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Dividend (n) – A sum paid regularly out of profits.

Well, you definitely can’t say that this group was paid anything for their efforts here, not in dollars anyway, but then again profits come in many forms and it would be fair to claim that after a very uncertain start to their career over the past two years from this point forward The Hollywood Four Flames would never lack for opportunity again.

Of course this song didn’t have much to do with it necessarily, but why quibble if someone is paying out?


Thinkin’ All The Time You Loved Me
Trying to make sense of the machinations of the career stops of the group known – in this instance – as Hollywood’s Four Flames is enough to drive a rational person to insanity, but we’ll try and at least lay out a few simple facts and then back off before any of it starts to make noises and spit at us, or get too hot to the touch at least.

The Unique label was owned by alto saxophonist Sherman Williams, who also backed the singers on the sides he recorded – doubtlessly charging them for it somehow, in a case of double dipping, but I digress.

Immediately after doing so, Williams put out the first release led by Dividend Blues, the weaker half of that initial record, but ostensibly the A-side of the single.

Then, without wasting time, he handed all of the songs he recorded on this group to Art Rupe, owner of the more potent Specialty label, who quickly issued some of them on his recently started Fidelity subsidiary, albeit in different configurations.

Which is why W-I-N-E, which had been the B-side to this on Unique, wound up also being the B-side of Fidelity 3001, but was not joined there by this song… nor was it released on any subsequent single on that label, meaning to hear it you had to track down the Unique single you see before you now.

Maybe Rupe just wanted to differentiate the product from Williams’s label. Then again, maybe he didn’t think too highly of this effort, although considering what he put out in its place, that’s selling this a wee bit short.

One Way Ticket
The one thing this features is a nice opening on sax by the owner of Unique Records (do you think that Rupe was jealous he couldn’t play an instrument himself and that’s why he didn’t see fit to put this one out?).

The lilting sax backed by the deliberate piano chords suggests something more substantial is going to follow, but when Bobby Byrd’s voice comes into view what we get instead is an Army vet bitching about his ex-girlfriend scamming him for his G.I. insurance money.

It hardly rolls off the tongue, whether sung or written out as we’re trying to do.

Therein lies the problem. Not only is it boring thematically and socially awkward if we’re expected to sympathize with Byrd, but he’s not exactly doing much with it melodically either as he tries to squeeze in too many words into the stanzas, robbing Dividend Blues of whatever musical grace he’s hoping for as well, leaving us glad he’s so focused on the girl and the mailman so we can slip out the back unnoticed.

He’s vaguely insinuating some fireworks might ensue when he collects the money himself, but he leaves us hanging before any payoff – musical that is – which is just as well because even if we weren’t looking for an exit by now we’ve lost all interest in this threadbare plot anyway.

Byrd’s baritone vocal gets little support from the other Flames, who just may not want to be caught in the crossfire if he decides to put his Army training to use in the studio and start firing away, nor do we get any instrumental workout following the intro, so as long as we aren’t being asked to co-sign for this check he’s looking forward to, let’s not do anything foolish like re-enlist and ask to hear this one again.

Don’t Want You Hangin’ Around
It’s rare we can’t find more to say about a record when the band doesn’t cough things up, nor do the singers trip over their tongues altogether, but this is just a case of a song that needed some extensive re-writing before they went in the studio.

The concept itself might’ve been alright, surely in the middle of the Korean War there were bound to be a few soldiers with gold-digging girlfriends back home deserving of scorn, but Dividend Blues is a premise with no follow-through, barely worth the paper it was scribbled on in the mess hall.

In fact, for a song this slight to be put to wax rather than flushed out the latrine into the Nakdong River might just be the most surprising turn of events in the entire war.

One thing this shows is that there was nothing wrong with Art Rupe’s hearing to not issue this a second time. Once was more than enough.


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