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Why are we doing this?

Why subject ourselves to this yet again?

I don’t mean this entire project per say, though that’s another unanswerable question perhaps, but rather why are we covering so many songs that are on the absolute fringes of rock and wasting all these words on what are essentially worthless records… at least worthless in the sense of advancing the creative or commercial ball down the field for rock ‘n’ roll.

Why not just discard all of these borderline releases by mostly obscure acts on record labels that were indifferent, if not altogether opposed to, rock’s presence on the scene?

Wouldn’t that be easier? For you? For me?

Of course it would, which is precisely why we aren’t skipping them. Because to do so would mean we’re leaving out too much of the story and every scene in life, no matter how distasteful or unmemorable, contributes in some small way to the eventual outcome.


Can I Be Sure That You’ll Be True?
If we’re looking across the rock landscape throughout it’s nearly three-quarters of a century of existence as of this writing in 2021, the name of The Carols is about as meaningful to rock’s larger story as the studio gopher who brought Phil Spector a box to stand on so he could be seen by the musicians in the back of the room.

Even when narrowing it down to just vocal groups in rock The Carols are near the bottom of the list in terms of impact or artistic contributions.

Yet that’s why their presence DOES matter… you need to have a bottom to put the top into perspective. By including the duds and the also-rans it hopefully shows just how hard it was, and how rare it was, to be truly great.

So with that in mind we bring you for their second go-round on these pages… The Carols, a group signed by a major label to try and give them a tenuous foothold in the rock market by ripping off The Ravens while still expecting them to adhere to more proper musicality that won’t stain their company’s good name.

Thus you have If I Could Steal You From Somebody Else (Then Someone Could You Steal From Me), a title that not surprisingly winds up being the most interesting thing about the entire affair.

The One Who Loves You
Going into this it was all but certain that any act finding itself signed to a venerated major label like Columbia was going to be expected to lean “pop” in their recordings rather than towards “rock”.

In fact if not for their debut – Please Believe In Me – the one release of theirs which was far more rock than pop, this record, and indeed maybe all of The Carols’ output on Columbia, might’ve been relegated to the pop universe for eternity. But we know based on that first side and their subsequent sides on Savoy down the road, that they were indeed a rock group in spirit if not always execution and so if nothing else this record gives us the chance to show why straddling that particular line was always so dangerous.

If I Could Steal You From Somebody Else was the kind of song that major companies saw as (pick one) cute, clever, commercial, conforming (notice not one of those is a synonym for “appealing”) and little more. These kinds of songs all presented a sticky moral problem in the lead line or the title itself that could be solved by the conclusion because the participants in this affair were simpleminded saps who treated human emotion as little more than convenient plot devices with no real consequence or internal anguish.

The premise is that Tommy Evans (channeling The Ravens’s profundo bass Jimmy Ricks the best he can) is still uncertain about his girlfriend’s devotion to him because she was apparently untrue to her last boyfriend whom she dumped to be with Tommy.

Okay, that’s something that definitely DOES happen and when it does I can save you the two and a half minutes it’ll take to get to the end of this record by telling Tommy to run… run fast, run far because a cheater always cheats, a liar always lies and a pop music mindset always ignores these facts to present a world where no conflict is ever too great to be overcome by humming along in harmony.

That’s essentially what this boils down to. Evans is justifiably concerned about his new love’s fidelity and is trying to discern whether it was simply his charm, good looks and smooching prowess that caused her to stab her ex in the back to be with him instead, or whether she was playing musical beds to begin with and shouldn’t be trusted as far as he can throw her.

Despite his genuine fears that the same thing will happen to him as happened to others before him, he sounds as if he’s going to bury his head in the sand and pretend there’s no risk involved here once he opens up his heart like this, as if his blind devotion alone will cure her of her character flaws. Maybe they’re even claiming this a rock record rather than a pure pop release because in pop circles she’d have shown up at the end to insist it was all a big misunderstanding and that the guy she was with before was her great-grandfather or something.

For All Of The Days To Be
The biggest problem though isn’t with the insipid plot and lack of any satisfying resolution, but rather the fact that The Carols themselves are willing accomplices for such naivety, musically speaking anyway, as they abandon almost all of their earthier vocal tones and rhythmic sense they’d shown their first time around.

The backing vocals here are so lightweight that it’s surprising the record didn’t float off the turntable. During the bridge it sounds as if they’re joined by a female – maybe the elusive Carol herself? – but no, it’s in fact the same group of guys who’d sounded so authentic as a rock vocal group a few months back.

Evans for his part has the natural advantage of having that deep voice which forever will associate him with Jimmy Ricks… whom he’d later replace in The Ravens, showing how closely he patterned himself on the king of the bass vocals. That resemblance wasn’t only in the tone of their voice, but also the manner in which they sang which means at least the lead on If Could Steal You From Somebody Else has a bit of a hop to its step even if that only makes the others sound even more out of step by comparison.

But that’s still not enough to make this drivel worth caring about because unlike Ricky who frequently added enough leering suggestiveness to even the blandest of lines to imply something else, Evans can’t do that with such a regimented composition as this and it consequently drifts off into nothingness.

The irony of course is that while The Carols were seeing this released with high hopes that it might provide them the foundation for a long and fulfilling career, they were the ones being stabbed in the back themselves as Columbia Records were “stealing” their prototypes The Ravens from National Records, signing them to a contract and believing they too would live happily ever after.

Some people never learn.


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