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KING 4447; APRIL 1951



There may have been no greater dichotomy in output than what was often found on Tony Bradshaw’s releases.

His usual fare was the uptempo party anthems that he did so well, putting his genial enthusiasm in front of a great band with stories that were fun and relatable and it’s hardly surprising that he scored consistently with them during his brief heyday.

But frequently he’d pair them with treacly ballads from another era which aside from being completely out of touch with current audience tastes were performances which highlighted his biggest weaknesses, particularly his lack of a traditionally “good” voice.

Truly the content of some of his singles were like night and day.

But here he finds a way to change the pace and the message considerably from his similarly themed hits while at the same time avoiding any sign of outdated pop in the process. Though it’s not going to match his preferred approach it does make for a much better and more appropriate alternative direction for the flip sides.


Sittin’ Home With The Folks
It’s important to remember that Tiny Bradshaw’s career, which now dates back more than fifteen years as a professional, encompassed all types of music during that time.

He had some releases of his own dating back to 1934 but he then went a full decade without any record contract but remained steadily employed as a club band and increasingly as a band who could be enlisted to play behind touring bigger name acts regardless of styles.

As a result he had experience in everything from big band jazz to pure pop to club blues before rock ‘n’ roll emerged in 1947 and gave him a new sense of purpose and a firm musical direction.

So now that he was back recording steadily it was hardly surprising that to diversify his output he’d reach into the past a little thereby explaining songs like Teardrops, After You’ve Gone and Butterfly, sentimental mush not suited for his unique skills as a vocalist.

Brad’s Blues is far removed from that nonsense… still a few steps away from the boisterous mayhem of Two Dry Bones On The Pantry Shelf, but much closer to what else was earning spins in the rock world.

He must’ve realized this too, for while this didn’t chart it marked a more consistent direction in his output, as he cut just one more soft ballad over the next few sessions.


I Want To Talk To You Nice And Sweet
Though this hardly qualifies as a ballad by any definition of the term, it is demonstrably slower than most of his top flight material which allows it to be appreciated for different components than what most people were grooving to when it came to Tiny Bradshaw’s repertoire.

It’s a standard mid-tempo blues-based song that starts off with another of Bradshaw’s patented full-throated “WELLLLL” lead-ins, maybe as a form of misdirection for what follows but more likely because that’s how he started most everything, including conversations with startled people he passed on the street.

Once he settles down he shows his voice is much more suited to this kind of slower churning groove than anything resembling a classy crooning style wisely abandoned for the time being. He’s still relying more on volume than subtlety, but any song where he’s not careening off the walls qualifies as being reasonably sedate for the hyperactive singer. Besides, it’s effective enough even if the topic is pretty generic.

Brad’s Blues is a somewhat ambiguous song lyrically. At first glance it appears to be a plea to get back his girl after a breakup, although he doesn’t sound very sad about it if that’s the case. He’s promising to shape up in any event and aside from his rather energetic vocals you just assume he screwed up and is trying to make amends. But when you start scrutinizing the lyrics in the first stanza you come to a different conclusion, still centered around a breakup, but one where the reasons become a little more clear and he’s not so much vowing to change as he is trying to conceal that his active night life which pulled them apart is still as robust as ever.

He starts off by telling her he’s been “too busy” to get back to her after she reached out to him hoping to reconcile, but it’s obvious what he’s been busy doing when he proceeds to lie about it, claiming he’s just been sitting around his parents house, drinking wine while bored out of his skull.

But yeah, he’d love get back together with her now, because he really does like her, but also because he’s horny for some regular action. Yet it’s clear he hasn’t changed in the least and with his vocals sounding – as always – like he was downing a fifth of scotch before stepping to the microphone it’s an even money bet that they’ll break up again a few weeks down the road after he’s been confined to their apartment for too long. After all, for a guy like Tiny Bradshaw there’s only so much conversation he can endure and after talking about the upcoming baseball season and whether Robert Taft will get the Republican nomination for President in 1952 he’ll be climbing out the window to hit the town the minute she steps into another room.

But hey, I’m a cynic when it comes to these things, so maybe they WILL live happily ever after.

Play That Mess
Because a song like this is so cut and dried structurally, there’s not much room for the musicians to really improvise outside of the solo.

Unfortunately – but understandably – that role is given over to pianist Jimmy “Bee Bee” Robinson who also co-wrote the song, but whose chosen approach for his big opportunity is the worst thing about the record, a somewhat clunky interlude that I’m assuming he decided upon because of the song’s slow pacing, but which is not melodic enough to work well and too ham-fisted to make the grade as an effective rhythmic device either.

If you look at similarly paced songs that someone like Pete Johnson played on you can see how a faster more dexterous solo could fit in the structure and provide a nice contrast to the vocals without upending the singer. Now granted Johnson was one of the greatest improvisational pianists of all time and Robinson, while a good musician, is not of that caliber, but he was clearly hoping this would be his opportunity to show off and instead it drags Brad’s Blues down somewhat noticeably.

Considering who else was on this session, Red Prysock on tenor, this counts as a crucial misstep if having a marketable song was more of a consideration than appeasing each band member. The latter DOES have its place in any ensemble of course and shouldn’t be discounted altogether, but since Robinson doesn’t come off looking great here it wound up not fulfilling either goal… giving him a chance to shine or creating a stronger record.

Prysock’s work behind Bradshaw during the earlier verses on the other hand is discreetly erotic, almost like a stripper’s anthem filtered through a slightly classier lens. His tone and judgement are both excellent while at the same time Nab Shields continues to impress in his role, bringing remarkable presence to his drum work without the type of song that emphasizes them much.

You may not be wowed by the overall record but there are enough parts to be impressed with if you take the time to look.

I’ll Come Home Every Night
Let’s face it, this was a track designed to do a few things, none of which are exactly high artistic or commercial aims, but all of which play a role in shoring up their output.

For starters it give a valued band member a co-writing credit – and whatever pennies, nickels and dimes that came from it in this era – as well as providing him with a chance to get a more prominent role in the arrangement. That Robinson spit the bit on that front is hardly Bradshaw’s fault.

Secondly, Brad’s Blues allowed them to offer something markedly different than their primary output while still retaining a stronger musical connection to their dominant audience at this point, thereby ensuring they weren’t at risk for being tuned out altogether for something wildly inappropriate like their earlier light ballads.

Finally, it gave King Records a clear choice for the flip side of a much better cut, thereby ensuring that the best song would get all of the attention. It didn’t help matters, as the record didn’t chart, even regionally, but the pairing made for a better single aesthetically and all these years later that counts for something.


(Visit the Artist page of Tiny Bradshaw for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)