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DOT 1144; NOVEMBER 1952



Now they’re just fucking with us.

It’s hard to imagine a record company intentionally, callously and eagerly destroying their best artist’s career chances, but in the record industry this is not even unusual.

Last year Dot Records decided that after giving them multiple national hits and other sides that were every bit as deserving of that status, that they weren’t satisfied with Margie Day’s quest to be the top female artist in rock and wanted to try and use her to… what exactly?

Convince Black listeners to embrace country songs, pop tunes and other garbage? Or was it to entice prospective Caucasian listeners to discover their record label by forcing Day to give them inappropriate covers of white originated material?

Either way it was a plan destined for failure. Clearly though the message hasn’t penetrated the granite skull of Randy Wood so he’s got Day covering another country song hoping perhaps that she’ll kill herself before the session ends so he won’t have to flip the bill for a lunch break or validate her parking.


Still I’m Crying
We’ve already beaten into the ground the creative bankruptcy of cover records in general, a practice that was still in full force in pop music, which more or less tells you how vapid that style of music really was. But just in case you’re slow to catch on this was where artists were asked to try and enthusiastically reinterpret a song that two dozen others had just cut in the last three weeks, keeping it close enough to the original recording to be instantly recognizable, yet somehow inject a faint whisper of their own persona into it so that their version might stand out all the same.

To have an industry that markets itself as an outlet for artistic expression who then removes those very attributes in order to churn out a conveyor belt product is as self-incriminating as it gets.

Dot Records had been started mostly with black artists who put them on the map but they were adding more white artists all the time. That’s okay, I suppose white people have a right to try and sing for their supper too, but rather then simply realize those two groups can have different artistic aims, different demographic appeal and thus should sing different songs in different ways, allowing the label to have two constituencies to draw from, Dot Records was trying to piss off the one who made them in attempt to pull in the one who they saw as somehow “better”.

To that end they had Margie Day acting like some hayseed farmgirl by singing Midnight, a song written by Boudleaux Bryant and Chet Atkins, two very talented people who’d go on to make great contributions to rock ‘n’ roll with The Everly Brothers. Bryant, along with his wife Felice, would become the siblings go-to songwriters of choice, while Atkins would oversee them in the studio, adding his own guitar to their records to boot.

But their song here, popularized by Red Foley, is pure country in every aspect, from the way the story is framed and the lines are structured, to the typical country weeper melody itself. Even if you were to ignore the twangy touches it has, this composition is taken from page one of the country music playbook… a book that no self-respecting rock act like Margie Day should ever have to be subjected to.


I Should Have Been Fast Asleep
Here’s a bad idea… take a country song and give it to a rock singer, but keep the country guitar and then add weak horns to it in a futile attempt to placate her usual audience.

How’s that sound to ya? Terrible, right?

But that’s not all… not by a long shot… as their next brilliant idea is to make it a duet by pairing Margie Day with a clearly uncomfortable Buddy Griffin, thereby sullying his reputation too… though it’s notable that for once he and his brother are not listed on the label, a concession they probably got from Wood at knifepoint.

Why not just take the microphone into the bathroom and record a toilet flushing to add to the production, a perfect touch for a record that all but signifies where Margie Day’s career with Dot Records is headed.

Though Midnight is a terrible song for a rock act to sing because of the aforementioned structural issues, I’m not going to disparage the overall storytelling abilities of Boudleaux Bryant. But this is far from his best work even for far more simpleminded country acts, as the plot is simple and fairly trite – the singer is despondent, singing to their loved one in absentia about how much they miss them.

However it’s not made clear if they were actually ever a couple or if the object of their affection doesn’t know they’re even alive and the singer is just immersed in a fantasy world. It sounds more like the latter, as she wonders why he doesn’t care about her, but then again it’s obvious that Dot Records hasn’t even listened to it closely enough to notice, because having Griffin echoing her thoughts throws the entire plot into disarray.

But who really cares? This is beneath Day to sing even though, as usual, her voice handles it well enough even if it’s got a melody suited for a five year old. When they toss in a sax solo, it’s like putting high heel shoes on a chicken – out of place, yet odd enough to keep your attention, even if it is just in shocked disbelief.

How the engineer in the studio who was forced to record this session didn’t give in to his urge urinate on the control board to short it out and spare us of this monstrosity I’ll never know.


Tomorrow Is On Its Way, Empty And Blue
Once more we have remind people of just how fleeting artists’ careers actually are and why our frustration, indignation and outright anger over wasting a single release is entirely appropriate even if it sometimes comes across as merely misplaced rage.

Keep in mind that Margie Day, one of the most promising singers to come into rock this decade, has had multiple singles wasted already with no sign this disturbing trend of forcing songs with no commercial prospects on her is going to end any time soon.

The passage of time is deadly to even the best artists, as momentum stalls, tastes change, styles move forward leaving artists behind even as their talent itself never dissipates. When you realize that someone has just a finite number of releases before the sand in the hourglass runs out even in the best of conditions, the speeding up of that process by Dot Records only causes the sun to set on Day prematurely until they hit Midnight long before the clock should’ve stuck twelve on her career.

It’s clear That Randy Wood has had his sights set elsewhere for awhile now, and if wishes that he never had to cross the color line to begin with then maybe he should give back his profits that artists like Day, Tommy Brown and The Griffin Brothers got for him.

Though Day’s performance here somehow manages to retain a touch of class, the same can’t be said for the label issuing it and as such the grade this record receives – the lowest we allow ourselves to go – is still not low enough for the attempt itself.


(Visit the Artist page of Margie Day for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)