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Music has many different ways to reach us and each artist tries to figure out just how to bring together as many of those components as possible to win us over.

For some listeners they need to be captivated by the song’s message… a story with clever lyrics containing a strong relatable point. Others could care less about that and only want a good musical bed, something melodic and catchy with a forceful rhythmic thrust to keep them engaged.

Then there are those who want to be impressed by the technical qualities of the singers voices and the musicians abilities and will be satisfied if those are heard in abundance even if the song itself falls short in other areas.

The magic formula of course is to hope to meet all of those standards across the board so there are no weak points to be found and regardless of what somebody gravitates towards they’ll find it in that record.

It’d be shocking though if a group just starting out in rock ‘n’ roll after making the transition from gospel could achieve that feat so early after their transformation.

Sure enough The “5” Royales couldn’t completely pull that off here, but what IS somewhat unexpected is how just close they came to doing so for the second time on this single.


I Need Your Real Gone Lovin’
As stated already when covering the early secular efforts of the group formerly known as The Royal Sons Quintet, a gospel outfit out of North Carolina, is just how unprepared they claimed to be when making this jump from one genre to another.

They had no real experience in this kind of racy music, or so they said, and as a result they recycled gospel melodies and simply affixed new lyrics to them to fit the bill for their new goals, such as the case was with Courage To Love.

But I think that’s buying into The “5” Royales story a little TOO much because all of the signs you’d expect to see that they were complete novices to rock’s sensibilities are nowhere to be found in their work when starting out.

There’s no tentative or outdated musical ideas. No weak or generic storylines. Nor is there any uncertainty in their vocal deliveries.

It sounds as if they had years of experience rocking up a storm on a song like You Know I Know, where the music barrels along with a great arrangement and fervent singing while the suggestiveness of the overall concept is surely not something they picked up in Sunday School.

Almost every component is smartly conceived and well executed… save one, maybe the most important one, which is the hook of the title line itself.


My Nerves Are In A Wreck
This is a record that sounds better in passing than those of us who grade it based on the combined effect of the individual attributes will be willing to credit.

The overall impact of the song, especially as the flip side of a more languorous ballad, is supercharged, bursting with energy and intensity, giving the record an excitement that causes it to almost leap off the turntable.

Johnny Tanner’s lead is vibrant and self-assured, starting off with a stop-time declaration that is drenched in echo and makes it sound as if he’s almost trying to replicate the thunderous sound of a god of some sort before launching into the melodic groove that is taken just a little faster than most rock grooves ever thought to try.

The backing vocals may be a little slight but it’s made up for by the top notch arrangement which features cracking drums and a great saxophone filling in all of the dry spots. The ensuing solo somehow manages to both slow things down enough so the record stays within marked lanes, but at the same time give it a boost of adrenaline in spots with its muscular tone that hints at more excitement to follow.

All of this is confidently pulled off, showing no signs of uncertainty when it comes to just how to approach rock ‘n’ roll. But where it goes a wrong to a degree is in sort of misleading us, or at least keeping us in the dark more than we’d like, by insisting You Know I Know, when in fact we don’t know nearly enough about the song’s meaning.

Okay, okay, we DO know he’s saying that his girl “should” know that what he wants from her is sex. That’s hardly a secret and it’s a good sign that former gospel singers have no trouble admitting such a thing. But the problem is the repetitive nature of the title line, spitting it out multiple times through each cycle, exacerbated by the fact the word “know” is found three times apiece in all three spins through that refrain, which can’t help but make us a bit numb to the message.

It’s not that it doesn’t sound okay phonetically when married to the equally full-throttled backing – it does – but there’s a nagging tendency for human beings to associate words with meaning and come to a conclusion based on those meanings and here the meaning is too elusive to make the rest of the lyrics hit harder. Think of it like being so distracted by a magician’s misdirection that we miss the actual trick itself.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a better than average record and one that’s easy to get caught up in, but there are still a few kinks to work out before fully giving ourselves over to their charms.


I’m Gonna Get You Yet
In spite of our reservations about it falling short of true greatness, audiences at the time gave this even better grades than we will, making it a legitimate hit – albeit regionally – in some of the country’s most important markets including New York, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Newark.

Certainly You Know I Know is exciting and shows The “5” Royales have a certain instinctual gift in what they do, but when not everything clicks quite as well as it should this comes across more as a sneak preview of what they’re capable of rather than verified confirmation on their potential.

Still, isn’t that what you’d realistically be hoping for at this stage if you were neophytes in rock ‘n’ roll… and for that matter if you were Apollo Records, a label without enough of a track record to be major players in the field yet.

With this they’d accomplished their short-range goals in piquing the interest of the public. For the label it was record distributors, jukebox operators and radio disc jockeys they needed to reach, while the group now had their hooks in the mass audience who suddenly had a new group to look forward to hearing more from down the road, as now it can safely be said that we all know that they know what they’re doing.


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