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RPM 313; DECEMBER 1950




Having detailed on the top side of this release the roundabout way RPM Records got the closest thing they could manage to a revival of the Little Esther pairing with The Robins by signing the latter group to a clandestine deal while they were under contract to a rival label and pairing them with Mickey Champion, a good singer who sounded vaguely like Esther, now we focus on just how shameless and crass their ploy actually was.

This record is nothing more than a thinly veiled rip-off of the hit that launched Esther’s career the previous winter which had The Robins riding shotgun on it while being backed by Johnny Otis’s stellar crew.

Here they’re lacking two thirds of those components and are saddled with a much cruder song, yet if not for some deplorable writing they might’ve actually made this work.



I’ve Been Around For Some Time
One of the more interesting aspects of examining the record business as it exploded at the midway point of the Twentieth Century is contemplating just how so many uncreative thieves with absolutely no musical aptitude whatsoever all gravitated towards the business… and how they managed to succeed at it in spite of being totally incompetent in virtually every way.

The Bihari brothers, Jules, Saul and Joe, never had an artist on their labels who they didn’t steal writing credits from, a truly impressive list that includes B.B. King, Little Willie Littlefield, Joe Houston, Floyd Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Young Jessie, Jimmy McCracklin, Roscoe Gordon, The Cadets, Elmore James, Marvin & Johnny, Jesse Belvin and Etta James, a veritable All-Star team of blues and rock legends.

Found Me A Sugar Daddy was another song “written by” Jules… who used the Taub alias for his thefts… yet this is actually a tune he theoretically could’ve composed since there’s nothing original about it, they just ripped off Johnny Otis’s Double Crossin’ Blues in every way.

The only thing really changed are the lyrics and they’re unapologetically derogatory without any real humor to offset it, so maybe he DID write it, though even that’s doubtful.

Chances are it was merely suggested by the Biharis and somebody with just a little more skill but no real pride or integrity, sketched it out, doing just the minimum required to fit the bill while probably hating themselves for accepting the twenty or thirty dollars handed them for this composition.

Imagine their surprise when The Robins and Champion treated the song as if it were actually worth the effort to try and make it work.


Makes Me Feel Good Down Inside
Say what you will about the Birhari’s dishonesty when it came to business practices, but they almost managed to make up for it by not skimping on production… at least at this stage of the game.

They always hired the best session musicians in Los Angeles, often led by Maxwell Davis, and gave them a free hand to cut the records as they saw fit, knowing the results wouldn’t cost all that much more – if anything – and they’d likely make it back with increased sales.

To that end Found Me A Sugar Daddy was released three times over the next year, getting different label numbers each time out starting with its January 1951 re-issue (RPM 316) when they took off Gonna Have A Merry Xmas now that the holidays were over to replace it with a different song. Then next Christmas they reissued the original pressing as RPM 342, trying to pretend it wasn’t an old Christmas record that distributors wouldn’t be as likely to pick up.

All this for a song which raises serious objections over its language, yet even in spite of that somehow manages to not be anywhere near as awful as the idea frankly deserved.

For starters Champion and Nunn both have their roles down pat. For Nunn he’d done this sort of thing before so he had experience, but if anything he’s fine-tuned his approach here, turning lines that were demeaning to both of them into something with a hint of dignity.

Their trade-offs are relaxed and natural. Champion is definitely doing her best to channel Little Esther here which makes you aware of the fact her voice is better on a purely technical level than the girl she’s imitating, even though Esther’s got her beat on the intangibles.

With the band lending intentionally modest support – a nice clean guitar intro, some fragmented piano tossed in an opportune times, but little else – it leaves the primary support to the vocals of the rest of The Robins who contribute some sublime harmonies.

None of it is very dynamic but the stop-time lead vocals beef up the rhythm in a subtle manner getting you to think this is livelier than it actually is and as a result the record sounds good… provided you don’t listen too closely to what they’re saying, which is where the problems start.


Don’t Be Like That
Because of the surely stolen Taub writing credit we can’t level our criticism at a specific person for the cheap exploitative way they take what had been a fairly discreet series of put-downs on Double Crossin’ Blues and turn them into much more overt insults here.

