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KING 4424; DECEMBER 1950



As we near the end of 1950 it’s only natural that we start looking ahead to 1951, especially since a lot of the records being released during the last month or two of the current year will reach their widest audience in the first months of the ensuing one.

That’s why it’s a little disconcerting to have to suddenly stop looking forward and instead fix our gaze behind us… as in three whole years prior to now when this song was recorded.

That it’s only now seeing the light of day is understandable enough, as Ivory Joe Hunter left the label a year ago and has remained every bit as big of a star on MGM that he was on King, so it’s only natural that King Records would look to exhume old unissued tracks in the hopes of wracking up some sales.

But that doesn’t make putting these leftover songs from the waning days of 1947 into the context of the transition from 1950 into 1951 any easier.


If I Make A Million Dollars
Because Ivory Joe Hunter was SO prolific – one of the first studio habitues in rock, the man simply lived to create – it left King Records with a lot of songs that he’d cut during his two years there which hadn’t been released during his tenure with the label.

In fairness King was pretty good about spacing their releases out to allow each one the proper amount of time to find and build an audience and then enjoy the prolonged natural lifespan of a hit should one become really popular, so Hunter’s output, which was full of hits during 1949, hadn’t needed to be supplemented with these slightly lesser tracks dating back to his first few sessions for the company.

The problem now however was clear – the further away you get from the date they were recorded, the less likely they are to sound fresh to the current audience. Their one saving grace was that Hunter’s more recent cuts for MGM were just as likely to be incongruous to the latest trends in rock since he was constantly experimenting with new directions ranging from pop to country and everything in between.

Still, for our purposes anyway, we’re solely interested in that which can be housed under the rock banner, which is why it’s sad to report that the slightly better of the two sides comprising this single, False Friend Blues, one of his best lyrical efforts of his King tenure, has to skipped over even though truthfully it has more in common with Hunter’s latest MGM hits than this one does.

But as Send Me, Pretty Mama not only ties in with his breakthrough hit from 1948, Pretty Mama Blues, albeit more in terminology than anything, and for once features Hunter showing a fair amount of confidence and (dare we say) sexual longing, then even with its unavoidable older mindset infiltrating the backing track it was obvious which constituency King Records were hoping would pick up on this belated release.


The Human Thing To Do
Because Ivory Joe Hunter was – on record anyway – a docile soul who spent most of his time yearning for that which he felt was out of his reach in the romance department, or should he find himself getting lucky with a girl spent the majority of his waking hours envisioning ways the relationship would end, we don’t get many chances to see him simply enjoying himself with the fairer sex who presumably would be attracted to him by virtue of his status as a rock star if nothing else.

Assuming that having records out and singing in front of audiences had the same allure then as it has since, Hunter surely had plenty of opportunities to indulge in some no strings attached late night trysts with girls from coast to coast and on Send Me Pretty Mama he more or less confirms this.

There may not be the kind of salacious details many of you want to hear but the fact is he’s being as blunt about the topic as possible for 1947… or even 1950 for that matter, a time when The Andrews Sisters sang I Wanna Be Loved and dragged out their quest to be “thrilled to desperation” with “every kind of wonderful sensation” for over three minutes yet only would confess to being kissed until it tingled and by the sounds of it I don’t think “it” was located south of the border, much to their dismay.

So by comparison Hunter’s revelation that he wants to be “sent” until he falls asleep and is left weak by the physical exertion is a little more unambiguous about what he actually is referring to.

Granted this kind of thing will seem like an innocent seventh grade make out session by the time some of the biggest stars on today’s rock scene start delving into the matter more explicitly over the coming months, but this is still a lot more racy than we ever thought Hunter himself would get and since he seems to be energized by the mere idea of engaging in this kind of carnal lullaby this certainly qualifies as progress for him.

If the moral code of the day prevented him from delving into X-rated details of his encounter on a commercially available record however, the restrictions on suggesting such things musically at the time was thankfully a little more lax.

Down In Front
Now before anyone gets carried away anticipating what they might hear on this record, keep in mind that it WAS still 1947 when this was cut and that Hunter more than most of big name his contemporaries at that time was prone towards having classier jazz oriented horn sections rather than down and dirty honkers hauled out of the county jail where they’d been locked up for various charges of indecency in their club gigs.

So yes, the horns on Send Me Pretty Mama are about as virginal sounding as you’d fear, with Russell Proscope’s alto sax, Tyree Glenn’s trombone and Harold Baker’s trumpet each taking turns in the spotlight, none of which sound as if they were ready to drop their pants in public… musically speaking that is.

Hunter himself though is a lot more uninhibited as he pounds the piano on the intro, boogeying with obvious intent, coming across as a guy getting tangled up in his suspenders as he’s trying to undress quickly before the girl changes her mind.

Even when the horns start to dominate the arrangement Hunter’s throws in a decent sounding break and is always maintaining the rhythm behind the others with his insistent left hand and drummer Sonny Greer isn’t nodding off as you may have feared giving this a fair amount of “oomph” where it counts.

While the horn section could definitely have used a tenor and baritone for the raunchier aspects a song like this required, they do start to pick up their energy down the stretch (probably when the Viagra started to kick in) and as a result this remains a fairly lively track even if you’d have preferred to hear a more aggressive arrangement overall.

Like A Mack
Naturally any record culled from three year old tracks that hadn’t been deemed the most promising of Hunter’s output at the time they were fresh was going to be faced with almost insurmountable odds to make a dent on the modern landscape but King Records was pushing this in their ads well into March so it must’ve stirred some interest even if it wasn’t enough to propel it into even a regional chart listing.

When compared to the newer records out obviously Send Me Pretty Mama can’t help but show its age to a degree, yet it never feels so out of date that it’s off-putting.

In fact, considering the quality of the flip-side, this might just be the best single that King issued on Hunter after he’d left and on the whole is better than most of his recent MGM singles as well.

Makes you wonder what its impact might’ve been in the early days of 1948 when both sides were more in line with what else was out at the time. But even as another new year comes hurtling at us this brief look in the rear view mirror is another reminder that while he rarely knocks you out, Ivory Joe Hunter could usually be counted on to deliver something worthwhile no matter the era.


(Visit the Artist page of Ivory Joe Hunter for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)