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COLUMBIA 30220; AUGUST 1950

 
 

 

A song that was a last minute addition on these pages, initially left out because it was more gimmicky than the flip side and with another Sylvia Vanderpool record coming out on its heels there seemed to be no real need to elaborate on her start as a fifteen year old rock ‘n’ roll ingénue.

But than after thinking it over it seemed kind of pointless to herald this site as meticulously chronicling the entire history of rock and then skimp on one of its most important and multi-talented female stars just as she’s getting started… after all, it’s not as if one extra review is going to set this massive project back much further.

Besides, what kind of person turns down free candy?
 

 

You Can’t Buy This Heart Of Mine
This is something more in line with what you might expect Columbia Records to come up with for a teenage girl, a record they themselves dubbed a “novelty” on the label itself, though there’s plenty of barely concealed subtext to refute any claim this was merely harmless fun.

But the problem is it tries to be both things at once – cute and innocent as well as suggestive and morally dubious since 15 year old girls like Sylvia Vanderpool (still spelled Vanterpool before she changed it soon after) shouldn’t be propositioning men nearly three times her age.

However because the surface attributes are the ones brought to the forefront they might give a better impression (ethically that is, not musically) and so unless you were giving Chocolate Candy Blues a more thorough examination as to its contents, you might miss rather racy connotations under the wrapper.

It’s one of those ideas that probably sounded good in theory… you have a girl in her teens who vocally was more than capable of sounding mature and so you take a childish subject like a fondness for candy and turn it on its head by suggesting her interest is in a far different type of sweets.

But because those two subjects don’t immediately conjure up thoughts of one another – and because they’re careful not to make lyrical references to the ways in which you COULD make them interchangeable – the entire premise just comes across as silly no matter how capable the individual participants are in their respective approaches.
 


 
 

I Don’t Need No Chocolate
The plot is laid out right away as Sylvia tells us she’s miserable because her man “thinks I’m just a kid” and did her wrong, presumably – if we read between the lines – by seeing another woman.

Let’s bypass the obvious concern here about how young Vanderpool actually is – and how old Page is by comparison – and instead go on the premise she was being presented as someone just a little older (legal age anyway) who is in a relationship with an older guy… one which is more than “just” physical yet not quite a committed romance.

She’s trying to change that and he responds by talking about candy… essentially thinking he can get away with dismissing her concerns because of her age and inexperience which is hardly a good look for ol’ Hot Lips.

Sylvia’s voice here isn’t quite as commanding or as tightly controlled in its delivery as it was on the other side as frequently she slips into her New York accent, something that was generally discouraged at the time (a decade down the road Ronnie Bennett of The Ronettes would essentially use this accent to her advantage making her sound utterly distinctive). But aside from that quirk there’s just not enough melodic flow to the song for her to latch onto, something laid bare even more whenever the instruments drop out for her deliver the stop time lyrics at various points along the way.

Essentially Chocolate Candy Blues comes across as something hastily cobbled together… the story is half-baked, the lyrics are indistinct and the melody is sparse and unmemorable. When she starts squealing away in the fade about “Tutti Frutti” – not the future Little Richard song, but rather a candy flavor – the whole thing just becomes too insipid to really care much about.

That being said though Sylvia handles most of it as well as you could hope, her personality making up for a lot of the shortcomings elsewhere, but let’s face it there’s only so much she can do here. Page for his part is neither a benefit nor a detriment to the song, his voice adds ample character as usual but what he’s tasked with delivering isn’t really worth the time.
 

Rock And Flow
If there’s going to be a saving grace here it’s gotta come from the studio band, that odd collection of jazz vets and newbies already making noise in rock circles.

It’s the rockers, namely René Hall, who makes the first contribution of note with some nice guitar licks in the opening with some modest support by Harry Van Wells on piano, and when they’re featured this does sound pretty good but they’re not given enough to during the vocal sections. This may be done out of necessity by the way the song is structured but it doesn’t lend itself to creating a very vibrant track.

The best section of Chocolate Candy Blues comes when Sylvia declaratively states what her man is going to do in a fairly dramatic stop-time section which is immediately followed by a Seldon Powell sax solo that is situated halfway between sultry and energetic with a rich gritty tone that makes you wish it was twice as long as it is.

That solo almost is enough to boost this a full point or so but unfortunately the rest of the time we get little more than unobtrusive support that is more prancing in nature than leering or explosive and though nothing stands out as out of place there’s also not much here to get excited about.

It’s an example of very capable musicians discreetly offering up only what’s called for and being content to step aside for the other aspects of the song to take center stage… except those aspects, as we’ve made clear, wither in the spotlight leaving you with very little that’s really worthwhile enough to call attention to.
 

Gone And Done Me Wrong
Though a record like this was clearly not something that Sylvia Vanderpool would pursue in the future and so it’s basically an irrelevancy in her career, there’s still glimmers of that vocal appeal that would make her so formidable in multiple personas over the years.

We have to assume that her being signed was probably contingent on her working with Page so it’s hard to find too much fault in that aspect, though it should’ve been obvious to everyone that age difference aside it was the stylistic difference that would make them incompatible in the long run.

That said, Chocolate Candy Blues, while doing her no favors, doesn’t hurt her cause going forward. A more appropriate label with its finger on the pulse of the proper market would be a good start and from there you work on finding more suitable material for her to tackle.

From there however just turn Sylvia loose and let her work her magic because this kind of stale candy isn’t very appetizing.
 
 
SPONTANEOUS LUNACY VERDICT:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
(Visit the Artist page of Sylvia Vanderpool for the complete archive of their records reviewed to date)