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It had to come to this, didn’t it? I mean, sooner or later you were going to see this kind of capitulation to the inevitable, as rock ‘n’ roll was in the process of flexing its creative and commercial muscles and pushing aside older established styles that once seemed invulnerable.

We’re not quite there yet, it’ll be a few more years before the massacre begins on the hallowed pop charts, but if you listen closely you can start to faintly hear the invading army’s drums echoing in the distance.

Being a musician himself, jazz trumpeter Jake Porter had better hearing than most which is why when starting his new record label, ostensibly to give himself opportunity to stave off this insurrection, he was wise enough to simultaneously concede to rock’s popularity by dedicating the top side of his first release to that brand of music even if he needed help to do so.


Put Yourself In My Place
The help he got in this regard unfortunately did not include office skills, such as spell checking the record label.

While the hand drawn Combo logo is charming – and spelled correctly – virtually nothing else here passes that minimum standard, as both the title of the song and the name of the singer are spelled not just wrong, but terribly wrong.

Oh well, nobody bought this record at the time anyway.

For those who have no idea who Jake Porter is, he was a jazz trumpeter who played with a number of big names, most notably Lionel Hampton. But he was also an entrepreneur with a finger on the pulse of the larger music scene outside of jazz and with his songwriting abilities and musical background he was poised to take advantage of it in ways that someone like record store owner John Dolphin, a fellow rising Los Angeles hustler, was not.

Whereas Dolphin could cut your record, press it and have it played on radio the same night, as the city’s most popular disc jockey’s were live on the air from his store window, Porter could actually make those records sound a little better than glorified demos, which Dolphin specialized in.

Porter could smooth out a song brought to him, spruce it up with a decent arrangement and competent musicians, or he could write something himself. So the two of them teamed up to cover all their bases, with Porter running his new Combo label and letting Dolphin distribute it.

Give this to Dolphin, he didn’t skimp on hyping it and while one side featured just Porter, it was the top half – Slowly Going Out Of My Mind – which brought in Dorothy Ellis to handle the vocals, that they put their money on, showing that both knew which side of the stylistic divide their bread would be buttered on.

Porter would soon jump ship with the label and let Sid Talmadge distribute it once it crept into the Top Ten in Los Angeles to close out the year.

Not bad for your first time out.


I Feel So Helpless
Right away you realize how Dorothy Ellis got this gig as she starts off singing with a voice that has an awkward similarity to Little Esther, an artist who may have now been past her commercial prime at the ripe old age of 15, but who was still a recognizable name with a great track record that wasn’t that far in the past.

Once that first stanza ends however, Ellis can’t maintain that higher pitched breathiness and drops back down closer to her more natural range. It’s not a drastic shift, but then again it’s not a very memorable song she’s got to show off that voice in the first place.

For one thing the halting pace doesn’t mesh well with that voice, at least until she lowers it. This is the sound of a late night reflection and that requires a little more ragged weariness than she shows for much of this. A few shots of bourbon, a pack of cigarettes and maybe fifteen minutes howling at the moon before they cut this would’ve given her the kind of textures that would’ve been more appropriate.

She handles the song well however, clearly emphasizing the reflective quality of the composition, which requires her to remain fairly low-key, rather than try and show off her voice or go for a larger than life presentation. Because of this though, even if it succeeds fully it’s still a record you’ll appreciate more than enjoy, simply because it’s content with modest goals.

That said though, once Slowly Go Out Of Your Mind gets going there’s more of a melody to latch onto than you first noticed along with a few good lines tossed in that give the song more character.

But the biggest problem is it’s hedging its bets stylistically. Obviously any creeping ballad arranged and backed by jazz veterans with a novice singer who hasn’t yet established her own distinct style is going to be compromised, pulling one way, then another, as this does far too much.

It’s got some moments where it seems to feint in the direction of rock torch ballads, which would be the natural fit, but then at other times, such as the tedious guitar break, it’s got a cocktail blues vibe that was a viable commercial option, yet not what someone like Porter was naturally sympatico with.

Then again, you could say the same of rock ‘n’ roll, couldn’t you, but the difference is that while cocktail blues has some major stars – Charles Brown foremost among them – while the L.A. music scene had a few more hot spots for that brand of music than most places, the ceiling on that type of music commercially wasn’t nearly as high heading into 1952 as rock ‘n’ roll, but when you’re trying to make this adjustment on the fly, there’s bound to be a learning curve.

Down To The Ground
It’s never fair to judge the long term prospects of an artist or a record label solely on their first release… but if you were to take the facts presented by this release as New Year’s Eve inched ever closer it’s doubtful you’d ever suspect that Combo Records would be still be a player on the rock scene by mid-decade.

Even if nothing here on Slowly Go Out Of My Mind stands out as being too impressive, especially their spelling, you do have to give credit to Jake Porter for having a professional sounding performance from all involved and admit that Dorthey… excuse me… Dorothy Ellis has some vocal talent that wasn’t fully taken advantage of on this.

Truthfully if not for Combo Records’ ensuing mark on rock ‘n’ roll – and Ellis’s quick turnaround with better material on a more prominent label – we might very well have skipped this entirely, but since both persevered and left their mark along the way, to overlook this one now would just mean we’d have to fill two different future reviews with extensive backstories, whereas here we tell that story in full before moving on to more interesting developments.

I know that can feel like a waste of time, but it shouldn’t make anyone go out of their mind.


(Visit the Artist page of Dorothy Ellis for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)

Spontaneous Lunacy has reviewed other versions of this song you may be interested in:
Dorothy Ellis (March, 1952)