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LONDON 17007; MARCH 1950



In due time they’d be recognized as early rock ‘n’ roll’s most unique – and oddly enough most accessible – group, at least when it came to courting mainstream adult interest, but their career has more twists and turns in it than a corkscrew and when judging their progress strictly by the success of their recorded efforts there’s little evidence that The Treniers were anything more than curiosities as the Nineteen Fifties dawned.

In fact they’ve been off the scene, on wax at least, for going on two years now and have hardly been missed. But while this effort won’t exactly vault them to the top, nor even make too much commercial noise, it was the first real sign that the peculiar sensibilities The Treniers possessed had definite potential.


Stay Until Broad Daylight
Since it’s been so long – more than 200 reviews – since we last encountered Cliff and Claude Trenier it behooves us to reacquaint ourselves with them before pushing on.

The two were identical twins with an inimitably zany style. Though both were talented singers they were even better entertainers, their manic energy, off-the-wall humor and ability to play fully-realized comic roles to further their performance is what made them special… but it also made them almost too unusual for any traditional style.

As we’ve mentioned before they got their start professionally with Jimmie Lunceford’s acclaimed swing band in the mid-1940’s and were crowd-pleasing show-stealers which may have sometimes rubbed the accomplished bandleader crazy but he was well aware of their popularity in live venues where the full range of their antics could be appreciated.

When the twins went out on their own however their success on stage didn’t translate to wax, something that would be a constant drawback to establishing them as stars, they were truly the act you had to SEE more than hear and in the pre-video era that wasn’t going to cut it.

So after a handful of modest attempts at bridging the gap on record for Mercury they found themselves dropped in mid-1948 and went back to club work, billed in Chicago as “The Rockin’ Rollin’ Treniers” (lest there be any doubt as to their intent) and soon adding a third brother, Buddy, to their review, firmly establishing themselves as a first-rate draw in Los Angeles by mid-1949. This led London Records, now doing business in the United States with an eclectic cross-section of American acts neglected by the homegrown labels, to sign them up in hopes they might be ripe for wider discovery.

The British record company surely remembered the twins huge success with Lunceford in England a few years earlier and with rock ‘n’ roll now a commercial powerhouse they knew that these two wild-men who’d only dabbled in the outskirts of rock on Mercury were perfectly suited to tackle it head on.

Everybody Get Together shows that The Treniers seemed to realize this as well, as this is their most blatant attempt yet to establish themselves in the rock market. But as with anyone coming of age in an earlier era it was still hard to convince them to fully abandoned what they had made their names on and make a full-fledged commitment to something they hadn’t succeeded with yet.

Thus they paired the rocker (this side) with Why Did You Get So High, Shorty, a silly, but not quite funny enough, half-spoken put-down of a drunk character which bore an obvious melodic resemblance to the 1946 Louis Jordan pre-rock classic That Chick’s Too Young To Fry. The Treniers slowed theirs down to better try and disguise the similarities but it wasn’t just the melody they were appropriating, it was Jordan’s entire slyly ironic delivery that had been the hottest thing in black music until rock elbowed that approach aside.

It’s hardly a good sign for their future prospects that The Treniers still were mining an outdated style, though this was undoubtedly the kind of thing that went over well on stage where the brothers acting abilities would leave the audience laughing. But on record (aside from the fact it’s five years too late to connect with audiences) the performance itself is dull and unimaginative.

Or should we say “mostly” unimaginative, for the one sign of innovation was in carrying over the Shorty character to this side of the record as well, making this something of a second chapter in his saga, albeit one you really don’t need to know anything about the other half of the story to actually appreciate.


I’ll Never Get That High
There’s still a faint whiff of old school musical minds at work here, although the longtime anchors of their band – pianist Gene Gilbeaux and tenor sax ace Don Hill – are firmly in place and will prove themselves amenable to the changing tide in short order.

But as this kicks off you wonder if you stepped back in time a few years as high-pitched horns whine and drums merely indiscreetly add punctuation rather than provide suitably raucous emphasis.

