DOT 1105; MAY 1952


I’ll let you in on a little secret… some of these reviews that you anxiously look forward to each day and pore over like the Dead Sea Scrolls, just sort of “go through the motions”.

I know, hard to believe, isn’t it?

But the truth is not all records inspire great insight. When you’ve written so many, more than four hundred in the last year alone, and you’re faced with a mediocre song by a somewhat unimportant artist sometimes you’re just filling space, getting it out there so the song is adequately covered rather than trying to shine a light on some lost classic.

Maybe I’d feel worse about admitting this if some of those records I’m talking about weren’t just going through the motions themselves. Like this one.

We all do it. Whether you’re going to school or going to work, or going insane, there are some days where you’re not putting forth your best effort.

Oh well, unlike The Griffin Brothers here, I’ll be more than happy to offer any dissatisfied readers their money back.


Homeward Bound
We’ve already delved into how Dot Records hindered their own success by overdoing it with The Griffin Brothers, crediting them on both their own instrumentals, such as this, as well as giving them lead artist credit on those sung by Margie Day when it would’ve been far smarter to promote the artists individually, even separate the releases by a month in the release rolls, to give the impression of a deeper artist roster than they actually had.

Here they make the same mistake again, putting this out the same week as Day’s most recent effort.

Don’t worry though, nobody noticed either one of them, that’s how far they’ve fallen since scoring with a few national hits right out of the gate back in 1950.

As much as we’ve criticized Dot Records for this unforced error, we’ve taken equal measures to praise The Griffin Brothers as perhaps the finest self-contained rock group on the scene, as their work behind Day, Tommy Brown – and moonlighting on another label supporting Roy Brown – plus some of their own singles were tightly constructed and expertly rendered even if they lacked the explosiveness of some of their competitors.

But we know by now that The Griffin Brothers’ chance at stardom, or even just broad name recognition for their contributions, has likely peaked. The declining sales of their singles, as well as Day’s, plus the lack of new vocalists on Dot for them to back up in the studio has rendered them a non-entity when it comes to really making a continuing impact on the rock landscape.

Unfortunately Comin’ Home is not going to change that.

Not that there’s anything bad about it, but then again there’s nothing exceptionally good about it either. It’s little more than a by-the-numbers instrumental without a catchy melody, an obvious hook or a mind-blowing solo, almost the textbook definition of a band just going through the motions… kinda like this review come to think of it.


Far From Home
Right away you know there’s not much ambition here as the horns are bouncy to start with but still somehow listless just the same.

There’s no urgency in their lines, no riff they’re dying to unveil to you, the parts are competent but hardly interesting.

Things improve slightly with Noble “Thin Man” Watts coming in for a brief sax solo to launch into the body of the song, as he’s playing with more aggression and determination, but he’s got nothing to really sink his teeth into on Comin’ Home. He’s got a nice tone but no real direction to what he’s playing. The lines circle around like a dog instinctually matting down the grass before laying down.

Not that Watts ever just lays down, but he’s not jumping through hoops either and the grit he showed early on quickly fades as he becomes increasingly content to simply let the tenor’s natural sonic range suffice without adding anything to it in terms of genuine effort. He’s not quite coming across as lazy, as if he’d rather be doing something else, but he’s also not very enthused about what he IS doing and in an instrumental that is supposed to get you moving that’s bound to be a detriment.

Yet when he bows out and the rest of the horns re-enter the picture you find yourself longing for Watt’s to change his mind and come back, because while these guys – including Jimmy Griffin on trombone – are skilled enough not to stumble and fall, they aren’t giving us any reason to have any hope this is going to pick up.

And so it goes.

When the drummer who is playing a simple shuffle rhythm is the most active band member on the entire record and he’s doing nothing that a kid in a pick-up band playing frat houses for beer money wouldn’t be capable of, then you know you’ve sort of been had.


This is what we generously call “filler” in the music biz, but the main difference between those kinds of tracks and this one is the purpose of the songs in question.

Filler generally refers to something stuck on Side Two, Track Five of an album in between livelier and more impressive songs than this was intended to be. Even then chances are the majority of record buyers are going to complain about it, even if there are enough other reasons to recommend the album as a whole.

But here, on a single, a throwaway cut like Comin’ Home is carrying much more responsibility for keeping us satisfied and a band going through the motions on one-half of the material being peddled is sure to elicit far more contempt unless the other side is something so good that it renders this song an afterthought.

Considering that The Griffin Brothers were an instrumental band and the flip is a vocal cut, you’d have thought they might put a little more effort into at least appearing to be more invested in this cut than they are.

Instead they’ve basically let us know that they’ve sort of lost interest in meeting our demands which means they’re at risk for having us lose interest in what else they may have to play for us down the road.

Hardly a good trade-off for either one of us.


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