Frivolous… unnecessary… indulgent…

Not the record itself, but the review.

Yeah, this is one we don’t really need to cover. Not only have we just examined a release by legendary rock producer and erstwhile sax star Maxwell Davis – which came out at the same time as this on the same label – but that release mostly covers the same stylistic ground as this one, meaning there’s not much additional insight into his playing abilities or even the goals of Aladdin Records for us to look into.

Yet here it is anyway and not simply because we’re obsessive completists… well, not entirely because of that anyhow.

Let’s just say it’s another case of trying to tie up all the loose ends that would otherwise drive us crazy.


Back Again So Soon?
Since your indulgence in these matters is much appreciated we’ll try and keep this as brief as possible without shortchanging the artist or the record too much in the process, but we’ll have to ask first if you recall just what Maxwell Davis record we reviewed a few days ago on Aladdin 3114.

Anyone? Anyone?

That would be Charmaine, a dreary song seeing a flurry of interest by rock acts of the day after it became a pop hit in multiple versions. Somehow Davis was able to coax some modest soul from it, something The Ray-O-Vacs couldn’t pull off and which The X-Rays only sort of hinted at thanks to saxophonist Hal Singer.

The reason THIS record is here, despite not being quite as good as Davis’s rendition of that previous song, is because of those two aforementioned acts… The Ray-O-Vacs and X-Rays. Or have you forgotten that those two groups both had hits with today’s song way back in the waning days of 1948?

In fact that song was why The X-Rays were formed in the first place, simply to cut their own take on it after Savoy Records heard the Ray-O-Vacs version (though the song itself was an older standard) before it got released and saw a chance to “steal” a hit if they hurried.

Three years is a long time to wait to issue a “competing” version since most current listeners probably had long since forgotten about either of those records in the intervening years, but since the three acts were just recently tied to one another through another song, it only makes sense to bring it all full circle by chiming in with our impressions on Davis’s attempts on I’ll Always Be In Love With You, even though by this point we’re certainly not in love with the song or with those who’ve subjected us to thinking about it far more than we’d like as we near the end of 1951.

A Long Time Ago In A Rock Galaxy Far, Far Away
Though we did in fact praise both of the vocal versions back in ’48, it helps to remember the rock landscape was a somewhat more genteel place during that time – even though, ironically, the tenor sax, was in the process of blowing the roof off the party just as those singles hit the market.

Here however, three years later, the vocal sounds have progressed – or regressed if you’re of the mind that more suggestive and uninhibited singing is an anathema to good music – to the point where The Ray-O-Vacs and X-Rays sound positively out of their element in most cases, while at the same time the sax sounds have been considerably toned down from their wild west beginnings.

What that means is whatever chance that Maxwell Davis had to completely re-imagine I’ll Always Be In Love With You has gone out the window and so he’s resigned to doing little more than blandly following the melody while keeping his emotions under wraps, save for a few moments where he merely suggests something is stirring below the belt.

I know, hardly very promising, especially since the melody of this tune is no more than pleasant at best and utterly forgettable at worst. With modest accompaniment that veers towards lounge music and no changes in the arrangement to bring some dynamics to the table by way of a crazy drum solo or piano interlude, we’re left with a well played but largely soulless run-down of a song that we’ve long since put out of our collective memories.

Granted at a few points Davis gets a little more restless and bears down some, including on the tag-line which hints at an urgency the rest of the performance was mostly devoid of, but the record is basically just lung exercises set to wax.

In fact you might even make the argument that the flip side, I’m Waiting Just For You, is slightly more appropriate for our purposes here, exhibiting a little more grit along the way, but truthfully the difference is not worth measuring and with three similar sides by Davis already taking up room around here, there’s no need to immerse ourselves in a fourth that is going to tell us much the same thing.

An Empty Gift Box
So what IS that thing these records are saying, you ask?

Well, namely that Maxwell Davis is a talented musician who, like most mortals, can’t turn water into wine or dull standards in rock classics, especially when Aladdin Records, for whom he’s working primarily as a producer, arranger, bandleader and occasional songwriter, has no real interest in making him a recording star of his own.

In other words singles like I’ll Always Be In Love With You are meant to appease him and whatever commercial aspirations of his own he may have, the thinking being that he’ll be grateful for the opportunity to release singles under his name without the label having to worry that any of them will score and take him out of the studio to earn more money touring behind a big hit.

With such modest ambitions on Aladdin’s end it’s no wonder these were nothing more than throwaways for the label, designed to merely give the illusion of opportunity without any of the associated risks for the company who want to keep him tied to a behind the scenes role that allows them to compete artistically with rival labels who have the ability to outspend or out-hustle them when it comes to promotion and/or bribery.

Ahh, just what we needed to close the book on this chapter in Davis’s career… yet another example of the classy environs he finds himself in, a humble and talented man trying to make a living in a sleazy industry while trying to not lose his soul in the process.


(Visit the Artist page of Maxwell Davis for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)

Spontaneous Lunacy has reviewed other versions of this song you may be interested in:
The X-Rays (December, 1948)
The Ray-O-Vacs (December, 1948)