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SAVOY 852; JULY 1952



Every artist wants their debut single to be perfect.

Not necessarily perfect in a technical sense, though that’d be nice too, but rather they want it to be seen as perfectly stating to the listeners who they are artistically, what they feel and how they think of their music.

If an artist manages to get one side of their first release to reasonably achieve this goal they’d be delighted, but both sides should make them ecsatic.

Of course to achieve that it also helps if people actually hear it which is why despite having two great sides with which to unveil themselves to the public, The Gaylords had to be disappointed when the record came and went without a trace.


I Don’t Care
Way back in late 1950 Savoy Records seemingly beat the impending rock vocal group rush – if only by a few weeks – when they put out the first single of The Four Buddies and got a hit with it.

Since then, despite a string of great releases, that group has managed to only stir regional interest in their work even as the vocal group idiom within rock ‘n’ roll has taken off during this time.

Maybe that was due to them being balladeers, although vocal group ballads haven’t exactly been absent from the charts the last 18 months or so.

But if that’s the excuse being proffered by Savoy to explain their subpar returns for what really should be one of the premier acts of their day, then that might be why with Get Mad, Baby the label doubled down on the uptempo formula with The Gaylords, the group they surely had to feel was a solid bet to break wide open with one of these sides, if not both.

While neither song has a claim to be called a polished lyrical gem, they’re both really well sung with excellent arrangements dripping with enthusiasm and bringing a heavy dose of excitement to anyone in the vicinity.

Yet once more the response was apparently fairly tepid. For some reason Cash Box reviewed it twice a month apart (maybe Savoy sent it out twice hoping to get it another shot and figured they’d fool the magazine, which apparently wasn’t hard to do), but even they lowered the score the second time, almost as if they sensed this wasn’t going anywhere.

Hmm, maybe that’s a hint that you should take everybody’s scores, ours included, with a few pillars of salt.

Blow Your Top!
Say this for The Gaylords… they don’t take any shit from their girlfriends, do they?

On each side of this single, both written by group member James Morris, they’re verbally dissing the girl they were attached to. Maybe this was the prequel to the (far too similarly titled) top side, Go On, Baby, because in that they’d already broken up and the lead was basically telling the girl to go to hell while he and his buddies whooped it up at a party.

Here they’re still together but clearly heading for a break-up, probably before the first keg runs dry as he’s intentionally provoking her to Get Mad, Baby, perhaps in the hopes that she gets fed up with him and leaves.

I don’t know about all of you, but there always seemed to be this tumultuous couple who excelled at ruining parties back in high school with their on again, off again romance. They’d usually show up separately, already pissed at each other for some unstated transgression, and over the course of the evening everybody there would get a front row seat to the accusations, arguments and – usually when the booze and weed hit them in full force – the late night assignations in the shadows to make up.

My guess is that’s the kind of relationship Morris was stuck with in his everyday life, but at least he got to vent through songs like this which, with their romping pace and dismissive attitudes towards the other party, allowed him a form of visceral release.

The song itself isn’t as well-written or arranged as the other half, but is not without its own charms just the same starting with the kind of pounding hyperactive riff that Danny & The Juniors would more or less lift for At The Hop five years down the line, not that it’s copyrightable or anything, just a harsh boogie that sets the scene for both songs rather well.

While (presumably) Mickey Baker’s guitar is here as well and plays some good licks, they’re pushed more to the background early on robbing this of some of its spark even though he takes off in the second half with a blistering solo behind the vocals which still don’t let up. For that matter neither does the drummer who contributes some restless work on the skins throughout the record.

The biggest flaw here, and what keeps Get Mad, Baby from matching the other half, is the bass singer’s exaggerated ”Yeahs” along with a few “Well babys” that are not trying to be comical but come off that way because it’s so artificial. Yet later on when delivering the threat “I’m gonna hit you in the head with a rockin’ chair” he redeems himself – vocally that is, not ethically unless your business is repairing furniture.

But that aside the rest of this is quite good, as the lead again is super-charged with adrenaline, rolling along while spouting off to his girl who, if she’s got a head on her shoulders, should just turn that head and walk away and leave him muttering to himself like a fool.

Though he may be kind of a jerk, he sings really well and sounds engaging throughout this while the others are offering up the kind of animated gibberish that can make these kinds of performances fairly entertaining to view as long as you remain well outside the fray.

Said You Were Feelin’ Fine
You can certainly question the decision to pair together two similarly themed songs with rapid-fire tempos, especially ones which have titles that may confuse you as to which is which at a glance. Of course you can also take issue with the messages they both send, but you can hardly find fault with the energy of these sides.

With both sides of this stellar debut The Gaylords leave no doubt they can sing – and write – well enough to be a welcome presence on the rock scene going forward, yet as we know from yesterday that won’t be the case for reasons beyond their control.

The sad thing however is that Savoy Records, in desperate need of new artists who fully understand rock ‘n’ roll and are ready, willing and able to supply this kind of music on request, will apparently focus on the underwhelming reception to Get Mad, Baby and ignore the vibrant musical qualities of this and its even more frantic top side.

Hits may keep your company in the black and the bottom line may in fact be your primary consideration when starting a record label, but if it’s your ONLY concern then you’re in the wrong business.

Records that generate excitement in those who hear them, even if the total number of ears is far fewer than the best sellers, are often more crucial to a label’s long term success because it stirs interest in the most devoted listeners which in turn leads them to alert others to the kind of records that company is putting out.

It might take awhile, and in truth it may never come, but we in the present know how revered some failed label with a handful of great vocal group records – or 1960’s garage rock records, or 1970’s punk, or 1980’s college radio fueled alternative groups, or 1990’s underground hip-hop – have become through the years.

If nothing else you can’t be faulted for issuing two-sided ravers like these no matter how few spins they get in the jukebox.


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