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JUBILEE 5072; FEBRUARY 1952

 
 

 

Jerry Blaine was nothing more than a middleman in life. Successful maybe, but still just a middleman.

In case you were wondering that is most definitely intended as an insult.

Though he owned and operated Jubilee Records for years – and had actually been a bandleader and singer himself before that – he made most of his money running Cosnat Distributors, the quintessential middleman business in that they took records somebody else made and then merely sent them to various outlets to be played.

To ensure positive reception he usually passed these records along with a fistful of cash as he was later implicated in – and defended the practices of – the payola scandal that engulfed the industry in the late 1950’s.

In other words he was a small-minded greasy thief who cared nothing whatsoever about music… which is evident in that he had a talented new group like The Enchanters cover a worthless pop song on their debut.
 

 

Make Your Dreams Come True
One of the misfortunes of being a music fan is having to tolerate – and sometimes even venerate – those who provided the means for which this music was to be made and marketed… namely, record company executives.

Some might suggest that in the early rock era you needed these types of seedy grifters who saw the economic value in music that the more reputable companies ignored. A few may even insist that it was their shady practices that were largely responsible for rock’s commercial rise, as they not only gave it an outlet to be heard, but then often forced it be BE heard with strongarm tactics involving jukeboxes and radio disc jockeys they had in their pockets.

Okay, fine… let’s say all of that is true. But would those methods have been any LESS effective without also trying to manipulate the actual musical choices being made along the way?

Case in point: The Enchanters. Rock’s first all female vocal group who were signed by Jerry Blaine in late 1951 who saw in them a gimmick to be exploited – as noted in his ads for them which treated their gender as a novelty! – but who also was impressed they brought with them original material.

Yet it was Blaine who insisted they record a cover version of Today Is Your Birthday a dreadful pop song done recently by The Sugar-Tones, a record which showed that even singers of color can be as lame as their Caucasian counterparts if they try hard enough.

Never mind that The Sugar-Tones version wasn’t a hit of any kind. Forget the fact that it wasn’t the style that The Enchanters specialized in. Who cares if the song itself was a piece of dog excrement you’d have to scrape off the bottom of your shoe… or better yet, burn the shoe and throw out the ashes.

Nope, none of that mattered to Jerry Blaine who decided to inject himself into The Enchanters creative decisions because he was signing the check… which probably bounced when they went to cash it.
 

I Hope This Song Will Bring You Joy… Won’t Make You Sick
Okay, okay, let’s all calm down. Jerry Blaine mercifully bit the dust in 1973, long before any of us were around to pelt him with rotten fruit and vegetables, so instead of going on about that no account loser any longer, let’s focus instead of the real victims in his act of perfidy… The Enchanters, who are forced to try and turn this worthless composition into something resembling a song.

Buddy Lucas’s band has the ignominious task of trying to create an arrangement to hide the sappy pop framework of The Sugar-Tones original which featured lightly strummed guitar, piano and chimes creating a dreamy ambiance that mainstream pop music at the time always tried foisting upon the female audience to help them forget that they were being forced to take a subservient role in society, resigned to do little more than cook the meals, raise the kids and clean the house while their husbands earned the money, banged the secretary and posed for an occasional family picture to send out with the Christmas cards.

Lucas at least dispenses with the more ornate trappings of that and replaces it with an organ which gives it something of a funeral setting, an addition which is entirely appropriate since Jerry Blaine was assassinating The Enchanters’ career by releasing this dreck as one half of their debut.

Unfortunately nothing Lucas added could improve upon the dreary sentiments Della Simpson is forced to choke out of Today Is Your Birthday which despite its positive lyrics gives the impression that it’s coming from someone who is no longer with the person she’s telling this to.

Whether that was intentional or not (though it does come across in both versions) nobody sounds very happy dispensing this wish. Simpson’s strong voice is straitjacketed here, cracking slightly at times thanks to the ponderously slow pace and the fact it’s in a key that is a little too high for her to comfortably reach as it gets to its peak.

The rest of The Enchanters though must be grateful that they’re not required to do much more than hum along obsequiously in the background, adding little but in the process not drawing much attention to themselves where they’d risk being implicated in this offense to humanity.

Lucas is not so lucky, for while he manages to hide his saxophone completely so as not to harm his own reputation as a musician, he’s forced to warble the male bridge and while his voice itself doesn’t bother anybody, the same can’t be said for what both of them are saying which is the definition of shallow sentimentality that by all rights should’ve meant the downfall of Western Civilization.

Instead it may have marked only the downfall of The Enchanters promising career should enough people have the misfortune of hearing this tripe and thinking it was their preferred method of song rather than forced aural torture by a cruel and uncaring boss, and subsequently avoided anything with their name on it.
 


 

With All The Blessings Heaven Has In Store
We’ve seen countless record companies force lots of rock artists to cover a bunch of boring and inappropriate pop tunes with mostly dire results.

That every so often one comes along that manages to transcend those mercenary objectives and – thanks entirely to the interpretative abilities of said artist or producer – transform the song into something that is both artistically challenging and commercially successful means there’ll be no end in sight of this unfortunate trend any time soon.

But it’s one thing to do this to an act that is already well-established with a string of hit records and a reputation that not even the worst of these kind of records can fully tarnish and it’s another thing altogether to force a novice group like The Enchanters to do right out of the gate.

They already were at a disadvantage being female in a male dominated industry and considering it was they who sought out Blaine, not the other way around, naturally they would be inclined to do what they were told, even if what they were told was stupid and artistically suicidal.

There’s no way that any group could make Today Is Your Birthday worth hearing and even though Della Simpson does try her best and gets more out of it than was on the page, that can’t change the fact that this is an awful song with a dreary sound completely at odds with the market they were aiming for.

As a result – though it’s not their fault in the least – they’ll be the ones to suffer, both in that it deprived them of the chance to have another song of their own be heard and in the fact they’ll be saddled with the worst grade we can hand out.

Which is why we’ll end this review by absolving them of all blame and throw in one more totally gratuitous insult of Jerry Blaine by reiterating that he was a cheap talentless bum who the world is much better off without.
 
 
SPONTANEOUS LUNACY VERDICT:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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