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File this entry under the heading “Tying Up Some Loose Ends”.

A familiar artist wth a long track record covering a record by a prominent sideman who stepped out onto his own and got an unexpected hit before the act he was associated with ever did on a song co-written by one of rock’s best early writers for hire.

Here all those threads get pulled together in one release and one review.


Just Don’t Know The Game
Let’s start with names that were fairly frequent early visitors to rock but haven’t been heard from in quite awhile but next year will return to the recording scene with their most successful commercial run.

Just to recap for those hopscotching around the reviews rather than reading them in order – not that there’s anything wrong with that – The Trenier Twins were one of the few early rock acts who were coming to the field from a successful live background that just so happened to share many traits, mostly an unbridled exhibitionism, with rock ‘n’ roll when it got off the ground back in 1947.

In fact, the best single the Trenier Twins – Cliff and Claude – put out during this period just pre-dated rock’s ground zero moment, as Buzz Buzz Buzz, released in the spring of 1947, had many of the musical characteristics that rock would pick-up on and had they simply expanded on that over the next year or so, toughened up the arrangements some, they’d have been stars right from the start.

Instead they regressed, aiming for humor that was best appreciated on stage which is where they made their living, but it didn’t translate to records, at least not yet. So after a handful of subpar releases on Mercury they were dropped from the label and went two years without setting foot in a studio.

They weren’t lacking for work though, as their live gigs kept them in demand in far classier nightclubs than most rock acts, even the most successful ones to date, could ever dream of playing.

During this time they added a third brother Milt, who along with the band’s pianist Gene Gilbeaux (who was the credited artist on the record), cut Gold Ain’t Everything for RCA in one of that highfalutin label’s periodic attempts to inch closer to rock ‘n’ roll.

In this case it was actually a successful attempt as the record, released back in the spring, became a strong regional hit in many places across the country, most notably in New Orleans where it spent many weeks on the Cash Box charts for that region in August… which is when local bandleader, singer and pianist Paul Gayten covered it (ironically at a time when his own version of Goodnight Irene was topping those charts) in an attempt to use his local celebrity – and in fact his greater national renown for that matter – to steal some of its thunder.

He didn’t in case you were wondering and today neither side is all that well known, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth hearing in whichever version you come across.

Some Women Fall For Sugar Daddies
Gayten’s record kicks off with a slow soulful, almost weeping horn backed by his own piano. It’s a male torch song, not a total rarity in music but not nearly as common as when delivered from the female perspective.

Oddly enough perhaps it was written BY a female, the great Jessie Mae Robinson penned the lyrics (Gilbeaux gets credit for the music, while Don Hill, The Treniers ace saxophonist surely contributed his own lines in the arrangement on the original) and they’re as good as you’d expect from the woman who wrote hits from everyone from Amos Milburn to Johnny Otis and Elvis Presley in the rock field to Dinah Washington, Charles Brown and Louis Jordan in pre-rock styles… even Patti Page got a smash with one of her tunes.

The key in each stanza is the unveiling of the line Gold Ain’t Everything as Robinson – as interpreted here by Gayten in a nice yearning croon – spells out all of the ways in which love goes astray and the overriding point is if you think things are going good because you shower her with gifts the truth of the matter is you’re not buying anything but time.

She flips it on its head in the second refrain when looked at from the female perspective, arguing that the girl after those things won’t be satisfied if gaudy baubles are all she gets from her man.

The song has a nice flow to it, Gayten’s occasionally stabbing piano off-setting the more languorous sax lines, but at other times the sax takes off and really cuts loose, giving the record the energy that few torch songs ever permit themselves to show, making this sort of a hybrid record in a way that doesn’t undercut its primary appeal.

You can see why it was so promising for someone like Gayten to tackle and considering that Robinson’s catalog has been mined so often over the years by countless artists, you wonder why this song hasn’t gotten more mileage since 1950. You could conceivably cut this under almost any genre heading and tweak the arrangement to suit those needs without losing the power of the composition itself.

It was right up Gayten’s alley too, as he always had a yearning to be a respected balladeer but didn’t quite have the voice to pull it off, but here, where he gets to inject some more overt emotion into the delivery he comes across great. Had this version came out a few weeks earlier chances are, at least in New Orleans, this one would’ve been the hit.

When They Need Some Real Good Lovin’
Right from rock’s earliest days – even pre-dating its official arrival – Paul Gayten has a résumé filled with interesting work. He took chances stylistically, sometimes not always for the best, but he was so versatile, such a good writer, one of the best arrangers and producers on the scene, and had an eye for musical talent rivaled by only a few (Dave Bartholomew and Johnny Otis most prominently) that you always looked forward to hearing whatever it was that he put out.

Even a cover record like Gold Ain’t Everything.

Usually we rail against the idea of covering a current hit, especially by a fellow rock act, or in this instance one still trying to secure a permanent address in the rock neighborhood, but in Gayten’s case we not only make an exception to that rule, but will go so far as to say it’s actually good for him to seek out these kind of songs done by others just to keep his muscles in shape for rock during the periods when he was prone to go too far outside rock’s boundaries when attempting to scratch a different musical itch.

Case in point… if you’d asked Gayten for his opinion on this performance, a very good rock record as evidenced by the score, he might’ve shrugged and said it was alright but he would’ve immediately told you to flip it over to hear what he considered his BEST work while he was on Regal Records – a stuffy instrumental written by his alto sax player Edward Barefield (who took the lead on the side just reviewed in a FAR different style) called Suzette.

It has absolutely nothing to do with rock ‘n’ roll, which is fine, other styles can be rewarding for different reasons of course, though personally these kind of songs seem wreak of artifice to my ears, a kind of stilted generic appropriation of high class ideals, but it shows that if left to his own devices maybe Gayten would’ve leaned more towards that end of the music spectrum at the expense of his rock output.

Ironically for both Gayten and The Treniers there were other avenues they could find success in, but those other styles didn’t need their presence to thrive, whereas rock was fueled by the creative imagination of artists of this kind.

So all things considered if this song did nothing else but keep both parties interested in rock ‘n’ roll then it’d have to be deemed a success. The fact it sounds as good as it does on top of all that confirms to anyone who cared to listen that this is where he truly belonged… as if there was ever any doubt.


(Visit the Artist page of Paul Gayten for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)