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All those nice things we said about the performance on the top side of this record… how the young group appeared to have put in a lot of time practicing the song, working up inventive vocal arrangements and smoothing out their sound, while the band was good in subdued supporting roles…

Yeah, forget we said it.

Not that it wasn’t true for THAT side of the record, but all of that seems to disappear on this side, perhaps giving a far more accurate picture of what the rushed recording session was like when the band wasn’t up to speed on the material which itself wasn’t up to snuff.


Don’t Put Me Down
On any record, no matter how bad, there are sure to be a fleeting moment or two that have you hoping the singers or musicians can hold or even expand on a feeling that shows some promise.

But the difference between experienced professionals and even talented amateurs is the ability to deliver at least a modestly tolerable performance for the entire record every time out.

Yes, the material may be subpar, the musicians not quite in sync… maybe the arrangement was planned too hastily and there’s a part that clashes or the singer’s vocals aren’t all they could be, but seasoned pros get by with it more or less because just as there’s a natural ceiling for how high they can all go based on the absolute limits of their talent, there’s also a definite floor for how far they can fall short.

But the more inexperienced you are, the lower that floor is… or maybe there’s no floor at all, just bare ground under your feet which you can easily sink down into if you’re not careful.

On I’ll Always Be A Fool The Hollywood Four Flames start sinking pretty quickly and they don’t stop.

Give them credit for this however… at each point where you think they’ve reached the bottom they manage to find new and inventive ways to sink even deeper until you’d need a really long ladder just to climb back to ground level.

I’m A Fool For Wanting To Hold You
Okay, we mentioned a few “fleeting moments” of quality when starting this review and The Hollywood Four Flames, as they were now being called to better align with the Recorded In Hollywood label they were singing for, get those moments out of the way early on so we’re not stuck waiting around for them.

The intro by David Ford is pretty nice for someone not accustomed to singing lead. The melody isn’t bad and if he’s a little cautious in his delivery at first, it works to the song’s advantage to better establish the character’s perspective. He may be a little nasal but his tone doesn’t suffer too much because of this as he’s able to hold some notes for a few beats which tends to curtail that tendency.

But trouble isn’t far away because the other Flames who mostly were smooth and solid on the flip, can’t find their key… or perhaps the door where that key will work… or maybe they can’t find the block on which the building resides where the room that has that door is located.

The more they try finding it the further away they get and by forty seconds in you’re ready to send out a search party for them. Maybe without Bobby Byrd out front it screwed up their vocal blend as harmony singers and guys were struggling to decide which parts they were supposed to sing.

But fear not, because the band has kindly decided to take the heat off the singers by screwing up the musical side of the record in equally egregious fashion, particularly the guitarist who was not on the far better She’s Got Something – which come to think of it may not be a coincidence.

In fact the “band” (and I use that term loosely, as they don’t seem to have enough instruments to go around on either side of this single) are either not the same musicians as we last heard, or have switched up what they’re playing because rather than tenor sax and organ we have electric guitar and piano, neither of which is contributing anything here which indicates they’ve encountered those instruments before.

The guitar parts are clashing so badly with the vocals – which DO recover somewhat midway through, for what it’s worth (which isn’t much) – that you have to hope he was playing in another room and didn’t know where they were in the song when he chips in with his fills. Some of the licks – if isolated from the rest of the collective noise – might pass muster, but it’s never the individual performances that matter most on a record, it’s the cohesion they have with the rest of the band and singers and he fails miserably in that regard.

Meanwhile the pianist is drunk.

Or at least I hope he is because otherwise during the bridge he’s playing the keys with his feet which at least distracts you from whoever is singing the bridge, Byrd probably, who has completely lost the tempo, the melody and the rhythm in one fell swoop and is free-styling to a sound only he can hear… thank heavens.

Of course, wouldn’t you know, the now much maligned Hollywood Four Flames pull things together in the coda and deliver a beautiful closing refrain, light, airy and mellifluous… just to torment us by making us wonder what might’ve been had they actually practiced this song for more than 17 seconds as they were waiting in the hallway before being ushered in to the studio.


My Loving You Would Make Me A Fool
Seven decades after the fact most who heard this at the time are dead… and I’m hoping they didn’t die as a result of hearing it… but while most who’ve had the misfortune to hear it in the years since would surely like to put it out of their mind and forget they ever were subjected to such inhumane treatment, the lunatics who care about such things as dreadfully bad records of past centuries are an odd bunch and like to dig deeper to find out as much as they can about such things (hello, faithful readers!)

These people however are not entirely sure of its release date… other than it came out in August. But the year itself, whether 1951 or 1952, remains in question with some very credible and reliable sources pegging it in the latter year.

That may be the case, after all, John Dolphin didn’t run the most meticulous ship when it came to his label, which was a secondary interest after his record store, but we DO know that he was advertising the follow-up to this record, which we’ll soon see, the last week of August 1951… the same artists on the same label and just one number later.

Yet ads for I’ll Always Be A Fool were published in the trade papers in the fall of 1952 with the announcement of the SIGNING of the group on this label appeared in the October 4th issue of Cash Box touting that next record on Recorded In Hollywood 165 which was advertised in each issue all month long and which was reviewed by the magazine two weeks later. Billboard followed suit in late November, giving this a 76 (apparently out of a thousand rather than a hundred), leading many to feel this is firm evidence that this was a ’52 release after all.

But I think we have a sensible explanation for that to divulge on the next review of theirs which will clear it all up once and for all, so hopefully that’s enough of an inducement to come back for more, although after this monstrosity you’ll be excused if you take a pass on hearing anything else from these guys until your ears recover.


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