No tags :(

Share it




One of the most pertinent lessons around here is how all records need to be viewed in the context of their time.

A great record from 1952 sounds exactly the same in 2022 but would not have anywhere near the same impact if it were released today because times have changed. This means unless you’re simply judging things on your own unique personal tastes – an exercise which is self-indulgent by nature and utterly worthless to anyone but you – you have to take into account the era and style in which it first appeared and how it fit into that specific landscape as well as determining how it may have shaped the era immediately following it.

This was a hit record by a huge star that should have no problem meeting those requirements across the board, and yet, as good as it is, the context shows that it’s also an example of how another record preceding it winds up getting more influence while giving this one considerably less.


That Shiny Moon’s Above
Do you want to be the leader of the pack in life, or simply a follower?

In just three years as a recording star Ruth Brown has been both.

She was a follower in that she initially preferred to sing pop torch ballads and light jazz, maybe with a hint of uptown blues in the margins, yet because those fields were not going to be commercially hospitable for her as the Nineteen Fifties approached Atlantic Records gently nudged – and then forcibly shoved – her into rock ‘n’ roll.

But once there she became a leader, not just as the most commercially successful female of her era, someone whose popularity opened the door for countless other women to sing uptempo rock, but also because her own personal style was starting to encourage blatant imitators in how she put over a song.

Yet on 5-10-15 Hours she once again becomes a follower, albeit only for this one record, and not because of anything she herself chose to do.

Instead it was Atlantic Records who had this great song by Rudolph Toombs called 5-10-15 Minutes… “of your love”, as the tagline went, which showed a very horny Ruth Brown desperate to have her man alone for a quickie in the broom closet or under the apple tree or wherever they could get each other off. It was racy, yet true to life, presenting a perfectly believable situation that any woman could relate to – and any man could fantasize about.

But because The Dominoes scored big last spring by boasting about Lovin’ Dan, the Sixty Minute Man, who kept his girl rockin’ and rollin’ for a full hour in bed, Atlantic took Toombs’ recently submitted composition and changed the title, the lyrics – and frankly the entire meaning – of the song to not seem paltry by comparison.

Everything else about it, the terrific arrangement and expert playing by the band, the sassy delivery of Brown and the remaining lyrics which painted the same picture of yearning desire as the original did, stayed the same.

But that one reactionary change they made under self-imposed pressure to compete with a year old hit unquestionably weakened the message of the song in the process and positioned them all as followers.


Love Ya, Love Ya, Baby
After that lead-in I’m sure a lot of you devoted fans of this record are now conditioned to expect the worst. A scathing criticism of the lunkheads at Atlantic and a withering review of the record in question for kowtowing to some far-fetched notion of keeping up with the Joneses… or the other Browns as it were (Bill Brown, no relation, who sang lead on that hit for The Dominoes).

Well, you’re only half right. Atlantic has already been criticized for their decision and will get a few more barbs thrown their way and deservedly so.

But the record itself still SOUNDS great and ultimately that will ward off enough of that criticism to allow this to still get a respectable score, even if it’s not as high as it would be if they didn’t artificially prolong their sexual proclivities for the sake of showing off for their neighbors in the record biz.

But first the good… or the great in this case… which is Ruth Brown, who sounds absolutely mesmerizing on 5-10-15 Hours, her voice smoldering with lust, alternately cooing her words to draw his attention, then squealing with anticipation to raise his temperature (along with anything else that needs raising) before ratcheting up the stakes in the chorus by audibly conveying a sense of aching in her loins which she is insisting only he can soothe.

It’s not a song about the climax in other words, but rather the anticipation, and for that it works wonders. This is musical foreplay of the highest order, Brown’s always in control, while her aim on both his libido and his ego is remarkably precise, never coming on TOO strong so that he’ll feel diminished because she’s in control, yet all the while she’s guiding him to her… well, to her musical G spot I’d guess you’d say.

Meanwhile the band is blended so adroitly into the mix that they let you keep your focus riveted on Brown while still adding so much texture of their own. The way in which they respond to each line with tantalizing piano riffs simulating the flirtatiousness of her aims during her come-ons is oh so enticing. Then they drive the point home with grunting saxophone blasts when she sheds her decorum in the choruses followed by the moan of the sax to provide an aural release after the presumed physical release they would have just shared. Even the languid sax solo curls into the air like the proverbial cigarette after the act is finished.

Brilliant stuff… except for the time it takes for all of this to go down… in the story that is.


‘Til The Broad Daylight
For all of you too young, too old, too unattractive or too scared of the opposite sex to regularly be experiencing such things in your life, my apologies and condolences. But this is a vital aspect of understanding not only this record, but also The Dominoes hit which altered Ruth Brown’s single and the way in which rock ‘n’ roll in general had broken the glass ceiling when it came to dealing with sex on record and why that was a big part of the music’s appeal and lasting influence.

Though sex can take very little time at all or be drawn out to the point of sensual indulgence, generally speaking most people get the job done somewhere BETWEEN the two time extremes in the original version of this as written – five minutes – and the full sixty minutes boasted about by The Dominoes.

An hour of continuous lovemaking is impressive, while five minutes is rather abrupt, but in the circumstances described by Ruth the latter would be totally understandable. She wanted her fella so much that even a paltry five minutes would be preferable to no lovin’ at all.

That was the whole point of the song. Even though she wants more, she is willing to take him in whatever limited time they have, just as long as she gets him.

By changing that time frame to 5-10-15 Hours it means something else entirely. She’s not settling for whatever she can get, she’s demanding him for a whole day. In one fell swoop she goes from having to entice him any way she can, making hers the weaker position at the start until through her seduction she becomes the more powerful one by getting him to go along with her in this midday tryst, to now being the dominant one from the start, flipping the whole narrative on its head.

Yes, that perspective still has its own merits – though make sure you have enough lube for god’s sake if you’re planning on 15 hours of anything – but now Brown’s tactics ring hollow. She no longer has to plead for him, grateful for what she can get. If anything he’s going to plead with her to take a breather so certain parts don’t start to break down.

Still a great record, but no longer a perfect one.

Prove My Love To You
We’ve said it before but it bears repeating… words mean things.

Change the words, you change the meaning. Lyrics tell stories and those stories have to make sense in the context of their goals, if not then a crucial aspect of a song’s identity falls short.

The way it’s reconfigured 5-10-15 Hours becomes a tall-tale, a purposeful exaggeration (or a scene in typical porn movie) rather than an honest expression of a woman’s sexual craving.

By turning it into fable it actually works to undercut the advances that rock had made in liberating authentic sexual expression. After all, if it’s treated as almost farcical then it becomes okay not to take any of it seriously. It all becomes a harmless joke.

So let’s go back to the context and change one thing about this and hopefully you’ll see and appreciate the difference. Had the two records in question switched places in the release schedule and Brown put out hers last year they would have had no reason to replace the original lyrics. You would’ve gotten the better story and an equal performance that rang true. Meanwhile The Dominoes hit, now released this month instead, would still have had the same impact in raising the sexual stakes to the limit but wouldn’t have forced Atlantic’s hand to alter their star’s material.

Instead, unable to comprehend that aspect of the scenario couldn’t be taken any further, this record trips itself up ever so much by trying to top it in the shallowest manner possible and it’s only because Toombs, Brown and the band are SO good they manage to overcome it and still deliver something really enjoyable in the end.

Of course if Atlantic Records happened to be (very) early investors in Viagra then you can disregard this entire premise as then the record would simply be an advertisement that was a half century ahead of its time.


(Visit the Artist page of Ruth Brown for the complete archive of her records reviewed to date)