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DECCA 48270; JANUARY 1952



C’mon, admit it… you’re looking at this entry and asking yourself, “Am I on the right website?”

I mean, we’re in the midst of covering rock’s formative years when it was almost exclusively an independent label phenomenon and yesterday the first review of 1952 was on a major label, but at least that was a legendary rock artist making his debut for Mercury, but THIS??? A name most people have never heard of – at least in this capacity – on Decca Records, another major label that has not exactly been welcoming to rock ‘n’ roll since the musical bastard child appeared back in 1947.

Is this really how we’re starting off such a momentous year in rock’s history… with back to back major label incursions?

Yes it is.


Be My Love Forever
For anybody born in the latter half of the Twentieth Century the idea that rock ‘n’ roll music was at one point viewed as an unwelcome intruder on the scene, an infestation that needed to be exterminated rather than embraced, is hard to fathom.

Yeah, we’ve heard of and read about the kneejerk reaction to rock infiltrating the mainstream airwaves in the mid-1950’s and how civilized society denounced it and took steps to snuff it out, but truthfully by then it was already too late.

The story of the major record company’s resistance to, adaption of and reluctant concession to rock ‘n’ roll really begins much earlier than that, when the pop music scene and the mainstream adult tastes they represented realized this upstart brand of black music was far more commercial than anyone had anticipated.

That’s what it always came down to: Money. The major labels would turn a deaf ear to anything they deemed beneath them… until it cut into their market share.

For the previous fifteen to twenty years those companies had supplied Black America with the bulk of their recorded music. Decca itself had dominated that field in the 1940’s thanks to Louis Jordan, the most popular act of his era and a revolutionary figure in many ways. For those seeking something less earthy they also had The Ink Spots, another legendary act who were vitally important in their own right. Throw in the likes of other big names like Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Johnson, plus jazz musicians such as Art Tatum, blues artists Sonny Boy Williamson and Blind Boy Fuller and gospel stars like Sister Rosetta Tharpe and you can see how they had all of their bases covered.

But in 1947 rock ‘n’ roll came along, primarily on small independent labels, and the cracks started to appear in their defenses. They initially let their established artists like Cousin Joe and Albennie Jones move into that field, but they were older and not on the cutting edge of the music which was changing by the minute, becoming more untethered to the accepted standards of musical decorum that Decca prized.

Their first response was to dismiss it entirely, thinking it couldn’t possibly last, or that the audience for it was too small to make much impact if they neglected them. But by the early 1950’s that audience had grown, as did their buying power in a post-war economy, and in 1952 the company showed signs of finally trying to address this… albeit poorly.

Lincoln Chase will go on to play a vital role in rock over the next decade, but not as a performer. He’ll be one of the better for-hire songwriters of his era with plenty of hits and classic sides to his credit, which is why it’s a little strange that on I Do Believe he’s not the writer, only the singer.

But then again, maybe Decca Records was wary of letting these kind of people think they could have too much say in what they released… after all, even if they were going to make tentative overtures to this music they had to maintain SOME control over these rabble rousers, didn’t they?

Sometimes I Get That Crazy Feeling
Right away we get conflict between what works and what might wind up sinking this effort if they weren’t careful.

The saxophone’s tone is fine in normal circumstances with enough grit to show some promise… yet the curly-cue pattern being played needs a deeper resonance to make it sound dirty because the riff is designed to let up by the end and only if you start off in a seedier part of town can it establish the setting properly.

When Lincoln Chase comes in his voice is okay but he’s singing with a smiling nonchalance that takes the edge off which implies there’s less turmoil in his soul than recommended for anyone taking to the airwaves to declare I Do Believe “my baby loves me”.

Is that so? If it is the case then why do you feel the need to publicize this information unless you’ve received some word that she’s been unfaithful or is considering leaving you? Hmm?

Then there’s the matter of the tepid backing behind him while he sings. They’re not in the way, that’s for sure, as you can barely make them out, but while the guitar isn’t throwing in any jazzy runs and the drummer isn’t riding the cymbals to suggest a closer association with jazz or pop, neither are they backing up his assertions with force as a true rocker would demand. The fact there’s a vibraphone in the mix also dilutes its power too much to pass off. It’s clearly an arrangement designed to approximate rock ‘n’ roll rather than one determined to prove that rock ‘n’ roll is in their blood.

Lastly we come to the backing vocalists, whether band members or hired guns, who chant responses at Chase during the chorus but who sound artificially enthusiastic, as if they were being handed one dollar bills with each line and trying to do the math to see how much dough they’re making rather than bellowing with the passion of true believers.

Okay, so that’s a lot to overcome admittedly, but what’s left is pretty good in every conceivable way. Hand claps during that chorus give it a steady rhythm and they don’t let up when the sax takes a solo that is well conceived and nicely played with some really strong held notes to add some longing intensity to the story.

Once you get past the set-up of the premise itself, the lyrics paint some interesting pictures, the best of which has Chase detailing how his girlfriend came home and voluntarily gave him her money and her body, which is not a bad way to wrap up a hard day’s work for anyone. The repetitive ”Love me, baby, love me, baby” lines are delivered with a confident smirk that leads into an even better rapid fire sax solo – that’s right, TWO solos – which has everything headed in the right direction heading down the stretch.

It may not cross the finish line at the front of the pack by any means, but in most races the contestants just want to make a good showing and for a novice artist on a label viewed with suspicion, this definitely does that.


The Way I Feel About Her
This was definitely a calculated attempt at creating a convincing rock song and while songwriter Charlie Singleton (not the saxophonist) may have been running down a printed checklist of components to include, the fact that most of the important ones are present and accounted for gives you some hope for the future of Decca’s endeavors in this realm.

Granted it’s still got a slightly counterfeit feel to it, a sense of role playing by the participants, even Chase to a degree by virtue of his vocal tone, but all things considered it’s believable enough to let it pass.

Based on the arrival of one newcomer – whose future work with Chuck Willis, Big Maybelle, The Drifters, LaVern Baker, Shirley Ellis, among others was obviously impossible to predict – we aren’t about to say Decca Records have turned the corner and are open to appreciating rock ‘n’ roll on its own merits and will seek to have a seat at the table from now on, but then again listening to this you might just say I Do Believe their interest is genuine.

Now whether that interest is due to a change of heart when it comes to the aesthetic value of the music, or simply the commercial value… well, let’s not be naïve about things. This was a cynical cash grab at its core, but as purely mercenary maneuvers go, it’s not half bad. Who knows, maybe rock ‘n’ roll was poised to overcome the intractable positions of the industry’s old guard after all.

Then again, let’s wait awhile before declaring victory, shall we? There’s no need to get overconfident just yet.


(Visit the Artist page of Lincoln Chase for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)