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DECCA 28092; APRIL 1952



We closed out the review of the far better than expected – almost rocking – flip side by asking whether The Blenders would double down on that more vigorous attempt to ingratiate themselves with rock fans by discarding the pop mannerisms they’d showed over the past few years, or if they’d return to singing demure songs that excited no one.

We might not have a definitive answer here but we at least have some indication that old habits die hard, which might wind up being more than we can say for their careers if they’re not careful.


If I Only Knew You’d Have Me
Instead of jumping right into the criticism, let’s start by saying that the pairing of an uptempo bass-sung tune and a breathy tenor-led ballad is a good game plan on paper.

You want to show two sides of your artistic persona if at all possible, for that not only gives two different types of rock fans a chance to be satisfied with the single, but it also gives the artist and record label a better sense of what to pursue in the future should one side draw more interest.

But the key to that working well is having two high quality performances so that you’re at least comparing fresh fruit in this apples to oranges matchup rather than trying to discern anything from pitting a juicy piece of citrus against a worm ridden crabapple.

Not that I’d Be A Fool Again is going to cause indigestion by any means. It’s not awful – and by that I mean it’s not purely pop – but it’s also not tapping into the soulfulness of the best rock ballads where the lead singer’s heart is being exposed for the listening audience to examine under a microscope.

Instead we have a song that hints at genuine emotion, maybe even simulates it convincingly at times, but never grabs you in a desperate bid to win you over no matter the cost… and in the end that winds up costing The Blenders dearly.

What’s Inside of Me?
To be fair, The Blenders are legitimately trying to impart a more authentic exploration of their feelings… but still somehow failing at it.

Not completely maybe but it does show just how difficult it was for those who came of age just before rock reared its ugly head to fully grasp the differences between the clean purity of pop, where feelings are rarely revealed in the vocal reading itself, but rather in the lyrics, melody and carefully orchestrated arrangement, and that of rock which relies on the singer purging their emotions in an uninhibited fashion to get across that which not even the words can honestly describe.

The ironic thing is I’d Be A Fool Again actually lays this out in one stanza, the very thing we’re talking about, when Ollie Jones sings “If my friends could see what’s inside of me would they turn away each time they hear me say…” as he goes on about his love for this girl.

What the song – and Jones in his reading of it – doesn’t seem to understand is that it’s HIS job to get his friends, and his audience, to see that very thing for themselves by how he delivers it!

Instead he uses a breathy voice to try and suggest he’s distraught over the longing he has for the one he loves, but which only convinces us he’s in need of a paper bag to breathe into so he doesn’t hyperventilate. In other words, as if you needed to be told this, gasping for breath as he recounts his inner turmoil is pretty unconvincing. It’s a junior high school drama club scene played by inexperienced actors.

He still sounds okay, his vocal ability hasn’t left him, but his believability has and as a result we don’t care about him, this girl or this situation because we know it’s entirely made up and thus there are no consequences.

Furthermore, even if we admit that ALL songs have made up stories and no singer, no matter how good they are, actually are facing the situations they sing about, their authenticity in the role allows us to not only suspend belief to buy into the story, but it also allows us to put ourselves in their place and use examples from our own lives to paint a similar picture that will be sure to hit home.

But as soon as you see the falsehood in it, that goes out the window.

Let’s Start All Over
The others aren’t helping matters much even though their vocals hit all the technical marks asked of them. Their note shaping is still too precise and the parts as written in the arrangement aren’t allowing for any improvisation to make it more convincing, so it’s little more than pleasant window dressing, not sinking the record altogether maybe, but not bolstering it either.

Still, there are a few moments on I’d Be A Fool Again when Jones seems about to break free of convention – maybe for a single note, occasionally for an entire line – and when it happens, such as how he stretches out on “seen through different eyes”, you know he’s got it in him to build on that. But the very next line he reverts back to the status quo delivery he’s been relying on which is then followed up by the rest of the group putting another nail in their coffin with a more wholesome retort that further undermines the so-called angst of this situation.

It’s still may be better than most of their recent failures, if only for the way he squeezes the line ”It was wor-uth the price” out like a stubborn gallstone ending in blessed relief, but we know – even if they don’t – that they could’ve done so much better if they had simply let themselves go and genuinely bought into every word they were singing.

In the final analysis though, isn’t that what separates the good from the bad, the stars from the also-rans… that ability to be utterly convincing?

While they had it in them to pull it off when it came to ability, they didn’t seem to know, or to care, that “ability” could only get you so far, the rest always came down to effort.


(Visit the Artist page of The Blenders for the complete archive of their records reviewed to date)