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KING 4501; DECEMBER 1951



My apologies to the vegetarians in the reading audience today, as this is a review about some birds let loose in a deli apparently and the topics covered will be full of nitrates and fat and all sorts of things that are off limits to you.

We try our best to be inclusive of all people and their different tastes in life, musical or otherwise, but occasionally we run into a record that leaves us no choice but to tackle a subject like the habits of carnivores in nature head on.

Wait a minute, let’s check this title again… it’s NOT the meat, they say? Oh well, then apparently this is a review of a record that is harmless as can be and fun for the whole family.

Gather round then for an uplifting sing along of an innocent tune that is sure to bring a smile to your face!


Makes Your Daddy Want To Rock
Rock ‘n’ roll was conceived in an alley late at night between two unlikely paramours… one residing on a hill, looking down on the spiritually unworthy around them, the other living in a gutter, slumming for a living.

Yet in their hearts – or their loins – they want the same thing and with hot jazz licks floating out an open window in a club down the street providing the necessary ambience for loosening their inhibitions along with a few slugs from a bottle, they tore off each other’s clothes in a frenzied rush of hormones and did the deed right there in the streets.

The sacred and the secular co-mingling in the dark, as if they didn’t think there’d be any evidence of their sins that way. Ahh, but a short time later a baby was born to the unwed “couple” and it was named rock ‘n’ roll, a bastard child that would transform the world of music and beyond.

Its benefactors would have you believe it was created out of purer intentions than momentary pleasure, while others would try and convince their followers that it came from an even more taboo relationship at the time, that of miscegenation, by bringing together blues and country into the story, even though neither was even the same neighborhood where this dirty deed took place.

But we know better. We know the root cause of it all was simple horniness set to music and ever since Roy Brown delivered this noisy baby out of the womb kicking and screaming, the topic of sex has been hard to avoid in the music.

Some have tried to suggest it musically with guttural honks and squeals of saxophones, while others have had the audacity to sing about it in less than ambiguous fashion which often cloaks it under the guise of humor to offset the more serious implications from the moral police that lurk around every corner.

The Swallows however do them all one better and throw caution to the wind by revealing they know the reason why this act – and this music that so often goes along with this act – is so damn popular with the kids… it’s not the breaking of societal standards that convinces people to take off their clothes together, it isn’t the kudos you’ll get from your friends in the locker room or hairdresser’s for carrying out this carnal act, and despite what some would have you believe it isn’t even the joy of handling the respective equipment itself that makes it so appealing.

Nope, they say without any hesitation, that It Ain’t The Meat (It’s The Motion), and then they dare you to make a counterargument.

Somewhere Bing Crosby and Connie Boswell (whose 1939 duet An Apple For The Teacher ostensibly was about the same subject, but you’d never be able to convince anyone they did their homework on the subject) are blushing and stammering and looking for the nearest exit.

Their type of music could never compete with this.


It’s The Movement That Gives It The Sock
If you’re the kind – and there are a surprising amount of them among the grey haired constituency – who don’t care about lyrics, you can skip the rest of this review because that’s the obvious focal point of the record and the primary reason why it has yet to be forgotten.

Yes, the musical backing by Sonny Thompson’s crew is first rate and would probably make for a strong instrumental record if you stripped the vocals entirely, but if they did there’s not much chance anybody would be talking about this seventy years later, nor would it have inspired remakes along the way even after society became much more permissive about the topic it pertains to.

Nope, this is a dirty, filthy, obscene and glorious record about gettin’ it on, procreation be damned.

If you need an anatomy lesson for what exactly they’re referring to in the title, go stand in line with the lyric-averse and we’ll give you a seventh grade textbook from health class to look at later, but for those of us who’ve been around that block a few times the particulars are fairly easy to figure out. It Ain’t The Meat refers to the genitalia the species has (any species I suppose, but we’re focused on human beings since they’re the ones who buy records and read music reviews) to entice one another into bed for some hanky panky.

