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No, not the record itself… don’t go scrambling to scroll to the bottom of the page to look for a big green number, you’ll be disappointed… but rather it’s a perfect choice for B-side to an unkempt party record that featured the entire band creating a verbal racket to go along with a more shambolic musical setting.

This side contains none of that. It’s slow and measured, fairly understated and brings in Billy Mitchell for the lead vocal while the others give their tonsils a rest.

That’s ideal. Give us something rousing to start off with and then tone things back down again. Yin and yang. A-side heat and B-side cool.

The way it should be.


Ride That Lonesome Train
Though he was the rare singer who fronted two A-list acts – as Joe Morris’s primary male vocalist for two years before moving on to sing with and take numerous leads with The Clovers – Billy Mitchell hasn’t been afforded much credit in the big scheme of things.

Granted he’s no Clyde McPhatter in that regard (dynamic and influential as first the lead singer of The Dominoes and later The Drifters), but Mitchell still deserves props for delivering good performances for two different types of rock acts.

Whereas his later work with The Clovers will follow their established prototype of displaying a casually cool flippant attitude on musical playlets, with Morris he had to take a much different tact, as on Someday You’ll Be Sorry he’s despondent and resigned to his fate, yet showing a glimmer of determination under the surface.

It’s not nearly as showy a performance style, nor does it have the benefit of the smirking vocals of a group behind him, but it requires more emotional discretion and subtlety which may make it a more technically impressive feat if he’s able to pull it off.

Way Down The Line
There’s a natural ceiling on just how good a song like this can be unless the vocalist pours on the emotion (which in fact might turn off as many people as those who are enraptured by that sort of thing). What I mean is the song sticks to a basic template that is hard to deviate from – a slow, repetitive but melodic groove with a downcast vocal singing about romantic disillusion.

It’s kinda difficult to really shake things up on something like that without betraying the entire mood, but somehow Billy Mitchell manages to do so effectively while still keeping a firm handle on the proper outlook.

For starters Morris – remember, it’s his record – gives this a solid foundation, mixing guitar, horns and piano into a captivating mixture that somehow gives off a swampy vibe, humid and lethargic, while at the same time allowing for plenty of separation between the instruments so each one stands out rather that bleeds into another.

With this approach you feel the sting of the guitar notes, the icy stabs of the piano keys and the drowsy haze of the horns individually even as the way it’s arranged allows them to feed off one another and create a murky ambiance overall.


As for Mitchell, he starts off about how you’d expect him to… exhibiting some self-pity along with his sorrow that is very believable as he tries to hold back from revealing too much, which in fact reveals exactly what we need to know. He’s not over this girl in the least, he’s broken-up over their parting and yet doesn’t want her to see just how hurt he is so he can try and save face.

But of course that demeanor is bound to fall apart before long on song entitled Someday You’ll Be Sorry and the only question is how is this going to play out.

If he ramps up the emotion, which is probably the go-to move, the entire thing could slip into parody, breaking down crying which takes you out of the moment, severing the connection you were building with him. It still could be good, but now it’s a performance to be observed from a distance, not a shared experience being expressed by someone in the same boat as you may have been in at one time or another.

But instead Mitchell wisely shifts away from that by gradually letting out the rope so there’s more slack, yet never releasing his end of it entirely. In other words he’s thinking about bearing his soul, but keeps reining it in just enough as if he doesn’t want to give her the satisfaction. As a result he adds another unexpected element to his story… that of a growing confidence.

With any obstacle you face in life, how you handle it internally goes a long way to shaping your character. Here Mitchell starts off distraught, on the verge of losing control, but by steeling himself against that as he goes on he shows that he’s tougher than he appeared heading into this ordeal.

Because it’s done gradually the shift in his demeanor is far more natural and so by the end, when he’s holding notes to the point that he almost sounds as if he’s drawing strength from them, he’s changed his outlook considerably. Now rather than walk away with his tail between his legs like a scolded puppy, he saunters off into the horizon with newfound confidence.

Just listen to his voice on the line “I may be blue but I don’t mind” before the the title line and compare it how he delivered the title line, with a different lead-in, early on to see the attitude adjustment.

None of this might jump out at you on a casual listen, but the more you pay attention to his gradual transformation within the song the more impressive his performance becomes. Mitchell inhabits the role like a method actor with a fairly stock script and promptly steals the show.


Don’t Pity Me
So often, including by us at times, Joe Morris gets passed off as a second tier Johnny Otis, bandleaders who defer to various musicians and singers in their respective stables on record and since Otis had the deeper roster he naturally got more hits and more acclaim.

But lately Morris has shown he may not be that far behind Otis, more 1A than second tier, and if Otis’s recent slide continues he might actually be catching up and passing him soon.

Someday You’ll Be Sorry might not equal the best sides of Mel Walker with Otis at the helm, mainly because the composition itself is a little thin and the sax solo has the right idea but suffers from a few cracked notes, but for the most part the band and especially Mitchell make the most out of it and the record holds up really well.

It’s probably not one of the sides you’d instantly bring up when trying to show how good Joe Morris’s outfit was, but if you pull something like this out in the later rounds of a head to head matchup with someone, it’ll definitely open some eyes.


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