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KING 4466; AUGUST 1951



The margin of error on ballads is typically much narrower than on uptempo cuts where sheer ragged enthusiasm (often with lyrics that aren’t negatively effected if they’re unintelligible) and the breakneck pace of the music tends to gloss over any missteps… if not allow you to miss spotting them altogether.

The slower a song is however the more its technical issues stand out because there’s no place to hide them. With sparser arrangements and more naked vocals everything is out in the open and any slight bump in the road has the potential to cause a record to go off the rails.

This one may manage to barely cling to the track til they pull into the station but it’s never as easy as it should be with the talent involved.


Just A Few Moments
There are three primary facets to a record like this, since it came about in the era before studio production added a fourth element to contend with.

You have the written composition – lyrics and melody. Then you have the arrangement of that song, instrumentally and vocally. Finally you have the performances by the singers and band carrying out those other components.

If any one of them is just a little bit off the whole record is affected because like a chain reaction every flaw impacts something else.

On Wishing For You there’s not any one of those three areas that is strong enough to offset the flaws in the other departments and so, even as there are isolated moments when things seem to be working, they inevitably will be tripped up by something else just around the bend.

I know that’s hardly a promising start to a review, but then again the record itself hardly gets off to the most promising start either, so what do you expect… candy and flowers?


I Feel I Must Spend A Lifetime With You
The first problem is admittedly a personal one that not everyone shares, but as soon as you hear the light tinkly piano your first reaction should be: Are they’re aiming for pop acceptance, a la their fellow Baltimore natives The Orioles frequently did, much to their detriment.

Luckily they don’t lean into that quite as much as it appeared as this kicked off, but Wishing For You You still has a much more dainty appearance than their better sides have shown where Eddie Rich’s yearning soulful qualities were such a crucial part of their appeal.

As he gets underway your fears – at least when it comes how he’s handling the lead – seem unfounded, for while he’s not striving to express himself quite as adamantly on this as on past efforts, his delicate tone is still really pleasing and perfectly fits his character’s state of mind as he’s lost in his own dreams over a girl he barely knows.

But while he’s holding serve here already there’s warning signs as the creeping tempo exposes the paucity of the arrangement. The rest of the group sounds fine when they’re allowed to deliver a softly pulsing humming that emphasizes three repetitive notes, but as it goes on they can’t simply stick to that and so they’re forced to try and stretch out and promptly lose their grip ever so slightly.

They quickly recover but it shows just how tenuous the vocal arrangement is because aside from a halting piano, which only draws attention to how stark this all is rather than bolster the overall sound, there’s absolutely nothing being done to alleviate their responsibilities.

Things really start to unravel when Bunky Mack gets his standalone spot on the bridge, as he just completely drops the ball… along with the melody, the key and perhaps a lit cigarette on the pianist’s fingers as he too begins fumbling his own notes as he plays.

Though they they regain their footing a little coming out of that, now the composition itself comes under the microscope as we see the story that group member Junior Denby came up with is not a story at all, but merely a vague mood that gets drawn out for three minutes as nothing occurs to change up the perspective Rich is offering.

It’s a daydream set to music lacking any sense of urgency while the music itself is too sparse to be captivating. The vocals at times work enough to satisfy – their blend at times remains very good and Rich’s voice is solid enough – but there’s a sense the record is just an observer rather than an active participant in the drama it claims to be presenting.

If they’d worked harder at stirring your emotions, giving you some reason to care about his fantasy when it comes to this anonymous girl, maybe it’d work better, but without any musical wrinkles and no narrative advancement, you’re left with some nice, but passive, voices inching forward and gaining little ground in the process.

How I Wish You Were Here
For a group that would go on to have a number of highly regarded uptempo cuts to offset their ballads, this is where they could’ve used one with a lot more energy and excitement to it.

Not only would it contrast better with Since You’ve Been Away, but it would’ve allowed the group to flex different creative muscles in the studio, as thus far all four of their released sides have been slow.

Wishing For You is the weakest of them for sure, hurt mostly by the emphasis on the group’s technical shortcomings at this stage. That said though, it’s still not awful… there are aspects of this that show promise and you can make the case that if they’d had a better arrangement and a few run-throughs to study the results and compensate for what didn’t work, they’d have been able to round it into shape better.

Yeah, it’d probably still be an obvious B-side, but one where the focus wasn’t on what went wrong but rather it being something that only suffered by comparison to their better material.

Subpar though this may be, you still wouldn’t sell your stock in this group now that this song emptied out the drawer from their first session, as the belief has to be that with some experience under their belt, their nerves hopefully settled – and with their first release from earlier in the year about to hit the charts to boost their confidence – they’d step things up the next time out.


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