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Some words don’t have the same impact on us the more we hear them used.

Oftentimes those words are even ones we want to hear most at first – “please” falls into this category – before their effectiveness wears down in time when uttered by the same person to simply get what they want.

Other times they’re words we cringe hearing the first time, like swears hurled in our direction, but soon realize they lose lose their power to hurt when someone becomes overly reliant on them to make us feel bad.

In the case of music there are two words when used together – and used improperly besides – which not only become less effective, but actually become unintentionally comical, and quite possibly maddening, when they’re stuck into a song’s lyrics without rhyme or reason.


Boogie Woogie All The Time
Like so many rock saxophone players, Joe Houston was facing a dilemma in that his greatest strength had become something of a commercial weakness when the sax instrumental lost its magic touch just as he was coming up in the field as one of the more potent new musicians rock had to offer.

He may not have been helped in that regard by bouncing around from label to label, but despite his youth and lack of a hit to at least put his name on people’s radar, Houston was smart enough to experiment and see if he could find another way to make the charts while still making sure his own talents were recognized.

Granted, hiring a singer and coming up with songs that had lyrics was hardly very innovative, but it did provide him with a new avenue for success… provided he knew WHICH lyrics to push and which to steadfastly avoid.

On Boogie Woogie Woman he can’t seem to get it right, for while the title and the associated theme of a horny gal looking for any man to please her is a winning combination, the fact that those words become substitutes for the better ones he’s unable to have sung in public become this single’s intractable problem, one that’s quickly exacerbated by the refusal to find suitable alternatives for the primary words we soon overdose on.

Normally when recording for Modern Records, a company owned by the loathsome Bihari brothers who stole virtually all of the writing credits for every song they ever put out, he’d have a convenient scapegoat by going along with their deception that they were the ones responsible for the content. But even they – dirty rotten scoundrels that they are – were wise enough to pass on swiping this mindless song.

Luckily for Houston his vocalist Lois Butler wasn’t so evasive and takes credit for the words coming out of her mouth, embarrassing herself in the process but thoughtfully letting Joe off the hook after all.


I’m About To Lose My Mind
We’ve heard from Lois Butler before and let’s just say that Ruth Brown and Margie Day have nothing to worry about when it comes to losing their status as rock’s most potent female vocalists.

Butler’s got an odd tone, slightly nasal but deep rather than shrill which is unfortunate because here she could use anything positive in HOW she’s singing to distract you from WHAT she’s singing.

As stated in the last section the basic idea behind Boogie Woogie Woman is fine. What rock fan doesn’t want to hear a lady bragging about how much sex she craves, even if she has to use euphemisms to get the point across? But her problem is she’s lacking a thesaurus… or rather that the thesaurus doesn’t have suitable synonyms for the words “boogie woogie”, either separately or together and so Butler squeezes them in at every turn because she’s committed herself to that phrase and has no idea how to break free now.

Here’s a thought… just pick a word at random out of the newspaper and use that, because it sure couldn’t hurt this record more than what she’s doing.

We said in the intro how words lose their meaning the more they’re heard, but here the clandestine meaning is also lost as we’re forced to substitute what specific acts she’s referring to each time through – and by each time we mean every 7.2 seconds.

So we’re left a record with a vocalist who sounds as if she’s suffering from hay-fever singing a song that would be better received if it were being done in a different foreign language on each line to keep from endlessly repeating herself every time through.

I guess that means it’s up to Joe Houston, ostensibly still the star of this production, to pull this annoying Boogie Woogie Woman out of the fire. Instead he’s content to let her burn by deferring too much to the other horns during the primary backing riffs which are underpowered and boring and provide little distraction from Butler’s inanity.

As if that’s not enough, during the solo he’s still letting himself get weighed down by the weak parts being bleated by his sidemen while his own sax is wheezing more the squealing and huffing more than honking. There’s no sense of ribald excitement or even aroused anticipation in what he’s playing, sort of negating the sketchy plot in the process. Worse yet there’s not much evidence of musical aptitude either. He’s not completely inept, but certainly he’s rather uninspired.

It’s not hard to figure out why though, not when Butler keeps harping on the same two words until it becomes nothing more than a droning buzz containing no meaning that make your ears bleed the more you try and make sense of it all.


Real Late At Night
Songs like this – uptempo with at least a modestly pleasant beat – tend to be given the benefit of the doubt a lot around here as we assume those just using them for dancing purposes won’t particularly mind the shortcomings as much as if it were a song swinging and missing in its attempts to convey great lyrical insight.

But even though aside from an early bum note there’s not any real calamities to be found in the playing and Butler manages to more or less stay in tune while unconvincingly telling us she’s a Boogie Woogie Baby there’s such a lack of ambition found on this record that we can’t in good conscience let that slide.

For anyone skeptical this harsh verdict is justified let me remind you there are a whopping twenty-four uses of the word “boogie” and another fourteen of “woogie” to be found here… at least I think that’s the final tally, because you start to lose your equilibrium trying to count them as she rattles them off rapid fire down the stretch.

Maybe if you’re drunk enough and/or lenient enough in your general assessment of records, thinking that as long as nobody is brutally off-key or the arrangement isn’t using instruments from another century that things like this should just be given a modestly dismissive score before moving on.

But those words – modestly dismissive – would in turn lose THEIR meaning if we attached them to a record that doesn’t even bother to put forth the effort to be generically mediocre and instead chooses to be intentionally aggravating.

So let’s not mince words and just call it what it is… a failure.


(Visit the Artist page of Joe Houston for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)