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OKEH 6847; DECEMBER 1951



In many ways this was the culmination of Paul Gayten’s ambitions as a recording artist.

Having started out on a small independent label, DeLuxe, in 1947, he’d scored with some pop leaning material, both on his own and with Annie Laurie, only to find that it coincided with the advent of rock ‘n’ roll which pushed him in another direction.

He was a natural at rock though and seemed perfectly comfortable with it, but he also longed to write and play “respectable” music with jazz and pop appeal and found himself slightly frustrated when his efforts in that realm failed to elicit the same response as his rockers. When he transferred to Regal Records, run by the same brothers who had owned DeLuxe, the commercial situation hadn’t changed just because the name of the company had and as before his loftier aspirations were often commercially stillborn.

But now he’s moved to a major label – or at least Columbia’s subsidiary – and while OKeh Records itself was definitely geared towards rock, he was sure to find a sympathetic ear within the larger company for the kind of music he still longed to conquer.

At least that’s what he seemed to hope would be the case with a record like this.


Since You Found Somebody Else
We probably should put a bow on the brief two year run of Regal Records, which for all intent and purpose was simply DeLuxe Part Two, minus the presence of Roy Brown after the Braun Brothers were swindled out of it by Syd Nathan whose King Records conglomerate had stepped in with financial assistance a few years back because Nathan wanted its artists for himself.

The case wound up in courts and had just been settled with the Brauns getting some modest satisfaction in the deal, but apparently it soured them on the business end of this scuzzy field and they divested themselves of their artists and turned to making children’s records because as we know kids don’t tend to file lawsuits over things.

Give the Brauns credit though, they didn’t hand over these artists, including Larry Darnell, Titus Turner along with Gayten and Laurie, to King Records as Syd Nathan had probably expected and hoped for all along.

Nope, the Brauns sold their contracts to OKeh who’d already shown they were different than most major label off-shoots as they were actively trying to build a credible roster of rock acts and let them do their thing rather than tone them down for mass acceptance as other companies had done.

But in spite of that Paul Gayten wasn’t necessarily wrong to think this would be a more hospitable place for his attempts at crossover appeal. Heck, Johnnie Ray had issued his first (slightly rock-flavored) song on OKeh before being switched to Columbia where he was now enjoying the biggest two-sided hit of the past few years, so Gayten figured he might make the same move if the pop-leaning Lonesome For My Baby impressed the brass enough.

Thankfully he failed in his attempts, but it always helps to study these types of missteps so that what follows will make a little more sense.

I Just Can’t Help Myself
You know by the big band horns that open this that we’re not really welcome at this party.

Naturally being rock fans and seeing Paul Gayten’s name on the label we’re showing up anyway, but if he’s going to insist on playing songs this far out of date we’re going to be sitting a lot of these dances out while spiking the punch and telling off-color jokes in the corner until the chaperones forcibly throw us out.

Gayten though is oblivious to our discontent, crooning alongside a female vocalist… not Annie Laurie, as you’d expect, but rather Carmen Mendez who doesn’t get much to do aside from harmonizing on Lonesome For My Baby, a song that is about as boring thematically as it is musically.

The story – one meant not to offend anyone, even accidentally – finds Gayten pining away for a girl, presumably ignoring the one sharing the microphone with him. His position is that of contemptible weakness set to music designed to highlight his longing in true wallflower fashion.

It’s not the fact he’s missing somebody he likes and presumably was dating at one point that bothers us, but rather that he’s insisting on telling us about his misery rather than actually doing something about it. Sad sack tales are tedious without some conflict laying under the surface to act as an abrasive element.

That doesn’t mean he has to describe a fight or vow retribution for her leaving, but rather he’s got to be conflicted internally, or at the very least express that rift in his heart through the music… like creating a dance groove that’s uplifting while he’s down in the dumps, or telling us about why he went to this shindig to mask his true feelings and not let on how much he’s hurting.

Instead we never have reason to question – or care about – his state of mind. He’s sad, the music is weary and he’s trying to bring us down with him when all we did was come to drink and dance and forget our own troubles, not to be saddled with his.

Need Your Arms Around Me Tightly
In spite of the decidedly modest arrangement he’s given this to keep it well within acceptable lanes and not show any real artistic drive, he’s helped by Howard Bigg’s knack for writing catchy melodies and their combined efforts at imbuing the track with a few nice musical touches.

These may not be the most cutting edge ideas we’ve seen out of Gayten, far from it actually, but the gently swaying tune conjures up the image of palm trees blowing in the misty night air as a tropical depression is brewing miles off the coast, kind of the calm before the storm.

Unfortunately we don’t GET the storm in the arrangement, for even the saxophone solo is relatively subdued despite frequently employing the kind of tone in its playing that pop generally avoided, which is precisely what helps to ease Lonesome For My Baby a little closer to rock credibility.

The vocals are well judged too as Paul knows he’s not the strongest singer in the world but has a good sense of his limitations and works within those boundaries to create a fairly pleasant listening experience, something helped greatly by Mendez taking the edge off his somewhat quirky voice when she joins him.

None of this really makes the record something you’d seek out, especially if you were hoping to see OKeh push Gayten to embrace his rock persona a bit more so as to help establish the label as a legitimate outlet for that kind of music, but it’s also not something you’d necessarily turn your nose up at in utter disgust even though it may hold no interest for you personally. It’s just too easy-going and harmless to elicit that kind of angry response.

I know, that’s hardly the kind of bold statement in a review that Gayten was hoping for… A record that won’t inspire nor offend audiences!… but he’s got to take what he can get when he strays so far from his most successful sounds.

There’s Nothing More I Can Say
Considering how much we rail against record companies who attempt to stifle their rock artists creativity by forcing them to move in a more genteel direction that might attract a glimmer of mainstream interest, we can hardly turn around and find fault with the artist when they’re the ones moving that way in order to scratch that same creative itch.

We might not like the results it produces and we admit that if it is successful and they leave us behind we certainly won’t follow them down that road, but they have every right to try and make music that stimulates them no matter what WE think about it.

So we’ll grant Paul Gayten that much and say that while Lonesome For My Baby isn’t to our liking stylistically, it contains enough musical inspiration to be tolerated even by those who aren’t up for a spin through pop land where they serve finger sandwiches rather than barbecue ribs, where ties are always required as opposed to shoes and shirts being optional, and where the dance ends by nine o’clock at night so its patrons can get to bed, whereas we’re used to getting up at 9 PM and hitting the dance an hour later when the doors open at the kind of joints we frequent.

In fact, maybe it’s a GOOD thing that Gayten landed in a new environment, one which he hoped would be hospitable to this type of idea, because once it fails to get enough sales he’ll quickly find out that it’s not always sharing the same musical tastes as your superiors that generates support from a label, but rather it’s how many units you move which ensures you’ll get more chances at making records.

The market rules.


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