No tags :(

Share it




How’s this for being almost guaranteed to be overlooked… re-doing the B-side of a hit duet as a solo performer on the flip-side of a record that was not even widely released.

But hey, this is Jesse Belvin in his prime and so while it may have taken almost 40 years, it eventually found its way to widespread circulation. Now, another thirty years after that, it’ll get its own brief moment in the spotlight all to itself.

This might just be the dictionary approved definition of Better Late Than Never.


More Than I Can Really Bear
In pop music songs are remade all the time… standards were constantly revived by new artists, while current hits in this era we’re dealing with were frequently covered by rival acts.

In other walks of entertainment you saw the same approach taken, as old movies would get new life when a different director and set of actors were drafted to overhaul an older property for a new version.

But outside of jazz, it was somewhat rare when those doing either one of those things were the same people.

The reason of course is once you’ve done it, you usually want to move on to something new unless there’s a very unique reason for taking another shot at it… such as Bing Crosby re-cutting his 1942 classic White Christmas in 1946 to take advantage of better post-War recording equipment to ensure greater fidelity, or Alfred Hitchcock remaking The Man Who Knew Too Much, one of his best British films, years later in Hollywood in full color with a big name cast knowing that American audiences probably hadn’t seen the (much better) original.

Here though we have Jesse Belvin tackling Daddy Loves Baby just weeks after doing it with Marvin Phillips (who wrote the song) in a duet for Specialty.

We’ve already gone over the reasons… Belvin was annoyed Specialty hadn’t immediately issued it and John Dolphin, for all his faults, at least offered quick cash for sessions… but the difference is now Jesse Belvin has to re-arrange the song to compensate for the lack of a second voice and the give and take between them that this was designed to feature.

If anyone can pull that off, it’s Belvin, but certain things aren’t easy to do no matter how talented you are.


If You Would Stay, Only Stay
So… what all this means is there are two big questions to answer.

How he adjusted and how those adjustments came off.

The answer to those questions are a mixed bag. There are aspects of this which, either because the song as written was so solid, or because Jesse Belvin’s instincts are so sound, work better as a solo performance.

Then there are others which definitely lose something without Marvin Phillips’ voice to give this an added dimension. Of course this really only matters if you’re more familiar with that version. If not, maybe the added voice would be what causes you to think it sounded off, but here it’s the sound of Belvin alone during the chorus that seems somehow unadorned.

In the Specialty duet the smoother voice of Jesse being almost cut-off in mid-thought by the coarser voice of Marvin constantly changed the angle at which you approached the song, almost giving you a sense that you’d only know the way this girl affected them by reading between their lines.

Singularly, that effect is lost and though the chorus remains unchanged lyrically, the meaning seems more one-dimensional. There’s no push and pull anymore, just pull.

But where it arguably improves, or at least holds its own, is in the verses as with just one voice there’s almost a different meaning being implied… Daddy Loves Baby rather than two daddies vying for the same girl as it were.

In this rendition it’s Belvin alone who is daydreaming about her, alternately lovestruck and heartbroken, letting his voice glide over the images he has in his mind in a stream of consciousness delivery. Unlike Phillips who always took the bumpier road, Belvin rides the melody in smoother fashion, even as he’s prone to letting that melody take the long way to get to its destination.

Of course few people can hold a note like Belvin and here he raises it to an artform. Unlike those who came after him, he rarely relied on melisma to achieve this effect. Instead he applies the slightest amount of pressure on them, adding shadows, changing the focus of the camera, giving you the impression as he stretches them out that he’s altering the way he’s thinking of the word along the way even as the word itself remains unchanged.

The result is here we get a more introspective reading, lost in his thoughts, singing for himself as he’s singing to us.


You’re Gonna Want Me, Darlin, By And By
That’s what we appreciate here… a chance to here a reinterpretation by someone who excelled at such things.

Maybe Daddy Loves Baby does work better as a duet, and to be honest the Maxwell Davis arrangement is a little too smooth behind him, giving it the feel of contentment which subsequently robs it of the tension Belvin tries injecting as he contemplates his chances with the girl.

But while the Jesse & Marvin original is still the definitive version, nobody in their right mind would complain about getting a different performance to compare it to, especially if in the process it gave them another chance to hear one of the best vocalists ever at the peak of his powers.

As frustrating as it can be at times to deal with Jesse Belvin’s incessant label-hopping where he never remained in one place long enough to build an image, there is an obvious upside to it just the same.

Seven decades on, every artist has a finite amount of evidence available to show their worth. Yet Belvin has more than most, even if – or maybe because – he was so restless.


(Visit the Artist page of Jesse Belvin for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)

Spontaneous Lunacy has reviewed other versions of this song you may be interested in:
Jesse & Marvin (November, 1952)