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In sports they call it “playing out the string”, meaning that when a team no longer is in contention for a title but still has regular season games left on the schedule, their incentive diminishes.

In music there’s not quite the same seasonal comparison, but in this case we’ve got a group whose contract will not be renewed after three sides that have been decidedly up and down aesthetically while their first single did nothing commercially.

This then is their final chance to change people’s perception of them which means they might still have something to play for after all.


Think It Over
Not surprisingly the group is putting most of their chips on Tommy Evans, their designated Jimmy Ricks doppelganger, who provides The Carols with their most potent claim for relevancy in rock circles as he does his best here to try and convince you that this otherwise lightweight tune has more gravity than it’s letting on.

Evans is front and center throughout this, his deep resonant tones slowly and gently easing into the song which quickly picks up the pace and settles into a fairly pleasant melody that if nothing else will have you absentmindedly bobbing your head along to their singing. There’s plenty of byplay between him and his cohorts, trading off at various times in ways that show some genuine thought went into the arrangement, giving the others enough chance to shine without risking losing the ears of those who are mainly attracted to the honey-rich tones of their leader.

The highlight of I Should Have Thought might not be that deep voiced lead however, but rather comes unexpectedly when tenor Richard Coleman takes over for Evans in the middle-section and delivers the line “I hope that you’ll still forgive me and give love another start”. You can almost see him grappling with how to deliver it in his mind leading into it and as he starts off you aren’t sure he’ll have the guts to actually follow his instincts.

Therefore it’s a triumph of sorts when he gives up the polite pop mannerisms and lets his voice go where it wants and you can’t help but smile at his conviction, not because it’s necessarily a dazzling moment of singing mastery, but because it’s an honest one. He’s comfortable enough to let the words and the emotion behind those words dictate his performance rather than rein himself in to conform to the starched-shirt expectations of the company.

But as nice as that moment was that internal struggle never fully resolves itself as The Carols swing back and forth between the two extremes, reverting back to the ambition-less harmony crooning on the group line “before you said goodbye… my darling” sinking your hopes for their prospects before they ultimately salvage things again with a nice bending of the word “cry-eye” in the next line.

Give a little, take a little – ultimately the story of both the record and the group itself.

Deep In My Heart
As for the song they’re being tasked with delivering, I’m afraid it’s not much of a factor here… at least it’s neither helping their cause nor hurting it outright.

The plot of I Should Have Though is simple enough to be acceptable for whichever way they want to frame it. Evans is delivering a mea culpa to an ex for having been uncaring in their relationship which led to their breakup. He sounds genuinely sincere which might put him at odds with a lot of rock acts who take these opportunities to try and cajole their way back into a girl’s bed.

Luckily Evans doesn’t waver much in his delivery, but then again he had Ricky of The Ravens to serve as a more widely accepted prototype to follow, so we’re inclined to buy into his explanations. In spite of the lack of any ambiguity in the song it’s not any weaker for his more honest declarations of regret and we can rest easy for her that he isn’t merely trying to lay a guilt-trip on her for his own shortcomings.

Instead they take a much more subdued tact here and it works well enough to suffice even though it’s missing any real insight beyond just taking responsibility for his own actions. A little more internal conflict to show how he got to that point might’ve boosted this enough to really recommend, but then again it’s not often that groups that are afterthoughts on major labels get a song even as competently acceptable as this, so I suppose we can’t complain too much.

Before I Went Away
In the end this was nothing more than a halfway decent attempt to stay in rock’s good graces and in the final tally The Carols did enough over four admittedly uneven performances to have you wishing they got another chance to step into a studio without having to wait thirty-three months for that shot.

What you’d have really liked to have seen was a small label, like say Detroit’s own Sensation Records, sign these guys up and let them work with Todd Rhodes by cutting two dozen songs over the next year using all types of approaches and then have somebody with their finger on the pulse of the rock market sit down with them and listen to those sides and tell them what works and why… and what doesn’t work and should be discarded.

In other words maybe their biggest problem was they came along ten years too early as in 1960 they’d have probably ended up at Motown where that kind of thing became standard operating procedure and they’d have much better songwriters and producers to bring out the best in them and give them a far better chance to succeed than Columbia ever did.

Unfortunately The Carols wouldn’t last quite that long, so after I Should’ve Told You faded into the abyss they had go go back down to the minor leagues in the Detroit club scene where they scraped by for the next three years, playing in front of small crowds for little money and no acclaim, hoping that somebody would eventually call them back up to the show.

Well, I guess since we started with a sports analogy to kick this review off we might as well close with one too. See you in the bush leagues, fellas.


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