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Last time out on his debut, 19 year old Lloyd Price gave notice to the music world that he was somebody to be recknoned with as he scored one of the biggest hits of the year – and what would prove to be one of rock’s most defining songs historically – while the flip side was also exceedingly good.

But the B-side hadn’t been a hit in spite of its quality and so this time out they were taking no chances. The top half, which hit Number Four on the charts, was a not-so discreet reworking of a recent Fats Domino hit, while this side was even more blatant in its appropriation of an even bigger smash… Price’s own Number One instant classic.

Somehow he got a hit out of this one too.


Drift So Far Apart
Why do we make such a big deal out of great debut records anyway?

Is it because it allows us to get excited about a new artist who we envision having a long productive career that we’ll get to follow step by step along the way?

Sure, that makes sense when we’re actually around to enjoy it, but who left on this planet in 2023 was actually alive in 1952 and fervently listening to rock music to even be aware of Lloyd Price when he burst onto the scene in the spring of that year? A handful of people maybe.

In other words, the acclaim for Lawdy Miss Clawdy that has piled up since about 1963 when his active career as a recognizable name ended has all been retrospective in nature… as in “What were some of the greatest debut singles in rock history?”. Meaning we already KNEW what was to follow and so there was nothing about that debut to have us breathlessly anticipating what might follow.

Now he certainly deserves consideration for that honor of making the best initial impression, but does the fact it came out first in his catalog somehow make it a better or more important record than if it had been his third release?

Of course not, but we tend to like talking “firsts” rather than “thirds” so Price continues to receive a little more attention for that fact alone than he would otherwise. Okay, nothing wrong with that, we’re glad to see him get sustained credit for one perfect record.

Yet when we look at what followed – a string of smaller hits stemming from his brief association with Dave Bartholomew producing, then later on a succession of bigger hits in a more “pop-rock” style – we don’t see him fulfilling that promise shown when we first made his acquaintance.

You hate to think that at 19 years old Price himself already knew he couldn’t top that, but he sort of gives you that impression with Restless Heart, which is nothing more than Clawdy in a new outfit, one so close in its tailoring that you couldn’t even call it a disguise.

Was this the work of Specialty Records demanding a follow-up as close to the original as possible? No, that’s doubtful, as this was issued as a B-side and they probably still figured he was likely to be able to give them something completely new that might match its quality, if not match its success.

Then was it Bartholomew who encouraged them to cut something in the exact same vein? Hardly, he was too proud and ambitious to resort to that, especially at this stage when he had enough success to take risks and still felt he had something to prove.

So who was responsible for this carbon copy, you ask? Well, his name appears on the label in two different places, once as the songwriter and once as the singer.


Like A Thief
If you still have some doubt as to where to place the blame for this shameless rip-off, the instrumental lead-in should cure you of any stubborn resistance to coughing up the all-too obvious answer to that question.

The band used here is the same one that backed Price back in March – with the notable exception of Fats Domino who is not sitting in with them this time around – but the structure of the record’s introduction has been tweaked enough where they could conceivably build a new song out of the remnants of the first. It’s not a total overhaul by any means, but it’s just different enough to avoid charges of plagerism.

But then Lloyd Price shows up and ruins that by singing Restless Heart with the exact same melody and cadences as he used with Clawdy. Talk about a no-good two-timing boyfriend!

We can at least give him credit for a new storyline which steers clear of recycling the entire plot, where he might’ve been content to just change the name and little more. Instead this chooses to give us more of a broad all-encompassing plot where Price is talking about a girl he never names, thereby allowing her to be more of a stand-in for any listener’s ex who broke their hearts.

The details are vague enough to be applicable in any circumstance, the singing may be even slightly better, or at least more under control, than last time out and thanks to Bartholomew the backing track – while certainly not as galvanizing as the first single – changes the atmosphere enough to give a different vibe. In fact the subdued Herb Hardesty sax solo is a welcome gift in what is otherwise a record that defines the 1990’s term “re-gifting”.

But what most of us listen to most closely on a record is the singer and the melody he delivers and with this we’ve heard it all before… and not long enough ago to make it seem fresh either.

In the end he’s given us something we don’t need, not only because we already own it but because we’re still wearing out that first single on our turntables as we speak, thereby testing our patience and wasting our time.

Please Forgive Me
Never let it be said that we avoid presenting dissenting opinions around here, as we have to admit that the listeners of 1952 disagreed with me, which is their right… even if they’re wrong for doing so.

Restless Heart hit #5 in Billboard and remained on those charts for a full month, making it a commercial success even if it was a creative failure.

Just to be clear however, we’re not panning the performances here at all. The job being delivered on a technical level all around is fine, obviously we love the melody and can at least appreciate the new story in its own right. Had this record been his debut it might not have gotten a perfect score like our friend Miss Clawdy earned – since it lacks Fats giving us a killer piano riff and because of the absence of compelling vocal desperation on Price’s part – but it would’ve landed somewhere in the lower green numbers for sure.

For some of you that score might seem warranted here too. If the record sounds good and the best band in rock is effortlessly churning along while Price acquits himself well, what’s not to like you might be asking.

Well, there’s an easy answer to that.

Play this record and try NOT having the lyrics to another, better, song enter your mind. It’s almost impossible for it not to. When that happens – not just a brief snatch of the song that conjures up a fleeting memory of an earlier tune mind you, but where the other song dominates your thoughts from start to finish – then why not just spin that first record instead and keep this on the shelf?

It’s not often that a singer can score two national Top Five hits on a follow-up to an all-time classic debut and have it signal the end of his viability as a potential superstar, but when one side is an obvious re-write of somebody else’s hit and the other’s a brazen duplication of his own hit, this single might just earn that ignominious designation.


(Visit the Artist page of Lloyd Price for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)