’s the equivalent of a boxer forsaking his jabs entirely and doing nothing but throwing haymakers for twelve rounds.

Lyrically this is just a series of direct come-ones to a girl with absolutely no room to read between the lines. He’s horny, though he’s not obscene about it – the one way he deviates from Harris obviously – but he’s not letting up in his quest to get her, assaulting her with one compliment after another until she either caves in or goes deaf.

Obviously this is an appropriation of Harris’s entire style, but a reverential one rather than something merely designed to capitalize on someone else’s notoriety. Ferguson is akin to the leader of Wynonie’s fan club who was upset that Harris was becoming too diverse in his output and longed for the day when you could be assured of getting a half dozen crude, snorting, rip-roaring performances every year out of him, so when Wynonie began to veer off into other directions, even if only temporarily, Ferguson impatiently jumped on stage, determined to pick up the slack.

But no mere fan club president had the leather-lungs of H-Bomb and so what he serves up is like The Best Of Wynonie Harris collection, albeit with new songs taking the place of the established catalog.

Throughout it Jack Parker’s band doesn’t fall pray to the tendency of King Records’ producer Henry Glover to steer the session musicians backing Harris into more refined territory, as Parker lays down the beat on drums and issues a challenge to every last member to keep up or drop dead trying. As a result the piano twitches, the saxes riff endlessly, the bass throbs and the horn solo is really two solos intertwined in a way that finds them playing separate lines without clashing once, both tearing the roof off the studio in the process.

The noise never lets up for an instant and though there’s nothing remotely original about any of it, nor anything terribly complex either, it’s loads of fun. The record is the musical equivalent of drunkenness just before you lose your senses, when the surrounding scene is still mostly in focus but just beginning to blur.

If that having that sound bottled up and served to you sounds good, then this record is definitely for you.


My Love Is Coming Down
We’re at a strange time in rock’s evolution in many ways and the rise of H-Bomb Ferguson is emblematic of the shifts happening on the scene as we speak.

Though nobody was aware of it at the time, we’ve let you know from our vantage point in the future that Wynonie Harris had already released his final national hit with Lovin’ Machine, which first made the charts earlier this month but would be gone from those same charts with Harris never to return by the end of January at the same time Ferguson’s Good Lovin’ crept onto the regional Cash Box listings for Atlanta.

I don’t think those events are a coincidence. Harris’s brash in your face style had been vital to rock’s rise as an exuberant alternative to all of the other brands of music that existed prior to this genre’s arrival, but now that rock ‘n’ roll was firmly established its growing legion of fans had begun to look elsewhere for new variations of the music.

The honking tenor sax solos were mostly on the back burner and now Harris was stepping out of the spotlight, though not necessarily on a voluntary basis. Yet there were still plenty of rock fans who still craved such rousing lechery in their music, just usually not enough to make a dent in the national consciousness, which is why H-Bomb Ferguson’s timing was a bit off.


He helped to fill that void with records like this, but the void itself was shrinking by the day with everything else going on around it.

Times change, styles change and artists that seemed infallible yesterday become irrelevant tomorrow. When you’re in between those two stops – the today – you still may have the ability to draw some attention but not the staying power to make it last.

Ferguson was determined to keep those changes at bay for just a little longer with nothing more than enthusiasm and a cast iron throat and with this record he may have managed to hold back the inevitable for all of another week or two.

Futile though the attempt might’ve been, you sure can’t fault the effort.


(Visit the Artist page of H-Bomb Ferguson for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)