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CORAL 65026; MARCH, 1950

 
 

 

When the question being asked before publication is: “Why the hell are we reviewing THIS record?”, it probably stands to reason the results of that review are going to be pretty damn scathing, so depending on your interest in colorful criticism it’d be entirely understandable if this was an entry you’d just barely skim over, or even skip altogether.

Of course that disclaimer might be just a ruse to get a really curious historian visiting this site to wonder what exactly was it that allowed such a worthless record to slip into the roll call of releases here and trick them into reading further to find out why.

Either way, you can’t say we didn’t warn you!
 

 

Right On Out Of This World
Any time a group is formed to take advantage of a movement already underway rather than springing up organically out of that movement the chances for lasting artistic authenticity are going to be pretty slim and already, just two singles into their career, it’s obvious The Beavers have run out of road.

Making their intrusion all the more notable is the fact that I’d Rather Be Wrong Than Blue was just done last month by The Shadows, another group with a somewhat tenuous grip on rock’s artistic merits.

So it’s pretty telling that The Shadows less than stellar rendition of I’d Rather Be Wrong Than Blue puts this version to utter shame which brings us back to the question of why even bother reviewing this if it’s a disgrace to the aesthetic qualities rock champions?

Well hopefully by spotlighting a group on the fringes of rock, one that was rather cynically offered up as authentic by their handlers to begin with, we can show just how much intent and conviction in the task at hand factors into the success or failure of said group to make a name for themselves in rock.
 


 

Wrong To Do The Things I Do
Though the dainty piano that opens this is (barely) tolerable for a rock ballad, the same can’t be said for the vocal attitude once John Wilson opens his mouth. You’ll note that it hadn’t been Wilson but rather Freddy Hamilton who sang lead on the other two sides of theirs we covered, including their one halfway decent effort I Gotta Do It, and the difference in their deliveries is telling.

Whereas Hamilton had a modicum of earthiness – even soulfulness if you wanted to really stretch the definition to its limit – Wilson sounds like a starched shirt that was then dipped in quick-drying cement just to make sure it was stiff as humanly possible. When making passing judgments on the lead singers of pop-leaning vocal groups it saves a lot of time to look for two things that immediately disqualify you from consideration as rockers – overly precise enunciation and open-throated “airy” deliveries.

Those are pop traits, the kind that a thousand and one Ink Spots influenced acts had adopted as their own before discovering by the late 1940’s that those characteristics were on the outs in the young black community tired of conforming to white sensibilities by downplaying their own emotions in song. Apparently Wilson hadn’t gotten the message as he serves up I’d Rather Be Wrong Than Blue as if he were deathly afraid of not pronouncing his diphthongs properly.

As a result the entire song’s message comes across as cold, distant and without meaning. Wilson’s an outsider to the very story he’s telling, a detached narrator rather than an active participant. The song floats by your senses, never finding a place to land and even if it did it’d be far too wispy to ever feel.

Maybe the best way to put it – for those who still find the voices and harmonies “nice” – is to ask yourself this question… If someone you didn’t quite know well yet used a similar tone of voice when speaking to you what would your reaction be? Surprise, I’m guessing, but beyond that – suspicion? Alarm? Scorn? Whatever it was, it sure wouldn’t be trust or rapport.

That’s it’s biggest failure, if your delivery comes across as patently phony while singing a song reliant on warmth and tenderness to put across, who on earth is ever going to buy what you’re saying?
 

String Along
The rest of the attributes on this record hardly can make up for that death-knell.

For starters as a composition I’d Rather Be Wrong Than Blue is very slight by nature, a gentle rumination on the vagaries of love with naïve dream-laden vows serving as the supposed emotional pull. The musical accompaniment is almost nonexistent, Biggs’ is present but you’d hardly be an alarmist if you got someone to check his pulse. Likewise the drummer is doing just enough to assure you that rigor mortis hasn’t set in.

The other Beavers may sound modestly competent behind Wilson during the bulk of the song when all they’re asked to contribute is the “Do-do-doo-doots” and wordless harmonies, but as soon as they’re given lines of their own to sing they follow Wilson down the path of archaic pop acts from a decade earlier and get lost in the fog. Whoever is taking the bridge in a weak effeminate falsetto sounds almost as if he’s doing it as lark… at least you HOPE he is, but he’s not, it’s done straight and any hope you had that the others would lift this above execrable to merely awful is lost.

So why then – to get back to the original premise – ARE we covering this again? I mean, we skipped over their pop-lite flip side of their debut – also led by Wilson – called If You See Tears In My Eyes, so why should this be any different? Couldn’t we just pass it off as their obligatory stab for pop acceptance while acknowledging the other sides were their attempts to pass muster as rockers?

Normally that’s what we’d do but since The Shadows DID in fact take this same song into the rock realm, albeit only barely, we figured it was worth explaining those circumstances a little. You see, Joe Thomas, The Ravens former vocal coach, put this group together to try and take advantage of the rock vocal group boom and the guy who was giving Thomas a break in signing The Beavers was Paul Kapp, the manager of The Delta Rhythm Boys whom Thomas had worked with before. Kapp’s brother Dave was a Vice President with Decca, hence Paul put in a good word for them with his brother.

Record company shenanigans in other words, simple nepotism in a roundabout way.

But one of Paul’s other groups was The Jubilaires which had spawned none other than The Shadows who cut this same song back in December… before it got released by The Beavers. Likewise so too did the Delta Rhythm Boys in February, though at least they were on the Decca label themselves which makes their rendition a little more sensible.

All of which tells us that even the Kapp brothers didn’t have much faith in The Beavers and were just doing a friend a favor and in the process were going to attempt to get to get something out of it for themselves by having anyone and everyone they were connected with cut the song in hopes one might get some action with it. Truthfully though it didn’t do ANY of them – the Kapps, The Shadows, The Delta Rhythm Boys, Decca OR The Beavers much good. It just wasn’t that worthwhile a song.
 

Get The Mops
Since this is the last we’ll see of these in-over-their-heads interlopers let’s at least end their story on a relative good note.

As we detailed in their first review last fall The Beavers had been riding high on the charts then thanks to their uncredited background vocals on Herb Lance’s Top Ten R&B Hit That Lucky Old Sun. Now as their own recording career was winding down just a few months later they were enjoying an even bigger hit… although with no credit this time around either.

Two months back we met Doc Sausage who delivered a fair – albeit enthusiastic – version of the most ubiquitous hit of the winter of 1950 in Rag Mop, which put that long-time musical vagabond on the map, however briefly. In that review we mentioned all of the other renditions of that silly record that were selling like hotcakes to the befuddled masses starting with The Ames Brothers #1 pop hit. But we made special mention of Lionel Hampton’s version which was quite popular as well.

Now what Hamp was doing messing around with such silly nonsense is beyond us, but joining him on the record spelling out the idiotic hook in the chorus were none other than The Beavers. Of course because Hampton was a star for Decca and since his other records featuring similar group vocals had been credited to his band as The Hamptones, that’s what this got released as too, meaning The Beavers were deprived any recognition for their second Top Ten hit in the span of six months.

That neither of those records had been made with them as the focal point and their parts conceivably could’ve been carried out by any number of anonymous voices that pretty much tells you what their best bet for a sustained career should’ve been all along.
 
 
SPONTANEOUS LUNACY VERDICT:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
(Visit the Artist page of The Beavers for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)
 
 

 
Spontaneous Lunacy has reviewed other versions of this song you may be interested in:
 
The Shadows (February, 1950)