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Usually when we have an artist making their debut on these pages we have a natural lead-in to set the scene by first laying out their background, talking about their style and how they might’ve gotten signed to the label.

When we have a hit record to discuss the obvious focus in the first section of the review is to try and detail the impact of that single… on the artist’s subsequent career, on the fortunes of the record company and on the overall direction rock itself in the weeks and months – and even years – to come.

But in this case, even though we have both of those things on our plate, we’re heading down a different road… one full of wrong turns, potholes and dead ends.

Buckle up.


I Never Told You A Lie
If there’s one thing you should have figured out around here by now it’s that we’re committed to covering these records chronologically, which is where the trouble begins.

Most outlets say this came out in March of 1952, which is where we initially had it slotted. But Peacock’s numbering tells us it actually came out in the fall of 1951, either October or November, a rather notable difference. Now in their early days that company was known to release records out of sequence from time to time, but as of late they’ve tightened the ship in that regard and with a new artist making her debut it’s not like they’d have any reason to schedule it, print up the labels and then hold it back for a couple of months just for the hell of it.

The reason why everyone thinks I’m Gonna Play The Honky Tonks came out in the spring of 1952 however is because that’s when Peacock started promoting it. Obviously there’s no time limit on trying to drum up sales and we’re used to seeing promotion start a month or two after something was issued but four or five months does seem like a rather inexplicable delay.

But ask yourself this… with a company that is conserving its resources, why would Peacock spend the money to promote a total unknown right out of the gate? They aren’t putting ads in the trade papers for OUR benefit seventy years down the road so we know when these things came out. They’re trying to get jukebox operators to make the company’s offerings among the twenty records they’ll pick that week to stock and so they have to choose wisely.

Naturally Peacock pushed their established names at the end of November starting with their biggest star Gatemouth Brown (1586), along with Willie Mae Thornton (1587) and gospel group The Bells Of Joy (1584). A week earlier they were pushing singles in the 1573-1582 range. You’ll notice that Adams record slots right in the middle of those releases (1583) and it’s highly doubtful that this was the one and only record they shelved until a much later date.

So what happened, you ask? Well isn’t fairly obvious? The record was released locally in Houston, maybe a few distributors Don Robey had in his pocket took it a little outside that region and tested it in other markets, and only when it gradually began getting a better than expected response in those areas did they realize they might have something worth spending a few added bucks on to try and break it nationally…

Which just so happened to be in March 1952 which is when Marie Adams’ career finally got some traction.


I’m Gonna Have Myself Some Fun, Ain’t Gonna Worry No More
Even had Marie Adams been one of their established acts, there’d be little reason on the surface for Peacock Records to have expected THIS, of all songs, to take off.

With a title that seems to suggest a country tune and its slow burn arrangement that takes awhile to get moving and never really shifts into high gear with lyrics that are more of a career manifesto than an actual story, this has none of the markers we expect out of a hit rock record.

Yet as odd as it may seem compared to most records at the time, it’s also strangely alluring because of those unusual decisions. The record starts off with a crude deliberate piano, simple drums that are heavy on the cymbals and a throbbing bass that gives off the only warmth, this sounds almost plodding before Adams comes in with a somewhat shrill voice (which is surprising if you saw her girth) and lifts the energy as the band shifts into a more dramatic stop-time pattern to set off her defiant vocals better.

But do they do more than that as the song goes along? Nope. Though this is credited to saxophonist Bill Harvey’s band, a very good player in his own right, Harvey sits it out entirely, as does the rest of the horn section. Instead we get just those three rhythm instruments sticking to the same skeletal arrangement, deviating from that pattern only to give us a pounding piano break that is devoid of any melodic attributes.

It’s almost as if they were trying to see just how much of a normal arrangement they could strip away and still have something worth listening to.

Which means its potential success is riding primarily on the vocal ability of Marie Adams who uses the record almost as a job application telling us she’ll sing wherever she can – high class joints, low class joints and yes, she assures us, I’m Gonna Play The Honky Tonks too!

Now granted that’s not much of a plot for a song and it’s not even the kind of thing that most listeners are going to relate to, but Adams sells it with such conviction that you don’t really care. Is her voice itself all that great? Well, it’s okay, but nothing special. She manages to use three distinct approaches – a sultry jazzy purr to start with before shifting into a higher pitched emphatic whine for the main vocal refrains and then dropping back down to a smoky flirtatious resolution of sorts – but it’s really her confidence that wins you over along with the lurching melody she carries, because otherwise it’s kind of barren all things considered.

No wonder this took so long to catch on. Though it’s not in any way experimental it’s still not like anything you’ve heard before and yet by the end the record has worked its way into your brain in an almost subversive manner. Before you realize what’s happening you’re hooked.


No Matter What I Do
There’s so much to untangle here that it seems like we’ve only skimmed the surface.

We have an unlikely hit that launched a long and interesting career, albeit one which would give her just one more big record years down the road, all of which is topped off by the needless confusion over the release date.

In the spring of 1952 when the mass audience began latching onto this most of that information either wasn’t known or wasn’t cared about by listeners who were slowly but consistently drawn towards this record even though on the surface it didn’t seem to have any of the normal musical components of a hit.

Maybe there’s just something elemental about the crudity and directness of the performance which makes I’m Gonna Play The Honky Tonk so compelling. She’s got an attitude that seems to embody the rock perspective of doing what you damn well please that comes across loud and clear in the scant narrative as well as in her delivery which is more than enough to get you coming back for seconds.

That could also be why she had so much trouble following this up.

But while this may be an outlier for her, and might be found more often in a 1952 overview than one from 1951, what nobody can dispute is that no matter when you heard it, and even if you can’t quite put your finger on the reason why, there’s something here that’s hard to resist.


(Visit the Artist page of Marie Adams for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)