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FEDERAL 12060; MARCH 1952



Back when sex was a far more taboo topic than it is today, there was a recurring joke about a somewhat meek and mild man whose wife couldn’t get enough of him sexually and he’d emerge from the bedroom in a disheveled state, hair tousled, eyeglasses askew, with a half-dazed look on his face only to have his woman pull him back in for another round.

As with so many comedic routines of a similar subject from days gone by it was merely a way to titillate the married couples in the audience by both suggesting they were mature enough to appreciate the joke and yet bound to be a little embarrassed and self-conscious about it because chances are they weren’t granting one another the same amount of uninhibited carnal exercise in their own daily routines.

The underlying reality of it though was the belief that NO woman – outside of men’s fantasies that is – had the insatiable lust for her man as the one in the comic’s bawdy tale.

No woman that is but Fluffy Hunter, who is back for another tryst just one short month after her last go ‘round between the sheets.


Gonna Fight
Truthfully it might not have even taken Fluffy Hunter a full month to recharge her batteries, because while this is slotted as a March 1952 release – following the February release of her debut for the label, The Walkin’ Blues – we’re not quite sure the dates align with what else we know.

For instance we had Little Esther’s The Storm being issued in February despite it having a later number in Federal’s books (12063 in case you were pedantic enough to care).

Of course we may have gotten that wrong and placed it a month too soon, but it was reviewed in the March 1st edition of Cash Box which was on the newsstands six days before that. Because Esther would have yet another record coming out in the next few weeks, there’s every likelihood they simply pushed the release date of that one up a few weeks, momentarily bypassing My Natch’l Man in the process.

But even if that is the case, what on earth is Federal Records doing putting out two Fluffy Hunter singles within a month of each other, especially when the aforementioned song was about to creep into the New York regional charts, indicating it might catch on elsewhere?

Why risk confusing listeners by having two records of hers available at the same time? Why force jukebox operators to have to choose one or the other to fit in their limited available slots? Why use up all of your Fluffy Hunter material before a new moon comes along?

Unless of course it’s because she really IS someone who can’t get enough and wants more, more, more… propriety be damned.


Gonna Rock, Gonna Roll
Though the inclination is to say that Fluffy Hunter had a one track mind, as both this and her last top side are both centering around sexual activities good enough to sing about in public, the fact is half of her initial Federal session were on other topics. It’s just nobody remembers those when there’s the promise of ribald action behind Door Number One.

The thing is though, while this is definitely referencing sex it’s doing so in more obtuse ways than the last time out, which might be why there’s a lot less modern focus on it… apparently that one track mind also references horny record collectors who haven’t gotten laid since 1972.

But I digress.

While My Natch’l Man has a cool title, a solid rhythmic drive and a straightforward approach to the topic at hand, it doesn’t knock you on your ass in any way even though it also doesn’t trip itself up either unless you were hoping for more X-rated linguistics along the way.

Instead this is a no-nonsense sort of record, teasing you with its subject matter but leaving most of the details to your imagination.

The chorus is the catchiest part where she announces that she and her man are going to fight, rock, roll and ball in that specific order. Now you’re free to interpret all of those as nothing but clever euphemisms for the dirty deed itself but when she turns to Jesse Powell, who let’s not forget receives the primary artist credit here for leading the band, and urges him to “Fight baby” leading into his sax solo, maybe you should reconsider the implications.

For one thing though that solo is well played it’s hardly raunchy enough to imagine anybody bumping and grinding to it as we’d like to envision. Then when coming out of that section Hunter announces that she “loves that man like a mother loves her child”, suddenly ANY alternative meaning becomes a lot more appealing than considering the possible incestuous relations this hints at.

Now granted I don’t think any of them were thinking in those terms at all, but it does reveal their lyrical choices to be rather lazy. A chorus with that rundown of activities in better hands would suggest she and her fella are actually the kind who are constantly living on the emotional edge where fighting, whether physical or verbal, stirs feelings in them both which can only be released by sex… not uncommon maybe, but certainly not what Hunter’s reading here suggests.

In other words, it’s fairly obvious they simply threw together a bunch of words that vaguely implied something dirty and left it at that, just as Powell and company tossed together an arrangement that kept things churning without actually trying to take it over the top.

All of them succeed in their rather limited aims and so you can’t say this is a bad record by any means. It’s an enjoyable listen that doesn’t let up and Fluffy’s got a good voice and a confident delivery as always. But even though it’s a solid record that you’ll never object to hearing, it still has to be considered something of a let-down for what we felt was promised us going into it.


Gonna Ball
Looking back at the 1950’s independent record scene in a casual way leads most people to praise the same handful of companies – Atlantic, King, Chess, Specialty, Imperial… and down the road a little Sun and Vee-Jay and some others – because their highs were really high and they had more of those high points than most labels.

But when studying them one single at a time a clearer and more even-handed picture emerges. Yes, those still are the better labels, but at times they become maddeningly inconsistent… not just in their output, but their decisions.

Federal Records, because technically it’s a subsidiary of King, though ostensibly run independently by Ralph Bass at this time, usually gets lumped in with the major label, but while they unquestionably succeeded with The Dominoes who have been nothing but great, the rest of their output so far leaves you scratching your head.

From Little Esther’s failures to a shortage of viable acts and incomprehensible decisions like releasing two Fluffy Hunter singles within weeks of each other shows that they too were often flying blind.

All things considered, My Natch’l Man still has to be considered a relative success aesthetically on their part and we’re grateful that unlike some companies who’d actively derail the band to make it more “palatable” for non-existent crossover hopes, Bass let these guys handle their business unimpeded, but the end results still wind up being not all it could have been with more focused oversight.

I know, you can’t get hits every time out and this is still a worthwhile track so we’re making their run to date sound more dire than it actually was, but it’s just that the greater the promise, the higher the expectations.


(Visit the Artist pages of Jesse Powell as well as Fluffy Hunter for the complete archive of their respective records reviewed to date)