No tags :(

Share it

DECCA 48270; JANUARY 1952



What do we have here?

A song that was written by a legendary singer with only a scant few writing credits to his name being sung instead by a singer who was far more well known for his songwriting abilities.

If that wasn’t enough, how about the fact this came out on Decca Records when the artist in question who wrote the song also happened to record this for Jubilee yet it didn’t get released – not just at the time but for the next… ohh, thirty years or so!

How’s that for a backdoor curveball to strike you out looking?


Fragrant And Fresh?
Okay, so obviously you’ve checked the record label and saw the name… Sonny Til, lead singer of The Orioles, someone who wrote only a handful of tunes in his career… and scratched your head in befuddlement.

Then my guess is you re-checked the second paragraph and saw that the group had indeed recorded it and maybe you even went looking in an exhaustive discography somewhere to make sure that I wasn’t mistaken and it got released after all. (Say hello to Marv for me!)

It wasn’t.

So now that it’s settled and we have established that The Orioles did indeed record this in late November 1951, as My Loved One, but never released it, letting it sit unheard for decades until Murray Hill Records finally issued it on their Orioles 5 LP boxed set in 1983, it leads to the question of just how Decca Records and Lincoln Chase got a hold of the song soon after it was locked in the vaults.

It’d be one thing if Sonny was pissed off that Jubilee was sitting on it and not wanting to let his composition go to waste and figured he might get some royalties or even just some acclaim for his writing skills if someone else had a hit with it, but how unlikely is THAT?

First off Lincoln Chase had career résumé at that point which you could fit on a matchbook cover, as this was his first session. Secondly, Jubilee had just recorded it a few days before Chase cut his own version, so someone, somewhere had to get him a copy of the sheet music or have stolen the Orioles master tapes from Jubilee for this chain of events to make much sense.

But thanks to the largesse of the reissue era that prided itself on uncovering unreleased songs we DO get to hear The Orioles original and use it to compare to Chase’s Loved One to see if there are any differences besides just dropping the “my” in the title… probably since it wasn’t his and he was just clarifying it for legal reasons.

Was this some lost classic by Sonny Til or just another deathly slow lament over a girl just out of his grasp and if so, would a different singer be able to bring another element to it that we’ve lost all hope of Sonny ever delivering?

Burning questions all… here are the not quite smoldering answers.

Need Them Now More Than Ever
If you want to save time I’ll cut to the chase… in terms of delivery this is a total duplication of the version Sonny Til sang with The Orioles, the difference being that Sonny can out-sing Lincoln Chase every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

The pacing is the same, the phrasing is the same, the halting uncertainty in their voices is the same… but what changes – aside from their tones – is what’s surrounding them.

It may be subtle to a degree, but it does show Decca’s attempts to modify Loved One to suit the personnel, or lack thereof in this case.

Missing from the picture obviously are the other Orioles, or suitable stand-ins, as the harmonies they provide behind Til may be discreet but they ably fill out the sound, giving him a cushion to sink into while he lets his words slowly fade into the ether.

Chase’s version attempts to use instrumentation for this role and it’s not nearly as effective as it’s just vibes echoing his thoughts. Surely they were influenced by Johnny Otis using them so much on hit after hit, but he was much more inventive in how they were played than anything shown here.

But where Decca improves on things slightly is by using a mellow tenor sax for the turnaround between stanzas, giving this a much more hazy dreamy feeling than the starker Orioles original. Now there IS a sax on The Orioles version – a rarity for their sessions – but it’s underused. Whereas on Chase’s record it slides into the foreground, with Sonny it is barely perceptible in the background.

Unfortunately while it’s more prominent here, it’s still only employed briefly, though towards the end it’s playing as Chase is singing too, but The Orioles version still has the better arrangement if only for the effect of the cushiony backing vocals and more polished lead.

Is the song itself worth such scrutiny? Probably not. The melody is okay and at least it’s free of Sonny’s usual torment over not having a girl – this one he’s got and though he’s trying to tell her how much she means to him, we’re still taking that as a sign of his insecurity – but while Chase’s assertive tone at first suggests more confidence, by the end he’s sounding increasingly desperate, as if he can see she’s not buying what he’s saying.

Maybe neither one of them is getting turned away from her door altogether, but it’s doubtful she’s inviting one of them up to her room either.


I Can’t See The Light
Putting aside the question of the route this song took to get from one established rock act to a novice on a different label, the one promising sign this shows is that Decca was at least cognizant of the need for rock authenticity here.

Normally their approach – and that of all major labels sneering at rock in general – would be to look through a moldy book of standards and give one to their designated stand-in for rock acceptance. It’d naturally be a song that was completely out of date which they’d then smother with instrumentation that would only exacerbate the problem in connecting with a modern audience.

With Loved One they instead got a song by a rock group, written by the leader of said group, and gave it a sympathetic treatment with Lincoln Chase in the studio.

The problem of course is that The Orioles, while unbeatable with great songs, were hardly very daring with less than stellar material and this would be just about average had they come out with theirs at the same time.

But we’re not interested in that one which nobody heard for years, we’re focused only the record in front of us and while Chase does the best he can with it, the overall effect they’re going for is strained by it not being quite as suited for his voice.

That said, we’ll grant them a little leeway for how they presented it in as authentic a manner as possible, especially considering that with Decca’s reputation we expected far more dubious choices to be made in their presentation.

Instead of a strikeout where they didn’t even get the bat off their shoulder, they at least made contact and flew out to centerfield, but unfortunately for them an out is an out even if it looks slightly better in the scorebook.


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