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This is a little more like it!

After the pop-tainted arrangement that marred an otherwise decent vocal turn by the group on the flip side, today’s song heads right to the alley where such fine arts touches as flowery horn parts are roundly discouraged.

It may not be very original, and may not even be what The Larks do best all things considered, but in terms of giving rock audiences something they can latch onto this has a lot more going for it than what we had to contend with yesterday.


Tell Me Baby, What You’re Gonna Do
We’re now entering the prime years of songwriter Rudolph Toombs’ career, one that will result in a flurry of big hits and some enduring classics over the next few years before his tragic early death in 1962.

In fact he’s already notched the song that would reign longest at the top of the charts for him, Ruth Brown’s immortal Teardrops From My Eyes, but he was just warming up and in 1952 and ‘53 he’ll be arguably the most dominant voice – non-singing that is – in all of rock, shaping the music with his compositions as much as anyone.

So it’s definitely a good sign for The Larks that they were able to procure a song from his pen to try and off-set the florid My Lost Love that went much too far into pop territory for comfort.

The problem though is that while a definite improvement stylistically, How Long Must I Wait For You is not quite distinctive enough to really stand out from the crowd when compared to other artists work in a similar vein.

In fact it seems to borrow bits and pieces from other uptempo bass vocal-led cuts like The Dominoes’ Sixty Minute Man and The Ravens’ Leave My Gal Alone, which may sound good on paper but leaves you feeling as though you’re revisiting someone else’s catalog at times.

But when your choice is drowning in a sea of swirling alto sax notes as on the flip side or listening to a group ride the rhythm while singing reasonably lustful lines, there’s really no choice to be made.

Cue this one up, pour a drink and hope the infectious spirit can overcome your sense of déjà vu.


Come Back Home
What set rock vocal groups of this era apart from a lot of pop vocal acts, or even later rock vocal groups that came about in the mid-1950’s, was how each member – or at least most members – got chances to tackle a lead vocal.

The Larks best singer was undoubtedly Eugene Mumford, but he wasn’t the right choice for bluesier material and so they let Allen Bunn handle those.

Likewise on a song that is taking its cues from other rolling odes to horniness, Mumford’s lighter more delicate tenor voice wouldn’t elicit the same carnal visions in listeners and so David McNeill got his chance in the spotlight.

He’d soon go on to replace Bill Brown in The Dominoes, which is where he got slightly more recognition – though he was not quite in Brown’s league to be honest – but with How Long Must I Wait For You it’s almost like he’s auditioning for the part as this song uses a similar guitar led backing that had been such an indelible part of that other group’s major success.

Truthfully though the melody to this draw more inspiration from the aforementioned Ravens cut which is not quite to McNeill’s advantage, since Jimmy Ricks was even better than Bill Brown and that will only make poor David McNeill pale in comparison if you have the ears to be able to see the songs similarities and start inadvertently substituting one for the other. (Not to peak ahead, but the song it really draws connections to is a later Ravens cut just around the bend that its writers, Ricks and Bill Sanford improved upon – but act surprised when we tell you that in a few weeks time!)

But what’s here IS pretty solid nonetheless, as we get all of the hallmarks of the style presented in concise fashion from the boogie piano intro with a shuffling rhythm behind it to the set up of the story which finds McNeill pining away for his woman with something more on his mind than pleasant conversation.

It doesn’t get dirty enough to satisfy in that regard, just hinting at things – “If you want me like I want you” – but the enthusiasm builds by the midway point with the other Larks chiming in with a good vocal turn when they finally get lyrics to sing rather than the somewhat inane nonsense syllables they’re stuck with before and after that behind McNeill.

With a guitar snaking through the arrangement, and limited, but fairly effective, sax work by Bobby Smith – who sees his label credit demoted on this side, thankfully – popping up along the way, the track comes across as restless, which is a more polite way to imply horniness I suppose, if not quite as alluring for rock degenerates like us.

Still it’s hard to complain too much when the eager joy they give off grabs hold of you from start to finish and since it doesn’t take too much to read between the lines and figure out what kind of attention McNeill wants from his absent mate, you aren’t going to be left wondering about its meaning.

Besides, if you’re the type who needs more detailed explanations about the birds and the bees maybe rock music isn’t for you.


Told Me Everything Would Turn Out Fine
A lot of times our impressions of records that fall somewhere between average and great is affected by our expectations going in, or by our last image of the artist prior to encountering this next offering.

Our expectations based on the skill they’ve shown in a wide variety of approaches should be sky high. While uptempo moaners like How Long Must I Wait For You weren’t exactly their forte, there was no reason to doubt they could pull this off quite well too and so we might reasonably expect this to be even better, especially if you factor in the songwriter whose reputation by now is just as high as the group.

But then when you remember how the other side of this record let us down so much thanks to misguided aims, you are going to react much more positively to hearing something as enjoyable as this performance, rightly seeing this direction as the one they should follow rather than trying to be hired to sing at some cotillion dance in the Catskills.

What that tells you is we have to be wary of being TOO forgiving for this side’s recycled melody and a story that is fairly generic without a single line that is worth quoting for its own sake.

So while we’re tempted to go one point higher here just for the overall mood they work so hard to create, we’re reining in our response just a little because we know it looks so much better compared to what immediately preceded it.

Besides, this is far from the best they can do, that much we know, and while this is still an above average rock record for 1951, it’s not as good as the talent in the room – on both sides of the glass – would indicate.

That said though you won’t get any complaints around here if you spin this a second or third time and leave the flip side gathering dust.


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