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RCA 20-4849; JULY 1952



The record companies lords giveth and they taketh away.

Wait a minute, isn’t that kind of the definition of a musical sin?

Who in the devil appointed them to sit on their thrones anyway and how can we overthrow them?

Oh yeah, I remember now… rock ‘n’ roll’s slow fuse is already working on the problem and it won’t be long before the lords of the manner are blown to kingdom come.

What the hell, we’re patient, we’ll just give it some time.


Don’t Look For Sympathy
The idea that RCA Victor was going to happily acquiese to this takeover of all they held dear was a pipe dream at best and so while we can complain that all they’re really doing is delaying the inevitable, we can’t really be surprised by the lengths they’ll go to impede our progress.

Stalling is something every kid learns before they’re six years old when their mother is valiantly trying to send them to bed. Why should we think the executives at RCA, or all the major pop record labels for the matter, have forgotten those lessons?

Heck, they probably have kids of their own and are used to having them try and drag out their trek upstairs every Thursday night after The Lone Ranger so they can catch at least a few minutes of Burns And Allen before being forcibly hauled to their bedrooms by their fathers, the RCA executives, who feel it’s their duty to watch Stop The Music instead.

But they have to know they can’t stop this music by now, don’t they?

Sure, RCA hasn’t gotten any returns on their rock efforts, but their rock efforts have been pretty pitiful all things considered and the independent labels who’ve made rock the centerpiece of their output are starting to gain serious ground on the major companies. It’s only a matter of time before some bean counter in the front office looks at the dwindling returns on their stale pop material and sees the fervent passion younger rock fans have for that brand of music and concedes the point, saying It’s O.K. With Me… as long they pay in dollar bills and not rubles.

Yeah, it was 1952 remember, and anything like rock ‘n’ roll that seemed to threaten Mom, apple pie and the American way of life had to be a communist plot.

But if the Commies were counting on The Heartbreakers to take over Western Civilization with a record like this, they were bound to have their own hearts broken.

Now That You Want To Run Around
On the surface this side of the record is more appropriate for finding rock acceptance.

Unlike the top half, There Is Time, which was a ballad, this one is decidedly uptempo. You might not call it a dance record, but at least your leg might start twitching listening to this, which is more than you can say for the usual records by anybody else on RCA’s roster.

Yes, Perry Como, we mean you too!

But just because something is taken at a quicker pace, doesn’t mean it’s an ideal rocker, you still need the lyrical content, the musical accompaniment and most importantly the attitude of those singing and playing, to match the expectations of the rock audience, otherwise you might as well let Como take a whack at this after all.

Siddown, Perry… we were just making a point, not recruiting you to take over!

Unfortunately, as you can surely tell from the title, It’s O.K. With Me falls short in the story department, presenting a guy so whipped on his girl that he’s apparently giving her permission to cheat on him, which frankly should disqualify Bobby Evans from ever claiming “rock ‘n’ roll singer” on his tax returns – not that he earned enough money singing this kind of thing to actually have to file taxes.

Musically they DO improve things from the flip side, ditching the timid piano for a more robust sax, even though at the start it’s not really taking advantage of the instrument’s most compelling attributes. Later on however we do get a solo that can hold its head high, a surprising turn of events that comprises most of the entire record’s quality in the scant thirty seconds it takes center stage.

The following vocal interval finds a different singer take the lead and while he doesn’t have as good of a tone as Evans, he’s got a more aggressive attitude, helped by the fact that he actually gets it across that he’s delivering a verbal diss to the girl, mocking her for thinking so highly of herself.

Evans returns sounding reasonably charged up, but he hasn’t done enough to change your impressions of him from earlier. Most of the girls listening to this record are shaking their head and crossing the group off their list of rock singers to moon over as long as they’re behaving like such wusses, while the guys listening are frantically trying to figure out how to hook up with the girl The Heartbreakers are singing about so they might at least get a one night stand out of the 79 cents they blew on this record.

In My Estimation…
Because we know The Heartbreakers had the vocal talent – and even the right mindset at times – to be a quality rock group, and we also know that RCA could hire good musicians, like the sax player here, to deliver the right musical atmosphere, we’re bound to be more disappointed when they fail to live up to those expectations.

The start of It’s O.K. With Me sounds a lot like Decca’s long-time rock-lite act, The Ray-O-Vacs with the same laid back smoky club vibe before Evans starts to inject more passion into his lines, so obviously it’s an institutional trait for those who find themselves in the evil clutches of the big time companies.

Maybe the major labels even had orientation lessons to make sure all their artists were on the same page when it came to adopting an acceptable persona.

So while we can give some leeway to The Heartbreakers for having to struggle more to break free of that, we can’t give them a total pass when they still wind up conforming too much and thereby curtailing their own chances to become legitimate stars in our preferred field.

What they needed to realize was that even if they compromised like they do here, or if they completely bowed to the pressure and tried sounding like Perry Como, they were still never going to succeed when going by RCA’s standards, so why bother.

It’s far better to let Perry Como corner the market on that sort of thing.

Yes, Perry, you heard us right… it’s all yours for the taking. Knock yourself out!


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