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When reviewing the top side of this record we freely admitted that Jimmy Liggins has been essentially repeating himself conceptually on a lot of his songs.

While that criticsm formed the main theme of the analysis of the record, we went a little easy on him in the end, praising some of the lyrics, acknowledging his mood matched the story well and even finding some aspects of the arrangement to admire despite their limited options on a song of that nature.

If doing so seemed to go against our usual impatient attitude when it comes to artists who don’t show enough creativity and originality in their records, we can now say that decision was made with this side of the record in mind.

If you’re going to let somebody off the hook for their transgressions once, it generally means the next time they make the same mistakes they’re going to pay for it… and boy is he gonna pay.

Every Night’s Sleep I Lose
In the lore of 1940’s and 50’s independent record labels that focused largely on rock ‘n’ roll, Specialty Records has a better reputation than most thanks to some glorious headliners over the years.

Jimmy Liggins was their first notable rock act and the anchor of the label in that field for their first few years until the recent arrival of Percy Mayfield pushed Liggins down a peg in the in-house rankings.

But while Specialty undoubtedly was the right landing place for Liggins – an L.A. label with a strong regional presence and the cream of session musicians to choose from once his self-contained band split – you have to question why they were always releasing sides he’d cut months and months earlier rather than issuing more current material.

Both Lonely Nights Blues and its flip side were recorded in May 1950 and with the stylistic advances being made in rock over the past year, it was inevitable these records would lag behind the curve.

Than again maybe Specialty’s owner Art Rupe figured that it didn’t matter when Jimmy Liggins stepped into the studio… last week or last decade… his songs were bound to resemble that initial template he’d lad down way back when they first met him in 1947.


Darkness Steals All In My Room
Let’s start with the differences here, which are not the result of Jimmy Liggins’s songwriting but rather the arranging choices by Maxwell Davis.

Both this and Down And Out Blues, cut three weeks later, share the exact same structure, same tempo, same key, same theme… about the only thing Liggins didn’t replicate was the lyrics themselves.

Lonely Nights Blues takes on a more traditional approach, at least in terms of incorporating a prominent sax solo, but while that’s never a bad thing, especially with Maxwell Davis playing that solo, the rest of this arrangement has a much classier, genteel sort of vibe in places which doesn’t do it much good.

Take the horns on the lead-in. Whereas on the other side they moaned and sighed, here they cry in a higher pitched whine. While it’s not inappropriate for the subject by any means, it’s got a pop sheen to it that’s disconcerting, especially once we hear Liggins’ foggy voice come into the picture, almost as if we switched stations midway through the song.

The horns continue playing very straightforward parts behind him as he sings which undersells what the band is capable of doing. You can call this a necessity because of the slow pace and gentle rise and fall of his vocal cadences and not be wrong, but you can also call it boring and be just as right.

Meanwhile Bo Cyphers’ piano which added a little more life to the flip is playing with a stiffer approach here… not enough to wish he wasn’t around, but not spry enough to be as grateful for his presence either.

As for the sax solo, while it’s definitely the best aspect of the record, bringing the only moments where we get a different tone to contemplate, one that’s more sensual and subtly restless at the same time, it’s merely a momentary pause in the overarching dreariness that defines the rest of the song.

The Days Have Been Long And Blue
Of course the one really at fault here is Jimmy Liggins who wrote it, sang it and apparently felt it went over well enough to try again with slightly different attributes before the month was over.

Unlike that later effort which at least set a more vivid scene, Lonely Nights Blues is simply built on generalities which he does not endeavor to flesh out with any significant details, nor even any memorable lines that might add a little color.

He’s sad again, he’s alone – and who can really blame the women for avoiding him at this point? – and he’s complaining about it, directing his words to the one who left him. But we ‘re no dummies, we know he’s just talking to himself in an empty room here, for there’s no earthly reason she’d pick up the phone if he called, nor would she allow herself to be cornered in a public place without pretending to faint just to get others to rescue her from such an ordeal as having to listen to him go on and on about how hard it is to live without her.

Whereas last time out Liggins was able to elicit sympathy for his plight, this time around there’s none left to be had. He’s not telling us anything that would cast him in a good light and have us take pity on him… in fact if this is the kind of guy she had to put up with when they were together we’d be sure to congratulate her from getting away from such a sad-sack before she cracked up.

It’s not so much a song as it is a tale of woe and since that tale is not set to any music that would alleviate our misery in having to listen to it, we’re going to be the first to interrupt our pal Jimmy and tell him we’re sorry but we have a train to catch… or to jump in front of.

Chances are if he keeps this up, we won’t be the last to use that excuse either.


Cold, Dark And Dreary
The biggest offense here though isn’t carried out by Jimmy Liggins, despite what we just laid out.

In truth the ones who need to take the brunt of the blame for this record is the brain trust at Specialty Records who incomprehensibly paired two close-to-identical songs on one single rather than holding one back (or throwing one out) and using something more upbeat and uptempo to offset the dire predicaments that form the basis of each of these offerings.

Because Lonely Nights Blues was actually recorded first you might think that it should get points for being slightly more original than the flip side, but not when the flip had the better story, better lyrics, better arrangement and better vocals AND was deemed the A-side of the release in the bargain.

What that means is chances are you’d have put that side on first, accepted it for what it was even while being annoyed it took such a familiar approach, and then when you played this side you’d have rolled your eyes that they were passing off a weaker version of the same concept and you’d have taken the record back to the store for a refund.

If any of the guilty parties were there when you arrived you might’ve forsaken your refund and instead taken the pleasure of shoving said record up the nose of whichever one tried to talk you into giving it a second… or was third or fourth or tenth… chance.


(Visit the Artist page of Jimmy Liggins for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)