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MODERN 20-778; OCTOBER 1950



A more “mature” sounding record than its rawer flip, this finds Mickey Champion veering back towards a slightly higher class night club setting… not quite mainstream jazz or pop, but with elements that were not unfamiliar to either.

As a result it may not be a perfect fit for rock ‘n’ roll but at least it shows that she could handle different terrain without much trouble.


Only To Be Fooled When I Found You Untrue
On the slightly superior flip side, I’ve Got It Bad, the basic structure of the song was firmly within the rock sphere and while it was hardly anything noteworthy – and even contained a far too prominent trumpet which dragged it down some – the redeeming quality, aside from Champion’s confident vocal, was the showcase for Pete Lewis’s fierce guitar.

Unfortunately he’s barely found on Everybody Knew It But Me which follows a much more old fashioned arrangement featuring mild horns and light piano dominating the track with negligible rhythm to bolster it.

We mentioned yesterday that it was probably her future husband Roy Milton’s band providing the bulk of the musical support and while we don’t know for sure that’s the case we can look at their recent catalog to draw some conclusions.

Though their guitarist Junior Rogers drew raves from us – in one short sentence, but he deserved more – for his work on Junior Jives, their release on Specialty from a month before this record was cut, the rest of the band was behind the curve on that song, one thing which contributed to it not being considered for these pages (the other, far more crucial, reason was Milton was firmly established as a pre-rock act who was merely appropriating a few more recent developments to draw added interest from what was now a much bigger audience… in other words, he wasn’t switching teams).

Listening to the horn section on that song you can see their mindset is still rooted in the past with those higher range tones played en masse.

That’s the same approach that’s taken here, though with even less energy, and without veteran rocker Lewis (from Johnny Otis’s group) given free reign to add something more scintillating, this can’t help but fall a little flat in terms of excitement.

Champion though is determined to see to it that she’s not penalized too much for their uninspired backing.


The Thrill Of Your Kiss Warmed Me Completely
Because she came up at the same time as Little Esther, and was discovered by Otis at the same talent contest after which he took Champion on the road following Esther’s breakthrough since his star was not old enough to play most adult clubs yet, it’s inevitable that the two female singers were compared to one another when starting out.

You can definitely hear a similarity in their styles and tones, but Champion unquestionably has the better voice, even though Esther was the better actress using that voice.

But Champion has her own distinct interpretative charms that she puts to good effect here, letting herself go a lot more in trying to sell this by raising the volume and intensity without detaching herself from the underlying sentiments of longing for someone after you’ve found they weren’t worthy of that devotion.

Everybody Knew It But Me gives her plenty of room to stretch out in that regard, the soaring lines are impressive even if they intentionally overshadow everything else. In that way this never completely settles into a comfortable groove, the two elements never completely at odds with one another but they’re also not fully easing the other’s burden. Champion soldiers on in spite of that small rift and it’s her you’ll focus most intently on as a result.

Maybe if she was given a better band arrangement it’d have made what she was doing seem more impressive, but aside from some discreet saxophone retorts everything the band does seems as if it’s holding her back even though it mostly fits the hybrid concept behind this.

For a song meant to be a showcase for the singer it merely shows that without the proper support you were going to let that singer down in the end, a universal truth no matter the style.


You Took All My Love Just For Spite
Sometimes early on in an artist’s career you just want to see what they’re made of and if looked at through that lens you’d probably say that Mickey Champion was someone to keep an eye on.

As a singer she was supremely confident and had a voice that while somewhat modest still demanded to be heard.

But the ultimate verdict on her skills would only be made clear if she was presented in the proper setting and Everybody Knew It But Me is not quite it.

This is a record that sits in stylistic limbo. It’s hinting at a lot genre traits without fully committing to any of them and so if you saw Mickey Champion singing this at a jazz club you probably wouldn’t be as put off by the musical backing but Champion may seem as if she were straining too much to be noticed and respected rather than toning things down to draw you in.

In a rock show however you’d more inclined to admire the power of the voice and the intensity with which she deployed it but would be left cold by the artificial backing.

All of which leaves us to wonder if Modern Records were going to try and split the difference with her each time out. The sad thing is if that turns out to be the case she’ll be the one who will suffer for her accomplices not fully grasping which audience she should be trying to appease.


(Visit the Artist page of Mickey Champion for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)