No tags :(

Share it




After hitting big with their first release earlier this year, the West Coast couple came back with another record that had what it took for commercial success… except not in 1952 when this was released, but rather late 1954 and early 1955 when another male-female duo from California took what they heard here and built a more lasting career on that exact sound.

You tend to think of influential records as being something radically groundbreaking and two people singing a duet is hardly that, but there are many different ways to bring voices together that favor certain styles and melodies, and here – simple as it may be – these two found one way that had some staying power.


You Stuck Your Head In First
In their first release, essentially a re-written take on Ivory Joe Hunter’s immortal I Almost Lost My Mind which the married couple originally from Texas Artist Brewster and his wife Jimmie Lee Cheatum had fitted with new lyrics and released as My Heart’s Desire, the two got a national hit out of their petty theft.

While a two and a half year old melody and a rather modest vocal showing by the two didn’t seem like the kind of thing to set any trends or shape the future of the genre, those things don’t always become apparent right away. We have to give it some time and see just who might’ve been listening and what they were taking away from that experience.

Though it’s doubtful that first record had any impact on the later work of another pair, the same can’t be said of their follow-up, Let’s Talk It Over Baby, which was itself more or less hijacked down the road by Gene and Eunice as the similarly titled Move It Over Baby. But it was more than just appropriating that melody and general lyrical gait, but rather it was the way that their voices meshed which owed a huge debt to what Jimmie Lee and Artis do here.

On their first pairing, the two weren’t really singing in unison, as Artis – a trumpeter in Jay Frank’s band by trade – was mostly echoing his wife’s lead. On the flip side he didn’t even do that, thus it was credited solely to her.

But here they are working in tandem and the results are really good – but also really obvious as the source of Gene and Eunice’s more successful career. Remember that we’ve already met Gene Forrest who was cutting records for Recorded In Hollywood for the past year and this past summer inked a deal with RPM which was owned by the Biharis who also owned… you guessed it, Modern Records.

It’s inevitable he crossed paths with Jimmie Lee and Artis, or at the very he least heard the record. Before long he’ll be meeting up with Eunice Levy who came from Texarkana – the same town where Jimmie Lee and Artis were from!

Talk about either the biggest coincidences all converging at once, or a case of Gene Forrest paying off Artis, stealing his wife and renaming her (remember, there’s no pictures of Jimmie Lee and Artis… which is hardly coincidental!) to form a duo that would score three national hits down the line.

This was the blueprint for those hits.

Try To Satisfy My Soul
The musical structure of this might be not quite cutting edge when it comes to the manner in which the horns are played, sort of rounding off their notes rather than blasting them, but the formula is incredibly durable having been around a few years already and still in use a few years down the road when Gene & Eunice would use much the same formula.

It’s the instrumental blend though which jumps out at you first on Let’s Talk It Over Baby, with the pounding piano of Ike Turner kicking it off and the steady thumping drums setting the attitude the two vocalists embody.

This is really the tale of two vocal approaches being used at different parts of the same record. When they sing in unison on the choruses that’s when you get the Gene & Eunice model in all of its glory, subtly melodic and displaying rather nice harmonies.

The verses though find Jimmie Lee stating something that is causing rifts in their relationships with Artis, his voice now sounding deeper and more submerged (could it be a different singer than the choruses???) answering her with a wisecrack or two.

Those are the parts which sound a little rawer, not in terms of the voices themselves, just the way in which they’re deployed. Of course the fact that she’s laying into him while he’s deflecting it doesn’t hurt that impression, but the two styles don’t clash because of how the record transitions naturally from the duetting to the soloing in the vocals.

The lyrics are really good for such a scenario, as it goes from light jabs between them to her threatening to “take my pistol and mess you up” and him replaying he’ll send her to the undertaker. Rather than just seem haphazardly thrown together, these show actual care… if you can associate such a word with attempted murder.

Where Let’s Talk It Over Baby goes off the rails a little is in the horn break – ironically the thing which elevated Jimmie Lee’s Blue And Lonesome – but here there’s too much happening at once, none of it with any sense of direction. I’m assuming Artis’s own trumpet is the one that’s partly to blame, but Jay Frank’s saxophone doesn’t help as it takes awhile to find its proper path and while it improves slightly as it goes on, it’s still not even maintaining the momentum the singing had handed us, let alone improving on it.

But on the whole this is still a pretty good record, not just better – and more original – than their hit, but one which will also have a good deal of influence in the future based on the manner in which they’re harmonizing here – particularly obvious when it will be seen on a melody that the imitators will snatch for themselves.

Maybe it’s can’t compete with the more dynamic records we’ve seen lately and certainly, even with its tentacles into the future, this wasn’t something that would have a huge impact on rock ‘n’ roll, but all things considered this duo who’ve apparently been too minor to get mention in most histories on the genre, have been a nice surprise all things considered and this record is their best yet.


You Get Your Feelings Hurt And Your Money Took
Since we made it through most of a Modern Records review without tearing into their despised owners, the Bihari Brothers who never met an artist they wouldn’t rip off, let’s point out that rather surprisingly they didn’t try and steal the writing credits for Let’s talk It Over Baby.

But they DID mangle them in ways you wouldn’t think possible, misspelling Artis Brewster’s last name (as Bruster) and even more incomprehensibly spelling Jimmie Lee Cheatum’s name differently in the primary artist credits – where it was Jimmy Lee, like a boy’s name – compared to the proper spelling in the Vocals By section in the upper right.

Now certainly from time to time here you’ll see misspelled words, typographical errors (just the other day we had mistakenly given Earl Bostic’s Smoke Gets In Your Eyes a (7) rather than the (6) we had intended) and even some mangled syntax, but in my defense these are 1,200 or more words, not just two people’s names whom you have under contract.

So for all of who were keeping track of our vendetta against incompetent record label owners and were worried we’d missed a golden opportunity to mock them without mercy, there you go… our regular pot shots at the Biharis at no extra charge!


(Visit the Artist page of Jimmie Lee & Artis for the complete archive of their records reviewed to date)