In the Twenty-First century “meat” is almost universally referred to as being the male sex organ, but in the 1950’s many rock songs seem to be using it to mean the female parts, but as long as you know enough to find whichever one you’re looking for between the hips and the knees of your partner you won’t be penalized for this uncertainty while listening.

If it IS the male unit being talked about notice The Swallows are saying that the size of the appendage in question isn’t the allure (though that’s generally what those who fail to measure up WOULD say, isn’t it?), but rather it’s what you do with it that counts. Okay, so that part definitely matters just as much, so they’re not wrong there, but regardless of the mechanics of the act of fornication itself, the real joy comes from… well, the sounds they make.

I mean ON THE RECORD! Or on the floor… or the hood of your car… the kitchen table or, if you’re really stuck for a place to do it, the bed or couch in your own home can probably be used in an emergency.

It’s The Motion, It’s The Movement, It’s The Action!
Bunky Mack takes the lead vocal because we all know bass singers convey an eroticism with their dulcet tones that a high tenor just can’t. Those more dainty singers are perfect for revealing heartbreak… the rich baritones are better suited for seduction… but the bass singers are made for suggesting deviant acts and Mack doesn’t disappoint, singing this with a sly grin and an irresistible bounce to his step.

The others are adding harmonies along the way that imply they’re getting some action themselves with steady cries of joy and in the case of that high tenor, some moments of sheer ecstasy, adding musical depth but also giving your imagination something more to consider in case you still haven’t gotten the point of all this yet.

The lyrics of It Ain’t The Meat meanwhile are provocative while narrowly dodging obscenity laws thanks to an improbable series of coincidences wherein words take full advantage of double meanings which is a unique trait of the English language – precisely for this reason I suppose.

“Rock” can refer to a stone or the type of music this is, but if you check your thesaurus it also means to bang someone for the sheer pleasure of it. “Meat” of course is the flesh of all animals, but what part of the body is up for interpretation. “Sock” is something you wear on your feet, unless of course you’re obliquely referring to the impact of something physically enjoyable.

And so on.

I suggest if you have any questions you try this activity out for yourselves in your spare time and see if it starts to make a little more sense.


Wraps All Around Me Like A Rubber Band
The musicians are hardly innocent bystanders in all of this, as every instrument is thrown into the mix with the purpose of aurally replicating, or adding to, the descriptions in the lyrics.

From the stinging guitar in the intro that foretells of the excitement that will follow, to the thudding bass that could be said to mirror the participants racing hearts during the action, the band is in top form on an arrangement that doesn’t let up… ironically recorded seventy one years ago to the very day this review was posted. With Thompson himself holding down the rhythm on piano he adds handclaps to bolster the beat – or to indicate the pattern of motion you’re supposed to use in case you’re a novice at this sort of thing – which propels this along in no uncertain terms.

We even get a bass solo that may be a refugee from bandstand jazz but which serves as a welcome pause in the action before diving back between the sheets once more to build to the climax.

About the only thing we’re lacking is a saxophone but considering how ubiquitous those were in previous songs about sex, its absence is hardly missed, especially with the fleet fingered guitar solo in the first break that points towards the future of rock instrumental breaks and has the added advantage of being slightly more beguiling in its intent than the cruder horns would likely offer in their stead.

You might not need descriptive lines to convince you that It Ain’t The Meat that matters in the bedroom with the way these guys are churning, but when you have some and know where to put it… or have lyrics and know how to sing them and combine the two elements (music and words, unless you have something else on your mind) it’s hard to beat.

Maybe the deed itself can in fact be enacted without musical accompaniment just fine, but sometimes you need something to get you in the right mood… or to cover the sounds you’ll be making with the sweat starts flying, and both the band and the singers don’t disappoint.

About the only thing they won’t do no matter how good they are at their jobs is make you stop to listen too closely to the record once you get started… although if you do maybe you’re more of a music fan than the rest of us.


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