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OKEH 6832; OCTOBER 1951



If there’s one thing this ridiculous project has taught us while reviewing rock’s first 1600 songs and counting it’s that there’s always someone out there willing to champion every record, no matter how flawed or compromised it is.

This is a GOOD thing of course, simply because it proves that tastes run far and wide and – at least in theory – if one person can find something redeeming in a song that everyone else turns their noses up at, maybe there’s a way for the rest of us to unlock that mysterious element to appreciate it as well.

After all, that’s the goal when listening to music, isn’t it? To actually like what we hear.

With this record there are definitely some early signs that it might wind up being a rewarding experience, but then just as quickly there are signs that the group were rank amateurs who stormed into a recording studio, hogtied the engineer and began bleating like sick sheep while the tapes rolled just for kicks.


Will Linger On
With the halting high pitched lead that comes almost creeping out of your speakers as the record kicks off it’d be easy to envision this as a lost classic on par with something by The Swallows or Larks in the same vein.

All it needs is to do is consolidate its strengths as it goes on by creating a seamless melody with a story that doesn’t betray it and have the other Royals provide tight support.

Of course in this industry sometimes that’s just another way of saying that all you need to be rich is to trip over a rainbow and land head first in a pot of gold.

The Royals of course do no such thing on Dreams Of You but for awhile they DO allow you to extend those dreams just enough to keep you listening.

But your hopes are soon dashed… slowly maybe, but surely, as the first appearance of the others is slightly below par even though all they’re doing is adding wordless harmonies. But while that might be easily dismissed there are some musical touches that are just a bit off as well and the combined effect is giving the impression that maybe they’re not going to make it across the finish line.

The lead however – and again, we have no clue who these guys were other than they were from Atlanta, but no names – is pretty strong for the first half. He’s got a nice light touch, knows how to hold notes when needed but not so long that he squeezes the life out of them, and he’s working the faint melody for all its worth.

Even the lyrics are pretty good, referencing the song itself at one point and if it tends to sort of hit all of the broad romantic tropes, it does so well enough to enjoy. Unfortunately at the midway point the entire song falls apart thanks to a string of bad moves backed with equally bad singing, almost to the point where you wonder if the same people were responsible for both halves of the record.

My Dreams Tell Me
The first sign that’s something is amiss comes in the bridge as the lead loses the grip on his firm handle of the song, not enough to derail it, but certainly enough to cause worry.

Before you can even finish cringing at him a wayward horn comes in to answer him and what had been a fairly sparse arrangement now starts throwing unwelcome elements into the mix, in this case that supper club alto.

Okay, couldn’t we still overlook that to a degree if nothing else went wrong? Maybe, but it seems that was just the prelude to disaster on Dreams Of You for this coincides with the moment that the other Royals make the mistake of opening their mouths to sing.

At least they CALL it singing, although I’ve always been under the impression that singing requires some technical skill and the ability to remain in key in order for you to be aware that it qualifies as singing rather than the love calls of a snowy egret in mating season.

They are terrible with a capital T that rhymes with P that stands for putrid, piss-poor and potentially phatal.

Hearing them butcher this – “love me too” has just three notes and none of them are within a mile of the proper ones – turns what was shaping up to be at least an average record, maybe even slightly above average, into a record that should rightly be used as a target for skeet shooting. Not only do they irreparably harm the song, but in the process they send their lead voice off course – and off key – as well.

By the time they add a stylistically out of place “Doo-doo-doo-doot-doo” you surely will wonder if this was all an elaborate April Fool’s joke when it was recorded back in late March.

It hasn’t gotten any better in the seven months since and while the lead voice does recover a little of his equilibrium down the stretch, this is still a record best forgotten.

But Dear, I’ll Say…
This might not quite be a tale of two records… the first half is definitely good, though hardly great, yet by comparison to the atrocious second half it can’t help but seem a near perfect vocal group exercise… but it shows you just how hard it is for untrained acts to maintain their discipline throughout an entire session.

Normally we might be inclined to weigh both halves equally and give Dreams Of You the benefit of the doubt, which in this case would warrant all of a (3), but each time you hear them get further and further away from the right key – or keys, because each of the singers is on a different one most of the time – you realize that those deficiencies are what are making the lasting impression and you don’t want to have your sanity questioned or your hearing checked by being too generous on this.

So yes, maybe a good record could be assembled using at least some of these parts, but think of it this way, you could make part of a nice cake with eggs, flour, sugar and frosting, but if you threw a bunch of rocks in the batter before baking it you probably wouldn’t be complimenting the taste when all of your teeth got broken after biting into it.


(Visit the Artist page of The Royals for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)