Tags

No tags :(

Share it

JUBILEE 5028; JUNE 1950

 
 

 

A good rule to remember is that just because you CAN do something in life doesn’t mean you always should.

For instance, most adults have the income and the lack of parental oversight to indulge on ice cream sundaes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but living out that 8 year old fantasy every day when you’re 38 probably won’t be appreciated by your waistline.

Likewise it’s hardly much of a secret that to boost their self-esteem most girls could go home with a different drunken barfly every night without much more effort than it takes to smile and flirt a little, yet it’s probably not worth the rounds of penicillin necessary to deal with the after effects of such liaisons, to say nothing of how frequently you’d have to move in order to rehabilitate your trashy reputation.

On a similar note just because Jubilee Records was now able to spring for the Sid Bass Orchestra to provide classy string sections to back their top rock vocal group The Orioles doesn’t mean that making their records sound as if they were designed to appeal to the aging mainstream pop housewife brigade was the smartest bet for their credibility.
 

 

Just Dreams And Nothing More
As obviously dreadful as their decision to head into the land of martinis and fox furs seems to us now, and as much as we worry about their artistic legitimacy as rockers when they do this far too often, the fact of the matter is Jubilee Records got a hit out of this worthless dreck, at least locally in New York where it cracked the Cash Box regional listings.

It also presumably gave The Orioles further entrée into higher class nightclubs which presumably paid better and had more refined working conditions than the converted tobacco barns and hole in the wall juke joints most rockers found themselves toiling in night after night, hoping not to be hit with stray bullets, roughed up by jealous boyfriends of the girls shrieking your name, and at the end of the night engaging in a game of hide and seek with the suddenly absent promoter who absconded with your take of the gate.

Music is a business, not a hobby, and so if this made them more financially solvent for awhile, good for them.

But we’re not their accountants or their investment bankers, we’re ostensibly their fans and for those of us in the rock constituency what matters isn’t that they might get to have a nice dressing room to change in for once rather than the back of their station wagon but rather we want to see that their music lives up to the group’s potential and suit our needs in the process.

With Everything They Said Came True they don’t even TRY to satisfy either of those goals, choosing instead to make their ambitions of upward mobility clear and essentially inform their fan base that they have two choices – to put on a brave face and follow them down the yellow brick road in pursuit of shallow attention from the bourgeois, or to walk out on them in a huff and find somebody else to admire who will forever be content to remain lurking around the back alleys and dingy clubs where rock feels most at home.
 

Someday You Would Learn To Love Me Too
Eventually of course rock ‘n’ roll would find ways to incorporate string sections and other so-called sophisticated musical touches to their songs without completely perverting the essential rock attitude and perspective in the bargain.

But in 1950 that was still a long ways off as the record companies who were among the first to employ such tactics were not seeking to adapt the orchestras into rock, but rather trying to shoehorn rock into an already established pop-based structure, which of course is why it failed aesthetically.

Everything They Said Came True is utterly dominated by the prevailing concept of strings in pop, their presence overwhelming everything around them… as if the listener will be so impressed by the perceived elegance that they ignore the fact there’s no real song behind the gloss.

Sonny Til has been thoroughly corrupted by this approach as well and is emphasizing the prettiness in his voice more than usual, sticking a lot to the higher end of his range and trying to carefully avoid any slurring of his words or guttural interjections at first, adhering to the melody as best he can.

Except the melody is largely a mirage. At least there’s no clear melodic pattern to get into and no direct line to follow, instead there’s just a series of melodic impressions, vague and unconnected and because of this he starts to get desperate, trying to find a way to make some sense out of some clueless ninny’s idea of a refined song.

If he looks to the song’s narrative as a way to connect with listeners he’s in for a rude awakening because a gripping story or deep characterization are also conspicuously absent. The skimpy plot is that Sonny was told that this girl he had his eye on would wind up causing him nothing but heartache and he’s telling us from the aftermath of this affair. But then – because this is love song from the land of make believe – they switch things up midway through the inform us that eventually this girl came around and loved him too.

Wonderful! So touching, heartwarming and utterly believable, isn’t it?. Gosh, there’s surely a valuable lesson to be learned here about overcoming all sorts of real life obstacles with little more than hope and stubborn naiveté.

And this kind of thinking is precisely why the pop music of the era was poised to sink in the murky waters of indifference after hitting the iceberg known as real rock ‘n’ roll before too long. There was no authenticity to the feelings they projected, no plausibility in the scenarios they offered up and much of the time no honesty in their vocal deliveries.

Listen to Al Morgan’s hit from this period – Half A Heart Is All You Left Me – where he claims he’s sad over a breakup and yet is trilling away like a songbird while this same method of orchestration we see here paints a rosy picture that belies the lyrics.

It was false when Morgan sang that kind of nonsense and it’s just false when Sonny Til sings something remotely similar here and if you want to be gullible enough to buy into any of it then you’re a bigger sucker than I would’ve thought possible.
 


 

Stubborn Me, I’ll See It Through
Of course Sonny Til was a better singer than Al Morgan any way you slice it and he had to be aware that at least some of their audience wasn’t going to appreciate him pandering to the ballroom crowd and so as the record goes on he starts injecting some genuine feeling into a few of the lines, dropping down in range and doing his best to make it seem as if he were wrenching the song’s far too shallow emotions from somewhere deeper in his soul.

Everything They Said Came True may not stand up to scrutiny when you study it closer, simply because the song as written doesn’t HAVE any real depth to it that would justify such an interpretation, but it’s still nice to see a few flickering signs that Sonny has some life left in him and hasn’t abandoned us completely.

Of course unlike Til who could at least make a passable pop singer if forced to, George Nelson has no chance to come across as anything remotely classy with his ragged baritone which makes it rather surprising they allow him to sing the bridge, which like most bridges in most Orioles songs isn’t so much a bridge but rather a repeat of an earlier stanza that Til already delivered, thereby not advancing the story in the least.

At least here the difference between their vocals is accentuated so much that you might not notice he’s singing the same lines, or maybe you’re just paying more attention to those lines because he sounds conspicuously out of place in the midst of all this satin and lace the arrangement is saddled with.

I’d like to imagine Sid Bass cringing as Nelson warbles his way through this and if that’s the case then maybe all this could be said to be worth it, but while these vocal deviations from the status quo provided by Til and Nelson may keep this from receiving the absolute lowest score, it still won’t be nearly enough get them out of the red because this record is an abomination to any self-respecting rock fan’s peace of mind.
 

Go On Loving You
It’d be nice to say that rock ‘n’ roll learned from the stylistic train wreck of records like this and quickly distanced themselves from trying to appeal to an audience that was always going to be completely dismissive of them no matter what, but we know that’s not the case.

There’ll be a lot more of these efforts down the road, maybe not all of them will be as obsequious as Everything They Said Came True in their attempts, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop trying to climb those golden stairs.

The thing we need to remember about artists of this era when they humiliate themselves for a scrap of respect from the ruling class, is that whenever an entire culture has been denied a seat at the table they start to view merely getting to sit at that table as a goal unto itself and consequently they’re more amenable to taking on those stilted attributes in an attempt to show they belong.

Upward mobility may be a worthy goal in life but it’s only worthwhile if you do it on your own terms and don’t sell out in the process.

This record however was a sell-out and ultimately that’s what defines it far more than the understandable urge to achieve the status long held out of your reach.
 
 
SPONTANEOUS LUNACY VERDICT:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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