Needless to say that while there’s always a thin line between being funny and being mean, you tend to know when you’re crossing that line and unless the song is ad-libbed then you have time to change these unduly harsh words to something more appropriate. Found Me A Sugar Daddy, as the title suggests, starts off with Champion bragging about the guy she’s landed, but out of nowhere she tosses in a critique of his looks, comparing him to a bear.

Now this was a direct lift from the aforementioned hit – and the most notorious line in that song – when Nunn called Little Esther a bear only to have Esther reply she was a lady to which Bobby replied “They got lady bears out there”, the joke being that in the parlance of the black community of the day, “bear” was a reference to an ugly woman.

It wasn’t nice, especially considering Esther’s looks were decidedly lacking in real life, but at least you had to be “in the know” at the time to get the joke. In the years since then virtually every write-up about the song in books, liner notes or online, including this site, has felt the need to explain it to people so they know what that otherwise innocuous sounding line was so popular. The times simply changed and that insult fell by the wayside.

Here Champion calls Nunn a bear for no other reason than to conjure up the same image, a truly lazy piece of writing showing just how shallow their aims were. Because he’s man however the joke doesn’t land and it takes on another connotation, especially when she refers to his nappy hair, something that sounds as if it was coming from a white writer’s pen and is definitely worth a roundhouse right to the jaw for suggesting that would be a reason to diminish Nunn’s appearance.

After defending himself against this in his retort Nunn doesn’t diffuse tensions but rather exacerbates them and the two spar gently during the middle section. It’s pretty mild at this point, no reason to get their backs up anyway, but then Nunn launches a broadside at Champion by calling her an ape.

That’s where they lose us. That line is so foul, so racially insensitive, so repugnant that whoever wrote it, white or black, should be given a battery acid bath so their external appearance can match their internal features. There’s no forgiving this, no passing it off as merely fitting a rhyme scheme, and while Champion does legitimately sound hurt when she responds, I’m hoping it was just her acting ability on display, not any deeply held insecurities that this line brought to the surface.

At least when Nunn closes things out he does so with a fair amount of class, something the record doesn’t have much of to spare.

Let Me Tell You One Thing
So with that fairly harsh assessment of the song’s faults you’d probably expect this to be headed for the red numbers and told to stay away.

I’d like to… truly I would, for there’s no way those involved weren’t aware of the stereotypes they were feeding into with those lines. But the uncomfortable truth is once you get past the words themselves the entire production from the sparse arrangement to the melody and the performances of all of the vocalists are really good… above average for sure. Their deliveries on the offending lines even manage to mitigate some of the sting they contain, making their acting jobs worthy of serious praise.

Yet how can we ignore those lines altogether or simply treat them as harmless characterizations that weren’t meant to be taken seriously. The fact is words matter, even those said in jest… sometimes especially those said in jest.

So where does that leave Found Me A Sugar Daddy, a record that by all means should not work considering it was a uncredited remake of a huge hit done by half of the participants of that record – under an assumed name – and another singer stepping in for its star… all things that we frown upon from an ethical standpoint even without having to deal with the tasteless content.

It’s easy to say that if they’d simply changed the jabs being thrown about to something sillier, having bad breath or looking like Frankenstein even, and gotten the same performances this would easily get a (6), falling short of the green numbers largely because it was still a straight rip-off of a better song.

If the insults stopped at “bear” without bringing an “ape” into the mix, it’d still be an average record because it sounds good enough to give them a little more leeway with their (lack of) creativity.

But once you start using racial epithets, even if the participants themselves are black and presumably on board with it, then it can’t be recommended under any circumstance. If you actually need to be told why then I’m afraid you have no place in civilized society to begin with and should probably return to the cave you crawled out of.

Or to put it in a way that even those without a single ounce of morality and social consciousness can understand – this was a record meant to be funny and it most definitely isn’t funny. Case closed.


(Visit the Artist page of Mickey Champion and The Robins for the complete archive of their respective records reviewed to date)