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OKEH 6888; JUNE 1952



Invariably it’s the older generation over the years who are the last to jump on board something new and innovative.

This resistance to progress is often the first sign of acknowledging their mortality, as they realize they aren’t long for this world and think that by refusing to accept any recent cultural developments they will somehow be able to stave off the inevitable.

But just like your grandmother still using a landline phone long after the rest of humanity switched to cell phones, record companies who think they’ll get anyone on the line by reverting back to music of the past only shows how out of touch they are.


As The Years Roll By
The shocking aspect of this release is the record company itself.

It’s not Mercury Records, the major label for whom The Ravens are now contracted to and who seem to specialize in outdated music, but rather this came out on OKeh Records – admittedly the subsidiary of another major (Columbia), but one which has at least given rock acts free reign to… well, ya know… “rock”.

Maybe since the group had left them last fall we can pass this off to just wanting to rid their vaults of the moldy stench of ill-suited material such as this which was sitting around since the end of March… 1951… more than a year after recording it (and seven months after their last OKeh release).

It wasn’t just Mam’selle though that was being jettisoned on the unsuspecting public, but they actually paired it with something equally incomprehensible which we’ll give some cursory attention to first here.

We won’t bother to actually cover in full the likes of the Calypso Song because of course calypso, even if done by a rock act, is still calypso and not rock ‘n’ roll. Unlike later styles of music originating in the Caribbean, such as ska, rocksteady and reggae, all of which WILL be covered in full here because they were born directly out of Jamaicans trying to do their own interpretation of rock ‘n’ roll, calypso was around in one form or another for centuries and first appeared on record in 1912.

It is interesting however to not that while calypso had made some inroads into America by 1952 it was still a few years away from the popular explosion – ironically as a major label response to rock’s rising commercial dominance – and so maybe you can give The Ravens, or OKeh if they had any say in the matter, some modest credit for beating the rush, but beyond that this makes little sense for a variety of reasons.

The Ravens’ audience were not going to find that appealing to their sensibilities while the non-Ravens listeners would view this as a novelty – which it was – and thus even if it DID connect, they’d then be pigeonholed stylistically if they wanted to capitalize on it. So while it’s notable in that it gives Leonard Puzey his final lead vocal on a Ravens record, and is mildly enjoyable for the curiosity factor, there was no logical reason to even attempt such a thing.

Then again you could say the same about the side we are only reluctantly covering for the sake of completeness.


Violins Will Cry… And They’re Not the Only Ones Who Will
Despite the sense when looking at the title that this must be at least a few decades old, the song actually was much more recent than that, having first appeared in 1947 when five renditions hit the charts by Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, Dennis Day, Art Lund (whose version hit #1) and The Pied Pipers… a laundry list of rock haters.

But we know from brutal experience that The Ravens, for all of their work in popularizing rock and influencing multiple generations of vocal groups in the process, had a strange affinity for outside genre material coming from the most unusual places.

Sadly this wasn’t the most unusual, but with its lyrics about sitting in a French café flirting with a Mam’selle – that’s a shortened Mademoiselle for those of you who haven’t spent a drunken month on the Left Bank – you’d be forgiven if you couldn’t imagine one further removed from rock ‘n’ roll.

Yet there are SOME hints that they were at least aware of their own primary musical designation as a group, as the percussive piano intro gives this an all-too brief injection of rhythm and the sax solo is halfway decent and helps to keep this from the ignominy of another rock bottom score. However if they’d used the alternate take where they added an electric guitar on the intro maybe it’d convince us they were not forsaking us altogether and we’d be slightly more generous.

That’s where can blame OKeh’s producer Danny Kessler who perhaps was too busy wondering why he bothered with these guys if they were going to sing such nonsense as this to put out the better version. Then again, my guess is he was pissed at them for wasting his time and wanted to help sink their careers now that they were on another label. He needn’t have worried, for if they were going to be doing things like this on their own volition they were essentially throwing in the towel themselves because not even Jimmy Ricks’ cavernous bass can redeem the record, as he sounds completely uninspired as the frothy melody and subservient lyrics do his lecherous image no good.

Maithe Marshall’s parts, so often the bane of The Ravens existence (not because of his voice, which is excellent, but rather because of his pop-leaning deliveries most of the time) actually comes across as much more soulful here than Ricky, though that’s still not saying much. At least he’s got a firmer grasp on the melody, but when the melody is so lightweight he’s no more capable of performing miracles than his cohort is.

It’s only when they all join Marshall on the line “Your eyes seem to sparkle just like wine does” where they hint at their vocal pedigree, but my guess is they weren’t inspired by any musical motives, but rather they were looking forward to getting drunk on that wine when they finished this stupid song.


I Know Too Well That Someday You’ll Say Goodbye
Let’s close this out by returning to the opening theme so we can gratuitously criticize adults for their dreadful taste and their continued insistence on trying to force it on the rest of us.

No matter the era or the style, the generational divide has been the defining theme of popular music for at least the last hundred years. Whether it was the 1920’s Jazz Age when adults were aghast at that sinful music and the antics of the flappers who danced to it like heathens in speakeasies, or rock ‘n’ roll three decades later and the equally outraged response to it, there’s this misguided belief among the older gentry that anything younger people instinctively gravitate towards is without any musical merit.

Just as today you’ll see geezers on (humorously archaic) rock music forums railing against anything released in the last thirty years as being trash – and still calling it “new” or “recent” music – the idea that someone in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s should still have a say in current popular culture is laughable.

Yet at one time – like in the late 1940’s and 1950’s – there still existed a means for these decrepit old timers to exert some influence on the weaker minded record companies and artists who sought to appease them with songs like Mam’selle because the adult crowd were able to bring in more dollars for them in classier nightclub gigs.

Now we know full well that trying to cater to their tastes was a fool’s errand, but when it did pay off in getting them better bookings, their mistake was to think that would translate to record sales.

If you want to sing this kind of cultured slop to blue-haired patrons at some dinner club, be our guest because we won’t have to listen to it, but if you’re going to put it out a single then you’re opening yourself up to being ridiculed for eternity for doing so.

It’s at times like this when we say to ourselves that maybe wishing The Ravens a fond farewell wouldn’t be the worst thing we could do.


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