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After the emotional explosion which ripped a hole through the rock landscape on the top side of this single, Apollo Records could’ve put a recording of owner Bess Berman grouting tile on the B-side and it wouldn’t have mattered. People still would’ve bought the record in droves.

Luckily for us The “5” Royales came prepared with something a little more exciting than that and in the process showed that while this may not be quite as monumental, that doesn’t mean it’s not as good in its own right.

Maybe it’s the other rock groups who will be forced to compete with them for the next few years who should look into grouting tile as a second job, because after hearing this two-sided gem they must be asking themselves – how can they hope to beat these guys?


Ease Up On The Pressure
A few years into rock’s lifespan and Apollo Records has been something of an afterthought.

This is kind of hard to comprehend. A New York based independent label whose success in Black music over the past decade was fairly impressive, albeit largely in gospel, the fact is when they made an attempt to recruit rock groups they have stumbled more often than they soared.

Maybe then it’s not surprising that considering their specialty the best shots they had to make an impact in this genre came with two former gospel groups turned rockers. The first were The Larks, who gave them two national hits in rather bluesy fashion which was atypical for the style they mostly represented, before the group fell apart this past year leaving behind them some really good, and very diverse, records that should have done better commercially.

The second gospel act they converted to a rock group were The “5” Royales and since they’ve now struck paydirt with Baby Don’t Do It, a soon to be chart topping hit on the top half of this single, you think maybe they’ve learned from their mistakes.

A more likely reason is maybe The “5” Royales and the label’s new bandleader, Charlie “Little Jazz” Ferguson, one time sax star for The Drops Of Joy, who’d been Jimmy Liggins’ crack group in the late 1940’s rock scene, knew what they were doing and thus weren’t prone to suffer any stylistic interference from the higher ups at the label.

Indicative of this self-assurance is Take All Of Me, a structurally creative, wild and racy workout that is the perfect coupling with their more intense emotional performance on the hit side.

Despite its own adrenaline fueled power, this one probably couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the stir caused by other song, but for those who had the good sense to turn the record over, they’d be rewarded for what they found… as would Apollo Records, who at last have a cornerstone for their rock output and should have the good sense to just get out of the way from now on and let them do their thing.


Hold It, Don’t Roll It, Take It Easy Baby And Control It!
Later on when looking back on their career, the other members of the group would joke that early in their rock days Lowman Pauling, their guitarist, baritone singer and songwriter didn’t know HOW to write for this idiom, coming as they all did from gospel, so he merely adapted gospel melodies.

Well, we saw that in their first secular releases for sure, but honestly it was short-lived and has already passed. Certainly Take All Of Me is about as far removed from gospel as it gets.

Sure their vocal idiosyncrasies might still suggest a link between the two, but that’s their upbringing talking, their outlook on the other hand now is someplace much, much different. They open this with a stop-time solo vocal from Johnny Tanner complaining about his lot in life – old age among them (he was still 25 when this was cut in the fall) – in starkly dramatic fashion. When the others come in however the record seems to spill out sound in every conceivable direction.

How they accomplish this shows the power of musical concentration, as each is doing different things and yet they are still able to come together at precisely the right moment for shared vocals at the end of the stanzas. The musicians, Charlie Ferguson’s booting sax and Herb Lovelle’s wild drumming in particular, are used to each playing their own parts regardless of what others are doing around them. That’s their job after all.

Vocalists though, while in tight harmony structures they each need to stay true to their note, are still following the same melody. But here they’re not because they aren’t really singing at all behind Tanner, they’re yelling, shouting, dropping ribald comments, yet while it sounds chaotic there’s such precision in it, ensuring you can hear every word without them drowning each other out, all pulling together to finally sing as they approach the chorus.

It all sounds exhausting to do, yet fun as hell to listen to and that’s before even getting to the song’s underlying plot, which we can understand you overlooking with all that’s going on. But if you do miss it, you’re sure missing a lot because the reason he’s so worked up is because his girlfriend apparently is a sex maniac.

At least that’s the only explanation I can come up with why he’s both so excited and “so weak” because as he makes abundantly clear “she’s trying to Take All Of Me”.

Now it could be that she’s just demanding too much of him in other areas – his money and time and attention for instance – but one listen to the shouts of exuberance from the others and the band’s matching that enthusiasm and you’d have a hard time proving that he’s just tired from having to do the dishes and fold the laundry last night. No, his romantic paranoia comes from the fact she is literally screwing him to death… but what a way to go!

By the end of the record you’re as exhausted as they are, but if you want to take it easy and rest your body and your conscience, maybe you can be the one to tell them you’d rather they return to gospel music.


You Know I’m Not Able To Take It
It’s a tricky thing to appear to be both out of control and maintain a firm grip on the song at the same time. You’d think one or the other would have to give, but the way The “5” Royales pull it off so effortlessly only makes it harder to believe that a year ago they had no experience with rock ‘n’ roll whatsoever.

Call them fast learners or enthusiastic students if you want, but in the end this still comes down to desire.

We saw awhile back another group with gospel backgrounds, The Du-Droppers, attempt a similar transformation. Actually theirs may have been a shorter leap to make, as only their lead singer had sung gospel professionally, whereas The “5” Royales may not have recorded much as The Royal Sons Quintet, but they toured the South for long time as an up and coming gospel act.

Anyway, while that other group tried to convincingly show their willingness to rock, they were clearly holding back on their supposed racier side Can’t Do Sixty No More, while on the flip they were basically using pure gospel technique on a secular song. They’ll eventually learn the difference and make the adjustment, but that shows it’s not as simple as just making the intellectual decision to change styles, you need to commit to it emotionally as well.

Here The “5” Royales are basically pledging themselves to the rock lifestyle, telling it in no uncertain terms to Take All Of Me. There’s no ambiguity, no uneasiness, no second thoughts about it. They made the change wholeheartedly and they aren’t looking back.

Of course maybe that’s a little easier to do when on one side of this single you score a #1 hit and on this side you’re having wild parties with a shapely naked young girl… but then again, what else would expect in rock ‘n’ roll… a prayer meeting?

If so, let’s pray for more records like this one, where each side is utter perfection. You can’t do better than that.


(Visit the Artist page of The “5” Royales for the complete archive of their records reviewed to date)