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MERCURY 8078; APRIL, 1948



The lackluster sides delivered by The Trenier Twins to date would appear to have very little with the early development of rock ‘n’ roll as a separate and distinct style of music. Regardless of their later allegiance with rock it seems plainly obvious that at this point the brothers had little awareness of its existence nor much concern about its prospective value.

If anything the first two songs we’ve covered from them are evidence that if it weren’t for the efforts of others to forcibly drag the music further and faster than they seemed willing to go on their own, rock ‘n’ roll might never have gotten fully established.

This side won’t do much to change that impression.

But that’s the reason for covering it here, to show just how remarkable the ensuing transformation in music really was. If there’s no sense of where you’ve started then there’s no perspective on just how far you needed to travel in order to get to the ultimate destination.


Want To Jump Up To The Sky
By the start of 1948 most Americans were well aware of bodybuilder Charles Atlas. He had been promoting his diet and exercise plan since the 1920’s through a series of cartoon ads that supposedly showed his own transformation from the prototypical 97 pound weakling who got sand kicked in his face on the beach by a bigger guy who then took his girlfriend as they both left mocking poor little Charles. This inspired Atlas (whose real name was Angelo Siciliano) to take up bodybuilding and become the world’s most “perfectly developed man”.


I know, you’re scoffing at such claims, especially the part about him only needing seven days to transform you into a musclebound he-man.

But it should be said that at least SOME of that is true. Atlas was indeed scrawny himself at one time and took to lifting weights and developed an impressive physique. He may have even had sand kicked in his face as he always claimed. But while he was certainly a first-rate bodybuilder for his day what he was even better at was being a salesman.

Though most men with healthy self-esteem don’t need muscles bulging like Popeye to feel confident Atlas wasn’t targeting them with his ads. He was aiming for the ones who felt as he once did, weak and ineffectual, and since they wouldn’t be likely to identify with him now that he was all jacked up he had to find a way to convince them that his image was somehow within reach.

Of course all of those scrawny prospective customers could’ve merely done what he had originally and start lifting weights on their own, but because he was relating them sympathetically and using himself as the image of what was possible – though unlikely – he was able to reap a windfall over the next half century by getting them to buy into his program and hand him over their money in an effort to charge their lives. Most probably didn’t get much past 105 lbs. and gave up on the plan three weeks in, but that didn’t matter, there was always plenty more 97 pound weaklings out there willing to give it a try.

What’s the point in all of this? Are we advocating hitting the gym so you don’t get sand kicked in YOUR face? No, sorry to spoil your day but we don’t really care about you having a faceful of sand.

Instead the point in examining songs that are proverbial 97 pound weaklings like Ain’t She Mean by The Trenier Twins is simple – like Charles Atlas proved, the key in getting others to be swayed by the change over the horizon is showing the music when it was still prone to getting sand kicked in its face.

Just Walked Away
Of course this exercise – pardon the pun – wouldn’t be worthwhile if The Treniers remained scrawny nobodies in the long run. Then it’s easy to dismiss them altogether, as the wimpy kids kids on the beach would go on to become anonymous adults in middle-management somewhere, getting pushed around by the office big-wigs in much the same manner. But The Treniers became pretty notable characters in rock’s ascent, not quite stars but certainly influential and groundbreaking artists in any case and so their transformation makes for a better case study.

Furthermore, because they actually released their best “test run” record just before rock’s official birth announcement, Buzz, Buzz, Buzz, (admittedly not too far advanced but containing some decent signs of their future commitment including good stop-time vocals and a solid sax solo that still somehow gets lost amidst the gawdawful trumpets) they at least have shown they weren’t bandwagon jumping when they finally abandoned their more moderate stances down the road. It might’ve taken awhile, and certainly recording for major label in-training Mercury couldn’t have helped when it came to taking more risks, but eventually… sooner or later… sometime in the hazy future… The Treniers will indeed become respectable rockers.

Or is that disreputable rockers?

Oh well, one way or the other they’ll be legit. But until then that leaves us with picking through their early tentative explorations like the bland self-penned and mostly forgettable Ain’t She Mean to try and give some indication of how much work they still had to endure to get to that stage, as well as attempting to discern just how tenuous rock’s own existence really was at this stage of the game just a few months into its life.

By the sounds of this, it may have been on life support.

What gives us THAT idea, you ask? Well for starters how about the nightclub piano that kicks this off and has you thinking the coat check girl at this place is trying to clip you of your jacket rather than hang it up for you since you’re not used to this service at the hole in the wall joints you usually go for your rock ‘n’ roll kicks.

