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OKEH 6825; AUGUST 1951



The passage of time is inevitable, not always desirable and at a certain point detrimental for your relevancy in this world.

Though this is unavoidable in life you usually have a few decades where you can humor yourself into thinking you still matter before you ease into your rocking chair or are set adrift on an ice flow.

In music however your time to matter is never nearly as long as you hoped. Between breaking through and falling off you have roughly four to seven years at best.

You may still sell records to your hardcore fans after that and be able to tour consistently on name recognition alone, but with very rare exceptions you will no longer be able to define the direction of music overall as you did at your short-lived peak.

The Ravens were just about to find that out.


Winter Or Summer It’s All The Same
If you’d been a steadfast fan of rock’s first ever vocal group at any time over the past four years you’d already gone through some nerve-wracking moments… things to send shivers up your spine.

Start with the constant sight of National Records trying to cross The Ravens into pop circles by recording timid ballads for the approval of blue haired people who drink tea with their pinkies out (unfortunately that’s not a crude sexual reference, as this crowd is impotent and frigid by nature), something that was potentially hazardous for rock’s health and well-being as a whole, to say nothing of weakening the group’s prospects as bold trendsetters in the process.

We all know that record companies have no real interest in the music they’re putting out, only the sales of that music and with white adults in the late 1940’s having a greater share of the overall market than young black music fans, any noticeable bump in those sales from these misguided attempts would spell doom for your interests being met.

Luckily those people were as deaf as they were tasteless and ignored every Ravens record, no matter how much they catered to their tastes.

But then another move took place that was fraught with peril, as when their National Records deal expired The Ravens made the jump to Columbia… the oldest and most conservative major label in the land who had no experience, or interest, in rock ‘n’ roll whatsoever.

Surely THIS would mean the end of Jimmy Ricks’s lecherous leads singing lyrics of questionable taste.

But no, for after a bumpy start The Ravens managed to stay perched on the same limb and actually released some of their most consistently strong rockers at the start of this past year.

So going by that recent track record and the suggestive title of this one, I Get My Lovin’ On A Saturday Night would seem to put your mind at ease and with their shift to Columbia’s revived OKeh subsidiary which was meant to house their undesirable acts without the parent company being tainted by the “stench” of this music, you allow yourself to think that this will mean The Ravens are finally allowed to fly free.

Silly rabbit… don’t you know as soon as you let your guard down that’s when they get you.


Enough To Last The Whole Week Through
Any time you have Jimmy Ricks leading a song about sex the odds are pretty high that it’ll be worth your time. Although this would never be a candidate to go down as his best performance, he’s still showcasing a lot of what we like about him here – the rhythmic ease with which he delivers his lines, the melodious tones he naturally projects any time he opens his mouth and the erotic undercurrents of the story he’s detailing as he goes along.

But while the basic topic of I Get All My Lovin’ On A Saturday Night is strong, there are troubling signs from the get-go, for while he sounds horny enough singing this, he reveals that he’s parking his libido in neutral for six days a week, all while trying to reassure us that his girlfriend makes up for it in one night of marathon sexualympics.

Hmm… call me cynical but I smell a rat here. Surely this behavior he’s showing is the first sign of old age setting in, isn’t it? Once a week?!?! I mean, the Jimmy Ricks from a few years ago wouldn’t have taken ANY nights off and on Saturdays he’d almost certainly have a twi-nite doubleheader scheduled for good measure.

But if he wants to rest up for a whole week to make a good showing when his girl rolls into town on the weekends, okay, fine, we’ll go along with it, but his case sure isn’t being helped by how suspect the other Ravens sound in revealing their desires… or lack thereof.

Of course I’d like to think that they’re just trying to cover up the fact that they were boinking Ricky’s girl the rest of the week behind his back – that’d be the rock ‘n’ roll thing to do after all – but by the sounds of it they were playing backgammon or painting in watercolors at the old folks home.

When they’re modestly harmonizing behind him they aren’t terrible, but coming out of the instrumental break when they get a chance to step out and lead the back and forth exchange with Ricky they employ saccharine open-throated pop deliveries. Modestly tuneful? Maybe. But raw and urgent? Not by a long shot.

They can only be thankful that as weak as they sound they aren’t the worst offenders here and so will avoid the incurring the full wrath their lame deliveries truly deserve so we can instead focus on the most egregious offender.

The one who had been given the reins of the entire label… Danny Kessler.

I Take It Easy All The Other Days
Though we’ve praised Kessler for some of his earliest decisions with the company we may have jumped the gun a bit with him, for let’s not forget just who he was. A white kid in his 20’s who had duped Columbia into promoting him from a mere sales rep in Philly because he lucked into working the very city the label’s only prominent rock act was from which ensured them getting a fair share of local sales. Naturally Columbia, being completely in the dark about such things, figured it was Kessler’s knowledge of the rock market that was responsible and gave him OKeh as a reward.

This would be his only session with The Ravens before they left for Mercury in the fall and only one of the songs he had scheduled had any potential – I Get All My Lovin’ On A Saturday Night – and so even the most inexperienced moron you could find would realize that he’d HAVE to make that one count!

Apparently they were out of inexperienced morons and so Kessler stepped in himself and attempted to destroy any chance it had by bringing in an arsenal of horn players left over from a USO Show in World War Two to add “class” to the record.

Their parts are abominable. Their playing is atrocious. Their understanding of rock ‘n’ roll is nonexistent.

They single-handedly turn a record that should’ve been really good – great if they’d stuck some dynamite up the asses of the other Ravens and threatened to light the fuses if they dared sing without showing any soulfulness – and turned this into a record that doesn’t have any idea what it is supposed to be. Pop? Jazz? A cotillion band auditioning for a role in Love Finds Andy Hardy?

On a song that demands a hot raunchy backing track, something to convey all of the illicit details the lyrics can’t divulge, these woebegone horns throw ice water on it from start to finish. Even the saxophone solo, which is the best playing by far on the record, is lukewarm at best, leaving a game performance by Jimmy Ricks hanging out to dry and their careers at the forefront of rock hanging precariously in the balance.


Knows All The Answers, Never Complains
Instead of being a new start for the group, this was a last gurgle before they went under.

The original Ravens would split soon after – this was actually the last session the classic group cut together – and while Jimmy Ricks would remain the centerpiece of the reconstituted group for awhile longer, it might be time to admit that their days as movers and shakers in rock were going to end soon anyway, the label’s failed attempts on I Get All My Lovin’ On A Saturday Night only hastened their demise.

As vital as they’d been in transforming the entire vocal group scene over the past half decade, The Ravens had outlived their usefulness. Other groups – younger groups – were on the scene now and determined to go far beyond anything they would be remotely comfortable tackling.

It was a good run for a great act, and though we’ll continue to chart their course from here, and even have a few highlights left to showcase every so often, their days on top are over. Time has passed them by.

It happens to everyone eventually… it just shouldn’t have happened on this song.


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