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In music simplicity can definitely be a virtue.

Obviously songs with basic structures and straightforward stories featuring catchy melodies with recognizable hooks are the cornerstone of the popular music empire in all genres over the years.

Yet sometimes that simplicity, while making a record easily digestible, also makes it easily forgettable too despite the comfortable familiar quality of its components.


Your Chances Are Good
What has stood out from the start about James Wayne – with or without the “s” at the tail end of his last name – is his songwriting skills and the way in which his odd vocal delivery adds nuance and character to what he’s expressing.

Some people just have a linguistic flair, others see the world slightly off-center and come at topics from unusual angles.

Generally speaking those are Wayne’s gifts. He takes basic problems and twists their narrative just enough to suit his real-life persona, a persona which (as we’ll see down the line) will get him into major real life trouble with the judicial system questioning his sanity.

But with Please Baby, Please those tendencies are put to the side as he wrote this song with as close to a standard approach as he likely was capable of, setting up the basic premise right out of the gate and then simply hammering it home throughout the run time.

As a result the record is much less interesting than his past fare, but that doesn’t make it altogether uninteresting or unenjoyable.

In other words, sometimes you just like getting something that hits all the right buttons without requiring you to think much even if in the end it won’t make a lasting impression.


So Mean To Me
With its engaging barrelhouse piano opening you might assume this came from a more subdued Jerry Lee Lewis session from 1957 than a James Wayne date from 1951, something which undoubtedly helps it to appeal to a broader cross-section of the rock audience in future years.

What that says is there’s a timeless quality to the basic track, one that pulls you in on a visceral level before even trying to hook you on an intellectual or emotional level.

But since this is James Wayne we’re talking about we do expect something with some depth that will make us think.

Unfortunately that’s where Please Baby, Please doesn’t live up to expectations. Wayne is on his heels throughout this record, pleading with his girlfriend to treat him better rather than insisting upon it. His happiness is clearly defined by this woman rather than by his own strong state of mind and so he’ll basically let her walk all over him provided he gets just enough of whatever he’s seeking to keep him satisfied.

It’s an impossible point of view to sympathize with as a listener though. If he’s legitimately being treated badly by her, then he should leave without a second thought because no woman is worth losing your self-respect over.

That’s not to say that you turn tail and run whenever some minor rift or misunderstanding occurs, and it should go without saying that you shouldn’t overreact to something innocuous because of your own insecurities. But in life we tell people how to treat us by what behavior we’re willing to accept from them and once you accept flakiness, drama or disrespectful attitudes that’s all you’ll ever receive.

Wayne not only has done this, but now he’s desperate to not even lose that amount of minimal attention from his girl, which means even if she stays with him he’ll be facing diminishing returns on whatever she is willing to provide in the way of affection.

In spite of this terrible example he’s setting for all the inexperienced guys out there listening, his presentation of that sniveling weakling is pretty accurate. His wavering vocal tone, his increasingly desperate vibe and the feeble attempts to keep re-drawing the line in the sand that she can’t cross all are effective in showing just how doomed his prospects for long term happiness are.

Hell, even the saxophone sounds disinterested in Wayne’s plea, keeping its distance emotionally – even during much of the solo – while providing a steady aural presence that works well with the more insistent piano that dominates most of the track.

As a result of its tight compact arrangement the song rolls along with a casual confidence that the singer himself lacks making for a much easier listening experience than were you to focus inordinately on what James Wayne is struggling to get a handle on.


Do Me Right Or Wrong
Though this is undoubtedly the weakest single of James Wayne’s career to date with neither side standing out much, it’s not exactly a sign that he’s spent his creative muse just yet, but rather that he’s simply catching his breath by reverting back to something intrinsically simple before he sets his sight on higher goals again.

To that end as a pure musical endeavor Please Baby, Please sounds fine, it’s a perfectly decent rock record for its day in every way – nothing special by any means, but nothing you’d find much fault with.

But records are in many ways reflections of their listening audience, giving the fan a voice to express similar thoughts or to highlight experiences from their own lives and if the message contained within this one rings true for you, then I’m afraid you need a lot more help than rock ‘n’ roll can provide.


(Visit the Artist page of James Wayne for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)