Or how about the saxophone that comes in with a trilling passage that lazily floats into the air like smoke curling up from a cigarette at the tables near the stage rather than the thick haze of reefer smoke you’re used to in the back seat of the ’38 Plymouth with the cracked rear window that you came here in.

Wait, why are we reviewing this song again? Oh, that’s right, The Treniers are due any second now and when they come in… we ask the same question all over again: Why???


I Can’t Begin To Tell You Why
Now to be fair, The Treniers sound pretty decent singing this. Though they’d earn their reputation over time for their crazy antics they both had good voices and a nice blend and they choose this side to showcase that while leaving the funny stuff for the flip side.

So taking this for what it is we’ll grant them a waiver when it comes to what we usually expect from them and treat Ain’t She Mean with a bit more seriousness, despite the title hinting that there might be some tomfoolery imminent.

There isn’t, just to let you know.

But unfortunately there isn’t much else of note to replace it. The story is pretty basic, the guys have fallen for a girl out of their league and no matter how they try to get her attention she’s ignoring them. They tell us she’s shy, which was clearly a choice made for rhyming purposes, not thematic ones and that’s their first mistake.

Essentially they’re calling the girl mean simply because she doesn’t really notice them, as if it was intentional snubbing on her part even though they know – and they let us know – that it was no such thing. Like happens often in this world I’m told, some guys just don’t draw any interest from all of the cute girls they pass on the street, a terrible affliction to be cursed with I’m sure. But those are the breaks and usually it doesn’t warrant a song detailing that lack of good fortune when it comes to attracting a mate.

Had they instead twisted it around and made it humorous it has some possibilities. They could have her out with her millionaire suitor while they’re schlepping drinks as a waiter and bartender at the club they walk into who doesn’t respond to their giving her extra napkins free of charge or something. They could really go out on a limb and have her be a mannequin in a store window whose exotic wardrobe changes every day leave them slack jawed but of course mannequins don’t talk – at least in public – and so the joke would be they’re so hard up they’re reduced to longing for artificial girls.

Or they could have her actually BE mean and do anything from asking to borrow money to make a phone call and taking their entire bankroll when they pull out their wallet to fish for a nickel or driving over their feet after they open her car door for her. (But then they reply to an ad from Charles Atlas and… oh, you get the picture)

But because The Treniers just sound dejected about not catching her eye they leave us with no real sympathy for their plight, nor any humor at their own expense.

So now you’re left to hope that we’ll at least get a halfway decent sax solo but nope, this too sounds down in the doldrums, circling around and around without actually getting anywhere. When the fellas return they contribute their best delivery on the next few lines, holding notes nicely at one juncture and then after a good-stop time refrain they finish that thought with some added emphasis that shows some life, but it’s hardly enough.

When listening to this mildly pleasant but entirely expendable performance any wonder as to why this girl didn’t notice them is answered beyond a doubt.


Passed Me By
This was the dilemma The Treniers faced as rock slowly took hold. Remember this was cut back in late 1947 before the music had even scored its first national hit and even as this is being released in the spring few people were convinced rock had any legs to it aside from providing a few exciting if musically incoherent records to shake things up while the industry went on a hiatus caused by the recording ban that was now in its fourth month.

Yet for Cliff and Claude Trenier rock was the very thing they’d been waiting for, a style tailor made to show off their dynamic energy and irrepressible personalities which absolutely were being repressed by the confines of the pre-rock music sensibilities and now they were forced to wait even longer to explore this style in earnest themselves. Songs like Ain’t She Mean don’t have much claim to the rock title, but it’s not as though it fits better someplace else and so left with few alternatives it gets them slotted here, but it should go without saying that in no way does it point to the future – for rock itself or for The Treniers.

Yet while completely unambitious in any style, it’s got a decent melody and they sound good throughout it and at times you even sense that there was an itch under their skin waiting to be scratched.

In the end that’s why it’s so important not to forget just where they were starting from – and where the music industry itself was when rock reared its head for the first time. The Trenier Twins are the type of act that nobody had the foggiest idea what to do with. They could sing straight but would prefer to act up and were in a world where acting up meant harmless novelty songs, not anything reeking of insurrection.

And so they waited.

But in the meantime they’d send in their self addressed stamped envelope to the address listed in those cartoon ads in the comic books and get their bodybuilding instructions mailed to them and go to work lifting weights, doing exercises and eating right and when they would emerge again a few years down the road after their records that Mercury had stockpiled were exhausted, it’d be with a new physique, one that was finally in shape for the ultra-competitive new music scene that awaited them after rock had grown into a muscle bound goliath itself.


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