When Cliff and Claude come in rather quickly singing in harmony the song isn’t brought into the present as you might have expected and surely hoped if you were a rock fan. They’re still somewhat subdued… melodic but with a pleasant veneer that doesn’t engender much confidence that they’re up to the task in terms of attitude.

They start off by singing the chorus of Everybody Get Together which at least has a fairly suitable perspective for a rock song – a generic call to arms, albeit maybe a little too genial for the type of degenerate listener we’ve come to appreciate – but if nothing else it’s catchy enough to keep your attention and see where they take it once the larger plot unfolds.

Unfortunately while the details are colorful the deliveries are beginning to sound restrained in a sense… not because they aren’t ramping up the pace, allowing the hand claps to set the primary rhythm, but rather because by doing so in such a controlled calculating manner they’re giving you the impression that they’re going to keep this from getting too far out of hand.

The story itself is alright as they chastise their friend Shorty for his drunkenness (carrying that theme over from the other side) and their put-downs are fairly entertaining, but not funny enough on their own to draw a smile nor exciting enough to make up for that.

The band churns away modestly behind them, keeping things moving without drawing much of your focus and though it all sounds perfectly acceptable it doesn’t sound like anything you’re going to remember five minutes after its over which means that The Treniers are on the verge of letting another opportunity to make headway in rock slip through their fingers thanks to their seeming unwillingness to go for the gusto.

Shows you what WE know!


Come On Let’s Rock This House Tonight
It’s a fairly standard approach for songs to have tempo switches, particularly going from milder verses to more energetic chorus, and while this actually has both mild verses and choruses it more than makes up for it with outrageous vocal bridges that blow the roof off the song and gives us our first look at the explosiveness of both Treniers and their flamboyant band.

The first time this appears, after three comparatively subdued cries of “Rock, rock, rock” you’re caught completely off guard, which surely was their intent. As a result their sudden leap up in intensity as they trade off singing “We’re gonna rock! We’re Gonna Rock!” comes across as even MORE outrageous and aggressive than it probably is, but no one’s complaining.

The enthusiasm is genuine, their voices are now strained and harsh sounding, almost as if they were emitting battle cries with bombs exploding around them urging the troops to follow them over the next hill, sabers and muskets at the ready. The effect of this shouted call to arms is to knock you off balance as a listener, throw you back in your seat and then compel you to leap OUT of that seat to unleash your own pent up energy in the process.

The bellowing vocals soon give way to the band whose job it is to keep you on your feet, bouncing around uncontrollably as they cut loose for the first time.

Their playing is certainly pretty good with Hill taking the lead – on alto it seems which curtails its effectiveness as compared to a raunchier tenor – but while fast paced and well-judged in terms of what it’s trying to do, it’s not quite going far enough to match the over-the-top vocal prelude to this section and is basically running off its fumes.

When Cliff and Claude return with the same sing-songy melodic verse structure you tend to sharpen your focus, appreciating the comedic undercurrents of their lyrics a little better because you’re so enthused by their infectious spirit. The tempo might not actually be increasing but it seems as if it is, which might be just as good for your needs.

They jump back with another rallying cry of Everybody Get Together, not quite as wild or unexpected as the first time around but entirely welcome all the same. The sax solo that follows is a little better than the first time around too and since they cap it off with a third rousing refrain and close things out with the some drum bashing exclamation points you wind up walking away from the record with a much better impression than you entered with.

Havin’ A Good Time
It’s true that this was still better conceived as a live performance than a studio one (even Billboard magazine’s review stated that very thing for this record) but for the first time we get some sense of the former when listening to the latter on record and that’s definite progress.

Maybe we’re apt to give a little too much credit for showing progress, especially when the aspects of Everybody Get Together that make the strongest impression are confined to three fairly brief interludes, but those are SO good, such a full-throated rapturous acceptance of rock’s most enduring outlook, that we can’t help but be swept up a bit in the excitement.

There’s still a ways to go – and looking back from our vantage point well in the future we know they’ll never quite shake completely free of this stylistic compression of influences – but they’re on the right track at last and because they’re not looking down upon these concessions to modernity but rather taking it up with the appropriate gusto, we’ll put this one in the win column for them.

Welcome to the club, boys. It took you awhile but you finally made it to the big leagues.


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