No tags :(

Share it




The fate of many aspiring rock vocal groups in the early 1950’s was a precarious one as the desires of record companies to seek the potentially greater financial returns for a move towards pop often was matched by the groups themselves who’d grown up seeing few acts outside of the pop-centric Ink Spots or Mills Brothers achieve the kind of widespread acclaim they craved.

Yet this new reality brought about by rock ‘n’ roll provided plenty of evidence that another path was open for those who wanted hits and praise from a far more enthusiastic homegrown audience. The question was, did any of them fully trust that it’d have any staying power.

There was only one way to find out and despite some signs that Derby Records were considering a move back towards safer ground, they gave themselves over to rock ‘n’ roll with this song and hoped they’d made the right choice.


If You Want That Old Thrill You Never Had Before
The best sign that the group was taking control of their own stylistic direction is found in the songwriting credits.

Jimmy Beckum, their lead singer, wrote this, and so whatever direction it’s headed is probably the one which they had the most interest in, or at least the most confidence about performing.

The fact that Come On Up To My Room is a rock song through and through – and one with a title that hints at salaciousness besides – is a crucial point when you realize this was a group that had begun in gospel, tried barbershop harmonies and had dabbled in pop at their first session with Derby before settling on rock ‘n’ roll.

But as good as Beckum has been in the past vocally the rest of the group hasn’t had much responsibility outside some pretty innocuous harmonies, while at the same time the studio band hasn’t exactly set themselves apart either, going easy on the fireworks. What this means of course is that there’s an awful lot riding on each song having melodic and lyrical potential for Beckum to mine vocally because there’s nothing else there to cover up for any weaknesses of the composition itself.

Maybe that’s why he crafted this to give more responsibility to others, sharing the vocals liberally with the rest of the group and adding key instrumental passages to give the record more depth than their other sides.

But you still need a good song to make all of these additions worthwhile and in that regard he doesn’t let us down.


Let The Good Times Roll Until The Break Of Day
With an uptempo groove propelled by full group vocals and a saxophone winding its way around the voices, the song starts off in high gear before downshifting slightly for the story which is suitably racy, centering around blatantly inviting a married woman to Come On Up To My Room for… a heated discussion on who the Republican nominee for President will be in 1952?… a debate over the progress, or lack thereof, shown by American troops fighting in Korea?… maybe to watch this week’s episode of the hot new TV show, I Love Lucy?

No, he wants to screw her.

That’s what’s so surprising about this, there’s no ambiguity or coy wordplay being used to cloak their desires, they’re being about as direct as you can be in 1951, even for something as unrepentant as rock ‘n’ roll has shown itself to be.

Now other records from this year, notably two by the Dominoes, had covered the same topic in more explicit ways than this, using a lot of screams and exultant cries to simulate (at least I THINK it was simulated) sexual ecstasy, but while The Majors sidestep that route, the lyrics are laying out their plans for conquest pretty blatantly.

First Beckum badmouths this lady’s fella by saying he can’t satisfy her, then baritone Clyde Lee jumps in with the more formal invitation to go up the stairs into his love den for some one on one counseling in that department.

The decision to trade off vocals is a little better in theory than in practice because Lee just isn’t as forceful as you’d like, especially in his second extended appearance after Beckum sets the stage for him again. He’s too laid back which makes it seem like something of a let-down after Beckum was so wound up, but the tonal shifts alone gives this a wrinkle that is much appreciated and the others aren’t exactly being quiet as they get their biggest showcase too, adding enthusiasm along with solid harmonies throughout.

With the best sax solo of their output bolstering the sonic onslaught – Brownie McGhee’s guitar is somewhere in the mix during all this, but not very noticeable – which segues into a subdued extended coda wherein the entire group uses what can best be termed “soothsayer” delivery to get rid of this girl’s remaining inhibitions and coax her upstairs, telling her to bring “three days of clothes, whiskey and wine”.

To be honest, the clothes for the middle day probably aren’t going to be worn, you just need to wear something for going in and coming out after the long weekend tryst is over, but hey, coming from a gospel background these guys were new to orgies so we’ll cut them some slack.

Whatever your moral reservations about such a kinky affair one thing you can’t deny is how vibrant they sound and consequently how authentic they seem as full-fledged rockers.

In the end I guess that’s the key to making the move to rock ‘n’ roll complete – sex, booze and honking saxes.


If You’re Out For A Good Time
We started off by saying that when they decided to head in this direction The Majors may have hoped they made the right choice.

They did.

Artistically they certainly did anyway, as this is their best performance, the one that shows the most promise for them as a group, even though Beckum’s leads on their other two slower rock sides were both very good. It also positioned them well for the future by proving they could be equally effective with ballads and uptempo songs.

But artistic merit rarely holds sway over commercial returns and here’s where Come On Up To My Room faltered, not making a single regional chart and thereby giving Derby an excuse to drop them from the roster despite that roster being somewhat skimpy when it came to rock acts beyond the dependable Freddie Mitchell.

We can criticize that decision all day, as well as questioning why no other company seeking a solid rock vocal group (a style which was growing in popularity with each passing month) didn’t look to sign them.

Instead The Majors soon broke up, unable to make ends meet with sporadic club dates around New York and New Jersey. Since three of the four members went on to sing with other groups, including Beckum’s time with the legendary Harp-Tones, this becomes one of rock’s first great “What If’s”.

Four sides, three rock tracks, all good, while saving the best of them for last.

At least they went out with a… (ahem) “bang”.


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