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RPM 324; JUNE 1951



For those confused by the stylistic idiosyncrasies of the top side of this release which were ahead of their time for 1951, this side is much more “normal” sounding.

The trade off for that familiarity however is that it’s not nearly as as distinctive and subsequently not quite as good.

It still IS good, don’t worry, but it’s just that Rosco Gordon’s skills in the usual departments, like singing, were never his strongest suit and so when you emphasize those it’s up to everything around him to make up for that.


Tell Me What’s Your Name
Not that this should matter but to head off anyone pointing out the spelling discrepancy of Rosco Gordon’s name on these reviews, RPM added the “e” at the end of it on the labels – which is traditionally how the name is spelled – but Gordon spelled it without that last letter and a person has the right to choose how they spell their own name.

On his first record Roscoe’s Boogie it was a tougher decision since the title people will look up is spelled that way, but from now on it’s going to be Rosco with no “e”. Get used to it.

Anyway, the record… a good one, certainly one easier to pick up on what he’s doing because it follows a much more traditional structure, but in a way it only proves why quirky artists should always lean into what makes them unique rather than try and downplay it. Better to stand out than blend in.

Of course Gordon CAN blend in just fine as he proves on Ouch! Pretty Baby, but his pinched nasal vocals are never going to be the kind of thing that will lure listeners on their own. Much like other artists who sing through their noses – Floyd Dixon foremost among them – this malady often requires truly great material and arrangements just to offset their main feature, whereas if you deliver something so distinctive in other ways, the voice is the last thing that gets noticed.

Here there’s nothing much distinctive about the song itself but what it has is a tight band playing an infectious rolling groove which makes it hard to resist in spite of Gordon’s technical limitations.


Good Evening, Everybody
The intro with Gordon’s piano being crudely answered by the horns, the musical equivalent of giving somebody the raspberry, means you don’t get into that groove for a few seconds but once the rhythm starts then it doesn’t leave, letting you ride that without really having too pay all that much attention to what Gordon is saying if you choose.

Maybe that’s not the worst thing either because some of the lyrics are slightly clunky… a decent story that could’ve been worked out better to make the lines flow a little more naturally.

He’s flirting with a girl and is confident in his ability to get her, even going so far as to say the outcome doesn’t really concern him, so you admire his attitude if nothing else. But when you can play a solid boogie like he can you have every right to be picky about who’s on your arm and he shows off a rock solid left hand that anchors Ouch! Pretty Baby and keeps it locked in for the duration.

If she’s a music fan why would she turn that kind of guy down unless he snores in bed or doesn’t take out the trash?

He never deviates from that solid pattern after that intro but he doesn’t have to, for he’s got a horn section that sounds as if they were imported from New Orleans along for the ride who are providing tight economical riffs that are simple but remarkably effective. Between the two they have you whether coming or going, as whichever way you turn there’s something pleasantly addicting there to greet you.

Standing By Yourself
As for Gordon’s other job, his vocals, as stated the story is pretty basic without any plot twists, but where we begin to realize that he’s fully aware of his own shortcomings and knows how to compensate for them, is in the middle eight where he utters nonsense – lots of vowels and consonants that don’t care which order they’re placed in – which takes the onus off the voice itself and instead allows you to focus on the feeling he utters these “words” with.

Later on he does it again by expressing the first word of the title, Ouch! Pretty Baby, or more accurately “Owwww!”, as if he got his finger caught between the keys somehow and is trying to pull it out without losing a digit.

The point though is the same – to use his voice as an instrument rather than for vernacular reasons. This method also allows the voice itself to be heard rather than give too much time over to instruments and risk being seen as a secondary feature on his own record.

There IS a sax solo however, which is pretty well played and carries a nice melody and tone throughout with some credible improvising. The sax player even gets a shout out by Rosco – “Blow your horn!” – another way for him to inject himself back into the mix even when he’s not out in front.

Considering that Gordon’s experience in the studio was so limited you have to admit that his basic understanding of the role each element of a band plays in putting together a record is impressive and the result is a fun record to listen to even if the individual components on their own are more run of the mill by nature.


I’m Here To Stay
Because of those well documented idiosyncrasies we talked about earlier, Rosco Gordon wasn’t somebody who’d jump out at you as a potential star and consistent hit-maker, yet just two singles into his career he’s shown that you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

Three of the four sides he’s put out have been above average and even Ouch! Pretty Baby, which is the most generic of them, has interesting qualities which allows it to stand apart from the usual output of the day, even if just a little.

There’s more than one route to becoming a successful artist and when you’re not blessed with the means to take the most direct path, you need to get creative.

Gordon’s original concepts assured him of making headway down those other roads, but here he shows that he can still take a more well traveled street and get to his destination all the same.


(Visit the Artist page of Rosco Gordon for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)