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DOT 1070; NOVEMBER 1951



Some singers just “connect” with certain people.

It might be the singer’s range or style, or it could just be the unique vocal textures they bring to the table which cause certain listeners to gravitate towards them.

In Margie Day’s case – on this site anyway – the key to her appeal is found in her intelligence when putting across a song.

She never seems to step wrong when it comes to how to best tell the story each record is presenting. Sly, sassy or strutting, Day had vocal character to spare and plenty of good material to show off those skills.

Though this wasn’t the hit side of the single it was the confident gem of the session and with it – from our perspective at least – Day continues to vie for the mythical title of rock’s top female vocalist of the era, lack of worldwide recognition be damned.


I’ve Got A Man… Or In This Case, Two Men
The decision by Dot Records to promote their house band led by The Griffin Brothers rather than their vocal artists as of late was probably nothing more than simple strategy.

If The Griffin Brothers were the credited lead act on each record, no matter the vocalist, Dot figured to capitalize better on records by OTHER singers because they too would be credited to the band first.

It makes sense in theory I suppose, but there are a few flaws with it that should be fairly obvious.

One is that the market quickly gets flooded with releases using the same name, as labels tend to issue more than one single – by different singers – at a time and with The Griffins appearing on all of them, there’s only so much attention that can be paid any one of them.

Another problem is that a vocal record sung by a woman being labeled as by The Griffin Brothers might not be the best idea since fans also tend to associate the sound they hear emanating from the speakers with the artist. A singer as uniquely interesting as Margie Day is bound to be noticed by the masses and sought out on her own.

Lastly though Day herself is so in control of Stubborn As A Mule that the company has once again minimized the credit for their strongest potential star based on a misguided and shortsighted policy that they were now reluctant to abandon.

Talk about stubborn.


All I Need, He Sure Supplies
With all that being said it’s still The Griffin Brothers who kick this off in very distinctive fashion with the horns, including Jimmy’s trombone, riffing away in engaging fashion before Day comes swinging in with a smirk on her face to show who’s really boss.

The premise of the song is relatively simple, if a little cagey in how it goes about it, as Day is asserting her dominance over her fella whose shortcomings she isn’t shy about laying out for us – looks, intelligence and the aforementioned stubbornness – yet makes up for it in other ways which seem to be mostly sexual.

The real perk though is how Day just seems to have him wrapped around her finger, not because he does everything she wants, but because it’s she who knows all of his quirks and how to exploit them, or at least manage them to her liking.

As you can probably imagine the story (such as it is) doesn’t follow a neat and orderly progression but rather is a series of examples that sometimes contradict one another but ends with Day claiming some sort of victory over the guy who is Stubborn As A Mule.

The plot may be lacking, the details may be rather shallow, but her attitude is never in doubt and so you’ll follow her wherever she goes just to hear her throw her weight around.

But while Day is definitely the center of gravity of the record, The Griffin Brothers are more than just random satellites caught in her orbit as they contribute unwavering support, whether it’s the steady beat she rides throughout her lead to the multiple sax solos by co-writer Noble “Thin Man” Watts that may never deliver true fire but also never fail to provide enough heat to keep the record smoldering.

The entire thing might just be an elaborate smoke and mirror job, more bluster than substance from start to finish, but their sheer confidence in how it’s delivered wins you over. When Margie defiantly claims, “Oh how he can kick!”, you don’t really take the time to measure the impact, you just go along with the declaration because everyone else seems to be on board with it all.

It’s a pastiche for sure, but when it’s pulled off with such conviction from singer and band alike you have absolutely no reservations about giving them all the benefit of the doubt.


Comes When I Call
Artists at the top of their game don’t always deliver masterpieces each time out but they generally know their audience and give them what’s expected, especially when they’re writing their own material as Day and the band are here.

Stubborn As A Mule hits all of its marks with relative comfort – a tight arrangement featuring a churning rhythm and good musicianship without anything really standing out, while Day’s performance is probably best termed “zesty” as she again shows how her mindset dictates her vocals as well as anyone in rock at this stage, imparting the song with undercurrents that aren’t fully realized in the writing alone.

As a result this is a fun record more than it is a great one, yet still easily able to transcend its compositional weaknesses based on execution alone.

In the ever shifting status of rock’s biggest stars and most impressive acts, The Griffin Brothers hold serve as the genre’s most consistent band while Margie Day continues to connect with an ease that is becoming par for the course.

Unless it’s just us who remain impressed.


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